General Motors is justly proud of its Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center, which designed and developed the FNR-X PHEV SUV concept that debuted at the Shanghai Auto Show this week. The world is cuckoo for SUVs. A plug-in hybrid model should be just what the doctor ordered for those looking to jump into the electric car revolution but only at the shallow end of the pool.

If emotion sells cars (and it does), the hunky chunky FNR-X has the brawny, in-your-face good looks so much in fashion these days. The designers at PATAC must have slept with miniature Camaros under their pillows at night. The FNR-X translates the edginess of Chevrolet’s muscle car into SUV design language perfectly.


Is the FNR-X the SUV with the Voltec drivetrain developed for the Chevy Volt many have been hoping for? We’re not sure of that. The wording from the official GM press release is a bit ambiguous. “The plug-in hybrid electric vehicle can switch between its engine and electric motor, while offering two driving modes: V (Versatility) and S (Sport).” Make of that what you will. GM is also careful not to mention anything about all-wheel-drive capability.

Chevrolet doesn’t refer to the FNR-X as an SUV. Instead, it describes it as an “all purpose sports concept vehicle.” To make it off-road capable, it has an active suspension that can adjust ride height to various road conditions. The car also has several aerodynamic tweaks to help it slip through the air — active grille shutters and switchable wheel blades adjust automatically during high-speed driving. It also has front and rear spoilers and side skirts that move up and down in accordance with different driving modes.

The interior is just as high tech and edgy as the exterior. “It incorporates an Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) dynamic display system, a unique intelligent speech interaction system and an ID-customizable information system. With the all-terrain Advanced Driver Assist System in addition to optical and acoustic recognition sensors all over its body, the FNR-X provides highly autonomous driver assistance by choosing the best route based on its predictions for complex road conditions. Its panoramic intelligent augmented reality head-up display offers a clear 270-degree posterior-lateral view to maximize safety and driving pleasure.”

Motor1 is effusive in its praise of the FNR-X PHEV SUV, calling it the “coolest concept in Shanghai.” What no one knows at this moment is when the car might go into production or whether a version is intended for US customers. Tesla’s Model 3 sedan is ready to go into production, but its SUV variant won’t be ready until somewhere down the road. A PHEV SUV that looks like a first cousin to a Camaro and a Silverado should get lots of American drivers excited. Hopefully Chevrolet doesn’t take too long making up its mind. If I were running the Bow Tie division at GM, I would have these cars in showrooms yesterday.

Source and photo credits: GM