If you're into off-roading -- and we mean really into it -- then Daimler-Chrysler unveiled the vehicle of your dreams in 2005. It's a Jeep with more horsepower, more climbing ability and more steering options than any car ever made. With two HEMI engines and the ability to turn itself completely around in place, the Jeep Hurricane concept car is truly one of a kind.
In this article, we'll take a look at the amazing things the Jeep Hurricane can do, and we'll find out what this concept car means for the future of production Jeeps.
The Jeep Hurricane is meant to be an extreme vehicle. It's certainly not intended for the average driver. According to Trevor Creed, Senior Vice President of Chrysler Group Design, "Jeep Hurricane is simply the most maneuverable, most capable and most powerful 4x4 ever built."
With more than 14 inches (36 cm) of ground clearance and 20 inches (51 cm) of suspension travel, the Hurricane is in a class of its own when it comes to off-road capability. As Zetsche said at the 2005 Detroit Auto Show, "To put that into perspective, the clearance is 5 inches higher and the articulation is almost triple that of our most off-road-capable Jeep production vehicle."
The four-wheel independent short/long-arm suspension system is dampened by coilover shocks with remote reservoirs (this allows for longer travel in the shock). The 20-inch wheels hold specially designed off-roading tires that are 37 inches tall. Chrysler reports an approach angle of 64 degrees and a departure angle of 86.7 degrees.
The Hurricane is more than just a Super Jeep. It also represents an attempt by Chrysler's engineers to combine excess (it does have two HEMI engines) with responsibility (new technology allows the Hurricane to operate on as few as four cylinders).
In the next section, we'll find out what makes the Jeep Hurricane so extreme.
Two HEMIs in a Jeep
For many automotive enthusiasts, the HEMI engine represents the pinnacle of American muscle. So what could be better than putting a HEMI in a Jeep?
How about putting two HEMIs in a Jeep? The Jeep Hurricane features a 5.7-liter HEMI engine in the front, generating 335 horsepower and 370 lb-ft of torque. In the rear of the Hurricane is another 5.7-liter HEMI, generating the same amount of horsepower and torque. That's a total of 670 horsepower and 740 lb-ft of torque.
Fuel efficiency isn't always the first thing on a Jeep enthusiast's mind, but cruising along with two HEMIs roaring might seem wasteful. In keeping with the concept of combining responsibility with excess, Chrysler used its multi-displacement system in the Hurricane. This system allows half of the cylinders in an engine to be deactivated when the vehicle doesn't need as much power. When you're pushing your way through thick mud or climbing a rock face at a 50-degree angle, all 16 cylinders (eight per engine) are cranking out power. If you're charging along a trail, it might only need 12 cylinders, so four cylinders in one of the engines are deactivated. Driving around in the suburbs doesn't demand a huge amount of horsepower, so another four cylinders are deactivated, leaving just eight cylinders running. And finally, staying at highway speed (65 mph/97 kph or so) can often require less than 20 hp, so one of the HEMIs is turned off while the other runs with only half of its cylinders. All of this cylinder juggling happens without the driver's input -- it's all automatic and barely noticeable.
The Hurricane's power is delivered to its solid split axles through a central transfer case that incorporates a mechanically controlled four-wheel torque-distribution system (see the next section for an illustration). In this system, there is a driveshaft for each wheel instead of one central driveshaft. If you've ever seen a powerful vehicle under heavy acceleration, you might have noticed that the frame seems to twist or that one of the tires lifts off the ground. This is due, in part, to the rotation of the driveshaft: The direction of the spin delivers downforce to one side but lifts the other side. The Hurricane's split-axle design applies a downward force on each wheel individually, giving it great traction under acceleration.
Jeep Hurricane Steering
The Hurricane's steering system is a marvel of engineering all by itself. There are multiple steering modes using four-wheel independent steering. That means that each wheel can turn separately from the others.
In standard steering mode, the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction to the front wheels, which tightens the turning radius and makes for more accurate steering. In a second mode, the rear wheels turn in the same direction as the front wheels, meaning the Hurricane can "crab-steer" -- move to the side without changing the direction that it faces.
A third mode, utilizing the "T-Box Zero Steer" mechanism, allows all four wheels to "toe-in" and changes the drive direction to each wheel so that they alternate. The result? The Jeep Hurricane has a turning radius of zero. The Hurricane can actually rotate in place.
Jeep Hurricane Performance
You won't find many luxury features in the Jeep Hurricane. It was crafted to be a vehicle concerned only with performance. The one-piece body is made of light-weight structural carbon fiber, which offers amazing rigidity for its strength. That strength allows the body to serve as the chassis, instead of using a traditional frame. All the engine, transfer case, and suspension components are mounted directly to the body. The Hurricane's skid plate is an aluminum spine that also connects the body/chassis to the underside of the vehicle.
There's only enough room inside for two, and they'll be getting into the Hurricane "Dukes of Hazzard" style -- there aren't any doors (nor is there a roof, for that mater, other than some protective bars). Once inside, much of the carbon-fiber chassis is exposed, although the polished aluminum accents make the dashboard look futuristic instead of rustic.
The engineers at Chrysler set out to make the ultimate off-road vehicle. Even though there won't be production Hurricanes, they did build a fully functioning prototype, and Chrysler secured several patents while developing the Hurricane. Now that they know how well these systems work, Jeep Hurricane technology could be showing up on the Jeep showroom floor in the near future.
For more information on the Jeep Hurricane and other concept cars, check out the links on the next page.
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