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March 2007 Limited Articulation - Real Truck Club Challenge

Posted in Features on March 1, 2007
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If you like Real Trucks, this issue is for you. Starting on page 42, we're proud to unveil our finalists for the latest round of Real Truck Club Challenge, the grassroots 4x4 competition we've held each year at the Badlands in Indiana since 2003. We'll have complete coverage of the event itself in next month's issue.

For those of you who aren't familiar with RTCC, it's something we schemed up a few years ago as an alternative to our better-known Top Truck Challenge-a friendly and informal run-whatcha-brung-fest for the Average Guy On a Budget who's not running 2 1/2-ton toploader axles, 50-plus-inch tractor tires, or a high-buck tube buggy, but who instead has kept a lot of his vehicle stock and is perfectly happy with a mild suspension lift and a set of 35-inch all-terrains for weekend trail rides and daily commutes. Just about all of this year's competitors fit those criteria, though astute readers will note that most of the competing rigs are in fact Jeeps, Suzukis, and other short-wheelbase 4x4s which, technically speaking, aren't really "trucks" as most folks would define the term. In theory, we suppose we should've probably changed the name of the event ... but we just think the name "Real Truck Challenge" sounds so much better than "Daily Driver Battle" or "Real World Roundup" or anything else our feeble minds could think up, so we'll keep it as it is for now and live with the vague nomenclature.

Also in this issue is our 2007 Pickup Truck of the Year test-which you could say is the ultimate "Real Truck" Challenge since all the contenders are bone-stock, completely unmodified, and delivered to us straight from the factory. Plus, they're all bonafide pickup trucks, not Jeeps or other bobtails.

But this year's test posed a question: When is a pickup truck not a pickup truck? Strictly speaking, one of this year's eligible entrants-the new Chevy Avalanche-is considered an SUT since most of its sheetmetal is not shared with any other GM pickup and because its cab and bed designs are integrated into a single unified structure-no detachable chassis-cab configuration here-that will invariably affect the vehicle's ride and handling characteristics. That set off a debate amongst our staff, which we'll admit we haven't fully resolved yet. Some of us feel that an SUT is not a "real" pickup at all but simply a sport-utility vehicle with an exterior trunk. But others among us feel that if the "trunk" in question is large enough to accommodate a set of tires or some 4x8 sheets of plywood, like a "real" pickup truck can, it really doesn't matter what you call it, particularly if the vehicle's a typical body-on-frame construction with a solid rear axle and decent towing and payload ratings. And since the Avalanche has all of these attributes (as well as some cool built-in toolboxes in its bed), we decided to invite it along for the test. You can see how it fared against the competition starting on page 26.

And finally, we spotlight another Real Truck this month-the all-new Toyota Tundra, which finally marks the fullsize work-truck breakthrough that we've been expecting from Toyota for years-and it's a technological marvel to boot. While you wait to get your hands on one for a testdrive, you can read our impressions starting on page 54. Until then, keep on keepin' it real.
-Douglas McColloch

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