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June 2010 Drivelines

Posted in Features on June 1, 2010 Comment (0)
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GM Unveils New HD Pickups
If you're interested in GM's new heavy-duty pickup trucks, you want to know how they work. So we'll skip over the new sheetmetal, the Wi-Fi connectivity, and the rear doors that open wider than ever to get to the juicy stuff. Oh, wait. We can't.

GM has apparently taken a page out of Ford's playbook and released information about an all-new turbodiesel without providing output numbers, saying only that the new 6.6L Duramax has "significantly more torque and higher horsepower ratings." Is GM waiting for Ford to announce its new Power Stroke numbers, or vice versa? Is this some game of turbodiesel chicken?

What we do know is the new Duramax has an exhaust brake system, which uses the turbine control of the variable geometry turbocharger and the compression of the engine to generate backpressure. Backing the 'max is a new Allison 1000 six-speed automatic transmission, which has been strengthened to handle the higher torque loads while also sending more of the engine's power to the wheels, reducing what GM calls "spin loss." The new turbodiesel and its tranny will improve highway fuel economy by up to 11 percent and boost tow ratings. Properly equipped, a 4WD 3500HD diesel dualie will be rated to tow 19,600 pounds with a fifth-wheel hitch.

There have been improvements to the HD's gasoline powertrain too, with the 6.0L V-8 getting a new camshaft profile for "more torque lower in the rpm band." GM didn't release power ratings for this engine either.

The new trucks retain an independent/torsion bar front suspension, though it has been redesigned to offer up to a 25 percent greater front axle weight rating so a snow plow can be used on all 4WD cab configurations fitted with the plow package. Out back are asymmetrical leaf springs to minimize axle hop.

GM's HD pickups will go on sale this summer. We'll bring you the power specs on the new engines just as soon as GM and Ford quit their staring contest. Maybe it's time for a giant tow rig rematch.

King of the hammers winner!
Loren Healy is the new King of the Hammers! After 135 miles of desert racing and rockcrawling the Farmington, New Mexico, native eeked out a win with a 28-second lead over Brad Lovell. Loren was piloting a Jimmy's 4x4 ( and not only won the race, but qualified for it just days prior by entering the Last Chance Qualifiers of the Griffin Radiator King of the Hammers. Tune in next month for the full coverage or visit

Happy 75th, sub!
The '10 model year marks the Suburban's 75th anniversary, making it the longest-lived nameplate in U.S. automotive history. The original Suburban Carryall was a two-door that could seat eight or, with the seats removed, provide a 6-foot-long cargo area. Under the hood was Chevy's venerable 60hp Stovebolt Six.

To commemorate the anniversary, a limited number of Diamond Edition Suburbans will go on sale this summer with special exterior paint, 20-inch chrome wheels, and lots of goodies inside.

This Just In
•JeepSpeed has entered into a partnership with Orange Coast Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge and OC Motorsports, making OC Motorsports the exclusive home of JeepSpeed. "Through this distinctive partnership, Jeep enthusiasts are able to have all their Jeep needs met in one location, from vehicles, parts, and accessories to the full Jeep racing experience," says JeepSpeed's Clive Skilton. OC Motorsports will continue to modify new and used vehicles for Orange Coast Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge and other dealers in addition to modifying customer Jeeps and trucks. It will also launch a line of OC Motorsports JeepSpeed Performance Engines developed by JeepSpeed Challenge Sponsor ATK Engines.

•There's a battle brewing regarding safety standards for recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs), better known as side-by-sides. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has been developing standards for the vehicles, encompassing rider gear, three-point seatbelts, a rollover protective structure, and other requirements. But the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is trying to establish mandatory federal standards of its own, regardless of the ANSI program. The Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association is asking enthusiasts to visit its website,, to weigh in on the matter and support ANSI's standards rather than the more oppressive CPSC ones.

•Amarok is the name of a new compact pickup truck Volkswagen is marketing in South America and other parts of the world. Will the 2.0L truck come to the U.S.? According to Automotive News, VW is considering this, though it would face some hurdles, starting with the 25 percent "chicken tax" tariff on imported trucks that could price it out of reach of the compact market. Plus, "We don't have dealers in the markets where pickups are sold," admitted VW's American CEO.

•Andy McMillin started the 2010 SCORE Desert Series with a win at the SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge. The third generation of desert-race McMillins (his grandfather, Corky, started racing in 1976), 22-year-old Andy in his McMillin Realty F-150 was the fastest qualifier, led after the first half of the race on Saturday, and pulled farther away from the pack of 28 SCORE Trophy Trucks on Sunday to record the fastest elapsed time in the popular race.

