Say hello to the '06 Dodge Ram Mega Cab, unveiled at this year's Chicago Auto Show. As you might guess from its name, this Ram variant has the largest cab of any pickup on the market, according to Dodge. How'd they do that? By putting a shortbox on a longbox frame, Dodge was able to lengthen the cab 20 inches, so it's now more than a foot longer than the cab on a Ford F-250 crew cab. The cabin seats six, offers reclining rear seats, and can be equipped with a rear-seat DVD entertainment system and a power sliding rear window. The Mega Cab will be available in 1500, 2500, and 3500 Ram models; powertrain choices will include the 5.7L Hemi V-8 (standard on the 1500 and 2500) and the Cummins high-output turbodiesel (standard on the 3500, optional on the 2500). The Mega Cab will be available this fall.
Hummer And Red Cross Join ForcesMembers of the Hummer Club are forming a group of volunteers that will be available to assist the American Red Cross during its disaster relief efforts. Called HOPE-Hummer Owners Prepared for Emergencies-the program consists of training for Hummer Club volunteers in CPR, first aid, and other emergency response measures. Those members who receive Red Cross certification may then be called upon to help with disaster relief efforts, especially in those areas where access by normal emergency response vehicles may be limited by fallen debris.
In addition, the Red Cross will acquire a number of H1, H2, and H3 Hummers for its emergency fleet.
New Diesel Truck Magazine LaunchedPrimedia has just launched Diesel Power, the first consumer magazine targeted directly at diesel-truck enthusiasts. Available at your local newsstand, Diesel Power "primarily shows Ford Power Stroke, Dodge Cummins, and GM Duramax owners what's on the market to improve their trucks' engine, transmission, and driveline," said Carl Calvert, the magazine's editor. The premiere issue, which went on sale mid-March, offered detailed features on the three tricked-out pickups on the cover, as well as a write-up on the massive International CXT.
The magazine will emphasize diesel engine technology and performance, with tech stories about engine modifications, "dyno days," and diesel-only drag races. You don't have to be a pickup owner to benefit from the new publication, as it will encompass motorhome engine upgrades as well. New truck buyers will be interested in Diesel Power's road tests, which will deliver first-hand driving impressions of the latest diesel rigs. The first such story, a three-way shootout between GM, Ford, and Dodge trucks, appeared in the premiere issue.
You may still be able to find copies of Diesel Power's premiere Spring issue on the newsstands by the time you read this, but if it's sold out, don't fret. The Summer issue will go on sale June 14, and subsequent issues will be available quarterly.
Mickey Thompson ReturnsWe mean as a sponsor of the 4-Wheel Jamboree events series, not some spooky resurrection of the murdered land-speed legend himself. Mickey Thompson Performance Tires and Wheels has returned as the official tire of the Jamboree Nationals and will continue to support the Modified Tough Trucks with the Tough Truck Challenge for 2005. The Mickey Thompson program will also include contingency programs for Tough Trucks and all NMRO Mud Drag classes. Mickey Thompson support of NMRO racing is over $15,000, and the Mickey Thompson Tough Trucks Challenge will pay an end-of-season Points Fund of $8,700.
For more information about the contingency programs, contact Mickey Thompson Performance Tires at 800.222.9092.
Cross Lander Coming to U.S.The Cross Lander 244X, a sport-recreation vehicle manufactured in Romania, has recently been certified by the EPA for import into the U.S. Based on the Aro S.A. military vehicle, the Cross Lander is "designed clearly for those drivers who want to take their vehicles off-road and not worry about 'keeping them pretty,'" said Bill Goetze, Cross Lander's general manager. Goetze expects to sell the vehicle in the low-$20,000 range.
Mechanically, the Cross Lander is a body-on-chassis design with a coil-sprung axle in front and leaf springs in back. Under the hood is a 4.0L V-6 producing 207 hp and 238 lb-ft of torque, backed by a choice of manual or automatic transmissions, a part-time 4WD system, and 3.73 axle ratios. Its 102-inch wheelbase and 178-inch overall length size it close to the Jeep Liberty. Want more info? Visit www.crosslander4x4.com.
Indoor Wheelin' At Sema OffroadReports from SEMA Offroad, the association's first dedicated off-road trade show, point to the event being a big success. Held in conjunction with SEMA's Spring Expo in Indianapolis, the show featured truck-, 4x4-, and sand-sports accessory retailers and manufacturers all grouped together, making it easier for off-road-oriented buyers and wholesalers to catch up on what's hot in the category. To keep the adrenaline flowing, SEMA and UROC set up an indoor "off-road proving ground" for live rockcrawling demonstrations. The pictures will give you an idea of how it looked. How it sounded in that big hall is something words can't convey.
Toyo Sponsors CorrToyo Tires is serious about off-road racing. On the heels of its sponsorship announcement regarding teams in SCORE and Best in the Desert races, the tire maker is supporting the 2005 Championship Off-Road Racing (CORR) series as well. Toyo will be title and presenting sponsors at individual CORR races, and will also throw support behind several race teams, including Kyle and Todd LeDuc, Ross Hoek, and Dave Waldvogel. Toyo is using these race venues to demonstrate the capabilities of its Open Country M/T tires.
