You apperceive the sun affectation labels that acquaint SUV owners that such cartage don’t handle like cars in emergency maneuvers? AutoWeek accidental editor and test-track disciplinarian Pete Albrecht accomplished immediate the calmness of that admonishing on Oct. 16. He was active a Jeep Liberty in a slalom analysis aback it formed over twice, landing aback on its wheels.
The Liberty was angled on about every anatomy panel; Albrecht suffered cuts to his easily and still has a abscessed close a ages later. He was evaluating the new-for-2002 bunched SUV for an AutoFile alley test, active a 490-foot slalom laid out in a akin parking lot at California Speedway. The advance uses eight cartage cones in a beeline line, 70 anxiety apart, for seven gates.
DaimlerChrysler admiral catechism the analysis methodology, its account to the way owners drive, the adequacy of the analysis armpit and the active technique. They additionally say no added testing bureau or chump has appear an blow like this one.
Albrecht’s dispatch in the rear-drive 3.7-liter Jeep Liberty Sport was about 40 mph, commensurable to the best-handling bunched SUVs activated previously.
“I bethink rounding the seventh cone and cerebration I had this one in the bag,” said Albrecht. “The aing affair I bethink is an impact, and actuality tossed aback and forth.” AW West Coast Editor Mark Vaughn, the added AutoFile analysis driver, was celebratory and timing the run from about 300 anxiety abroad from the centermost of the course.
“On the second-to-last cone, the Liberty aerial its driver-side auto off the pavement, afresh acclimatized aback down, and Pete fabricated the move for the aftermost cone,” Vaughn reported. The Liberty rolled, driver-side first, the A-pillar and roof aboriginal contacting the pavement aloof accomplished the aftermost cone.
Albrecht becoming his master’s amount in automated engineering from Northwestern University and was active in agent programs at both Bosch and Porsche AG afore entering journalism as Alley & Track’s engineering editor in 1987. He has been freelancing aback 1988 and a adviser to AW’s analysis affairs aback 1992.
Liberty went on auction alone six months ago, so there are no allusive statistics about its blow almanac as yet. It is rated at two of bristles stars in the NHTSA’s rollover attrition ratings, suggesting a 30 to 40 percent blow of rollover in a single-car accident. The ratings, with one brilliant advertence the accomplished blow and bristles stars the least, accept been controversial. They are not acquired from activating tests but affected based on the clue and acme of the centermost of gravity. Best SUVs amount two or three stars; the alone SUV with four is the minivan-based Pontiac Aztek 4×4.
NHTSA addendum that 90 percent of rollovers appear not on pavement, as in this test, but aback the agent leaves the road. The bureau is developing a activating analysis accepted to admeasurement susceptibility to on-road rollovers, allowable by Congress to be accustomed by November 2003. Many testing protocols are actuality evaluated; none resembles AutoWeek’s slalom, which is carefully different to the magazine.
“Our slalom was not advised to abet a rollover, or alike analysis for one,” said AutoWeek’s Detroit-based Alley Analysis Editor Natalie Neff. “Its aim is to appraise administration characteristics, abnormally in transitions. Typically, we acquisition the absolute aback we hit a cone or circuit out. We didn’t set out to cycle the Jeep.”
On the run aloof afore the one in which the agent rolled, Albrecht spun the Liberty. During a archetypal analysis anniversary disciplinarian makes eight to 10 runs in following of the fastest time—the two fastest are averaged for the cardinal appear in the alley test. Spinning is not aberrant as the testers try assorted techniques and afresh advance the accountable cartage to acquisition their limits.
Hundreds of cars and trucks accept undergone this aforementioned test, with the aforementioned two drivers application the aforementioned methods, aback 1992. Alone the Liberty has formed over, admitting two added SUVs—the BMW X5 in July 2000 and the Land Rover Discovery in August 1999—lifted two auto off the pavement, an blow engineers accredit to as TWL (two-wheel lift). Both the BMW and Land Rover were activated at Pomona Fairgrounds; testing confused to the California Speedway aboriginal this year, in allotment because the pavement is of bigger quality.
After the accident, the Jeep, which had been loaned to AW by DaimlerChrysler, was impounded and the aggregation assassin an blow about-face expert. Gregory Stephens, a accomplice in Collision Research and Analysis with offices in Gig Harbor, Washington, has 14 years experience.
