2004 Jeep Rescue concept car based on the Dodge Ram
The 2004 Jeep Rescue is a Ram-based Jeep which takes the brand to a whole new size, while increasing its ability to "go anywhere but carry people out" (Sgalia). It's all steel, with front and rear sunroofs, and has a topographical navigation system along with various technologies (including heat sensors) to find people lost in the mountains. Turning the key brings up a loud, clattering diesel that clearly has tons of power (rumor has it that particular engine is more powerful than standard Cummins turbodiesels), despite the various limiters built into concept cars to make sure journalists don't destroy them. The gearshift is hard to operate, requiring good slams to get into gear, and some skill or experience to find the right gears; and it's limited to third. The ride is firm, and the steering is quicker in response than practical for a production model.
The Rescue doesn't look especially imposing, but it is quite large, and very high off the ground; you need to step high up onto the side bar to get enough height to swing into the cab. Once there, you're confronted with a very nicely done interior that could actually be used in a production model, if the company was willing to shell out for the chrome switches, covered by safety caps, or the massive central video screen (currently nonfunctional) that showed the topographical display, heat sensors, and other features. The chrome switches and other elements help to keep the blank display screen from dominating.
The interior is large and comfortable, with no cues from the Ram pickups. It got a great reception at car shows, looks great in person, and has well thought out controls; it seems to make a lot of functions manageable. The chrome and diesel sound are both very much to our tastes. The styling, which makes a massive vehicle seem fairly friendly and manageable, is very much to our taste - as Sgalia would say, it keeps even the biggest Jeep friendly, approachable, and helpful-looking. That may hurt sales, but at least it'll be probably sold to those who aren't using their cars as weapons.
The Dodge Ram chassis comes complete with solid front axle and Cummins diesel engine - which means that, like the Sling Shot, it could go into production quickly (but it hasn’t, four years later, and is no longer likely to).
The Rescue can be configured to run almost totally open - with folding front windshield and a retractable backlite, a sliding glass sunroof in front, a fold-forward canvas roof in the rear, and removable doors (all four).
Featuring body-on-frame construction with hydroformed frame rails and riding on an 80-inch wide chassis with 123-inch wheelbase and 37-inch tires, the Jeep Rescue is built for anything thrown its way. The front hydropneumatic suspension combines with the heavy-duty link-coil rear suspension to give the Rescue its solid footing on all terrain. The suspension has adjustable ride height and an additional 4-inch lift available for fording. The aforementioned 37-inch tires feature an MTR tread and run-flat capability, negating the need for a spare. On-board tire pressure control has the ability to tune tire pressures for maximum traction on all surfaces.
Powered by a Cummins diesel and featuring seating for five, the Jeep Rescue's primary mission is rescue capability, and its list of rescue and safety equipment is impressive:
* AC electric power (10 kW) generation in the field
* 3-D topographical mapping software and topographical navigation system
* Under- chassis, point-of-view cameras for avoiding danger in its path
* Passive, infrared (thermal) cameras for search and rescue
* Satellite telephone; VHF radio, digital video recorder with satellite transmission capability
* Retractable 4-point harnesses for vehicle occupants
* Exterior perimeter lighting
* White LEV lighting for long distance visual search and reduced power use
* Folding seats in rear compartment of vehicle
* Remote control winch - front and back
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.