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New Chevy Avalache - Drivelines

Posted in Features on April 1, 2000
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New Chevy TruckHere's your first look at the Avalanche show vehicle. It's being introduced as a UUV (Ultimate Utility Vehicle), a new market niche Chevy is hoping to nab. This truck is a four-door fullsize with seating for six, and it shares a platform with the new Tahoe, Suburban, and Silverado. Its wheelbase is 130 inches (the 1500 Silverado shortbed extended-cab 4x4 is 14311/42). It has a 5.3L Vortec V-8, a four-speed automatic transmission, multilink rear suspension, Autotrac four-wheel drive, a sunroof, and OnStar. But that ain't all. What makes this concept truck unique is its reconfigurable bed, and that Chevy plans to put it into production in 2002.

Chevy says that its Convert-a-Cab system makes trunk pass-through, long a feature of cars, finally available in trucks. The system includes a lockable three-piece cargo cover, a lockable tailgate, folding 60/40 rear seats, and something called a Midgate. The Midgate includes a '68 Corvette-inspired removable rear glass and Pro-Tec, which is a composite material found on the tailgate, the storage boxes, and the inside surfaces of the bed. It protects all of those surfaces from scrapes and dents.

There are also tie-downs, integrated lighting for the storage and bed areas, a rubber cargo-bed floor mat, and an assist handle mounted on the bumper step and cargo bed. A lockable box on both sides of the bed is also a bonus.

The Chevy people say that if you like what you see here, you'll like what they offer in 2002-it won't be exactly like this concept vehicle, but pretty close.

'01 Toyota SequoiaYes, they finally picked a name. It's Sequoia-as in the tree. We have to admit to staring at the photo of this truck for a long time. We suggest you do the same. Look. Look! What are you thinking? Yeah, us too. Land Cruiser. Maybe even 4Runner.

The Sequoia swooped the Tundra V-8 powertrain and a modified version of its platform (see "4x4 of the Year," Feb. 2000, to learn what we think about this). It will make its debut at dealerships later this year.

The new Toy is roomier and larger than the 'Cruiser, and its overall length, width, height, and wheelbase are said to be larger than the Chevy Tahoe and just about identical to the Ford Expedition. Eight passengers, three rows.... The sport/huges are all starting to blend together.

Curtain-shield side airbags and three-way seatbelts for all passengers are what the Sequoia boasts. The front suspension will be independent double-wishbone, just a bit different from the Tundra's, and the rear will be a five-link live axle with coils. Four-wheel disc brakes will be at all corners. Kind of sucks to be a 4Runner right now, doesn't it?

Campfire TalkGuess what the Dakota Quad Cab was once going to be called? The Family Cab.

The new five-door Mazda sport/ute will be called Tribute. It's a joint venture between Mazda and Ford, although it will be an all-new platform. Expect a 200-horse 3.0L V-6, a turbodiesel for the European market, and a low-friction tranny. The redesigned '01 Ford Explorer looks a lot like a downsized Expedition. It'll also have a third row of seats.

Lexus has been selling cars and trucks in the U.S. for 10 years and just sold its one-millionth unit. We're hearing rumblings that a small 4x4 Nissan will be introduced in Europe. Southern California rental-car companies are scoring $175 a day for the Ford Excursion. They say they can barely keep them on the lot. Once again, we're in the wrong business. A DaimlerChrysler analyst is predicting that the year 2000 will be the first time in history that light trucks will outsell passenger cars. If you think you'll look like da bomb in one of those brand-new Ford Explorer Sport Trac pickups, you'll need somewhere in the neighborhood of $22,225 for the two-by and $25,820 for the four-by.

The Ford Motor Company's signature blue oval will be removed from its headquarters and replaced with a new script logo. By the time you read this, the Toyota Tacoma Stepside model will be at your local dealership. It was developed with Rod Millen Motorsports and will have a shorter bed, be available in regular or Xtracab, and have either a four-cylinder or V-6 engine. Sorry, two-wheel drive only. Acura's new concept MD-X sport/ute, considered to be the replacement for the discontinued SLX, has a 3.5L V-6 borrowed from the Odyssey minivan. Borla is going to produce catalytic converters for China. In exchange, the company will be purchasing Cerium extracted from mines in China for a new line of high-flow catalytic converters. Land Rover is going to push certified used vehicles at dealerships.

