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August 2010 Drivelines

Posted in Features on August 1, 2010 Comment (0)
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Raptor Is Hot
Like we had to tell you that. But we're not the only ones who think so. Ford recently announced that the desert-storming Raptor, now available with 5.4L and 6.2L V-8 engines, is selling "three times faster than the average F-150," with the 411hp 6.2L version accounting for nearly half the truck's sales. Ford's records also show that NASCAR driver Greg Biffle was the first person to buy a 6.2 Raptor. Do you suppose the fact that the Biff's race ride is a Fusion had anything to do with that?

GM Announces HD Truck Prices
The GMC Sierra Denali HD pickup we told you about last month-the premium trim, 4WD, four-door 2500HD-carries a base price of $45,865, exclusive of destination charge. The regular-grade Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra HD models start at $27,965 (for 2WD versions), and the premium for the all-new Duramax diesel is $8,395, same price as last year. Not bad considering all the improvements.

Lexus Is Not
The folks at Consumer Reports who torpedoed the Suzuki Samurai and the Jeep CJ are at it again. This time it's Lexus in their sights. As if Toyota's unintended acceleration problems weren't enough, the much-maligned maker now faces a "Don't Buy" rating for its '10 GX 460 SUV because the magazine's testers found a handling problem that could, in their view, cause a rollover.

In an oversteer test (videotaped and widely circulated in the media), the SUV's rearend came around in what most of us would consider a powerslide. The problem, according to Consumer Reports, is that the vehicle's stability control should have caught the slide sooner. Had the truck hit a curb or dropped off the road's edge, it could have rolled over.

Reacting to the news, Lexus at first suspended sales of the GX 460 while its engineers tried to duplicate Consumer Reports' findings. The maker later acknowledged that there was a problem with the vehicle's stability control system and issued a recall to fix it. The recall affects some 9,400 '10 GX 460s in the U.S.

Though the magazine's testers experienced the slide with two separate vehicles, neither rolled over during track testing. They also noted that the 4Runner, which shares a platform with the GX, did not exhibit similar handling characteristics in the same test.

Hummer And Humvee Going
You may have heard that Hummer is shutting down for good, since no one stepped up to buy the brand following the collapse of its sale to a Chinese heavy-equipment company. But we also have learned that the Army has put in its last order for the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV, or Humvee). AM General has manufactured nearly a quarter-million Humvees since it first won its military contract in 1983, but they are being phased out in favor of vehicles better equipped to withstand damage from the roadside improvised explosive devices (IEDs) so prevalent in Iraq and Afghanistan.

U.S. Women 12th In Moroccan Desert Rally
When the dust settled on the 20th annual Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles, the only women's rally raid in the world, driver Emily Miller of Encinitas, California, and teammate/navigator Wendy Fisher of Crested Butte, Colorado, placed 12th out of 110 teams. Held annually in Morocco, the nine-day desert rally uses old-style navigation and includes 4x4/Truck, Quad/Moto, and Crossover classes and other competitions.

The sole U.S. team, Miller and Fisher enjoyed the rigors of their second Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles. "I can say that it was definitely much tougher than last year," Miller said. "Our first day's navigation error cost us our top-10 finish, but we hung strong and worked hard to climb back up through the ranks."

Team Miller Fisher drove a stock Hummer H3 I-5 that was on loan from Hummer France and set up with Rod Hall special-edition Fox Shox, Recaro seats, and a Monit Rally computer. The rear of the interior was gutted for gear and equipment. Miller praised the team's Maxtrax sand ladders. "We only had to dig out three times; the Maxtrax sand ladders were incredible and we used them to help other vehicles. The Hummer was the best vehicle that could have been chosen for this rally. Its ground clearance was incredible. We didn't have one single problem. The H3 is incredibly capable and durable." The team plans to return to the Rallye in 2011 and hopes to have more Americans with them.

The Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles was founded in 1990 by Dominique Serra and is known for extensive humanitarian and environmental efforts and initiatives. To learn more, visit
-Sue Mead

This Just In
•At the other end of the spectrum from the Raptor's 6.2L V-8, Ford plans to put a 3.5L EcoBoost V-6 in F-150s by the end of the year. Ford claims the six-banger will offer "best-in-class fuel economy along with the power and towing capability of a V-8." We'll see.

