With its sight set on challenging Jeep's iconic Wrangler, General Motors' Hummer division debuted the HX Concept SUV at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show. This off-road-ready compact SUV was the brainchild of Robert Jablonski, David Rojas and Min Young Kang, a trio of recent college graduates hired by GM to design what the company called, "a fun, nimble, and innovative Hummer concept." HX is more than a concept, however.

Hummer HX Concept
Hummer HX Concept

It would have been easy to take Hummer's existing H3 midsize SUV, cut down the wheelbase, lop off two doors, add a convertible top, and call it a day. Instead, the HX Concept was designed from the ground up with multiple open-air configurations. A pair of removable panels is located above the driver and passenger seats along with a removable, modular rear roof assembly. With all panels removed, HX looks like a convertible with giant, off-road tires. Other configurations include the "SUT," which makes the HX look like a mini pickup truck, as well as a sleek fastback design. In another nod to off-road enthusiasts, GM made HX's doors and fender flares removable, providing a narrower, more off-road maneuverable vehicle. Underneath the rugged facade is a full-time four-wheel drive system with locking front and rear differentials. Thirteen inches of ground clearance allow the HX to ford up to two feet of standing water.

Hummer HX Concept
Hummer HX Concept

Power gets to all four wheels via GM's "high feature" 3.6-liter V6 engine. It employs the high-pressure direct fuel injection system found in the Cadillac CTS and STS to produce 304 horsepower when teamed with the standard six-speed automatic transmission. The concept's engine can also run on E85 ethanol.

Though dubbed a concept, HX's general design foreshadows a production vehicle that Hummer will probably introduce in calendar year 2009. The H4, as the truck will likely be dubbed, should provide Hummer with its first vehicle appreciated more for its off-road prowess than its aggressive styling. Expect prices to start around $25,000.