You'll love this. Viagra will be the primary sponsor for a NASCAR team this season. Also, Winston Cup stars will attend races to educate and encourage men about common medical conditions.

Concept Dakotas
Always leave 'em wanting more, they say. So we're following up last month's look at the concept vehicles from the SEMA show with a look at Dakota Quad Cab-only ideas. DaimlerChrysler handed out a bunch of Dakotas to all sorts of companies-a maker of customized vehicle accessories, a producer of aluminum and fiberglass bedcaps and bedcovers, and Borla, to name a few-and had 'em go ape wild. Of course, concepts aren't guaranteed to see production, but if you like what you see, you have to let DaimlerChrysler know. We've done all we can.

Dakarta This Dakota is a mock-up of a vehicle that's ready to hit the Paris-Dakar-Cairo race. You know, the one that covers thousands of miles through the Sahara desert. It's been said that the truck is "certainly styled for it," but that's not as important to us as what lies inside it, which is a 25-gallon foam-bladder fuel racing cell, a 2-inch Rancho lift, and a Kenne Bell-engineered package for the 5.9L V-8. The package includes a positive-displacement twin-screw supercharger for spitting out more than 350 hp and 6 pounds of boost.

Exhaust headers and after-cat exhaust are also on board. A custom-made pushbar has a built-in skidplate, and the 15-inch Alcoa wheels sport competition bead locks and "cleaty" Continental General rubber.

Other practical race-ready equipment is an onboard fire-extinguishing system, Recaro custom racing seats and brackets with five-point racing harnesses, and a racing steering wheel with a quick-release hub.

Now for that style thing. A fast-back canvas bedcover from Can-Back extends 24 inches to make a tent. A floating roof rack doesn't touch the cab and can fit four fullsize Coleman coolers and other gear. There are also 14 PIAA 811/42-inch high-beam, pro-racing lights and a custom-made carbon-fiber hood.

Site Commander Yes, it sounds like a job in a space movie, but it's actually a Dakota built specifically to serve as a commercial truck. That means that if you're a contractor, you may want to put in your vote for this one. It has a customized, deluxe commercial pickup-bed cap with an onboard generator and compressor on the roof, work and storage accessories, a spray-on bedliner, and a mobile office. To prevent flats while on the site, there are heavily cleated Mickey Thompson tires. The Site Commander is also equipped with a LoadSwinger ready for a 500-pound payload, a Ramsey 4.8hp winch mounted to the frame up front, and a remote-controlled spotlight that can rotate 360 degrees.

Let's go back to that mobile office for a second. A built-in desk attaches to the passenger seat frame and pops up between the seat and the console. It swings from the driver to the passenger and is height-adjustable from 16 to 26 inches. It has a Plexiglas surface with a laptop computer mounted to it, and a printer/scanner is located on the passenger-side transmission tunnel.

Super Extreme A Dodge Viper V-10 to toast the musclecar era. Need we say more? Well, we're gonna. The V-10 hurls out 450 ponies at 5,200 rpm and 490 lb-ft of torque at 3,700 rpm, and the Viper powertrain doesn't end there. There's stainless-steel exhaust mani-folds and a six-speed tranny. Not to upstage these changes, the rest of the Dakota has only mild alterations, including musclecar styling, Krager rims, Dunlop Sport rubber, a rear roll pan, and custom mirrors.

One more little thing might be harder to believable than all that power. A sound system in the bed automatically turns on when the lid rises.

Brembo four-wheel disc brakes, suspension tuned by Hotchkis, and a safety-harness system from Simpson let you know you should not use a cell phone while driving the Extreme.

Discoverer Fun and function for the working family was the theme for this truck. It has a tonneau that converts into a tent box, and a Bedrug from Wise Industries makes for easy sleeping. There's also a color-matched roof rack, American Racing wheels, Toyo tires, Rancho RS 9000 shocks, and a Manik brushguard. The 4.7L V-8 is pumped up by a Paxton Novi 2000 supercharger, performance-tuned exhaust, and a K&N filter.

