Manufacturers like to tease the media by unveiling thrilling concepts, some of which will never see the light of day. Two exciting examples from DCX were the Dodge Tomahawk in 2003 (a Viper-powered motorcycle) and the Chrysler ME Four-Twelve supercar from last year. This year, it's Jeep's turn: the dual-Hemi-powered, four-wheel-steered Hurricane--a vehicle DaimlerChrysler hopes has every other OE engineer scratching his head and raises the off-road bar to new heights.
If one Hemi is good, two must be better, right? With one 5.7-liter engine at each end of the 151.8-inch Hurricane, with a combined 670 horsepower and 740 pound-feet of torque, this Jeep is equipped to overcome any obstacle. With 16 cylinders of power on tap (able to move the Hurricane from zero to 60 in less than five seconds), Chrysler's Multi-Displacement System gives the driver the option of deactivating four, eight, or 12 cylinders, depending on need. (Current production 5.7-liter MDS engines deactivate four cylinders at a time; the ability to deactivate six out of eight cylinders indicates that an advanced form of MDS might be on the horizon). While no fuel-economy numbers were issued on the Hurricane, we'd expect them to be better than any other 16-cylinder, 600-plus horsepower exotic on the market.
The Hurricane's power is delivered through a central transfer case, called the T-Box, to innovative split axles (combining the advantages of solid axles with those of an independent suspension) with a mechanically controlled four-wheel torque-distribution system. Suspension is a short/long-arm independent design front and rear, with 20 inches of suspension travel, controlled by coilover shocks with remote reservoirs. The rotational direction of each of the four prop shafts allows the Hurricane to apply downward force at each wheel for traction in any circumstance.
The Hurricane may stray from Jeep's traditional solid-axle setup, but purists probably won't complain about 14.3 inches of ground clearance, near-vertical approach/departure angles, and 37-inch tires.
Some sports cars claim that they can turn on a dime--the Hurricane goes one better. With four-wheel steering, the Hurricane can turn within its own length of 151.8 inches. This is due to the unique skid-steer capability and toe steer: the ability to turn the front and rear tires inward. In addition, the vehicle features two modes of automated four-wheel steering. The first is traditional: the rear tires turn in the opposite direction of the front to reduce the turning circle. With the second, the vehicle can turn all four wheels in the same direction for nimble crablike steering. The vehicle can move sideways without changing the direction in which it's pointing.