2008 Detroit Auto Show: Hummer HX Concept
What it Is
Hummer HX Concept Preview – Detroit Auto Show: Deafening silence. Microsoft Works. Compact Hummer. All oxymorons, yet making its debut in Detroit is the Hummer HX Concept, an off-road vehicle smaller than the H3, and designed to go head-to-head with the likes of the Jeep Wrangler.Why it Matters
Think of an off-road vehicle, and you probably still think of some form of Jeep. GM would love to have one of its Hummers pop into your head instead of a Wrangler or Grand Cherokee, and the HX Concept is designed to do the job, taking on the classic Wrangler on the world’s unbeaten paths.
What’s Under the Hood
The HX boasts a 3.6-liter V-6 E85-ready flex-fuel engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and, of course, an off-road ready full-time four-wheel drive system with locking front and rear differentials. Power figures weren’t given, but we suspect it has been tuned for low-end torque, rather than high-end power as in the Cadillac CTS. The 35-inch tall tires are mounted on custom bead-lock rims, and a complete underbody protection kit includes a front skid plate and drivetrain plates to protect the HX from the rigors of off-road duty.
What it Looks Like
While some of us have never warmed to the extroverted looks of Hummer’s offerings, they obviously have a lot of appeal, and GM isn’t about to mess with its styling success. The HX is immediately recognizable as a Hummer, with the same broad and chiseled shoulders, blunt nose and aggressive stance we’ve seen on the H1, H2 and H3. Since the open air is as big a part of the off-road experience as smacking your head on rollbars, the HX features removable panels in the roof, rear hatch and rear side glass.
Despite its clearly ground-based mission, Hummer says the HX’s interior is “aeronautically inspired.” While the “...when Hummers fly” jokes pretty much write themselves, the intent is to mimic the light weight and strength of aeronautical components, rather than inspire flight. Concept sketches show an interior with lots of exposed aluminum and gauges with an interesting clipped-circle look mounted on an extruded cross-vehicle beam.
What Hummer Says
Hummer makes no bones about the HX’s mission, saying that it “challenges the hierarchy of the trail” in the first sentence of the press release. It goes on to quote Hummer general manager Martin Walsh as saying, “The HX is Hummer’s vision of an agile, trail-ready, open-air vehicle that fits the lifestyles of everyone who needs or wants to drive off road. Of course, it carries exceptional off-road capability and the distinctive styling for which all Hummers are known.”
What We Think
We like the looks of the HX, and let’s face it, this is probably a prototype version of the much-rumored H4. With Hummer’s advertising focusing so much on off-road capability and even disaster preparedness, a Wrangler challenger is an obvious and smart move for the company. Our only advice: Also make a four door version, as the Wrangler Unlimited has proved that even trail busters like a little practicality.
By Keith Buglewicz
Photo credit: Hummer