Fire Rescue Command Vehicle It's a multi-use rescue Dakota developed by Borla and designed not only for the fire department but for lifeguards and park rangers too. It has a GPS system, an onboard computer with e-mail and Internet access, and a hands-free cell phone. There are Scosche high-performance wires and cables for the electrical components, as well as a carbon-fiber dash kit, a custom audio system, and a CargoPro Cargo Drawer able to hold up to 750 pounds. Oxygen tanks, first-aid kits, ropes, lights, axes, ladders, and a stretcher are also on hand.

Other names and products you'll recognize are the Line-X spray-on bedliner, 31-inch Mickey Thompson tires, Go Rhino! axle trusses, front-mounted 3,500-pound Warn trailer winches, PIAA lights, Manik body bolt-ons, and a G.T. Styling vented hood. And of course there are headers, a PowerSet Cat-Back exhaust system, and a performance air-filter kit from Borla.

Heavy-Duty Chevy and GMC
They're here! The long-awaited '01 Chevy Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD have arrived. The newbies have 31/44- and 1-ton underpinnings and a standard Vortec 6000 engine, with the option of a Duramax diesel 6600 or a Vortec 8100 V-8. There are new trannies to boot: The Duramax and big-block Vortec 8100 can be hooked up to a Series 1000 Allison five-speed automatic, while the diesel opens the options to a ZF six-speed manual.

The trucks are available in regular cab, four-door extended cab, Crew Cab, and chassis cab models and feature a torsion-bar front suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, and a factory-installed weight-distributing hitch with a rating of 12,000 pounds. The HDs also have a new look. They're tall and have a slightly different front end to set them apart from the regular Silverado and Sierra.

New GM Engines We like it when new trucks mean we get new engines. The unveiling of the Heavy-Dutys meant we got to learn more about the turbo direct-injection diesel, better known as the Duramax 6600 V-8. It's replacing the 6.5L V-8. We also learned of a few other all-new powerplants. There's the 383 Vortec crate engine from GM Performance Parts and the L4, L5, and L6 inline engines for light trucks and SUVs. Also, an all-new 8.1L Vortec will replace the 7.4L engines for heavy-duty use

Now for some specifics. The Duramax 6600 will be an option for the Crew Cab, Big Dually, and Chassis-Cab models and is a venture between GM and Isuzu. It is a direct-injection, OHV, four-valves-per-cylinder diesel and has a targeted operating life of at least 200,000 miles, thanks to such pieces as a nitrided crankshaft, hardened valve seat inserts in the aluminum cylinder heads, and a gear-driven water pump. It's compact, and the turbocharger is in the V-shaped space on top of the engine. The Duramax makes 300 hp at 3,100 rpm and 520 lb-ft of torque at 1,800 rpm.

The new Vortec 8100 V-8 is also a foot-full in the power department. Stomp it and you get 340 hp at 4,200 rpm and 455 lb-ft of torque at 3,200 rpm. The 8.1L has cast stainless steel exhaust manifolds-a first for GM 31/44- and 1-ton truck engines-for durability and because they can withstand high temperatures better.

The base engine for the HDs is the Vortec 6000 found in the regular 2500 Silverado and Sierra, but with a few tweaks for the beefier trucks. It ranks right up there with 325 ponies at 5,000 rpm and 370 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. With this engine comes a standard five-speed manual, and the familiar 4L80-E is the option.

First Look: Korando
We'll have more info on this soon, but here's a peek at the Daewoo Korando, an all-new two-door sport/ute. As we mentioned a couple months back, we've heard it'll have a 3.2L inline-six, a standard automatic transmission, and a transfer case with low range. Stay tuned.

Not-So-Fun Facts
*The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that people who run red lights are responsible for 260,000 crashes and 750 deaths every year.

*The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that nearly 100,000 crashes per year are caused by drivers who fall asleep at the wheel. That translates into about 76,000 injuries and 1,500 deaths.

*The Sunnybrook Health Science Center in Ontario, Canada, says that the frequency of accidents is four times higher for cell phone users. That's about equal with drunk driving accidents.

Quick Test: 2000 Ford Explorer
Not enough new-truck goo in our magazine? We hear you. Even though we bring you our 4x4 of the Year competition every year in our February issue, and we usually have a splattering of other new-4x4 news and roadtests throughout the year, you may still be hungry for more. Maybe we missed your favorite or the one you're considering buying. Relax.

