The general consensus is that HUMMER will be producing a smaller vehicle in the near future, most likely called the H4. After my conversation with Carl Zipfel, HUMMER’s director of exterior design, my consensus is that it will be very similar to the HX concept that appeared at the Detroit Auto Show.
We all know that somewhere between concept and production there are inevitable changes. Zipfel says that when working with a concept like the HX, it’s important to keep your eye on possible production. “We like to stay within striking distance,” he explained. Zipfel, being an engineer of sorts, put that comment in quantitative terms as well: “As far as the dimensions and the features, I think we’re about 90% there. We’ll probably lose some of the custom billet pieces here and there…but I could see this as an Alpha almost exactly like it is – integrated winch, 35inch tires, 20 inch wheels, some billet parts – it’s not really that un-doable. ”
Some HUMMER enthusiasts have expressed concern about the independent front and rear suspension on the HX concept, but Zipfel suggests that could change. “(The HX) is showing an independent front with a semi-trailing rear, and there might be a little re-think on that if it ever did reach production. I think you’d still see the independent front, but what the rear ended up being could be debated.”
Since Zipfel works with the entire HUMMER brand, I was also interested in what insight the HX could give us into the upcoming exterior update to the H2. Can we expect to see any design cues from the HX on the newly designed H2? “Oh yea, definitely…we’ll always do a 7 port grille, but we’re certainly looking at how we evolve the grille, how we execute things like the headlamps and tail lamps. So all the things you’re seeing on (the HX) will definitely have some influence on any refresh of the H2.” Zipfel was relatively tight-lipped on the subject of H2, but did offer some commentary on all the comparisons HX is getting to the Jeep Wrangler:
“I think a lot of people have been tagging it as the ‘wrangler beater’ because of the size, but to be honest, we’ve always seen ourselves as a little more premium and a notch above the Jeep brand – it’s just our philosophy and how we fit within GM. This will certainly be compared against Wrangler, but we were never worried about being one degree better in an area than the wrangler…this has a 56 degree approach angle on the front, 51 on the rear – it’s in between better than H2 and almost as good as H1. So off-road capability-wise, you’d have to modify a wrangler quite a bit to get to those kind of numbers. We went after those numbers…all based on our own internal feelings about where a vehicle this size should be in terms its off-road capability – not really worrying too much about the other guys.”
There you have it – although, don’t expect the HUMMER vs. Jeep Wrangler debate to subside anytime soon. Personally, I think more depends on the driver’s abilities than a couple of degrees on an angle of approach or departure . Although, I believe my preference between the two vehicles should be fairly obvious.