If you get up enough nerve to tackle the world-renown Rubicon Trail by early next century, you could easily imagine yourself driving Chrysler Corporation's Jeep® Icon concept vehicle which was unveiled today at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
"Jeep Icon is a creative exploration for a next-generation Jeep Wrangler," said John E. Herlitz, Chrysler Corporation's Vice President of Product Design. "It's solid, stable, built like a rock, and its capabilities have been further enhanced."
Re-designing Jeep Wrangler for the next century was a unique challenge for Chrysler designers. "We have a responsibility as caretakers of one of the world's most recognized brands," said Trevor M. Creed, Chrysler Corporation's Design Director. "Sooner or later we will be challenged with freshening Jeep Wrangler's appearance without sacrificing its distinctive image and instantly-recognizable characteristics."
Chrysler designers achieved Icon's compact, muscular look by increasing the size of its bumper, tires and wheel arches. "Our objective was to give Icon a trim, poised look while keeping much of Jeep Wrangler's unique character," said Creed. "However, we widened Wrangler's track, reduced its length by five inches (127 mm), its overhang by two inches (51 mm), and increased wheel travel from eight (203 mm) to 10 inches (254 mm)."
Traditional Jeep Wrangler design cues, including its long dash-to-axle proportions, classic grille face, exposed hinges, folding windshield, and roll cage were re-defined and updated for the next century. "We wanted to capture the essence of practical product design which fits the Jeep image," said Creed. "We kept the familiar grille, but made it shorter and wider. We also kept the exposed hinges, bold bumpers, exposed door handles, and gas cap which were designed to give the vehicle more of a mechanical, industrial design feel, and at the same time add a lot of intrinsic value. Where the vehicle differs the most is that it is designed as a unibody construction with an integrated aluminum roll cage."
Icon is painted Steel Blue Metallic. Its interior is deliberately simple and rugged with the same exposed aluminum fittings and painted steel. "One of Icon's most notable interior design elements are its seats," said Creed. "Inspired by the design of a camper's backpack, Icon's seats are light-weight and made of exposed aluminum tubes which support durable waterproofed olive-gray leather upholstery."
Icon Designer Robert Laster says his overall design concept was inspired by the design elements found on today's high-end mountain bikes. "Just like top-of-the-line mountain bikes and our current lineup of Jeep sport utility vehicles, Icon was built to go anywhere," said Laster. "Its parts are high-quality, light-weight, and purpose-built. To communicate the quality of each part, we branded our Jeep logo on Icon's hinges, door handles, wheels, and bumpers."
"As we move closer and closer to the next century, Jeep enthusiasts will be happy to know their Jeep will still look like a Jeep," said Creed.