•Chrysler announced it may reenter the compact truck segment with a unibody pickup. This would not be a Dakota-size truck, but something smaller to clearly differentiate it from fullsize Rams. "If you look at Dakota today, it is large," said Joe Veltri, Chrysler Group vice president of product planning, as quoted in Automotive News. "It is very capable, can tow 7,000 pounds, [and] comes with a V-8 and a V-6. It is a mini fullsize truck. Everybody has gotten the formula wrong-expensive, too capable."

•Still waiting for the Mahindra pickup? So are we, and so is the rest of the country, apparently. Automotive News reports the Indian manufacturer missed its third target date to start selling the compact trucks here. What's the holdup? Vehicle testing, EPA certification, setting up parts distribution, and other details are taking longer than expected. One Mahindra exec was quoted as saying, "A launch date is very important to us, but not as important as getting our product right."

Earth Watch
•New regulations on fuel efficiency and carbon dioxide tailpipe emissions will go into effect for the '12-'16 model years, reports SEMA. The two issues are related, since carbon dioxide is released in direct proportion to the carbon-based fuel that is burned. The Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) average rating for all '16 vehicles will be 35.5 mpg, based on a combined 39 mpg rating for passenger cars and 30 mpg for light trucks. (Right now the standards are 27.5 mpg for cars, 23.5 for trucks.) Individual vehicle mileage targets will be based on the vehicle's size, or "footprint," which will force automakers to improve the efficiency of every vehicle rather than downsizing some vehicles to offset bigger ones. The new CAFE standards will also encourage car companies to sell more hybrids, electric cars, and advanced gasoline engines. The automakers will likely rely on more fuel-efficient tires, turbochargers, low-friction lubricants, six-speed automatic transmissions, and similar technological means to achieve the standards.

New Touareg Hybrid
Volkswagen has unveiled its next-generation Touareg, which is available with several engine options, including a gas-electric hybrid. The hybrid system, which will also be used in an upcoming Porsche Cayenne SUV, combines a 3.0L V-6 engine with an electric motor to produce 380 hp and 428 lb-ft of torque. This is a full hybrid powertrain, meaning the Touareg can run on electricity only, but only for short distances and at limited speeds.

The new SUV also has two drivelines. Most Touaregs are now AWD with a 4Motion system that uses a Torsen limited-slip diff combined with computerized controls to tune the traction systems. The V-6 TDI models receive the 4XMotion system we're accustomed to in previous Touaregs, with a low-range transfer case and center and rear locking differentials.

We're looking for the Nation's Coolest Suburban!
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Chevy Suburban, so we're scouring the nation for the coolest 4x4 Suburban to feature in the magazine. Do you have or do you know of an awesome Sub that not only looks great but also goes off road? If so, send us the owner's information (name, city, phone, email) and a photo of the truck. We're open to any era, any upgrades: built for mud, sand, rocks, camping, hauling kids, towing, or all of the above. It just has to be an awesome Suburban. If we pick your Sub we'll shoot a feature of it and send you home with a new set of General Tires! How's that for incentive? Send a nice digital photo to and put "Coolest Suburban" in the subject line. Do it quick because we want to show off your Sub in our December issue.

Puerto Rico Sets 4x4 Record
Emilio Colon has launched quite a few 4x4 adventures through his 4Wheels Events and Caribbean Parts Agency in Puerto Rico, but he topped himself late last year when he organized a convoy of more than 8,000 4x4s to cross the island, earning a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. The number of vehicles surprised Colon and the Guinness officials, who were able to register fewer than half-some 3,500 vehicles-for the record attempt.

Most of Colon's trips aren't as gigantic. His regular La Vuelta a Puerto Rico en 4x4 (Around Puerto Rico in a 4x4) events are 4WD caravans through the island's tourist attractions and off-road areas, getting participants "in touch with nature and adventure simultaneously." Like the idea of a wheeling Caribbean vacation? Visit for more info.