•You'd think they would have enough to do with the bankruptcy and all, but no. Chrysler lawyers recently served a cease-and-desist order on a Florida high school for using a stylized version of the Dodge Ram logo as its school mascot. A local Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep dealership got wind of the trouble, according to the Orlando Sentinel, and offered the services of its graphic artist free of charge to design a new logo for the school.

Earth Watch
•Yamaha's off-highway vehicle initiative, called GRANT (Guaranteeing Responsible Access to our Nation's Trails), has provided more than $1.3 million to support the OHV community since the program started two years ago. According to Yamaha's ATV/SxS marketing manager, Steve Nessl, "We're most excited about the future of the program as we meet the continuing and expanding need for OHV support. Yamaha's OHV Access Initiative will continue to provide essential resources to OHV riding clubs, state associations, and public land management agencies at local, state, and federal levels for years to come."

•Pearse Umlauf of the National Off Road Association told us about the I Off-Road & I Vote campaign created by the California Jeep Authority ( "This simple yet powerful message defines the core values of becoming a NORA member. We have the opportunity to vote for elected officials who share the same values regarding motorized recreation. We also have the opportunity to withhold our vote for elected officials who support limiting access to our public lands. Our goal at NORA is to identify political candidates who mirror our values then publicly get behind them by letting our supporters know who to vote for. We can write letters to our elected officials until we're blue in the face, but when we influence the person holding a public office, that's when we make a measurable difference." Each new or renewing NORA member will receive a decal that says, "I Off-Road & I Vote"; get yours at or

Toyota's Troubles
The regular media will be way ahead of us, but Toyota's unintended-acceleration saga is just too big for us not to mention. You may have tuned out because of all the talk about Prius brakes and Corolla steering, but some trucks are also affected by the 10-million-vehicle recall and stop sale: '07-'10 Tundra pickups, '08-'10 Sequoias, '09-'10 RAV4s, and certain '10 Highlanders (those with a "J" at the beginning of the VIN are not subject to recall). If you've gotten a recall letter, get to your agency to have the pedal assembly fixed.

The problem is, the pedals may not be the issue. The Los Angeles Times reviewed federal data about injuries linked to sticking pedals and found that the only fatality happened in a car that wasn't equipped with the pedal assembly currently under recall. Just one injury occurred in a Toyota on the recall list. Plus, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received "more than 100 complaints about sudden acceleration" in the Tacoma pickup, said the Times, yet it does not use the pedal assembly subject to recall and is not on the recall list. The '05-'10 Tacomas were included in the earlier floor mat recall, and Toyota has reopened its review of the complaints regarding the Tacoma in light of all the other acceleration issues.

A number of industry experts and a growing amount of evidence point to electronics as the cause of the problem. Complaints about unintended acceleration "skyrocketed" after Toyota began using drive-by-wire throttle controls in 2002, said the Times. Automotive News reported on federal testing that showed an engine speed increase in a '07 Lexus when an electromagnetic field was introduced near the throttle body, but those findings were ignored and the blame placed instead on floor mats.

Probably the most distressing thing we've heard is this: According to the Times, while Toyota told consumers that the pedal fix will solve unintended acceleration, Toyota was telling government investigators that it does not really know what's to blame. Toyota did not respond to our request for a comment about the story, but told Automotive News, "After many years of extensive testing, we've found no evidence of an electronic problem that could have contributed to unwanted acceleration."

•Apr. 24-25: Tin Bender Jamboree, Johnson Valley Hammer Trails, Lucerne, CA. Info: 805.783.2060, ext. 201,

•Apr. 29-May 1: Arch Canyon Jeep Jamboree, San Juan County, UT, by Jeep Jamboree USA. Info: 530.333.4777,

•Apr. 29-May 1: Land Between the Lakes Jeep Jamboree, Marshall County, KY, by Jeep Jamboree USA. Info: 530.333.4777,

•Apr. 30-May 1: Spring Fling, Superlift ORV Park, Hot Springs, AR, by Superlift ORV Park. Info: 501.625.3600,

•Apr. 30-May 2: Superlift 4xAdventure Series, Big Bend National Park, near Terlingua, TX. Info:

•May 1: Mud for Blood car, truck, bike show, and blood drive, at Hooters, Kennesaw, GA. Info:

•May 1-2: O'Reilly Auto Parts 4Wheel Jamboree Nationals, Ozark Empire Fairgrounds, Springfield, MO. Info:

•May 6-8: Pine Barrens Jeep Jamboree, Hammonton, NJ, by Jeep Jamboree USA. Info: 530.333.4777,

•May 7-9: Dusty Times 250 desert race, Caliente, NV. Info:

•May 8: Go Topless Day for Jeep owners. Info:

•May 8: KRRP Spring Rock Crawling Competition, Kansas Rocks Recreation Park near Fort Scott, KS. Info:

