In today’s world of vehicles like the BMW X5 M, Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG, Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, and the 570 horsepower, zero-to-sixty in 3.8 seconds Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, the idea of a high-performance SUV isn’t far off at all. However, this was largely not the case just two decades ago. Back then, people didn’t buy SUVs for performance or handling. GMC, however, sought to change that.
In the 1980s and early-1990s, SUVs were predominately seen in two lights; first as off-road vehicles, and more recently, as family vehicles. Case in point – Among the most popular SUVs of the early-1990s was the Ford Explorer. It came with a soft suspension, undersized tires, high center of gravity, and a 155 horsepower 4.0L V6 bringing the vehicle from zero-to-sixty in a leisurely 12 seconds. The Explorer sold nearly 300,000 units in 1992, but among the many reasons buyers chose it, performance clearly wasn’t one of them. GM’s own Blazer/Jimmy/Bravada trio were a similar story.
Following up on the 1991 Sonoma-derived Syclone, GMC performed a similar testosterone injection into the S-15 Jimmy, calling it “Typhoon”. Using the regular Jimmy’s naturally-aspirated 160-horsepower 4.3L V6 as a starting point, engineers added a Mitsubishi turbocharger and Garrett Water/Air intercooler, along with multi-port fuel injection, for a total output of 280 horsepower and 360 pound-foot of torque. Quite impressive, even by today’s standards.
GMC also gave the Typhoon standard all-wheel drive, upgraded sport suspension, 16-inch wheels, larger anti-lock brakes, and a self-leveling rear suspension, the latter of which was not found on the Syclone. All these upgrades allowed the Typhoon a zero-to-sixty time of 5.2 seconds – faster than a Ferrari 348ts! GMC naturally touted this in promotional material for the Typhoon.
Interior upgrades over the regular Jimmy were minimal: leather sport buckets, a standard console with shifter, and an analogue performance gauge package. The Typhoon needn’t apologize, however. People didn’t buy this car for a comfortable and opulent interior; It was all about performance, and in this respect the Typhoon clearly delivered.
The Typhoon was only sold for 1992 and 1993, with 4,693 examples produced in that time. Sever other high-performance SUVs appeared in coming years, such as the 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee 5.9L Limited and the 2000 Dodge Durango R/T. GM’s next foray in this field was the 2006 Chevrolet Trailblazer SS, which featured the Corvette’s 6.0L LS2 V8.