Chrysler Group design chief Trevor Creed previewed just two concept models for the North American International Auto Show at Detroit this year. There was no Dodge showstopper, just this Jeep and Chrysler. The Jeep Trailhawk uses the new Wrangler Unlimited's underpinnings, with a Grand Cherokee design theme. It serves as a concept for a more rationally priced Range Rover Sport competitor. The Chrysler Nassau looks like a modern interpretation of the Virgil Exner-era Chrysler hardtop station wagons and is built on the same 120-inch-wheelbase LX platform as the 300C.

The Trailhawk is most likely to morph into a production model, but the Nassau is conceptually the more interesting vehicle, a large, rear-drive hatchback/wagon. Several European automakers, including Audi, VW, and BMW are working on similar concepts that offer some of the versatility and practicality of an SUV, but with sporty performance and handling. Whether Chrysler takes this one further depends on your reaction.

IN DETAIL

JEEP TRAILHAWK

  • Designed at Chrysler's Auburn Hills studio in Michigan.
  • Ground clearance is 4.6 inches higher than a Grand Cherokee. Approach/departure angles equal Wrangler Unlimited's.
  • 3.0-liter V-6 is Mercedes's Bluetec turbodiesel.
  • Hawklike nose with vertically stacked lamps are between big, wide fenders and the seven-slot grille.
  • LED exterior lamps, front and rear.
  • Redline tires are on requisite 22-inch wheels with handsome five-spoke design.
  • Profile looks like modernized Grand Cherokee, but with high shoulderline and squat roof, a la Range Rover Sport.
  • Upper half of body is painted bright, multicoat silver. Lower is a darker, matte-silver finish.
  • Fake side vents, on the front fenders just next to the doors, are de rigueur on SUVs.
  • About the length of a Wrangler Unlimited (including Wrangler's rear-mounted spare).
  • Removable T-tops give showgoers a better look inside.
  • Center console is a big, open trough that runs through to the back seat.
  • Two big gauges (speedo and tach) are above a beefy three-spoke steering wheel.
  • Flip-up navigation unit is on upper part of center stack.
  • sound system on lower portion of center stack opens to reveal an iPod holder, storage space.
  • Tailgate expands out for more luggage area.
  • Removable boombox, first-aid kit, tie-downs are in back.