Would you buy a Hummer if it was smaller than the brand’s current models and also ran on ethanol? Do you appreciate the Hummer look, or, even want something like today’s H3, but avoid the brand because there’s no alternatively-fueled power plant?
On display now at the Detroit Auto Show is the Hummer HX concept that runs a 3.6L V6 that can burn E85. Smaller than the Hummer H3, the HX rides on a 103 inch wheelbase, is 171 inches long, 81 inches wide and 72 inches tall. This seems to signal that Hummer knows it needs to get smaller and leaner in order to attract new buyers. For people already enjoying their H2 and H3 models, the HX could work for them too, since it maintains the Hummer look.
What’s the Hummer look? A few years ago, I was on a date and told a girl that I thought H2s looked cool and that I was into the styling of the window openings, grille, and overall stance. Even though I said that I wouldn’t be buying one because of gas mileage concerns, the date ended there. Would there have been a second date if I was driving the more environmentally-friendly Hummer HX? I think so. Obviously, if more people considered the HX because of its ability to burn E85, this would be quite a triumph of design, engineering and especially marketing. Right now, it’s no secret that a vehicle like the H2 symbolizes a certain amount of excess, but the HX appears to be up to the challenge of changing some minds.
On the outside, the liberal use of aluminum caught my eye as its employed in the door handles, windshield frame and rear independent suspension trailing arms. The functional air intakes mounted near the windshield base drew me in because of their low-profile, distinctive placement, which is up and out of the way of deep water. Aluminum is also used on the hood vents which open and close in order to relieve under hood temperatures.
All four fender flares are removable on the HX, as well as two roof panels, the slanted rear roof assembly, and the doors. Stored inside the doors are a flashlight, first-aid kit and shovel. The overall size and profile of the HX reminds me of a lifted, convertible Jeep Commando from the late 1960s or early 70s. Is Hummer heading into Jeep territory? Yes. Competition is a great thing, so I can’t wait for the head-to-head tests if the HX becomes a reality. Also planned for the HX is a wagon-like rear enclosure for when you need a little more storage space.
On either end of the HX, you get the expected approach and departure angles thanks to very little bumper overhang. On those bumpers come the signature Hummer font and rear pair of D-rings for off-road recovery and an electric winch is mounted within the front bumper. When traveling at night, the headlights on the HX make use of focusing rings that work like the lens of an auto-focusing camera.
The HX’s interior is full of thoughtful features that will hopefully make it into production. A forward-facing camera built into the rear view mirror is ready to record your off-road adventures, or anywhere else you drive for that matter. After the drive, you can play the video back on the monitor inside the cab or send it to your chosen electronic device. Interestingly, the HX doesn’t come with a radio – only speakers which allow you to plug in your own MP3 player or similar device.
When you’re ready to put the six-speed automatic transmission in gear, the shifter, shaped somewhat like large, sideways “D” is concealed below a lid that pops open to reveal the gearshift. On the dash, the speedometer can change its display, depending on where you’re driving. For off road situations where wheel direction is critical when negotiating rough terrain, the center gauge can switch from MPH and RPM readings to display which direction the front wheels are facing.
The four bucket-style seats are situated on sliding aluminum structures that have been drilled out and fashioned for weight reduction. A weather-resistant neoprene fabric, which seems to be a popular concept car seat material, is used on the HX and the rear seats are removable. Also, each seat is mounted on its own suspension system, where the seat mounts to the exposed track.
The HX looks quite buildable, so I hope we soon get word of a production model. If that happens, the HX would be part of a Hummer lineup that GM says will be completely flex-fuel capable by 2010.
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