Adventures in Versatility: The New Jeep Varsity
9 January 2000Go-Anywhere, Do-Anything Urban Adventure Concept Blurs Line Between Boulevard and Boulder Performance
DETROIT -- The unmistakable seven-slotted grille, the trademark trapezoidal wheel openings, radical approach and departure angles, ample ground clearance. And -- of course -- four-wheel drive. Did DaimlerChrysler introduce a new Jeep(R) sport-utility concept at the 2000 North American International Auto Show? No. It's the Jeep Varsity, a go-anywhere, do-anything urban adventure concept. "We once again challenged ourselves to invent a new vehicle category," said Tom Gale, Executive Vice President - Product Development and Design. "In doing so, we melded the versatility of a five-door hatchback with a unique roofline and the Grand Cherokee's capability. "As sporty and powerful as it is, the Varsity is a true Jeep vehicle. This concept is as adventurous as the people who drive Jeep vehicles today -- whether in an urban environment or off-road." The Jeep Varsity is powered by a 3.5-liter, 300 horsepower, 255 lb.-ft. V-6 engine coupled to a four-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission and a shift-on-the-fly transfer case with full-time four-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive low-range modes. Custom independent front and rear suspension with coil-over-shock set-up and massive 19-inch wheels with P235/55R tires provide the ride and handling expected from a sports sedan. Estimated performance figures include a sprint to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds and a top speed of 130 mph. "Varsity speaks right to the heart of the serious driving enthusiast," said Bill Chergosky, Product Designer at DaimlerChrysler's Pacifica Advanced Product Design Center in Carlsbad, Calif. "We designed this vehicle with adventurous people in mind. With its versatility, Varsity could very well be a family vehicle, but its performance, capability and appearance push Varsity into a new arena. It has this adventurous 'no strings attached' aura." Added Chergosky: "With Grand Cherokee as its inspiration for capability, Jeep Varsity was developed as a car that is perfectly suited to environments where trucks are becoming ever more popular. "Sport-utility-style command-of-the-road seating positions combined with robust bumpers, substantial wheel flares and side sill, a strong character line and high belt make Varsity a heavy-duty car." Confidence-inspiring shapes continue in the wheels. A five-spoke design executed with faceted aluminum billets, the wheels give Varsity a sure-footed appearance. Head and tail lamps have a precise, crafted appearance and improved light output to enhance the vehicle's safety and security while signaling the Jeep heritage through round bezels. Creating a fresh, more vertical interpretation of the legendary and trademarked Jeep "face," Varsity reflects design cues from both Grand Cherokee and Wrangler. Wrangler's influence is also noticeable in the concept's profile, with the A-pillar continuing to the Grand Cherokee-style trapezoidal wheel flare. Together with the vehicle's athletic stance, the rear design shows off Varsity's tailored sporty personality. Impressive center-mounted chrome double exhaust pipes, its round lamp treatment and the oversized Jeep name on the decklid spell performance. Chiseled lines in the bumper, decklid and lamp surrounds make for a powerful design statement. Overall, this generates an all-new rear "face" for a Jeep vehicle. The interior mimics Varsity's exterior design with substantial shapes, strong lines and a backbone-style center console running through the vehicle. The symmetrical instrument panel incorporates large round gauges with tipped-out angular surfaces and yellow-green glowing backlights. Executed in heavy-duty materials, the interior suggests a rugged scuba-diving or mountaineering readiness. Said Chergosky: "The instruments, dials and other details appear to be more than just that. The doorhandle could be rock climbing equipment and the vehicle compass and attitude sensor would fit nicely in a survival kit. The two-wheel and four-wheel drive modes are selected by a solid metal dial. Big green stitches adorn the leather steering wheel and seats. Adding sophistication, the interior is executed in warm celery- and olive-based colors with inviting textures." The center stack interlocks with the backbone console and incorporates vertical design elements in harmony with Varsity's front and rear exterior appearance. Black rubber inlays in the satin aluminum surfaces and raised aluminum strips in the cargo area add to the protective atmosphere in the interior. Concluded Gale: "The Jeep Varsity urban adventure concept blurs the line between boulevard and boulder performance."