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July 2009 4x4 Truck & Auto News - Drivelines

Posted in Features on July 1, 2009 Comment (0)
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July 2009 4x4 Truck & Auto News - Drivelines
Photographers: Brenda Priddy & Company

2010 Mahindra Pickup Spied
Photographers in northern Scandinavia recently caught a barely camouflaged Mahindra pickup undergoing cold-weather testing. The diesel-powered trucks are due to be introduced in the U.S. in 2009 as '10 models, with diesel

Mahindra SUVs to follow for the '11 model year. Apparently the vinyl-wrapped grille seen here is for European and Asian markets; we'll get something different in the States. And according to Brenda Priddy's sources, the truck won't be named Appalachian as previously rumored, but will carry some sort of alpha-numeric designation.

Built by India's Mahindra & Mahindra, the U.S.-spec trucks will be powered by a 140hp common-rail diesel engine backed by a six-speed automatic transmission. Two- and four-door versions will be built with both two- and four-wheel drive.

No `Chicken Tax' For Mahindra?
Mahindra's U.S. distributor is asking that the diesel-powered trucks be exempt from the 25-percent tax normally levied on imported pickups. According to Automotive News, Global Vehicles USA is seeking relief from the tax based on the "environmental benefits" of its clean-burning, high-mileage diesel engines. Global Vehicles is also investigating the option of assembling the trucks here in the States to avoid the tax, nicknamed "chicken tax" because it was originally imposed in the '60s during a poultry trade dispute. The tax could add as much as $4,000 to the truck's expected $24,000-$26,000 sticker price.

New Options For Tundra
Toyota is expanding its Tundra fullsize pickup line for 2010 to include two new trim packages and a new V-8 engine. The option packages represent both ends of the equipment spectrum. A Platinum Package for CrewMax Limited trucks includes 20-inch wheels, a billet grille, power interior accessories, and other luxe items. It should add some $5,000 to the CrewMax MSRP.

A new Work Truck Package (seen here) has hose-off vinyl seats, black grille and bumpers, and black paint inside where the standard Tundra has chrome trim. It should deduct $550 to $655 from the Tundra's base MSRP, depending on the model. (The Work Truck package will be available on regular and Double Cab models in standard or long-bed configurations.)

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At 4.6L, the new V-8 is slightly smaller than Toyota's previous standard 4.7L V-8. It produces 310 hp and 327 lb-ft of torque (compared to the 4.7's 276 hp and 313 lb-ft) and should turn in fuel economy of 15 mpg city, 20 highway compared to the 4.7's 13/16.

All '10 Tundras receive a new grille and taillamp designs and were scheduled to go on sale in April.

Drive The Raptor!
Sensing a bright spot in an otherwise dim year for truck sales, Ford is really beating the promotional drum for the new F-150 SVT Raptor. We've already reported on its Baja 1000 success and continued desert-race R&D program; now comes word that Ford's Raptor driving simulator will appear at auto shows around the country. While desert-race scenes are projected on screens in front of the driver, the simulator pivots along four axes-tipping forward, backward and sideways-and engine sounds from the Raptor R race truck play from the speakers.

If you can't get in the driver's seat, so to speak, you can check out the Raptor in fine detail at Ford's new website, www.fordvehicles.com/f150raptor. There you can click through various features and specs, plus watch footage of the Raptor in action in the desert and during the Baja 1000. Oh, and you'll get more "Closed course, professional driver, don't try this at home" warnings than you can imagine. In fact, there's even a link labeled "Additional warning information." No lie.

GM Delays Light-Duty Diesel
General Motors' economic turmoil has led to a delay of its 4.5L turbo-diesel engine, which was slated to be used in light-duty pickups next year. According to Automotive News, the delay was among many "tough decisions" GM is making to weather the financial crisis. GM is calling the delay "indefinite," but a company spokesperson also told AN that the rights to the engine could be sold to another company.

The 4.5L is innovative on several fronts. Its narrow-angle, lightweight block is fitted with exhaust manifolds that are integrated with the cylinder heads and intake manifolds that are integrated with the cam covers. Yes, this is a dual-overhead-cam, four-valve engine that's compact enough to fit in the same space as a small-block gas engine. Power targets are more than 310 hp and 520 lb-ft of torque, but it will also deliver fuel economy that's 20 percent better than a comparable gas engine.

GM said it "remains optimistic that the Duramax 4.5L V-8 diesel may be a viable option in its future portfolio." We sure hope so.

Calling All Military Vehicles
In 1919 the U.S. Army sent 81 vehicles from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco in what was the first transcontinental military convoy along the then-new Lincoln Highway. This summer, the Military Vehicle Preservation Association (MVPA) will commemorate that historic journey with the Transcontinental Motor Convoy. The trip will follow the original convoy's route as closely as currently possible, leaving D.C. June 13 and arriving in S.F. July 8.

