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Reader: Just a couple of comments. First, on your long-term test of the '04 Dodge 2500 (May '05): Doesn't that gosh-awful hand hold on the driver side bother you at all?
About the International CXT: I drive one of these every day. They're much better with the seven-speed (or "6 + 1," as it's sometimes called), and the steps on the fuel tank need three steps-there is a rather long climb between the first and second step. Oh, and you should have gotten the dual 50-gallon fuel tanks. Keep up the great work.
Reader: I read the article on the International CXT. One thing I did not see mentioned is the fact that you need at least an air-brake endorsement-if not a Class B license (in California)-to drive one of these. Also, ABS on an air-braked vehicle operates differently than hydraulic ABS systems. Basically, they sense a difference in wheel speed from left to right without any input from the speedometer. One could lock up both rear wheels and the ABS would still be functioning correctly. It would just think it is sitting still.
Editor: Ken Brubaker replies: No, the Dodge hand hold doesn't bother us, and it hasn't ripped out of the A-pillar the way so many of them do.
According to the press information provided by International Truck and Engine, only Illinois and Virginia require a Class C Commercial Drivers License (CDL) to operate the CXT. They don't mention the air-brake endorsement, but I know that here in Illinois, an air-brake endorsement is mandatory. They do recommend that you check with the Department of Transportation in your state regarding licensing requirements. I think that's an extremely good idea because laws vary from state to state, and often change.
You are correct that ABS on an air-brake-equipped vehicle doesn't receive any data from the speedometer. The CXT has an ABS sensor on each wheel. These sensors monitor each wheel independently. Vehicle speed data is sent to the ABS control module, which uses an algorithm to modulate the air pressure from the brake chamber during an ABS event. However, it is not normal for a properly functioning ABS system to lock up both rear wheels. Federal motor vehicle safety standards dictate that a normally functioning ABS system must not lock up the wheels more than one second when tested.
Reader: I've been an avid reader for more than a decade, and I am researching the newest offerings from Jeep. Specifically, I'm interested in the Unlimited Rubicon, but the engine choices leave much to be desired. Is there any way that you guys can apply a little pressure to Jeep to offer its other premium engines (the 2.8 CRD and 5.7 Hemi) for the original icon? There are numerous reasons besides horsepower and torque-even the Hemi gets better mileage than the 4.0L.
Since I can't even find a 2.8L on eBay, I'm considering spending an additional $15K for an AEV Hemi conversion-on a brand-new vehicle. Acckkkkk!!! Maybe I'll just get a used H1.
If you are aware of any hopeful changes to the Jeep lineup, please share them with us.
Editor: From what we've heard about future Jeep product ... well, we've got good news and bad news. The good news is, there is a new engine for Jeeps on the horizon that'll get better mileage than either the 4.0 or the Hemi. The bad news is, it's a four-banger. That's all we'll say for now.
On the other hand, if you don't really care about mileage, wait 'til you get a load of the new 6.1L Hemi that Jeep plans to offer this fall in the Grand Cherokee SRT8. The new motor is rated at 415 hp, 410 lb-ft of torque, and will supposedly propel the GC to a top speed of "over 150 mph," according to DaimlerChrysler.
Regarding the Wrangler, we're starting to see 5.7L Hemi swap kits popping up via the aftermarket. We profiled one in last month's issue ("Project Teal J"). The 2.8 diesel would seem a terrific alternative to the 4.0, and we love it in the Liberty. But as it stands, the current price of diesel fuel-not to mention the cost of the engine, which typically adds several thousand dollars to the sticker-figures to put a damper on sales (at least for the short term), and for this reason, most of the OEMs we've spoken with are understandably reluctant to expand production of diesel vehicles much beyond their current numbers. But a year or two from now, who knows?