2010 HD Rams Revealed
At the Chicago Auto Show, Dodge unveiled the latest arrows in its truck quiver: revised versions of the 2500 and 3500 Ram Heavy Duty pickups. The new HD trucks share some of the styling changes first seen on the light-duties-including the addition of a Crew Cab model to replace the Mega Cab/shortbed-but the HD's bigger grilles and taller hoods set them apart from the half-tons.
Suspensions have been tuned to improve the trucks' handling when fully loaded, and working capacities have increased for several models. The GVWR for the 2500 4x4 Crew Cab diesel goes up from 9,000 pounds to 9,600; the GCWR for 3500 dualies with diesel, automatic transmission, and 4.10 gears goes from 24,000 pounds to 25,400; and an increased front gross axle weight rating of 5,500 pounds for diesel 4x4s allows for more front-weight carrying capacities. (Snowplow, anyone?)
HD powertrain choices continue to be the 6.7L High-Output Cummins turbodiesel (350 hp, 650 lb-ft) and the 5.7L Hemi V-8 (383 hp, 400 lb-ft). The diesel is available with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. The Hemi comes with a five-speed automatic only.
The new model year also sees the return of the Power Wagon, with electric-locking front and rear diffs, 4.56 gears, a disconnecting sway bar, 32-inch BFG tires, and a 12,000-pound Warn winch.
Look for the '10 Ram HDs this fall.
Rubi-Crawler On The Way
Advanced Adaptors has "run into a few little setbacks" while designing its Rubi-Crawler reduction housing for Jeeps, but the unit should be available by the time you read this. The Rubi-Crawler is a six-pinion planetary assembly with a 2.72:1 low-range that's built in a housing that mimics the empty tailhousing of the production 42RLE transmission. This would give Jeep owners the option of multiple low-range gearing without having to make any driveshaft modifications.
Said the folks at AA: "From the get-go, one of our main objectives was the whole theory of 'bolt in with no driveshaft mods,' which is why a few things had to change when, late in the project, we found out that the 42RLE had multiple tailhousings with different lengths. We knew that a change at this point would definitely put this product behind schedule but ultimately knew it had to be done. So now instead of having one design for the Rubi-Crawler we have two, one for the TJs and one for the JKs."
Raptor Keeps Racing
Fresh from a Third-in-Class finish at the Baja 1000, Ford's SVT Raptor R will continue its high-intensity R&D by competing in all five points races in the .09 Best in the Desert race series. The truck will be driven by veteran racers and former Rough Riders Rob MacCachren and Steve Olliges.
The Raptor R, of course, is a modified version of Ford's production F-150 SVT Raptor, a high-performance off-roader that will go on sale this summer. Initially powered by a 320hp 5.4L V-8, the Raptor will be available early next year with a 6.2L V-8 that has power targets of 400 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque, says Ford.
"This is a great opportunity for everyone involved in the Raptor program to get more real-time data on how the truck performs in the most extreme conditions," said Cliff Irey, manager of truck motorsports for Ford Racing Technology. "We need to push the truck harder than we'd ever expect our customers would to ensure that the production Raptor is the ultimate factory-available high-speed off-road truck."
VW Goes 1-2 In Dakar, Gordon Third
Volkswagen achieved a number of First Place wins at this year's running of the Dakar Rally. Not only did its Touareg race trucks finish First and Second overall in this event's new South American venue, VW was also the first automobile manufacturer to win the Dakar Rally overall with diesel-powered vehicles. The winning Touaregs were powered by five-cylinder turbodiesels producing about 280 hp and 440 lb-ft of torque, a touch more than U.S. buyers will get in their clean-diesel Touaregs this year.
Volkswagen's Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz won the rally, which traveled some 6,000 kilometers (more than 3,700 miles) through 14 stages in Argentina and Chile. VW pilots Mark Miller and Ralph Pitchford finished in Second.
In Third Place overall was Robby Gordon and his Hummer race truck. Gordon's H3 was the highest-placing 2WD vehicle in the event. A blog of his adventure, produced by Toyo Tires' Ramses Perez, is available on Toyo's website (toyo.com). Hopefully the video of Gordon's rollover is still on the site by the time you log on. It's cool.
2010 Ranger Safer, Fuel-Efficient
Ford has announced that the latest version of its Ranger pickup will include a new electronic stability control system-AdvanceTrac with RSC-plus new head-and-chest combination side air bags. The new stability system has a gyroscopic roll sensor that determines both the vehicle's body roll angle and roll rate. If it detects an imminent rollover, the system automatically reduces engine power, applies the brakes, or both to one or more wheels to resist the accident. Ford also reminded us that the Ranger's 2.3L I-4 engine is EPA rated at 21 mpg city, 26 highway, making it among the most fuel-efficient trucks on the market. Keep in mind, though, that the four-banger isn't available in 4x4 models. The 4.0L V-6 in those trucks is rated 15 city, 19 highway.
Short-Course Racing News
There were quite a few announcements made by various short-course racing bodies over the off-season. We will publish the race dates for all these sanctioning bodies in the Drivelines calendar. Here are some highlights.