Starting with this issue, we'll offer you a quick look at the specifications of one new vehicle every month along with our opinions on how it drives and what we like and don't like. If there's one in particular you'd like to see, let us know.

This month we slid behind the wheel of a 2000 Ford Explorer. The list of new items is short, but you can understand why Ford wouldn't want to mess too much with the best-selling SUV in the world. Our model was equipped with the 4.0L V-8, the evershift automatic transmission, the automatic transfer case, and an incredible amount of gadgets. Our favorite gizmo was the digital voice recorder embedded in the driver-side sun visor. Sound hokey? That's what we thought until we needed it. Press the button and talk, and your message is ready for you to play back later.

The other electronic addition this year was a sonar reversing system. The cabin beeps when you're backing up to an object. The beeps speed up as you get closer to the object. This could be useful for people who have problems seeing out of the rear of SUVs. You can turn the system off with a button on the dash. The drawback to this system is that there are ugly dots on the back bumper. On the plus side, we liked having the radio buttons and climate control buttons on the steering wheel

The drivetrain delivers middle-of-the-road performance. The V-8 is confident but not a neck snapper. With the V-8, the Explorer has a 4,500 trailer-towing rating. The automatic shifted when it should to deliver the most power possible to the transfer case, but it shifts pretty often. This Explorer featured Ford's automatic transfer case, which gives the driver the option of two-wheel drive, full-time four-wheel drive, part-time four-wheel drive, and 4-Lo. The full-time option is becoming more popular, and we thought that this system worked very well without giving up the two-wheel-drive selection.

Manufacturer: Ford
Model: 2000 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer
Base Price: $33,705
Price as Tested: $36,540
Options Tested: Side airbags, power moonroof, trailer towing package, rear load leveling, reverse sensing system, skid-plates, and multi-disc changer
Engine: 4.0L V-8
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Transfer Case: Full- or part-time
Front Suspension: IFS
Rear Suspension: Ford 8.8 solid axle
Axle Gear Ratio: 4.10:1

The Years That Were
By now you're probably jonesing for another millennium-in-review story, right? Flashback with us to things automotive. 1900 vs. 2000 Here are some facts and estimates from U.S. News & World Report.

*The number of passenger autos registered in the U.S. in 1900: 8,000. In 2000: 130 million.
*The number of cars produced in the U.S. in 1900: 5,000. In 2000: 5.5 million.
*The number of highway fatalities in 1900: 36 per 100 million miles. In 2000: 1.64 per 100 million miles.
*Miles of paved road in 1900: 10. In 2000: 4 million.
*First president to ride in an automobile: Teddy Roosevelt.
*First aftermarket accessory: A log you chained to your car so you could throw it out like an anchor when you wanted to stop (brakes weren't quite up to speed yet, so to speak).
*Reason they got rid of the crank in gas-powered autos: No, it wasn't because of broken arms. A guy died when the crank handle hit his face.
*Inspiration for U.S. superhighways: Hitler's autobahns.
*The man considered the father of the Interstate Highway System: Frank Turner.

Car Awards The Independent Global Automotive Elections Foundation, a group of 132 members of the auto community from 33 countries, picked its top contributors to our sport.

*Car Engineer of the Century: Ferdinand Porsche.
*Car Designer of the Century: Giorgetto Giugiaro.
*Car Entrepreneur of the Century: Henry Ford.
*Car of the Century: Ford Model T. Runners-up include the Volkswagen Beetle, the British-built Mini, the Citroen DS 19, and the Porsche 911.

Greatest Events in Automotive History This list is from Dallas-Fort Worth radio station 570 KLIF and its show Wheels. The station sent out 428 surveys to listeners, automotive writers, dealers, and broadcasters in North Texas to compile a list of 100 great moments. A sampling:

*Reason for the creation of the five-day work week: Lagging sales of the Model T.
*Vehicle that resulted from stolen designs: The Volkswagen Beetle.
*The man who quit his own car company because he wouldn't give up smoking: Louis Chevrolet.
*Where the medical world got the notion of "areas of specialty": Henry Ford's assembly line.
*Popular reason given for the failure of the Ford Edsel: Launch of Sputnik.

