While currently conceptual, the multimode four-wheel steering (for which DaimlerChrysler was awarded multiple patents) illustrates to off-road enthusiasts that Jeep's designers and engineers are looking at ways to make Jeep SUVs more maneuverable, on and off-highway. With a new Wrangler on the horizon and Grand Cherokee attacking a more expensive part of the ultra-competitive SUV market, a new type of four-wheel steering might be a way for Jeep to differentiate either or both models from those of its direct competitors.
The Hurricane's innovative one-piece body is shaped of structural carbon fiber, meaning the body is the chassis, taking the place of a conventional frame. The suspension and powertrain are mounted directly to the body. Although this high-tech approach is unlikely, all current Jeeps, except the Wrangler, use a unitized body structure. To complete the package, an aluminum spine runs under the body to connect the underside and to act as a skidplate system, protecting the drivetrain from damage.
The interior offers the ultimate vantage point to survey terrain. A high central tunnel dominates the cockpit, with the transmission of each Hemi pointed at the other. This means the design and engineering team needed to be clever about efficient use of space. And they also had to make room for the T-Box case, which offers 1:1, 2:1, and 4:1 gearing ratios.
The interior details are what you'd expect to find in a multimillion-dollar concept vehicle. The exposed carbon-fiber accents are combined with Black Thunder and Tiluminum accents to give the Hurricane a high-tech look. Jewel-like gauges impart precision and minimalist ruggedness. About the only concession is the PDA-based satellite navigation system. If any element of the Hurricane is likely to make it to production, it's the interior.
At the Hurricane's premiere in Detroit, Jeep ran a video presentation showing children playing with a variety of mechanized toys. It seems that childhood imaginations were unleashed and exercised with the Hurricane--grownup kids combined the best mechanical hardware to create the ultimate 4x4. We can imagine traversing the Rubicon Trail in this vehicle and being asked, "Does that thing have a Hemi?" With a smile, we can say, "No. It has two."