The first time you see a GMC Typhoon, you might think it’s just some gussied-up GMC Jimmy with a fancy body kit and some racy wheels. Enhancements to the body include a unique front fascia with integrated foglamps and aero bodyside cladding on the doors, fenders, rocker panels, and rear end. But don’t be deceived. That aggressive styling conceals a muscular bravado that you probably didn’t expect from a compact SUV. One that’s ready to take on some of hottest contenders out there.
The Typhoon was available in several color combinations. The most popular color seems to be black. It was also available in Frost White, Royal Blue Metallic, Forest Green Metallic, Apple Red, Garnet Red, Bright Teal, and Aspen Blue.
The GMC Typhoon hugged the roadways courtesy of Firestone Firehawk SVX V-rated tires mounted on 16 x 8-inch cast aluminum wheels. Bringing all this attitude to a standstill was courtesy of 10.5 x 1.03-inch power-assisted vented discs up front and 9.5 x 2-inch cast-iron rear drum brakes with four-wheel anti-lock.
Other exterior features included dual remote power mirrors and an optional roof rack.
GMC fitted the Typhoon with a plethora of standard equipment. Climb inside and strap yourself in the leather high-back seats with inflatable lumbar support and six-way power adjustable driver’s seat. Hold on tight to that leather-wrapped four-spoke steering wheel. Once you shift out of park and hit the gas, you’re going to need something to hold on to. The Typhoon also came outfitted with several creature comforts such as air conditioning, tilt wheel, cruise control, power windows, and power door locks. And a 120-mph speedometer lets you know this SUV means business. It’s also been said the gauge cluster came directly from the Pontiac Sunbird GT Turbo.
The heart of the GMC Typhoon is an LB4 4.3-liter V6 with a Mitsubishi TD06-17C turbocharger with 14 psi and a Garrett water-to-air intercooler. This engine was rated at 280 horsepower and 360 lb.-ft. of torque. It was mated exclusively to a 4L60 four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive. Sadly, no manual transmission was ever offered. The Typhoon put the power to the pavement through a full-time all-wheel drive system. A Borg-Warner transfer case managed torque with a 35-percent front and 65-percent rear split.
Just how fast is the GMC Typhoon? Road and Track tested the 1992 GMC Typhoon for their February 1992 issue and walked away with a 0 to 60 time of 5.6 seconds and a quarter mile time of 14.3 seconds at 93 mph. In their March 1992 issue, Car and Driver gained slightly better results with a 0 to 60 time of 5.3 seconds and a quarter mile run of 14.1 seconds at 95 mph. To give you some perspective, those times are right up there with the base Chevrolet Corvette and the Ferrari 348.
An interesting feature of the Typhoon is electronic level control. This works by maintaining a constant ground clearance no matter how many passengers occupy the cabin or the amount of cargo stored in the rear. A height sensor triggers a compressor to supply or discharge air pressure to or from the rear shocks depending on the amount of pressure on the rear springs.
During its two-year run, GMC produced just under 4,700 Typhoons. Judging from what we’ve seen, they’ve held their value quite well over the years. Prices range from around $10,000 for Typhoons with around 120,000 miles all the way up to $60,500 for a 1992 model with 17,000 miles once owned by actor Bill Bixby that sold at the 2019 Barrett-Jackson Las Vegas auction.
Was the 1992 – 1993 GMC Typhoon ahead of its time? Possibly. Could you argue that it helped set in motion the performance SUV market that would follow? Maybe. But one thing is for certain. The GMC Typhoon is still regarded as one of the most iconic muscle cars of the 1990s. Horsepower was making a comeback and the GMC Typhoon proved that an SUV could perform as well as some exotics costing twice as much.