Basing his appraisal on annoy marks on the pavement and marks the agent fabricated aback it formed over, Stephens bent it fabricated two abounding rolls. He estimated the speeds complex at 37 to 42.8 mph. The yaw rate—its rotational motion about a vertical axis—was about 100 degrees/second aback it rolled. That is, it was spinning out alike as it tumbled.
He attributed the rollover to a “combination of circumstances” appropriate to the test. Nothing bankrupt on the agent to account the crash, he said. Stephens abstinent a aberration in the pavement abrasion of up to 10 percent at acute credibility beside the sixth and seventh cones. He appropriate the Liberty may accept slid on pavement with low anchor and afresh hit the high-friction surface, allowance to admit the roll. A accidental element, Stephens said, could be the activity stored in the springs and anatomy as the agent adjourned the continued slalom in a pendulum-like effect.
Stephens presented his address to AutoWeek editors and Jeep engineers in a affair Nov. 15 at Chrysler’s Chelsea, Michigan, Proving Grounds. Jeep agent development controlling architect Jack Broomall said he had apprenticed a agnate slalom afterwards incident.
“We’ve laid out what we anticipate is a alike of your advance and, frankly, we haven’t been able to carbon the aftereffect of your test,” said Broomall. “We can’t alike get two auto up.” The clue at Chelsea differed in alone one respect: The accessory of abrasion was consistent. Said Broomall of the parking lot area AW tests: “We would never analysis there.”
He and agent dynamics architect Ian Sharp said that Liberty had been subjected to a advanced arrangement of tests in development. These included slaloms with cones spaced at a added archetypal 100 feet; Consumer Union’s bifold lane-change action (which has generated altercation for years, best afresh aback Consumer Reports rated the Mitsubishi Montero Limited “unacceptable” because it angled assimilate two wheels); and several alternatives proposed appropriately far for NHTSA’s activating test. It doesn’t cycle in any of them, the engineers said.
Repeating AutoWeek’s analysis at Chelsea in a Liberty congenital for the purpose and identical to the one that formed in California, Vaughn approved the accepted technique, aboriginal with Sharp aboard. Afresh Vaughn approved several runs with no passenger; afterwards about bisected a dozen, the Liberty afresh aerial two wheels. Vaughn appear the throttle, steered straight, and it came to rest, stable.
Broomall and Sharp were afraid by the technique. Engineers told to average, say, 40 mph in a slalom, canyon the aboriginal cone at 40 mph, administer aloof abundant burke to alter absent drive due to ablution during the maneuver, and avenue at 40 mph. That’s not how AW does it. Both drivers accouterment the advance as ability weekend auto-cross competitors, appetite for minimum time amid the aboriginal and aftermost cones.
This entails entering at a college dispatch and braking afore the aboriginal council ascribe at the additional cone. On exit, afterwards the seventh cone, they about drive accomplished the eighth one beneath dispatch in a beeline line, not attempting to turn. In between, they attune the burke to authority it at the administration absolute by seat-of-the-pants feel.
The drivers appraise the vehicle’s behavior beneath braking into the aboriginal turn, the affluence with which it can be counterbalanced by burke inputs and council through the accelerated transitions, and its address beneath acceleration. At the end, this advice is aggregate in a accounting report. While the boilerplate dispatch is measured, and appear in the magazine, the two drivers’ abstract evaluations about the vehicle’s behavior are as important as the speed.
DaimlerChrysler questions the authority of such at-the-limits testing of an SUV, decidedly one like Liberty that is advised to accomplish off-road. The fore-aft inputs from applying brakes at the alpha of the run, and burke while cornering, Stephens suggested, contributed to the Liberty accepting appealing abundant all of its weight on the larboard advanced caster aloof afore it rolled.
Though the analysis Jeep was a 2wd model, it shares the long-travel abeyance (control accoutrements in front, alive arbor in back, braid springs and gas shocks all around) and aerial arena approval (eight inches at the rear axle) of the 4×4. The architecture allows Liberty to accouterment austere off-road challenges such as the Rubicon Trail.
What did this rollover prove? AW didn’t set out to prove anything; there was an blow beneath acute altitude that don’t alongside those apparent in circadian driving. The adventure demonstrates yet afresh that SUVs handle abnormally than do cars at the limits. It makes us afraid to see such SUVs apprenticed as they about are, like accustomed bunched cars. As Pete Albrecht appreciates, drivers avoid the again warnings at their own peril.
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