New Jeep & Ram Gear online
Chrysler has opened websites that offer clothing, outdoors gear, and other accessories designed to appeal to the owners of its various nameplates. On Jeep Gear (, for example, you'll find Jeep-branded T-shirts, jackets, vests, trail headlights, rescue tools, and more. Visit Ram Trucks Outfitter ( for plaid shirts, camo jackets, work gloves, an 18-can cooler, and other Ram-branded merch.

•July 2-4: Independence Day Run, Superlift ORV Park, Hot Springs, AR. Info: 501.625-3600,

•July 2-4: Superlift 4xAdventure Series, Clayton, OK. Info:

•July 3-4: Wheeling for Freedom, Twisted Trails Off-Road Park, Copemish, MI. Info:

•July 8-10: Snowshoe Mountain Jeep Jamboree, Snowshoe, WV. Info:

•July 9-11: A&A Auto Stores 4Wheel Jamboree Nationals, Bloomsburg Fairgrounds, Bloomsburg, PA. Info:

•July 10-11: CalROCS rockcrawling series, Donner Ski Ranch, Norden, CA. Info:

•July 10-11: Michigan Rock Crawl Tour, Rocks and Valleys Off-Road Park, Harrison, MI. Info:

•July 10-11: Urban SUV Survival Driving Clinic, Hungry Valley SVRA near Gorman, CA, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Info: 310.374.8047,

•July 15-17: Great Northern Trail Ride, Mole Lake Lodge & Casino, Mole Lake, WI, by Wisconsin Off-Highway Vehicle Association. Info:

•July 15-17: Killington Jeep Jamboree, Killington, VT. Info:

•July 15-17: Northwoods-Mole Lake Jeep Jamboree, Crandon, WI. Info:

•July 16-18: Blazer Fest, Hollister Hills SVRA, near Hollister, CA, by Nor Cal Offroad 4x4 Club. Info:

•July 16-18: Florida Vacation (camping and wheeling), Charlemont, MA. Info:

•July 16-18: VORRA night race, Fallon, NV. Info:

•July 16-19: Lassen-Applegate Emigrant Trail Ride, near Imlay, NV, by the High Rock Trekkers 4x4 Club. Info:

•July 17: Free Rock Nationals, Morris Mountain ORV Park, Delta, AL. Info:

•July 17: Mud drags, mud bogs, and sand drags by the Columbia River Mud Racing Association and Northwest Sand, Barlow Point Raceway, Longview, WA. Info:

•July 17-18: Beginning 4x4 Training, Anza Borrego, CA, by Off Road Teach & Tour Adventures. Info:

•July 17-18: Beginning Off-Road 4x4 Skills Clinic, Hungry Valley SVRA near Gorman, CA, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Info: 310.374.8047,

•July 19-20: Getting Started Off-Road 4x4 Skills Clinic, Hungry Valley SVRA near Gorman, CA, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Info: 310.374.8047,

•July 22-25: Jeepers Jamboree on the Rubicon Trail leaving Georgetown, CA, by Jeepers Jamboree and Jeep Jamboree Inc. Info:

•July 24: Specialty Course Rock Crawling, Big Bear Lake, CA, by Off Road Teach & Tour Adventures. Info:

•July 24-25: Wine Safari, El Paso Mountains, Mojave, CA, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Info: 310.374.8047,

•July 25: Deepwoods Extreme truck show and rockcrawling competition, Gunstock Mountain Resort, Gilford, NH. Info:

•July 29-31: KC HiLites Midnight Special off-road race, Ridgecrest, CA, by Southern Nevada Off-Road Enthusiasts (SNORE). Info:

•July 30-Aug. 1: Jeep Jamboree on the Rubicon Trail leaving Georgetown, CA, by Jeepers Jamboree and Jeep Jamboree Inc. Info:

•July 30-Aug. 1: Nevada Trophy GPS rally raid, northwestern Nevada, by Off-Road Experience. Info:

•July 31: MOROC Rock Racing, Southern Missouri Off Road Ranch, Seymour, MO. Info:

•July 31: 4WD Sand Driving Clinic, Oceano Dunes near Pismo, CA, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Info: 310.374.8047,

•July 31-Aug. 1: Iron Range off-road driving school, Iron Range OHV Park (north of Minneapolis). 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.


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