International Laughs At The MegaYeah, the Mega Cab is big, but if you're looking for truly huge, International is the place to go. After making a splash with its "Oh, was that speed bump a Hummer?" CXT last year, International used the Chicago Auto Show to announce its latest big pickup, the RXT. Actually, the RXT is smaller than the CXT, with a 4x2 drivetrain and an overall height of "only" 8 feet. Its crew-cab cabin seats five, there's an 8-foot bed out back, and power comes from an International VT 365 diesel V-8 with 230 hp and 540 lb-ft of torque. Let's remember, though, that in International terms, "smaller" is still mighty. The RXT has a 6- to 8-ton payload capacity and a GVW in the 25,000-pound range.
International's stand in Chi-town also featured the MXT, a sleek-looking 4x4 prototype with aggressive styling, and a low step-in height that at first will be available only to government and law-enforcement agencies, such as the U.S. Border Patrol. A commercial variant will go into production in 2006. Few technical details were available on the MXT, other than its 4-ton payload, 14,000-pound GVW, and "up to 300 hp" drivetrain. But it looks like a whole lot of fun to us.
A Small SUV for Dodge?Does Dodge need a midsize (as in smaller than Durango) SUV? If so, the Dodge Nitro may be a glimpse at what such a product would be. The five-seat concept vehicle (a Chicago Auto Show debut) is a little longer and wider than the Liberty and shares the Liberty's 3.7L V-6, full-time 4WD, and suspension layout, making us think there may be some platform-sharing going on in the near future. A report in Automotive News cites "industry sources" who say the Nitro will appear in production form in 2006.
Warn Announces RockCrawling Contingency ProgramWarn Industries has announced a substantial contingency program for competitive rockcrawlers running in UROC, ProROCK, Calrocs, NEUROC, and WERock. Warn will pay $500 to crawlers who take First Place in a Modified or Super Modified event using a Warn winch as their primary self-recovery winch. The program encompasses a specific list of crawling competitions. Contact Warn at 503.659.8750 for the list of events that qualify for the contingency program, as well as other specifics about the awards. With 60 eligible events during the racing season, the total payout could reach $30,000.
And the pot gets even sweeter. Warn is also offering a $5,000 bonus to the competitor who wins the most Modified or Super Modified events during those eligible races and is using Warn's new competition-only 9.0R rockcrawling winch.
H1 Alpha Goes On SaleA few issues ago we told you about the H1 Alpha, the Hummer that's juiced up with a Duramax 6600 V-8 turbodiesel, Allison 1000 five-speed automatic, premium interior appointments, and an Off-Road Adventure option package that includes front and rear Eaton ELockers and a 12,000-pound winch. GM just announced the Alpha is now in dealer showrooms, with prices starting at $126,185 for the base open-top model, $137,508 for hard tops. By the time you read this, the all-new midsize Hummer H3 may also be for sale.
This Just InThe Internet is booming... for Chrysler. Following an extensive redesign of its jeep.com, dodge.com, and chrysler.com Web sites,DaimlerChrysler reported a surge in activity on those sites, with the use of some online tools up as much as 100 percent. It's reported that just about two-thirds of all new vehicle buyers use the Web as an information source.
The Mega Cab isn't the last Ram variant we'll see. Industry sources report more are on the way, as Dodge is using models like the Mega Cab, SRT-10, and Power Wagon to keep the brand fresh for consumers. Any chance we'll see a new Ramcharger?
If you're young and want to buy a Ranger pickup, Ford is actively courting you with a range of incentives that includes relaxed lending policies and dollar-matching programs on down payments.
A report in Automotive News says Ford has killed plans for a big-displacement V-8 to battle the mighty Hemi in showrooms. The 6.2L Hurricane was supposed to roll out in 2007 in fullsize SUVs and later move into F-series, but the project has been back-burnered, if not shelved permanently.
We should see the first examples of GM's redesigned fullsize SUVs (codenamed GMT900) at next year's auto show in Detroit. Pickups will probably follow the year after.
Isuzu does not want to let go of the U.S. market. Right now the GM-based Ascender SUV is the only Isuzu product for sale here, but execs are reportedly discussing adding a second, lower-priced SUV to the lineup. It would be based on a model currently available in Asia.
Environmental & Political WatchAnother bullet dodged. A restrictive altered-height-vehicle bill has been killed in Virginia, according to the Washington D.C. SEMA office. Had it gone into law, the bill would have included height-altered pickup or panel trucks under the scope of vehicles required to maintain a bumper height within the range of 14 to 22 inches.
Some bad news too. SEMA also told us about land closures that are on the drawing boards, courtesy of the BLM. The final Wolford Mountain Travel Management Plan issued by the bureau reduces off-highway vehicle routes from 231 to 167 miles and eliminates cross-country motorized travel within 33,000 acres of public land around Kremmling, Colorado. And in Oregon, the BLM issued a draft plan to close more than 90,000 acres to off-road vehicle users in the central part of the state, including a section called the Badlands that is subject to wilderness designation. The closure would prohibit all motorized vehicles on the last 10 miles of routes currently still open within the 32,000-acre Badlands. Another 40 miles of roads and trails are already closed. The off-highway-vehicle ban is part of the Upper Deschutes Resource Management Plan, which will guide the long-term management of 400,000 acres of public land in central Oregon.
Reading Places: Boys And Their ToysAs we were looking over some of the photos that have been sent to us from Iraq and other hot spots, we noticed that, despite the wartime challenges that face the troops, our readers seem to find time to, well...play.