Did You Know?
Ford entered the Latin American market in 1911, when it began selling cars in Venezuela. In 1913 came Argentina, then Brazil in 1919. Ford says that nowadays its products are manufactured, assembled, and distributed through Ford dealer networks in each of the three countries.

Special-Edition Land Rover
Ever heard of Holland & Holland? Well, you should have. It is to gunmaking and the sporting-apparel business what Land Rover is to the road. So a star was born once the two companies got it on: the 2000 Holland & Holland Range Rover. Only 400 of these limited Rovers will be produced, and the U.S. will see just 125.

Each is said to have more than 30 hours of handcrafted finishing work. The interior has bridle and walnut leather seats, and the steering wheel, knee bolsters, glovebox door, and grab handles are trimmed in it too. A veneer that resembles the wood used on Holland & Holland firearms is on the instrumental panel, center console, and all four doors. Also resembling H&H gunware is the blue-black chrome metal around the cabin and on the nameplate at the tailgate. The rest of the truck is familiar Range Rover, and so is the price. As Land Rover people say, it's "in excess of $75,000."

This month, finishes its ultimate 10-bolt buildup. The Web site has covered the complete buildup, starting with a common-sense rebuild. It added 30-spline 4340 Yukon axles and a Detroit Locker last month. This month, is wrapping up the 10-bolt with an over-the-axle truss, which will significantly strengthen the housing.

Another ongoing tech piece will also be wrapped up this month on, Sick Steering Solutions. This is the fourth part in a series that has covered the most common steering problems you'll face when building a 4x4. The final installment covers the installation of an AGR Super Box 2 and Super P Series steering pump. Drop by to see these articles as well as features and roadtests.

Solution for Late Car Payments
Auto dealer and former Detroit Lions running back Mel Farr has been using a high-tech piece of equipment called an On-Time Device. It prevents a leased car from starting if a customer is late on payments. Attorneys had requested an injunction, but a judge said there was no reason to believe that the device would result in immediate danger to the driver or other motorists. The plaintiffs have asked that the lawsuit be given class-action status, since hundreds of drivers have vehicles with the device.

It works like this: Customers make a payment once a week and get a temporary code. They punch in the code on a keypad in the vehicle to get it to start. If more than a week goes by without a new, valid code, the vehicle won't start.

Farr started using the On-Time devices in order to be able to lease cars to people with bad credit.

Political & Environmental Beat
*The Wilderness Group and other environmental groups are campaigning to ban ATVs, motorcycles, and off-road vehicles in all national parks and a third of the national forests.

*A national study indicated that most Americans are content with the services of the Bureau of Land Management. The BLM received a score of 64 out of 100. However, a recreation roundtable revealed that many people don't know the name of the federal agency that manages the public land they utilize. More often than not, what they thought was the BLM was actually the National Park Service or Forest Service.

*A California senator is attempting to change the name of the Department of Fish and Game to the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

*President Clinton has announced his plan. Beginning with '04 cars, the acceptable smog-causing pollution coming from vehicles must decrease 90 percent over 10 years. By model year 2009, new light trucks and sport/utes will also have to meet this requirement. It used to be that light trucks could pollute three to five times more than cars.

*Springfield, Massachusetts, was praised by the Environmental Protection Agency for being the only city, out of the 10 it cited for pollution problems, to make changes.

*History in the making? America Honda Motor Company is in legal battles with a woman who lost control of her '87 Accord in 1992, leading to an accident that crushed the bones in her face. She says there should have been an airbag, even though they weren't federally mandated at that time. Lower courts have ruled in favor of Honda, and now we await the verdict from the U.S. Supreme Court.

*The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants to make sure people wear their seatbelts and are turning to automakers for ideas. Among the suggestions: Cut off the stereo, air conditioning, and other accessories until the belts are snapped. That one was rejected.

*New York state has not allowed pickups with open beds to be registered as passenger vehicles on its state parkways. Pickups have had to display commercial license plates unless they had camper tops or related mods. But now there's a proposal floating around that would give passenger plates to pickups so long as they're free of business advertising and have an unloaded bed weight of less than 5,000 pounds. An F-150 would qualify, for example, but a Super Duty wouldn't.

To voice your support of or objection to a cause, visit, a Web site that will help you contact your state rep. You can also check out the Bureau of Land Management ( for information on this land that's your land.

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