More On Pickups And Missing Prices
Reader: I'd like to say that I've been a longtime reader of your magazine, and thank you for putting out such a high-quality publication. I read your March issue and have two suggestions. While they may just be picking at nits, I do feel that both suggestions would make for a better magazine.
First: Your 2008 PTOTY article. While the Hummer H2 SUT is, no doubt, a great truck, I'm pretty sure it's an SUV with a small bed-not a pickup truck-and should therefore be included in your Four Wheeler of the Year contest instead. I understand that with trucks like the H2 SUT, the Avalanche, the Ridgeline and others, the line between SUVs and pickup trucks has become somewhat blurred. My suggestion would be to let the readers decide which category to put them in via a reader poll. I think this might more accurately reflect readers' opinions on them, and may help with future articles about such trucks.
Second, I was quite interested in Robin Stover's response to the reader wanting to purchase your Project Teal Brute. It would be quite helpful if you would add a line or two in each of your buildup articles about the final cost of the build. This would be quite helpful for readers that want to do such buildups on their own trucks, as it would give them some idea of what to expect from a cost standpoint. Thanks for your time, and thanks again for a great magazine.
Editor: By now, we have received enough reader response over the last two years of testing that we've decided to make changes to our PTOTY evaluation starting next year: Namely, the field of "pickup trucks" will be limited to those vehicles that have a dedicated chassis/cab configuration with a detachable bed. So-called SUTs like the Avalanche will be tested as SUVs in the future. How about them apples?
On the subject of "blurred lines": One segment of the 4x4 market that has grown by leaps and bounds over the years has been the so-called "crossover" or XUV market. Back in the day, we used to trail-test rigs like Subarus, AMC Eagles, and Audi Quattros, even if they didn't have a low-range gear, and frankly, we're thinking about staging some kind of "Crossover of the Year" test similar to Four Wheeler of the Year in the future. (Don't worry, we won't put a Subaru on the cover.) Based on our own driving experiences, some of these vehicles are actually quite capable in the dirt, and we'd be willing to guess that more than a few of you (or your wives, or your in-laws) have one of these rigs in your garage as a daily driver. Would anyone be interested reading about such a test? If so, how should we conduct it? (And no, "Drive 'em off a cliff" doesn't count as an answer.)
About prices: You're not the only reader who's written in with this question...
Reader: I like your mag, but one thing irks me-you never put prices in your stories. How much for new parts, or for rebuilds? You could include approximate prices (somewhere in the ballpark-it doesn't have to be exact). So why no prices?
Las Vegas, NV
Editor: As a rule, we refrain from including price information in our tech articles due to the fact that prices can, and do, change over time. This might not be a tremendous problem for readers of this magazine from month-to-month, but a reader who stumbles upon, say, a three-year-old tech story on our Web site wouldn't likely be getting accurate pricing information from such a story. And nowadays, with the prevalence of the Internet, getting current and up-to-date price information is as easy as logging onto a manufacturer's Web site and running a simple search.
What Happens To Old Project Parts?
Reader: I've noticed that you have changed the Teal Brute's suspension a few times, and I was just wondering what you do with the old parts? I hope you don't just throw them out because there are poor college kids like myself who would be glad to buy a good used lift kit, and that kit would go great with my new TJ. I'm also pretty sure you did a couple of axle swaps, too. Again, you should sell them to your most loyal readers such as myself. Thanks for the great magazine, and keep doing the great job.
Reader: I'm just curious as to what happens to all the leftover bits from project rigs? I've been following project "Project Ain't It Grand(er)" because I have a '95 ZJ that I'm making plans for (wife willing) and was wondering if any of those parts, like the old Teraflex lift, would be for sale?
Springbook, Alberta, Canada
Editor: It all depends. Many of these parts end up being swapped into other vehicles among our project fleet, some are sent back to the manufacturer for further testing after we're done with them, and some end up as junk. (The Teal-J's original Dana axles, for instance, were corroded beyond repair at the time we retrieved the vehicle, hence our Dynatrac 60 swap.) More pointedly, up to now we haven't sold used parts or project rigs to the public primarily for reasons related to liability. (We've had a lot of nervous lawyers around here in the past.) However, we are discussing amongst ourselves the feasibility of selling some parts and/or vehicles in the future. We'll let you know if we're finally able to do it.
Wants New Titan Axle Info
In your review of the new Nissan Titan Pro-4X (Feb. '08), you said that they upgraded the rear axle with a stronger aluminum diff cover, inner/outer bearing materials and seals, and a four-pinion setup. Is this just on the Pro-4X, or is it also on the 4x4 SE crew-cab model?
Editor: The rear axle has been strengthened on all Titan models for 2008. Sorry we weren't clearer about that.
Wants 4x4 Snowplow Info
Reader: Through the years you guys have given me great ideas, but how about a practical article on snowplowing? Information on vehicle types, optional wheels, tires, size of plow, and so on could be interesting reading.
Lake George, NY
Editor: We floated this suggestion past Senior Editor Brubaker at our Midwest Bureau. He certainly knows his way around a snowdrift or two-and he shovels his fair share of it just to get out of his driveway each winter-and he liked the idea so much, he's working on an article which we'll be running later in the year. Thanks for writing in.