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August 2008 4x4 Truck & Automotive News - Drivelines

Posted in Features on August 1, 2008
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Photographers: Chris Doane AutomotiveBrian Williams/Brenda Priddy & CoJeff Nemecek/J&L Photography

New Info On Ford's Raptor
We blogged (and bragged) about it not long ago, since its camouflage has included some choice 4WOR stickers. Now we have more information on Ford's new Raptor, a truck Ford is calling "The first and only Baja 1000 Trophy Truck you'll be able to buy from a dealer." The latest news comes from a meeting held in Las Vegas, where dealers were treated to a video of a Raptor mule flying across the desert. They also got a glimpse of one of the truck's long-travel shocks, reportedly very similar to a Fox 2.0 Piggy Back reservoir shock. It has 4 more inches of travel than the shocks currently used on FX-4 off-road packages.

Inside info pegs the Raptor's engine as the much-rumored Boss, a 6.2L V-8 that will reportedly produce 380 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. Internet posters, among them (which provided some of this information), figure the engine's true output will be well over 400 hp.

Indian Firm Buys Land Rover
"Too early to tell" is what most analysts are saying about what may change at Land Rover after its purchase by Tata, an Indian conglomerate. Tata paid Ford $2.33 billion for Land Rover and Jaguar in a deal that should be finalized by the time you read this. According to Automotive News, Ford will, at least for a while, continue to supply powertrain and other technologies for certain Land Rover and Jaguar models. Most of the management teams will transfer to Tata, and there have been no significant changes to employment terms.

Tata's other holdings run the gamut from Tetley Tea to a British steel manufacturer. It made news recently when it announced it would build the Nano, a $2,500 car for India. Ownership of Land Rover and Jaguar makes Tata an instant player in the premium automotive market, a segment that can be sensitive to the "Britishness" of brands like these. Which is probably why, at least for now, few changes have been announced.

Cross-Continent Atv Trip
A Canadian couple has traveled the North American continent-from British Columbia to Cabo San Lucas-riding Polaris ATVs. Marc Joinville and France Labont spent six months riding on Polaris Sportsman 800 X2s that were donated for the adventure by the ATV maker. The pair traveled through Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, and down the Baja peninsula, then back up to Kingman, Arizona, to end the journey.

If you're a fan of Chevy's old-school El Camino, you may want to check out Pontiac's new G8 sport truck, which will go on sale in late 2009. Based on Pontiac's new G8 sport sedan, it will be powered by a 361hp 6.0L V-8 backed by a six-speed automatic transmission. The rear-wheel-drive truck has a fully independent suspension and a 6-foot cargo bed. It's rated for more than 1,000 pounds of payload and has a 3,500-pound tow capacity.

Kia May Build Pickup For U.S.
A couple of years ago, Kia showed a concept pickup called the Mojave (seen here) at the Chicago Auto Show. Now comes word that the Korean manufacturer may be readying a production pickup based on the '10 redesigned Sorento SUV. According to reports leaked to Automotive News, the truck would sit on a front-wheel-drive, unibody platform and be powered by a V-6 engine-much like Honda's Ridgeline.

G4 Challenge Changes
Land Rover's change in ownership hasn't altered plans for the '08-'09 G4 Challenge, which will take place in Asia next year. This off-roading/extreme-adventure event will be different from those that preceded it in that each national team will consist of male and female participants. Selection for the U.S. team will have taken place by the time you read this; we should be able to report on the winners next month.

The global event will raise funds for humanitarian causes and will include the donation of a vehicle to the winning nation's Red Cross or Red Crescent National Society.

At this year's New York Auto Show, Land Rover displayed an '08 LR3 equipped for G4 competition with body armor, auxiliary lights, a roof rack, and an electric winch.

"Urban" 4Runner?
Sounds like a contradiction in terms, but it's actually a new option package for Toyota's 4Runner Sport Edition. The Urban Runner equipment includes 18-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, a color-keyed grille, Urban Runner and XREAS Sport Enhanced Suspension badging, a chrome exhaust tip, and black-painted tubular side steps and roof rack. Inside you get a new audio system with a portable Tom Tom navigation device, Alcantara seat inserts, and leather and wood trim. The Urban Runner package retails for $1,760 over the cost of the 4Runner Sport.

