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Win A Trick Dodge Ram 1500 4x4 - Off-Road Insider

Posted in Features on April 1, 2002
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Can you believe that someone would give away this tricked-out Ram? Goins Automotive is doing just that, with the proceeds from the raffle going to The Foundation for Big Brothers and Big Sisters. The big Dodge has plenty of goodies, including a Rancho Suspension lift, BFG All-Terrain KO tires, Weld Stone Crusher wheels, massive Ruenel bumpers mounting Warn winches (front and rear), a Hi-Lift jack, Dee Zee side step bars, an MSD Ignition, a Level 10 transmission, a DynoMax exhaust system, and flashy paint designed by GCube Designs and squirted by Goins Automotive.

General Motors has announced that a new four-cylinder powerplant will be built for use in compact Chevrolet and GMC trucks and SUVs. The new Vortec engine is a four-banger, but it's high-tech in every sense of the word. The I-4 engine, which will be built at the GM Powertrain assembly plants in Tonawanda, New York, and Flint, Michigan, shares its basic design with the powerful I-6 Vortec 4200 engine that powers the '02 TrailBlazer and GMC Envoy.

The Vortec I-4 shares approximately 75 percent of its parts with the Vortec I-6. The I-4 uses dual overhead camshafts, four-valves-per-cylinder combustion chambers, electronic throttle control, Variable Valve Timing (VVT), and a coil-on-plug ignition. Sophisticated electronics on the Vortec I-4 include Multec II fuel injectors and an advanced Powertrain Control Module (PCM).

Alloy cylinder heads for the Vortec I-4 will be cast and machined at GM's Massena, New York, plant.

Do ya feel lucky? Well, do ya? If so, you may want to enter a raffle where the prize is a new Dodge Ram 1500 4x4. Sponsored by Goins Automotive, all proceeds from the raffle are destined for The Foundation for Big Brothers and Big Sisters. With major support from DaimlerChrysler and BFGoodrich, Goins Automotive in Tempe, Arizona, was able to assemble a Ram that's not lacking any aftermarket equipment.

Major aftermarket manufacturers came through with product for the giveaway truck, including Rancho Suspension, Weld Wheels, BFGoodrich Tires, Warn Industries, Ruenel Bumpers, MSD Ignition, Dee Zee, Hi-Lift, DynoMax, Kenwood, Coustic, Rhino Lining, Level 10, and many more.

We've seen the Ram, and it's a real looker, with Goins Auto custom paint and the aforementioned accessories. Wouldn't it look great in your driveway? Enter the raffle at

NHTSA Releases Rollover Ratings For New 4x4sThe National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, after conducting extensive analysis of model-year '01 trucks, has released a list rating each vehicle's resistance to roll over. This list is somewhat controversial, since it doesn't take into consideration driver skill, weather conditions, or road-surface conditions. Rather, the NHTSA Rollover Resistance Rating measures vehicle characteristics, such as center of gravity and track width, in order to determine a vehicle's propensity to roll over when subjected to an emergent maneuver, such as a rapid lane change

The NHTSA rating is only valid for single-vehicle crashes where no other vehicle(s) came in contact with the tested vehicle, and the study does not predict the likelihood of a crash, since driver skill, or lack thereof, vehicle condition, and weather conditions aren't taken into account during the test, and each factor has a huge effect on a vehicle's stability during an emergency maneuver.

Studies by the NHTSA over the years have led the group to the conclusion that most rollovers occur after a driver runs off the road and loses control. As would be expected, once a vehicle slides off the pavement, soft soil, a ditch, a curb, or other obstacle initiates the rollover.

The number of deaths attributed to rollover accidents were in excess of 10,000 in 1999 (the last year accident figures were available for), which is more loss of life than the total of side and rear crashes combined.

When the NHTSA compared its Rollover Resistance Ratings to real-world rollover data, the group found its data relates to the actual rollover experience of the tested vehicles. The study found that narrow, tall vehicles - such as SUVs - are more likely to roll over when they skid off the road than lower vehicles with a wide track. The NHTSA ratings reflect this data, awarding better ratings to lower, wider vehicles. Of important note is the fact that the Rollover Resistance Ratings do no take into account driver skill, which is a critical factor in accidents and the avoidance of same.