•May 9: Bluff City Land Rover Adventure, Superlift ORV Park, Hot Springs, AR. Info: 501.625.3600,

•May 13-15: Big Bear Jeep Jamboree, Big Bear Lake, CA, by Jeep Jamboree USA. Info: 530.333.4777,

•May 13-15: 4x4 Safari by Two River Jeep Club, Pittsfield, IL. Info:

•May 13-15: Palo Duro Jeep Jamboree, Amarillo, TX, by Jeep Jamboree USA. Info: 530.333.4777,

•May 14: Winching Clinic, Hungry Valley SVRA near Gorman, CA, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Info: 310.374.8047,

•May 14-16: O'Reilly Auto Parts 4Wheel Jamboree Nationals, Allen County Fairgrounds, Lima, OH. Info:

•May 15: Ridgecrest 200 off-road race, Ridgecrest, CA. Info: Mojave Desert Racing,

•May 15-16: Esprit de Four Safety Clinic, Hollister Hills SVRA near Hollister, CA. Info: 408.266.7555, 408.923.5251,

•May 15-16: Beginning Off-Road 4x4 Skills Clinic, Hungry Valley SVRA near Gorman, CA, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Info: 310.374.8047,

•May 15-16: MOROC Rock Racing, Spring Creek Off Road Park, Spring Creek, TX. Info:

•May 15-16: Beginning 4x4 Training, Big Bear Lake, CA, by Off-Road Teach & Tour Adventures. Info:

•May 16-17: Onion Run, Twisted Trails Off Road Park, Copemish, MI. Info: 231.651.9548,

•May 21-22: JeepSpeed Day/Night Light Force 500, Lucerne Valley, CA. Info: JeepSpeed,

•May 22-23: Iron Range off-road driving school, Iron Range OHV Park, Minnesota (north of Minneapolis). Info:

•May 27-29: Cullman Jeep Jamboree, Cullman, AL, by Jeep Jamboree USA. Info: 530.333.4777,

•May 28: Deer Hill Rally, Mancos, CO, to Lake Powell. Info:

•May 28-30: Midwest Mud & Offroad Nationals, DuQuoin State Fair Grounds, DuQuoin, IL. Info:

•May 28-30: Death Valley Miner's Cabin Tour, Death Valley, CA, by Off-Road Teach & Tour Adventures. Info:

•May 28-31: Superlift 4xAdventure Series, Superlift ORV Park, Hot Springs, AR. Info: 501.625.3600,

•May 29: Off-Road 101 Instructional Course, Kansas Rocks Recreation Park near Fort Scott, KS. Info:

•May 29: Moonlight Night Run, Kansas Rocks Recreation Park near Fort Scott, KS. Info:

•May 29-30: Midwest Camp MJ 2010 for Military Jeepers, Southern Missouri Off Road Ranch near Seymour, MO. Info:

•May 29-31: Rockstock, by Mid Rivers Jeep Thing, Flat Nasty Off Road Park near Jadwin, MO. Info:,

•May 29-31: Peach Cobbler Trail, El Paso Mountains near Mojave, CA, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Info: 310.374.8047,

•May 29-31: Show Me Fun Run, Southern Missouri Off Road Ranch near Seymour, MO. Info:

Note: If you have a 4WD event you want us to publicize, please send the date, location, a description of the event, and contact info-phone numbers and/or email/website address-to Calendar, 4-Wheel & Off-Road magazine, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245; fax 310.531.9368; email Please submit your info at least four months in advance of the event due to our press lead times.

Club Spotlight
Mid Rivers Jeep Thing (MRJT) is about to hold its biggest event of the year, Rockstock, over Memorial Day weekend at Flat Nasty Off Road Park outside of Jadwin, Missouri. The photos here are from last year's event, which included a blind driver contest, a tug-o-war, a poker run, a technical rockcrawl, and a timed run through the woods. Last year the club also raffled off a Teraflex NP231 4-to-1 transfer case kit, a Powertank CO2 tank and regulator, gift certificates from the event suppliers, and a year's membership to Flat Nasty Off Road Park.

"The events for 2010 promise to be even more exciting," says MRJT Vice President Craig Stuart. Want to find out more? Visit the club's website,, or Flat Nasty's site,

Aloha, Islander
Remember that special Wrangler Islander edition we told you about last month? Sold out. The 5,000 that Jeep made were gone in three days. The Islander did appear at the Chicago Auto Show, so maybe they made more. If you're thinking about one, think fast.

Raminator is Back
Dodge inked a deal with Hall Brothers Racing to build a new Raminator monster truck based on the Ram Heavy Duty pickup. Unlike your typical Ram 2500, though, Raminator will be powered by a 565ci, methanol-burning Hemi that puts out around 2,000 hp.


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