Reader: Though I'm not in the market for a Porsche Cayenne Turbo, I enjoyed the recent test of this '08 vehicle (May '07). Can you please test the new Mercedes-Benz GL450 SUV? It's available with a serious optional off-road package (two-speed transfer case, two locking diffs, 12-inch ride height capability), is not prohibitively expensive at $55,000, and amazingly, was top rated by Car and Driver, Motor Trend, and Consumer Reports). I am very curious about Four Wheeler's opinion of it when it is properly optioned. People love comparison tests in which rankings are generated. So, how about a test of (properly optioned) aspirational SUVs including the Mercedes GL450, Porsche Cayenne S, Range Rover Sport SC, Toyota Land Cruiser, and Hummer H2? Another vehicle could be the Mercedes G500, a Cadillac Escalade, or a VW Touareg V-8.
Editor: We like the way you think! Unfortunately, we don't have the abundant staffing that those other magazines have, so we really don't have the time or resources necessary to execute an exclusive luxo-class trail test. And the last time we featured an Escalade in these pages (April '05), our readers nearly skinned us alive.
But we have got some of the bases covered: The latest Hummer H2 and Toyota Land Cruiser, for instance, we're testing this month in our Four Wheeler of the Year test-see page 18 for all the details. The others, except for the GL450, we've tested by themselves in various issues over the last three years. We've put in an order for a 4x4 GL with the 3.2 Bluetec diesel, and as soon as one's available to us, we'll write up an evaluation in these pages.
Reader: I wheel a '77 GMC Jimmy fullsize, and I have a problem with my exhaust. When I have the back window down or the top off, the whole cab fills with exhaust fumes! Everyone I have talked to says it's just a design flaw. Are they right? Is there anything I can do about it? The truck has a 350 with headers going to dual 2.5-inch Magnaflow mufflers.
Editor: Yikes! With a vehicle of this vintage, a cracked exhaust manifold is the usual culprit, but as you're running aftermarket headers, that's less likely as they dissipate heat far better, and generally crack less often, than your typical OE single-pipe setup. Still, something's not right. Our guess is that wherever the leak is occurring-most likely, somewhere aft of the headers-the updraft that's created when you roll down your windows while you're driving down the road is causing the fumes to be drawn upward from underneath your vehicle, through the open windows and into the cab. Our advice? Check your muffler and tailpipe, as well as the headers, for any signs of cracking, pitting, corrosion, and/or loose fasteners. Whatever the cause is, just get it fixed!