February 2011 Drivelines: Off-Road NewsPosted in Features on February 1, 2011 Comment (0)
EcoBoost Tackes Baja
In 2008 Ford engineers used the Baja 1000 as a torture test for the then-new Raptor; this year it's the EcoBoost's turn. The twin-turbo V-6, which produces 365 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque, will be available in F-150s in early 2011. Prior to its launch, Ford will have tested the engine in a number of unusual ways, from hauling timber in Oregon to towing race cars around Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida.
Running for 30-some hours in the Mexican desert will likely make those previous efforts look like a cakewalk, especially since the EcoBoost going into the race truck isn't some specially prepped mill. The engine was selected randomly off the Cleveland Engine Plant line, literally the same kind of engine buyers will get. "No special blocks or structural upgrades," says Eric Kuehn, the truck's chief engineer. "We are fully confident that because of the strict testing the 3.5L EcoBoost truck engines underwent before we started manufacturing, it will take anything the desert can dish out."
If you're interested in seeing the EcoBoost testing in dynamometer labs and in the field, visit www.fordvehicles.com/trucks/f150/2011/experiencef150.
We Have a Hall-of-Famer!
Our fearless leader, Editor Rick Péwé, was inducted into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame, joining Rod Hall, Parnelli Jones, Vic Hickey, Ivan Stewart, Mickey Thompson, and other select individuals who have made an impact on the off-road community. Péwé was one of five new members inducted for 2010. He was joined by Pete Brown, founder of KC HiLites; Gene Chappie, a California legislator who championed off-road recreation with several landmark bills; Chris Haines, a champion motorcycle racer who went on to found the Baja Off-Road Tours Company; and Johnny Johnson, an off-road racer with 107 First Place wins-including 13 Baja 1000 titles-among his career achievements.
Also prominent at this year's induction dinner, held during the Off-Road Expo in Southern California, was a tribute to off-road racer and Hall of Fame member Frank "Scoop" Vessels, who passed away earlier this year.
It's fitting that Péwé was inducted in the Recreational: Four Wheeling category, since he has taught so many of us proper wheeling techniques, whether through personal contact or the pages of this and other magazines. "I have tried to infuse others with the fun and joy of four-wheeling," he said after receiving his award. You've done far more than "try," Rick. Congratulations.
It's not often a truck maker develops a V-6 as gutsy-at least on paper-as the 365hp EcoBoost. Here are some more factoids from Ford about its latest powerplant.
•The engine's direct fuel injection and twin turbochargers give it a broad, flat torque curve, says Ford. Some 90 percent of its 420 lb-ft is available between 1,700 and 5,000 rpm. Torque peaks at 2,500 rpm.
•EcoBoost runs on regular fuel.
•The engine's twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT) provides variable and independent control of the intake and exhaust valve timing. This allows maximum fuel economy at part throttle, says Ford, while optimizing power at full throttle.
•4x4 models with the heavy-duty package have a maximum payload capacity of 2,860 pounds and are rated to tow 11,300 pounds.
This Just In
•Michigan's Drummond Island is the latest off-roading area to be named one of the 2010 Outstanding Trails by BFGoodrich, Tread Lightly!, and UFWDA. BFG presented a $4,000 grant to the president of the Drummond Island Off-Road Club, to be used to preserve the off-highway trail system and continue conservation efforts in the area.
•Carl Renezeder pulled double duty at the 11th round of the Lucas Oil Off-Road Race in Surprise, Arizona. The General Tire-sponsored racer competed in both Pro 4 and Pro 2 classes and won both races on Saturday, earning his 90th and 91st career victories.
•In other racing news, Jesse Jones and his F-150 Trophy Truck scored a come-from-behind win in the 15th Annual SCORE Las Vegas Terrible's Primm 300 desert race. This was Jones's second SCORE win of the 2010 season; he finished the 274-mile race in 4 hours 46 minutes 39 seconds, averaging 57.44 mph over the dusty, rock-strewn course.
•The annual new product roundup by Automotive News netted this interesting tidbit about Nissan. Apparently the maker has yet to determine when it will replace the Titan fullsize pickup with a new product, but most likely not until after 2012. Nissan and Chrysler had inked an agreement for new Titans to be built on an upcoming Ram platform. When that deal went south, Nissan had to go back to the drawing board-literally.
•More new product news, this time about Toyota: The Tacoma is slated for a redesign in 2012, and it will be styled much like the current 4Runner. A new Tundra won't appear until 2014, in an evolutionary step that will see lots of attention paid to interior design and a likely reduction in engine choices to just one.
•The Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association (ROHVA) has a new e-course available to help users understand safety measures that should be taken when operating recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs). The e-course is available at rohva.org and is free.