To be fair, the NHTSA report notes that a low center of gravity and a wide track aren't enough to ensure safety. For example, many sports cars exhibit a low center of gravity and relatively wide tracks, but have a higher number of rollovers than a taller, narrower vehicle such as a minivan because of the aggressive manner in which many sports cars are driven, and the relatively sedate speeds at which most minivans are operated. The NHTSA Rollover Resistance Ratings don't truly predict which trucks are likely to roll because of variables in driving conditions and driver skill, and these ratings do not necessarily reflect any truck's tendency to roll over while negotiating off-road trails.

The Vortec I-4's cylinder head features cast-alloy construction, dual overhead cams, and four valves per cylinder. The cams operate roller lobe followers that directly actuate the intake and exhaust valves. The four-valve-per-cylinder configuration is a true performance design - two small intake and exhaust valves can flow a greater quantity of air at a lower lift than can a single large intake and exhaust valve, and the four small valves are light in weight, which makes for accurate valve control. With the four-valve design, the spark plug is centrally located, which is an ideal position to ensure a complete ignition sequence.

In the following chart, the Rollover Resistance Ratings of trucks are listed. Each truck is given a ranking of one to five stars, with five stars being the least likely to roll over. For comparison, we've also listed the Rollover Resistance Ratings of several popular automobiles, as supplied by the NHTSA. Each truck and SUV is listed as tested by the NHTSA, with body type (standard or extended cab), engine size and configuration, transmission type (manual or automatic), and tire size noted. The star ratings on the chart should be interpreted as such:


01 TrucksChevrolet S-Series, 2WD, extended cab, 4.3L V-6, automatic, 205/75R15: ???
Chevrolet S-Series, 4WD, extended cab, 4.3L V-6, automatic, 235/70R15: ???
Chevrolet Silverado, 2WD, extended cab, 4.8L V-8, automatic, 235/75R16: ????
Chevrolet Silverado, 4WD, extended cab, 4.8L V-8, automatic, 245/75R16: ????
Dodge Dakota, 2WD, Club Cab, 3.9L V-6, automatic, 215/75R15: ????
Dodge Dakota, 4WD, Club Cab, 4.7L V-8, automatic, 265/70R16: ???
Dodge Ram, 2WD, Club Cab, 5.2L V-8, automatic, 245/75R16: ???
Dodge Ram, 4WD, Club Cab, 5.2L V-8, automatic, 245/75R16: ???
Ford F-150, 2WD, standard cab, 4.2L V-6, automatic, 235/70R16: ???
Ford F-150, 4WD, standard cab, 4.2L V-6, automatic, 255/70R16: ??
Ford Ranger, 2WD, Super Cab, 4.0L V-6, automatic, 225/70R15: ???
Ford Ranger 4WD, Super Cab, 4.0L V-6, automatic, 245/75R16: ??
GMC Sierra: See Chevrolet Silverado ratings
GMC Sonoma: See Chevrolet S-Series ratings
Nissan Frontier, 2WD, crew cab, 3.3L V-6, five-speed manual, 255/65R16: ???
Nissan Frontier, 4WD, crew cab, 3.3L V-6, automatic, 265/70R16: ???
Toyota Tacoma, 4WD, crew cab, 3.4L V-6, automatic, 265/70R16: ??
Toyota Tundra, 4WD, extended cab, 4.7L V-8, automatic, 265/70R16: ???
Note: 2WD Toyota Tacoma and Tundra have yet to be rated by the NHTSA.

