'09 Ram Is Organized Too
Not to be outdone by Ford's upcoming cargo-management devices, Dodge has announced its own bed organization systems, which include RamBox storage compartments in the fender sides, bed dividers and extenders, and "store-in-the-floor" lockable bins in the floor of the crew cab model. There's even a new step coming from Mopar, Dodge's accessories arm.
In powertrain news, the '09 version of the 5.7L Hemi V-8 produces more horsepower (390 vs. 345) and torque (407 lb-ft vs. 375) than the '08 model and yet is able to achieve 4 percent better fuel economy. Like Ford, Dodge has announced it will offer a light-duty diesel in the '10 Ram; unlike Ford, Dodge will offer a hybrid '10 Ram as well.
'09 F-150 Delayed
Responding to the downturn in truck sales, Ford has delayed the launch of the '09 F-150 until "late fall," to give its dealers more time to sell current inventory.
When it does arrive, the new F-150 will include some interesting features. Responding to consumer input about the difficulty of stretching over tall box sides to reach into the bed, Ford will make available frame-mounted steps that will support up to 500 pounds. The tailgate step introduced last year on Super Duty trucks (a feature we liked when testing a Super Duty earlier this year) will also be available on F-150s. Cargo-box versatility will be enhanced by a stowable bed extender and cargo management system, while a lockable Midbox will be offered on regular cab models with a 145-inch wheelbase and SuperCabs with a 163-inch wheelbase. The Midbox provides more than 26 cubic feet of secure storage for tools and other equipment without compromising the use of the full pickup box.
Engine choices for the new F-truck will include two versions of the 4.6L V-8-a two-valve with the fuel economy of last year's V-6 and a three-valve-and a 5.4L V-8. We'll have to wait until '10 for a light-duty diesel.
Ivan Stewart's Signature Toyotas
Ivan Stewart's history with Toyota trucks hasn't stopped at racing. Now he's put his name on some high-performance Tundras, Tacomas, and FJ Cruisers available for sale through select Toyota dealers. The Ivan "Ironman" Stewart Signature Series trucks aren't just stickered-up poseurs. Ivan had a hand in selecting the modifications, which include products from Bilstein, Alcoa, MagnaFlow, General Tire, TRD, Hurst, and more. "I wanted to build a truck that I would be proud of; one that I will drive myself," he said.
The trucks are available in various states of modification. The Stage 1 package includes 20-inch Alcoa wheels and General Grabber AT2 all-terrain tires, Bilstein shocks, and a MagnaFlow after-cat exhaust. The Pre-Run Package adds a bed bar and lights; and the full-bore Performance Package puts a TRD supercharger under the hood (good for 504 hp and 550 lb-ft of torque), TRD brakes at the corners, and leather interior. Want one? Ask your local Toyota dealer, or log on to www.motiveclub.com for more details.
Hummer & Tread Lightly! Open Florida Trail
Hummer's Recreation Rescue, a new partnership between the SUV maker and Tread Lightly! that awards grants to outdoor recreation sites, helped open a new off-road route in Florida's Ocala National Forest. Called "Four Wheel Drive Way," the 81-mile route is a mix of existing trails and unmaintained forest roads. Funding from Recreation Rescue paid for signs to mark the route, and a crew of volunteers helped to put up signage on 54 miles of the trail. The Florida 4-Wheel Drive Association has volunteered to adopt the trail system and maintain it when work is completed.
Side-By-Side Finishes Baja
A Polaris Ranger RZR, piloted by Mark Lindsay and Phil Holdsworth with co-driver Michael King, became the first side-by-side UTV to finish the Baja 500 at this summer's 40th anniversary race. Lindsay's RZR was the last vehicle to start and completed the 441-mile loop in 19 hours, 49 minutes, 30 seconds, for an average speed of just over 22 mph.
New Ford Toys
You never know what you're going to turn up when you look through a manufacturer's media Web site. In this case, Ford's photo vault held this, a neat little '78 Bronco made by Tree House Kids and cobranded with Bass Pro Shops. It's actually one of two package sets with a '78-vintage Bronco; the other contains a deer, a tent, and even an ATV. Look for them at your favorite toy store.
Coolest 4Wor Reading Places: Scandinavia
Copy Editor John Patton and his wife Robyn tried to convince their visitors, Lovisa and Sara Engelbrektsson and Jessica and Jennifer Sahlin of Bors, Sweden, that the secret to mastering the English language was found in the pages of 4-Wheel & Off-Road. We're not sure they believed it, but we're happy to try and foster positive international relations.
This Just In
* Advance Adapters has launched a new Web site devoted to its Atlas two- and four-speed transfer cases. Visit www.gotatlas.com for the scoop.
* Though it's not as wacky as Florida outlawing truck nuts (heard about that?) it's about as dumb: New laws mandating hands-free cell phone use while driving will not cut down on distraction and may actually cause more accidents as drivers fumble to put the dang headsets in their ears when the phone rings. The Los Angeles Times was just one media outlet reporting several scientific studies that showed it's the conversation, not the act of holding the phone, that distracts drivers and impairs their driving ability. Even sillier: The law in California doesn't ban text-messaging, which is a whole lot harder to do while driving than just talking. If you really want to be cell-phone safe behind the wheel, don't use it.
* One dealer in Albuquer-que has figured out how to sell trucks in these tough times: Half price. Automotive News reported Zangara Dodge was selling $30,000 Ram pickups for $15,000, and it worked. Of the 113 vehicles Ken Zangara sold in June, 75 were Rams. He figures he's not losing money, just creatively packaging incentives and hoping to make a little more when the customers come back to the dealership for service and parts. And no, buyers didn't get both the discount and the $2.99-per-gallon Chrysler gas card. They had to choose, and most chose the discount over the cheaper gas.
* The Marine Corps at Southern California's Twentynine Palms base still seem interested in expanding into Johnson Valley, an open-access area currently managed by the Bureau of Land Management. But a new nonprofit coalition called the Partnership for Johnson Valley has come together to represent the interests of off-roaders, the film industry, and others who would be affected by land closures in the area. The leaders of the partnership are working with the military to show them the impact-economic and otherwise-such an expansion would have on the area, and to explore alternatives to the expansion. Those interested in assisting the partnership can get in touch with Harry Baker, chairman of the group, or Mark Howlett, the executive director, by e-mailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org.