* The Off-Road Grand Prix series, owned by Supercross champ Ricky Johnson, has changed its name to TORC, The Off-Road Championship Series. TORC combines Midwest racing at tracks like Crandon and Bark River with West Coast venues that include Las Vegas and Perris, California. TORC's '09 series will include eight points-race weekends and two sportsman weekends.
* The National Off Road Racing Series (NORRS) will hold a short-course racing series in Southern California. Plans call for seven race weekends starting May 16-17 at a track NORRS developed in northern San Diego.
* The Lucas Oil American Off-Road Series kicked off its '09 season in April and will put on a total of six racing weekends in Nevada, Arizona, and California.
Texoma Off Road Club
The Texoma Off Road Club, based in Wichita Falls, Texas, is a small, family-oriented off-road club that mainly consists of rockcrawlers from mild to fully-built buggies. As a club we travel to different areas to wheel, such as the Superlift ORV Park; Clayton, Oklahoma; and Katemcy, Texas. We love to get together and wheel or just hang out. Our families are heavily involved in the club, so we are used to having kids in our rigs who enjoy what we do as much as we do.
In December we have an annual fundraiser called Rock Crawl for Kids that raises money for a charity called Operation Santa Claus, which benefits local children at Christmastime. Our club partners in the event with Rock & Roll Offroad, a local off-road accessory store. We place large rocks and cars in front of R&R Offroad's store, and people donate money to let our club members drive them over the rocks and cars. The kids love it. It's a full day in which we gather toys and cash to help those less fortunate. Hot dogs and drinks are served throughout the day, as well as candies for the kids. We'd like to be considered for your Club Spotlight, not just because it would be really cool to be in your magazine, but also to give other clubs and idea for the same type of event to help those in need.
Editor's note: What's your 4x4 club up to? This is the place to share news about trail cleanups, charity runs, raffles, trail rides, and other events going on in your neck of the woods. Email the info and some high-resolution photos to firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can send them to Club Spotlight, 4-Wheel & Off-Road magazine, 6420 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048. Sorry, but we can't return photos.
This Just In
* Barely a week after his Third Place overall in Dakar, Robby Gordon drove his Chevy Silverado Trophy Truck to an overall win at the 15th Annual SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge in Nevada.
* Ford and Navistar have ended their long-standing feud, reaching (in the careful words of the PR statement) "an agreement to restructure their ongoing business relationship and settle all existing litigation between the companies." The companies were suing each other over warranty claims having to do with the diesel engines Navistar supplied to Ford. Additionally, Navistar sued Ford over the proposed light-duty diesel engines to be installed in F-150s. The agreement terminates the diesel engine supply deal between them at the end of the year, though Navistar will continue to supply parts for PowerStroke engines. The two companies will continue to work together in the South American market.
* Mahindra is taking its show on the road. Global Vehicles, the U.S. distributor for the Indian trucks and SUVs, is planning a series of displays and events to introduce Mahindra to America this fall. So far more than 300 dealers have been signed to sell the vehicles, and plans call for the diesel-powered pickup to go on sale later this year. The Mahindra SUVs will come in 2010.
* In Its Fight To Stay Out of bankruptcy, GM has dissolved its High Performance Vehicle Operations unit, which built lots of the fun stuff, like the V-8 Colorado and SS versions of the HHR and Cobalt. Those engineers have been reassigned to more mundane projects. We hope this is temporary.
* SEMA reports that the U.S. Senate recently passed legislation to add more than 2 million acres to the National Wilderness Preservation System. The wilderness designation is consequential since no mechanized activity is permitted on such lands. The legislation bundles more than 160 separate initiatives that had been introduced in Congress in recent years. The bill would designate wilderness in nine states-California, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia-and establish several new national parks, monuments, and conservation areas. The House of Representatives is expected to ratify the legislation quickly and send it to President Obama for his signature.
* SEMA also submitted comments to the Department of Defense and U.S. Marine Corps regarding a potential expansion of the Marine Corps Combat Center at Twenty-nine Palms, near Johnson Valley, California. The Marine Corps contends that it needs additional land for training and may seek to incorporate the 189,000 acres in Johnson Valley. SEMA believes the loss of this area to OHV enthusiasts would have a serious negative impact on the OHV market, the enthusiast's community, and the local economy. SEMA recommended that the Marine Corps reassess the need for expansion or expand into other adjacent areas that are not currently used for OHV events. If OHV lands must be vacated, SEMA suggested that other nearby sites controlled by the Bureau of Land Management be considered or private lands be purchased for OHV use.
* We were contacted by an organization called Rock Crawlers for the Preservation of Future Access (RCPFA). The group is committed to preserving both public and private lands in the mid-Atlantic region to continued off-road vehicle access. Crozet, Virginia, near the University of Virginia, serves as the RCPFA's primary base of operations. It consists of roughly 100 acres of private land, which is maintained by RCPFA. Its location is sufficiently centralized in the region for wheeling events. RCPFA offers guided four-wheeling for nonmembers wishing to become actively involved in both legal and responsible off-roading. Information on joining RCPFA or reserving its playground for club events can be found at the group's website (www.rcpfa.com).