TD Extreme User!
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Everett, Washington
My Ride: '88 Shelby Z TII
Engine: 2.2 TII
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Re: Why not AWD
I can tell you from personal experience that the Chrysler AWD components are larger than ANY DSM ever dreamed of being, as well as any 3/S cars. The components are designed for a 3500+ pound vehicle, fully laden, AND towing with a torquey V6 (200-245ft-lb). Put those components in even a 3000# car and you are already WAY ahead of the game. Even lighter vehicles will put even less stress on the parts. Because of that, they can deal with quite a bit of abuse. I've seen videos of AWD vans and Pacifica's doing snow donuts and rough non-paved road stuff pretty well.
Now, I will say that I don't know anyone that has really shock loaded one of these systems, and they do use a flex/vibration dampening coupling on the multi-piece drive shaft, so the durability of that component is unknown. However, that can be overcome.
The other unknown is the viscous coupling. While technically it is possible to make the system locked so you don't have to worry about the coupler, I wouldn't suggest that for a street car unless you got the gearing *just right*. The system intentionally has a slight mismatch in the front and rear gear ratios (about 1-2% IIRC). What this does is induce a slippage in the viscous coupler that puts it on verge of "lock" (more like bind, but I could write and entire post on how they work) so that if the front tires do spin just slightly, it will pretty much instantaneously send more power to the back.
The 3000GT/Stealth use this same technique except the coupler is contained within the transmission. For our set-ups the coupler is external of the rear differential housing on vans. The Pacifica uses a slightly different set-up that is much more compact and the coupler is internal to that unit. I don't know if later vans got that set-up as well as I've not been around one long enough to poke my head under it.