Introduced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, in January 2004, the Jeep Treo was a design study based on the idea that 15-20 years down the line cars would be fuel-cell powered and would not need a large engine. The styling was not meant to be used on a current Jeep, but was an extrapolation of technology and styling trends into the distant future.
The Treo has a very expansive interior, which seems very large, and open; there's lots of visibility up front. You can see through the grille, which can be helpful not just in parking (you can see the white line or concrete stop) but also in avoiding accidents with little people.
As a design study, the Treo is very slow, and the electric motors make a surprising amount of noise - or perhaps it's actually not fully electric - but concept cars aren't expected to even move, so being able to drive the Treo under its own power is an achievement in itself.
The Jeep Treo seems very practical and roomy up front. The overall feeling of spaciousness is wondrous and unusual; the ride is nicely cushioned. The rear has ample room for one person. The instrument panel is actually quite effective; and wheel slides back and forth so it can be positioned directly in front of the driver or, more to the point, can be used in both right and left hand drive nations.
The futuristic design is not without its problems; we kept seeing the tail in our peripheral vision and reflexively thought it was another car. Rear visibility is limited, and you can't see the rear quarters at all.
Some of the extra space up front is taken up by a first aid kit and tool kit, shown in the interior photos. Seats are large buckets, not unlike 1970s chairs, very rounded and covered in a rough yellowish fabric.
The Treo is the next-generation, urban-active Jeep - one that will allow it to thrive in a city or campus environment, yet one that will easily take its owner to the trailhead using dual electric motors that power all four wheels.
Treo - a name meaning "three" in various languages - comes from the concept's unique 2 + 1 seating.
The classic Jeep design elements - the seven slot grille, large "eye" headlamps and the prominent windshield presence - are enhanced by a bumper with rugged, oversized tow hooks, slightly exposed front suspension componentry, and bolt-on fenders.
The Treo's shape culminates in a dramatically tapered tail, which is augmented by twin, high-mounted spar wings that serve a triple functional role as running, brake and tail lamps, cooling air intakes, and as the exterior mounting points for twin Jeep Rubicon bikes.
An advanced drive-by-wire system allows for instant adaptability for either left- or right-hand drive. The steering column, pedals and instrumentation are all contained in one module - a single piece of sculpture that can be easily slid to either side of the car - which mounts to a one-piece structural beam (a second module contains the radio, GPS and HVAC controls in a touch screen that is removable). The Jeep see-through grille and the creative greenhouse design contribute to the Treo's roomy, air interior - allowing it to take full advantage of natural and ambient light sources. Future-tech materials mesh with tactile textures and surfaces, which results in an interior environment that's bright, open and functional. The Treo's rear seat can be folded to store more gear, although the front wheels from the exterior-mounted bikes can be stored in the back without disturbing the rear passanger.
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Concept cars are often made so a car’s feel can be evaluated, problems can be foreseen, and reactions of the public can be judged. Some concepts test specific ideas, colors, controls, or materials — either subtle or out of proportion, to hide what’s being tested. Some are created to help designers think “out of the box.” The Challenger, Prowler, PT Cruiser, and Viper were all tested as production-based concepts dressed up to hide the production intent.
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