New Polaris Limited-Edition Models
Polaris has introduced some limited-edition ATV and side-by-side models for the spring. The new ATVs include a Tequila Gold-colored Sportsman 850 XP that's outfitted with Polaris' electronic power steering, PIAA lights, and a winch. Among the new side-by-sides are a Browning Edition of the Ranger XP with gun scabbards, a Warn winch, and special Browning insignia on the bodywork and upholstery. We'll spare you pictures of the Passion Pink Ranger RZR. And no, we're not making that up. It is for "that special lady in your life," says Polaris.

Chrysler-Nissan Truck Plan On Hold
Several sources have reported that the truck-sharing plan between Chrysler and Nissan-in which Chrysler would build the next-generation Titan for Nissan off a new Ram platform-has been put on hold due to the economy. Nissan had been planning to end production of the current Titan in time to get the new one ready for the '11 model year, but this announcement makes the Titan's future less certain.

Some industry watchers see this as another nail in the Titan's coffin, its poor sales being the primary reason to end production. (In calendar year 2008 some 34,000 Titans were sold, compared to 137,000 Tundras and nearly half a million Ford F-Series.) Others are more optimistic. Bill Wolf, SEMA's senior director of OE relations, views the hold as temporary and expects to see a growth in manufacturer alliances such as this.

Club Spotlight
Gen-Right Does Right
Ok, so this month's item is more a "business spotlight" than "club spotlight," but these folks have their hearts in the right place. Manufacturer of specialty Jeep products Gen-Right Off Road in Simi Valley, California, recently held a Jeep-enthusiast swap meet to help raise money for the California Off-Road Vehicle Association (CORVA), a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting vehicular recreation on public lands.

"The idea came up during one of our customer runs," said Gen-Right president Tony Pellegrino. "Most guys have a ton of parts in the garage or on the side yard. I wanted to give them the ability to unload a few things and put a little money in their pocket."

The event attracted enthusiasts from all over California as well as Arizona. Gen-Right supplied food and drinks, collecting donations on behalf of CORVA. Gen-Right plans to do more of these in the future. For more info, visit www.genright.com.

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 4wor@sorc.com, 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
* We've heard Dodge has issued a technical service bulletin regarding new ECM software for Cummins 6.7L diesel pickups built before January 13, 2009. The new programming includes an extended-idle feature that limits soot buildup during long periods of at-idle operation. Check with your local Dodge dealer to see if your truck qualifies.

* A group called Responsible Trails America (RTA) is trying to link reckless off-highway-vehicle use with aggressive marketing in the media. RTA examined OHV manufacturer advertising over a five-year period and concluded that aggressive behavior was being glorified in the commercials examined. RTA then cited several examples of aggressive behavior by OHV users, including assaults on and threats against private land owners. It seems like a weak argument to us, just as we doubt that Road Runner-on-Coyote violence leads to school shootings. But you can read the entire "Ads, Rhetoric, Behavior" report at www.responsibletrails.org and make up your own mind.

* The revamped Dodge Ram seems to be a hit with buyers. Dodge reports that its share in the fullsize pickup market climbed to 20 percent in February, the highest it has been in more than five years.

* And we thought California legislators were green-crazy! Oregon has introduced a bill to ban the sale of certain aftermarket parts when alternatives are available that "decrease greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles." We hope this has been shot down by the time you read this.

Earth Watch
* In January the National Off-Road Association (NORA) officially began efforts to unite responsible OHV enthusiasts into a unified voice, learn about important issues, and strengthen the nationwide family of off-roaders so that they can effect change and protect the lands open to off-roaders, said NORA president and CEO Pearse Umlauf (whom many of you know through Jeep Jamboree USA). NORA's activities will be different from those of other organizations. It plans to initiate studies on the environmental and economic impact of the off-road industry and trail closures, issue action alerts to members about trails in imminent danger of closure, and establish the ability to lobby lawmakers at the state and national level. NORA and Tread Lightly! will work together to integrate Tread Lightly! outdoor ethics and stewardship principles into NORA's programs and services. And members will enjoy discounts from a number of off-road companies, including Goodyear, Rubicon Express, Superwinch, and ARB. Visit www.nora-usa.com for more info.

* Speaking of Tread Lightly!, lately it has been reaching out to forge agreements with land users beyond the off-road-vehicle community so that the group can work together to preserve recreational areas. Its latest alliance is with the Equestrian Land Conservation Resource, with which it hopes not only to keep trails open but also educate both groups so that vehicles and horses can share the lands without conflict. Tread Lightly! has produced a series of brochures with tips advocating an ethic of stewardship and promoting a wide variety of recreational activities, including tips for responsible horseback riding.The brochures cover the use of motorized vehicles and provide tips like what to do when approaching horses or other pack animals. Visit www.treadlightly.org for more info.

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