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Reader: I just got my November '06 issue and read your report on the new Jeep Compass. I find it interesting that the Europeans can get it with a 2.0L turbodiesel, but not us here in the States. I have been waiting for the Jeep Liberty CRD to come out with the six-speed manual in the U.S., like the one you tested in Africa a couple of years ago, then find out that they have discontinued the diesel option. So my dreams of a diesel-powered six-speed Liberty are shot down.
I think that if the Big Three would produce vehicles that the people wanted and had decent mileage, they would sure do a lot better with sales. Mercedes has diesel cars that get outstanding mileage, yet the U.S. automakers are still cranking out vehicles that are lucky to get close to 20 mpg. I guess I will stick with my '94 YJ and look into converting my '92 Geo Tracker to diesel via a VW engine. If the automakers won't build what we want, I guess we will have to build it ourselves.
via the Internet
Editor: Well, it ain't that cut-and-dried, really. The big stumbling blocks to diesel engines at present are the new Tier II regulations that take effect next year. They're far more stringent than European regulations, they don't make any distinctions between gas and diesel engines (though diesels are far more prone to higher NOx emissions due to their inherent design), and American automakers have been hamstrung by the lack of availability of ultra-low-sulphur diesel fuel, which current-generation diesels need to comply with the new regulations. However, things are gradually changing, and we imagine that by 2008 we will see a new flood of diesel powerplants starting to hit the U.S. truck and SUV market.
On the other hand, if you can stand to wait a few months for a diesel Jeep, you can get a diesel-powered Grand Cherokee WK: a new 3.0L CRD V-6 that's said to crank out 376 peak lb-ft of torque while delivering 23 mpg on the highway. The oil-burner WK goes on sale later this spring, and we'll publish our driving impressions in our next issue.
And by all means, send us a photo of your VW-powered Geo project when you finish it. That sounds like our kind of Reader Rig!
Reader: I just recently bought an '06 Nissan Titan and I wanted to somehow add some power to it. I like the exhaust note on it, so I'd probably leave that alone for a while. Adding an air intake sounds like the way I want to go, but there are so many to choose from. The Volant intakes seem to be really good, but there is also a new Fram intake out, along with a K&N. I am just not sure which one to purchase. Since the engine will be taking in more air, will it make the engine any louder?
via the Internet
Editor: Good questions all. We'll be comparison-testing some leading air intakes in an upcoming issue. Stay tuned.
Reader: For the past 15 years my father and I have been building my Jeep to compete in Top Truck Challenge one of these years. Are there any building limitations that I might want to consider? My father has always told me, "the bigger, the better," so I figured why not? Any information you can provide will be very helpful in the future for me.
Pfc. Ronnie Trujillo
U.S. Army, Ordnance Corps
via the Internet
Editor: Your father is very wise. Generally speaking, it is almost impossible to "overbuild" for an event such as Top Truck. Our only requirements are that your rig have a metal rollcage or full hardtop; a fire extinguisher; a winch; and recovery-connection points (i.e., tow hooks) at both ends. Otherwise, let your imagination run wild.
Reader: I wanted to alert you to an amazing place that has just been opened near Hannibal, Missouri. It's called Hannibal Rocks (State Hwy 0 at Hwy 61, New London, MO 63459, 217/437-5337 for info). It's truly unbelievable-very spectator-friendly and action-packed. The owners of the park, Tom and Debbie Wombles, are an asset to the four-wheeling community. They've got two parks right now that are spectacular: Rockport Off-Road Park in Rockport, Illinois, and now Hannibal Rocks. I know that I can speak for more than myself when I say that we'd love to see some coverage of these parks in the future.