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2007 Detroit Auto Show: Is Jeep's Trailhawk Ready to Fly?

Jeep Looks to the Sky for Inspiration.
Among the Chrysler Group concept and production cars shown at the 2007 North American International Auto Show was the Jeep TrailHawk. As unsuccessful as the Chrysler Nassau concept was as a design study, the Trailhawk successfully takes Jeep design a step further. This is best seen in the front view, where the cropped headlights and backward-angled traditional seven-slot Jeep grille give the concept its hawkish face.
VehicleVoice and AutoPacific staffers were on hand to see the reveal of the Trailhawk.


Wrangler Ability, Grand Cherokee Comfort
Trailhawk inherits all the off-road capability of the Wrangler platform, based as it is on the four-door Wrangler. The Trailhawk suggests that the platform is big enough to support a larger Grand Cherokee replacement, though there is no certain indication Jeep is headed this way. Platform aside, with any luck the next Grand Cherokee will take some of the TrailHawk’s styling cues.


The Trailhawk’s face is haunting and very Jeep. The wheelarches, with their rearward slant, reinterpret a traditional Jeep cue, with a rearward slant that keeps the Trailhawk looking like it is in perpetual motion. One element of the Trailhawk that seems unnecessary, however, is the gill or vent at the back of the front quarter panels. These vents have been popping up across the industry over the past two years in a “me too” frenzy. In many cases, they are well done and they do look great, but why does everyone need them? Those on the Trailhawk were smartly done, but they aren’t necessary and don’t speak to Jeep design.

TrailHawk embodies the off-road and open-air elements of the Jeep personality, taking short overhangs and excellent off-roadability, with an interior in leather and uplevel materials, for a bit of luxury. From the Trailhawk press release: ” . . . the Jeep Trailhawk is a more refined highway cruiser without sacrificing any of Jeep’s legendary off-road capabilities.” Kinda sounds like a Grand Cherokee, though Trailhawk explores more open-air solutions.

The open-air aspect comes into play when the first- and second-row windows are rolled down, as well as the quarter windows in the C-pillar. The glass panels in the roof over the first- and second-row can be removed, as well as the glass panel over the cargo area and in the tailgate. The result is a feel similar to a soft-top Wrangler.

The portable audio pod sound systems in each quarter panel of the cargo area are a cool feature that might be adapted to production cars. Each has a dock for an MP3 player and can be removed for entertainment at the campsite. There are also solutions in integrated, concealed storage solutions in the drop-down tailgate that could wind up in future products.

Nothing New Under the Skin
Both the Jeep Trailhawk and the Chrysler Nassau concepts explored styling and design packages, but did not offer anything new mechanically or hint at what the Chrysler Group may have under their hoods in the future. Nassau uses the existing 300C SRT8 and the Trailhawk uses the four-door Wrangler and the upcoming Bluetec 215HP 3.0L V6 diesel, set for the Grand Cherokee this year.

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