Chicago Auto Show: Camp Jeep Returns

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Chicago Auto Show
February 8 through 17

Once again, the popular Jeep off-road test course should be added to the long list of things to do at the Chicago Auto Show. Test tracks have been a tradition for the Chicago Auto show for the last eight-years and Jeep has always been a big part of it. There will actually be three indoor test courses; the extremely popular Jeep off-road course, the Chrysler multi-brand course, and Toyota will have a course of their own, for the 2014 Chicago Auto Show, which opens February 8. With over 1-million-square-feet of exhibition space reserved in McCormick Place, show officials are giving automakers plenty of room to spread out and show-off. Last year over 75,000 people took part in both the indoor and outdoor test drives and test tracks; participation is only expected to increase this year.

Camp Jeep Off-Road Test Course

Camp Jeep 2
Camp Jeep 2013 Chicago Auto Show

Step into one of a wide variety of brand-new Jeep model vehicles which are being put through their paces at Camp Jeep, an indoor test course for the 2014 Chicago Auto Show, with a distinctive off-road flair. You will be driven over boulders, logs, and hills, as professional drivers demonstrate the agility, stability, and maneuverability of the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8 and Jeep Wrangler models.

Groung Clearance 2Last year’s Camp Jeep course began with a display of the ground clearance abilities of the individual Jeep vehicles. It was a road-sized section of stumps, cut in diverse lengths, and placed with the flat ends on the floor. This simulated a very uneven surface, which the Jeep trucks (comfortably equipped with factory air adjustable suspension systems) managed with no problems. Tough Jeep vehicles are also factory equipped with heavy-duty skid plates, underneath, so light contact with the terra firma is no cause for concern.

30-degree angleNext up, the Jeep was driven onto a 30-degree incline, with the right wheels, while the left wheels remained on the flat floor. Thirty-degrees doesn’t sound like a very steep angle but if you have ever done any off-road driving, then you know it can be dicey. Of course, the Jeep maintained the steep angle and did not flip over. Its low center of gravity and extraordinary traction delivered the occupants safely back to level conditions.

Log RideFrom there you have the off-road version of a log ride, thankfully without the water. The driver proceeds to bounce across a section of uneven logs, situated across the path horizontally. This would create havoc for a lot of vehicles, but the luxurious Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8 nimbly navigates this obstacle, as well.

River BedThe next obstacle comes in the form of what resembles a rough, dry river bed. Huge boulders are strewn completely across the road, leaving the professional driver no choice but to drive across them. He does so, all the while negotiating a hair-pin turn, after which the Jeep is headed back in the same direction from which it just came, this time on the other side of the test course. He then breezes through a series of large dirt moguls in the road; all the while carrying on a normal conversation with passengers pointing out some of the Jeep’s key qualities.

Jeep HillDemonstrating the abilities of the Jeep’s Quadra-Trac four-wheel drive system with electronically adjustable differential, the driver then tackles a man-made steel ramp. The ramp goes up at a 35-degree angle (the angle of the first hill on most roller coasters) to a height of 18-feet and then back down the other side. This obstacle course is no problem at all for the well equipped Jeep trucks or for the adept professional drivers and is loads of fun for the show patrons.

Jeep offers some of the most capable SUVs in the automotive industry and they are not ashamed to prove it.

2014 Jeep Wrangler
2014 Jeep Wrangler
Jeep Grand Cherokee SR-T 8
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SR-T8
S.M. Darby

S.M. Darby

I am a freelance author with over 25 years of experience as a professional, ASE certified automotive technician and shop owner, muscle car enthusiast, avid street racer, and classic car restoration specialist.