Not Your Typical "For Sale" Ad
The subject line in an e-mail we got the other day read: "For Sale 2007 CORR Pro 4 Second in Points & 06 Borg Warner Winning Truck." That's right, Scott Douglas is selling his most recent CORR ride. The ad goes on to describe the Ford-bodied truck as "very reliable and fast." If you're a short-course racer with $220,000 burning a hole in your pocket, contact Douglas Motorsports. Just keep in mind that Douglas, nice guy that he is, is a fierce competitor. We're sure he's not selling all his go-fast tricks.

Coolest Display Of Gratitude
Specialist (Spc.) Michael Gallagher from Fort Lewis, Washington, currently serving in Iraq, found quite a surprise in the package he received from Operation Gratitude earlier this year. The nonprofit organization that sends care packages and letters of support to troops deployed overseas personally delivered its 300,000th package, containing keys to an '08 Jeep Liberty, to a surprised Spc. Gallagher at Forward Operating Base Warhorse in Iraq.

Jeep donated the vehicle as an expression of gratitude to all the men and women currently serving with the U.S. military overseas. In addition to the Liberty keys, the package contained a letter from John Plecha, Director, Jeep Marketing and Global Communications, and other gifts from U.S. citizens and companies that generously support the operation.

Gallagher's name was chosen at random to receive the Operation Gratitude package. He'll take delivery of the Liberty when he returns to the U.S.

Chrysler To Build Trucks For Nissan
Is it possible that Nissan will turn to Chrysler for help in building a heavy-duty, diesel-powered pickup? It is if you read between the lines of a recent announcement from the two companies. Chrysler and Nissan have entered into an agreement in which each company will supply a vehicle for the other. Chrysler gets a small, fuel-efficient car based on the Nissan Versa platform to sell in South America, and in exchange Nissan will get a truck built at the Saltillo (Mexico) manufacturing facility for sale in North America.

No details about the truck were offered, other than that it will be "based on a Nissan unique design" and will go on sale in 2011. In the meantime, Chrysler will shift some of its pickup production volume to U.S. facilities to make room for the joint venture. This news broke just as we were going to press, so we hope to have more details next month.

Maximum Adventure Network Launched
Subscribers of DirecTV can now tune into the Maximum Adventure Network (MAN) for 24/7 "outdoors adventure-focused television," says the network. MAN targets viewers interested in hunting, fishing, ATVs, four-wheeling, boating, and other outdoor recreational activities, including extreme sports. After its DirecTV debut, MAN plans to announce further distribution later in the year.

This Just In
* Chrysler has confirmed it will sell a gas/electric hybrid version of the Dodge Ram pickup for the '10 model year. The truck will share the two-mode hybrid system that will appear in Dodge Durango SUVs next year.

* Hopefully Dodge will have better luck with its hybrid trucks than GM, whose hybrid SUVs aren't exactly setting the world on fire saleswise. Automotive News reports sales of just 655 Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon two-mode SUVs in the first quarter of 2008. Despite the sluggish start, GM is still hoping to sell between 8,000 and 12,000 of the hybrid SUVs during the model year. Price may be a factor in the slow sales start; the $50,000-plus starting price for the hybrid is $15,000 more than the conventional Tahoe's $35,000 base sticker.

* Toyota is offering to repair or even buy back '95-'00 Tacoma pickups with frames damaged by rust. Apparently the undercoating used on these trucks wasn't sufficient to protect the frames from snow and road salt. Toyota believes the number of affected trucks is small, but it will either repair frames with light damage or buy back the truck (if the damage is more severe) for 150 percent of Kelley Blue Book "excellent" value.

* Hummer's '09 H2 SUT will be the brand's first model with ethanol (E85) capability, the company announced recently. By the '10 model year, it will offer biofuel capability on all of its models.

Earth Watch
* Is Johnson Valley at risk of closure? Apparently, the Marine Corps is eyeing the popular Southern California OHV area as a means of expanding its Air Ground Combat Center located in nearby Twenty-Nine Palms. At least, it appeared that was the case when an "unofficial" copy of the Marines' proposal was posted on the AMA's District 37 Web site. However, the BLM, which owns and operates the area, has not seen any formal plans for the expansion; and ORBA, the Off-Road Business Association, was not able to reach a Marine official to confirm the plan. A subsequent town hall meeting at a local college was attended by politicians and BLM officials who told the more than 200 OHV enthusiasts in the audience that "the military was now acutely aware that Johnson Valley is an internationally recognized and world-class OHV recreation area." Congressman Duncan Hunter promised the group that he would meet with the Marine Corps to discuss this issue and see if a solution can be found, according to the BlueRibbon Coalition.

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