Press Release) Jeep® Trailhawk: Chrysler Group Design Spreads its
Wings for its Rugged, Iconic Jeep Brand
Detroit, Jan 8, 2007 - The Jeep® Trailhawk concept merges the
spectrum of the Jeep brand by combining the core off-road features
of the new body-on-frame four-door Jeep Wrangler Unlimited with the
refined sophistication of an all-new on-road open-air concept
vehicle, providing a unique and fresh expression for Jeep. Built off
the new Wrangler platform, the Jeep Trailhawk is a more refined
highway cruiser without sacrificing any of Jeep’s legendary off-road
“The key to the look of the Trailhawk,” said Nick Vardis, Principal
Exterior Designer, “is the vehicle’s distinctive proportions, due in
part to its 116-inch wheelbase. The dash-to-front-axle dimension is
dramatically long, giving the vehicle a sense of forward motion,
while the front and rear overhangs are tight and abbreviated.“
Vardis said the body side is muscular and broad-shouldered, with the
sheet metal pulled into shape, much like a drawn arrow in the bow of
a skilled archer. Even the pillars are pulled back. The forward
motion of the body is further accented by the drive of the raising
The stance is broad, and the wheels, pushed to the corners of the
vehicle, are enclosed in robust flares dramatically offset from the
body. Partly trapezoidal in shape, yet not asymmetrical, these
angular, crisply-contoured wheel flares reinterpret one of Jeep’s
fundamental design cues.
“The flares are stretched and pulled taut at one end,” Vardis said.
“Each presents a ‘long side’ angled toward the center of the body.”
The body in turn tapers toward the front in plan view to expose more
of the flares and accent the wide stance. The flares enclose large
22-inch, five-spoke wheels, each with a hefty 34-inch overall
diameter. The specially-crafted tires are accented by a red stripe,
with the red color repeated on the exposed brake calipers.
The lower body, which kicks outward along the bottoms of the doors,
intersects the flares crisply. Tucked beneath this horizontal
element is a recessed running board, accented by a silver molding. A
tall trapezoidal vent, located at the front fender-front door cut
line, is home to the circular Trail Rated badge.
The Trailhawk’s long hood is fronted by a signature seven-slot Jeep
grille angled rearward to match the lean-back surface of the forward
flares, with the slots filled with a mesh texture. Bracketed between
the grille and the flares, the chamfered headlamps mimic the
lean-back stance. Beneath their clear flush lenses, HID projector
beam quad lamps nestled into twin “telescopic” polished aluminum
barrels light the way forward while LEDs, configured in parallel
stripes provide park and turn signals.
“The main headlamp units are cropped diagonally across the top,”
said Vardis. “They peer out from an angled brow, giving the vehicle
its bold, sinister look. In front view, the left and right lamps
evoke the hooded eyes of a bird of prey.
“Like other concepts, we first viewed the math surface of the grille
and headlamps together in the computer” added Vardis. “We
immediately noticed the hawkish expression, hence the name
The taillamps mimic the look of the headlamps, including the striped
turn signals, with the surface of the liftgate carved away.
The vehicle’s upper structure is set onto the lower body, encased by
a crisp, chamfered 360-degree molding that runs around the
greenhouse, accenting the high, arching beltline. At the base of the
windshield is a seven-slot cowl screen that reprises the grille. The
body is painted in Argent Pearl high-gloss, with the flares and
lower body a slightly darker low-gloss variant.
The side windows retract fully into the body, leaving no B-pillar
above the belt, while the diagonal quarter windows are also fully
retractable. Gray-tinted twin longitudinal glass panels over the
first- and second-row seats and the glass panel over the cargo
compartment are removable, as is the swing-up backlight. With all
the glass lowered and removed, the Trailhawk offers occupants
virtually the same open-air ambience as a typical soft top Jeep. The
fixed central spine contains overhead lighting and several
integrated storage bins.
“The Jeep Trailhawk interior emphasizes the vehicle’s open
air-freedom, inviting elements of the exterior theme into the
interior,“said Cliff Wilkins, responsible for the interior design.
“Tough mechanical elements which evoke exterior details are
contrasted with sophisticated materials and finishes to give a
modern, rugged, purposeful interior while delivering a premium
The four-passenger interior is dominated by two major design
elements —the cross-car instrument panel (I/P) form and a
full-length central spine which forms the floor console. The AC
outlets, center stack compass/inclinometer, and the dimensional,
double-deck “biplane” gauges are housed in circular casings having
the appearance of machined aluminum, with detailing matching
headlamp surrounds. The two-tone leather-wrapped aluminum steering
wheel features vertical individual switches for lights and speed
Riding the transmission tunnel, the console’s raised walls create a
full-length open bin, handy for the storage of sundry items. Within
the console’s side rails, two front/rear combination armrest/storage
bin modules, movable via concealed tracks, can be positioned
fore-aft at the occupants’ discretion. Using the familiar touchpad
technology of laptop computers, a flip-out pad for the remote
control fold-away flat screen navigation unit is housed in the
“The open console’s unique utility is enhanced by the relocation of
the transfer case ‘Terrain Selector’ switch to the center stack of
the I/P,” said Wilkins. “Also, there is the use of an electronic
gear selector/park brake lever mounted to the right side of the
steering column to continue this effect.”
Additional storage is available forward of the drop-open center
stack control module, and in the lower door trim panels.
The driver and three passengers can relax in individual premium
leather seating in Bark Black and Firewood Orange. The vehicle’s
floor is a durable spray-finish with integrated non-slip heel pads,
practical for all-weather use.
In the cargo area, each quarter panel houses a removable, portable
“audio pod” sound system. Handsome in their rectangular dark gray
cases accented with silver circular speaker bezels, each “pod” is
fitted with a dock for an MP3 player. For carrying of first aid or
road hazard gear, jerry-can style boxes in easy-to-find Firewood
Orange are mounted forward of the speaker “pods.”
The utility of the cargo area is enhanced by a drop-down tailgate
featuring integral concealed storage, four cup holders, and a
sliding Load ‘N Go cargo tray with movable partitions that roll
rearward for easy retrieval of stored items.
“One of the most remarkable things about the interior,” concludes
Wilkins, “is that it was designed and surfaced entirely
electronically — there were no traditional sketches or 3-D models.
Even so, the interior turned out just as we had envisioned.”