Select '01 SUVsChevrolet Blazer, 4WD, 4.3L V-6, automatic, 235/70R15: ??
Chevrolet Suburban, 4WD, 5.3L V-8, automatic, 265/70R16: ???
Chevrolet Tahoe, 4WD, 5.3L V-8, automatic, 265/70R16: ???
Dodge Durango, 4WD, 4.7L V-8, automatic, 265/70R16: ???
Ford Expedition, 4WD, 5.4L V-8, automatic, 255/70R16: ??
Ford Explorer, 4WD, 4.0L V-6, automatic, 235/75R15: ??
Jeep Cherokee, 4WD, 4.0L I-6, automatic, 225/75R15: ??
Jeep Grand Cherokee, 4WD, 4.0L I-6, automatic, 225/75R16: ??
Jeep Wrangler, 4WD, 4.0L I-6, five-speed manual, 225/75R15: ???
Nissan Pathfinder, 4WD, 3.5L V-6, automatic, 245/70R16: ???
Nissan Xterra, 4WD, 3.3L V-6, automatic, 265/70R16: ??
Toyota 4Runner, 4WD, 3.4L V-6, automatic, 265/70R16: ??

Select '02 SUVs
Chevrolet TrailBlazer, 4WD, 4.2L I-6, automatic, 245/70R16: ???
Ford Explorer, 4WD, 4.0L V-6, automatic, 235/70R16: ???
GMC Envoy: see Chevrolet TrailBlazer rating
Jeep Liberty, 4WD, 3.7L V-6, automatic, 215/75R16: ??

Select Automobile Ratings
Toyota Corolla, FWD, 1.8L I-4, automatic, 175/65R14: ????
Dodge Neon, FWD, 2.0L I-4, automatic, 185/65R14: ????
Honda Civic, FWD, 1.7L I-4, automatic, 185/65R15: ????
Ford Taurus, FWD, 3.0L V-6, automatic, 215/60R16: ????

Recall News: Jeep Grand Cherokee; Chevrolet TrailBlazer/GMC EnvoyDaimlerChrysler announced a recall of its Jeep Grand Cherokees, intended to repair faulty software that may cause the instrument panel to go dark. DaimlerChrysler reported there have been no accidents as a result of the darkened gauges and warning lamps and stated that the company's testing showed that the problem was unlikely to occur.

The General has its own recall to deal with. GM recalled 86,312 Chevy TrailBlazers and GMC Envoys (model-year '02) because of concerns that the vehicles could shift out of Park. "It could slip out of Park and the vehicle could roll, if the parking brake wasn't engaged," said GM spokesman Mike Morrissey. While the automaker hasn't received any reports about TrailBlazers or Envoys rolling while in Park, GM wanted to "make sure we don't have any experiences of this problem in the field."

General Motors stated the problem was due to a substandard part supplied by an outside manufacturer and installed in the GM-built transmission.

The Concept Truck Files: Land Rover Kalahari Safari Gard ConceptQuestion: Can one of the world's most functional off-road vehicles be improved?

Answer: See Land Rover's Kalahari Safari Gard Concept.

Based on Land Rover's Discovery II, the Kalahari Concept was built in a rugged fashion, with accessories installed to enhance the Discovery II's already impressive off-road prowess. Murrieta, California-based Safari Gard, builders of no-nonsense bumpers, was given the task of outfitting a Discovery II for display at the 2001 SEMA Show. The Kalahari Concept uses the type of trick parts and mods found on serious 'wheelers and allies them with the proven performance of the Discovery II to create an impressive 4x4.

Safari Gard lifted the Discovery II 4 inches with a custom suspension system that features Fox coilover shocks with remote reservoirs. The stock rocker sills were replaced with Rock Sliders, thus protecting the rocker panels and allowing the Kalahari Concept to scratch its way over obstacles. Safari Gard, using its skills as a premium bumper manufacturer, fabbed a set of high-clearance bumpers for the Kalahari. The rear bumper was specifically designed to enhance departure angles and protect the Kalahari's rear quarter panels from damage.

Other accessories include Hella High Intensity Discharge lights, a Superwinch x9000 winch, a Hi-Lift jack, a roof-mounted Hannibal tent, and a portable shower system powered by the Kalahari's battery. Naturally, the Kalahari Concept uses a set of trick rollers: Center Line wheels were fitted with Trailready bead locks to positively retain the BFGoodrich 285/70R17 KM tires no matter how tough the trail gets.

As to the use of the Kalahari Concept's performance accessories on production Discovery IIs, Jon Williams, Land Rover's North America vice president of Marketing, stated, "Selected features showcased on this concept can be found on the special edition '02 Kalahari Discovery II that will be available at Land Rover retailers in the coming months."

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