Tastes evolve over time, and, in response, vehicles must as well. This puts brands like Jeep in a difficult position: how does a brand stay loyal to its heritage, yet change with the times? After all, fewer people are buying truck-based SUVs and are turning to crossovers; if a company like Jeep doesn't offer something for this market, it may find itself in trouble down the line.
In a study for the potential of car-based vehicles bearing the Jeep name, the company has come up with two concepts that may indicate the future direction of the brand and change the definition of Jeep itself. With both vehicles, the goal was to take core brand ideals, namely classic ruggedness and modern sportiness, and make entry-level concepts that highlighted each. Both are based on the platform of the Dodge Caliber, the crossover-like vehicle that'll replace the Neon. Jeep wouldn't let anyone take photos of the concepts (both will be shown to the public at the Frankfurt auto show), so, unfortunately, all we can offer at this time are sketches.
The first, highlighting Jeep's rugged nature, is the Patriot, a concept that retains the looks of Jeeps past, if not the off-road capabilities. The Patriot's body is four inches shorter than the Liberty's, its wheelbase shorter by one inch. It has the boxy styling of the Commander, but its smaller scale makes the design appear better proportioned. Because of its square sides and small stature, it looks like a modern-day Cherokee.
The concept has round headlights and the traditional seven-slot grille, surrounded by a black front fascia--though some at Jeep suggest that may change. While the Commander uses exposed-bolt accents throughout, the Patriot doesn't. Its body-colored fenders are smooth and nicely integrated with the rest of the vehicle's design. The Patriot uses 17-inch five-spoke wheels, surrounded by 235/65R17 Pirelli Scorpion A/T tires, rated 108T M+S. There's a roof rack, in which two rectangular driving lights were installed, mounted flush. The rear end is smooth and fairly flat, with a slight notch.
This vehicle, if it came to production, would compete with the RAV4 and Escape, yet provide better off-road capability than either. While no specifics were given on the four-wheel-drive system for a vehicle like this, Jeep has hinted that it's working on new AWD and/or 4WD technology, which could mean it's developing an all-new system for a compact crossover. If there's enough positive response to this concept, a production version could be in dealers as early as 2007 as a 2008 model.