•In today's tight economy, it's great to hear that some dollars are going to the off-road community. Mike Bishop of the Azusa Canyon Off Road Association reports that Robert Ettleman of the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation presented his group with a check to build an ATV "kiddie" training center and OHV obstacle course in the San Gabriel Canyon OHV Use Area. The ATV course has received additional funding from the Yamaha OHV Access Initiative. If you'd like to chip in too, or want to track the project's progress, visit www.acorausa.com.
•Automakers are already facing fuel economy regulations that will push mileage averages to 35 mpg by 2016. Automotive News reports the EPA is now looking ahead and considering CAFE requirements of 47-62 mpg by 2025, more than double the current CAFE average of 27.3 mpg. The EPA figures that "advanced technologies" will deliver these gas-sipping numbers.
Free Big Bear Trail Map
Who says nothing is free these days? Backcountry 4x4's new Big Bear Area 4x4 Trail Map is free thanks to the generosity of Southern California Jeep dealers, off-road companies, and businesses in and around Big Bear, California. The full-color map measures 22 by 34 inches and depicts more than 600 miles of trails and roads accessible from this community in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains. Trails are color-coded by difficulty, and the back of the map has a complete trail inventory, including the GPS coordinates of trailheads.
Printed maps are available at Jeep and other 4x4 vehicle and equipment dealers, local Chambers of Commerce and businesses, Adopt-A-Trail clubs, and from OHV volunteers at expos and information kiosks at trailheads. The map is also available online as a PDF at www.backcountry4x4.com and www.socal4x4trails.com. The PDF version includes links to more information about the trails and advertisers.
According to Backcountry's Don Alexander, there are more maps to come, featuring off-roading areas in Arrowhead/San Bernardino, San Jacinto, Mojave Desert, Anza Borrego, and Death Valley.
The Most Active Man In 4-wheeling
Sounds like a takeoff of the Dos Equis beer commercial, but Karl Knoll was recently given a trophy for being "the most active person in four-wheeling." How active? In addition to staying up-to-date on land use issues, Knoll attends most of Southern California's truck shows and off-road events, was a mud racer for eight years, and rescues or fixes vehicles that are broken on trail rides he is attending. He has worked with us building Ultimate Adventure project trucks (where Fred Williams snapped this photo), and he has helped the Four Wheeler guys on Top Truck Challenge. Nice work!
FJ Cruiser Upgrades
Toyota has made some improvements and added new equipment to the FJ Cruiser for the '11 model year. An electronic locking rear differential is now standard on manual transmission models and optional on automatic ones. Rear passengers will appreciate easier access to the back thanks to a front passenger seat that can fold farther forward. A new Trail Teams Special Edition-recognizable by its Army Green paint, black bumpers, and black grille-comes standard with Toyota's off-road package (Bilstein shocks, rear diff lock, skidplates, TRD alloy wheels, and BFG all-terrain tires) as well as water-resistant seats, rubber floor mats, a 10-speaker JBL audio system, keyless entry, and more.
Speaking of audio, the FJ's new standard system features AM/FM/CD with MP3/WMA compatibility, six speakers, XM Radio, USB port, hands-free phone, and music streaming via Bluetooth technology.
We hear industry reports that the FJ Cruiser might disappear after 2012, but a Toyota exec we spoke to recently said there'd be no reason to discontinue the FJ as long as there were buyers. Don't miss out!
•Dec. 31-Jan. 2: Fire & Ice New Year's Run and Bonfire, Superlift ORV Park, Hot Springs, AR. Info: 501.625.3600, www.orvpark.com
•Jan. 8: Tread Lightly! Trainer Clinic, Hungry Valley SVRA, Gorman, CA, hosted by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Info: 310.374.8047, www.4x4training.com.
•Jan. 14-16: Winter Fun Festival, Nevada County Fairgrounds, Grass Valley, CA, by California Association of 4Wheel Drive Clubs. Info: www.cal4wheel.com.
•Jan. 14-16: SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge, Laughlin, NV. Info: SCORE International, 818.225.8402, www.score-international.com.
•Jan. 22: Getting Started Off-Road 4x4 Skills Clinic, Hungry Valley SVRA near Gorman, CA, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Info: 310.374.8047, www.4x4training.com.
•Jan. 22-23: Truckhaven Challenge, Ocotillo Wells SVRA near Salton Sea, CA, by CORVA. Info: www.corva.org.
•Jan. 22-23: Papago Military Vehicle Show, Phoenix, AZ. Info: www.armytrucks.org.
•Jan. 23: Advanced Beginner Off-Road Driving Clinic, El Paso Mountains, Mojave, CA, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Info: 310.374.8047, www.4x4training.com.
•Jan 28-30: SnoFari Winter Trail Ride, West Branch, MI, by the Soldiers of Fortune off-road club of southeast Michigan. Info: email firstname.lastname@example.org.
•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 email@example.com. Please submit your info at least four months in advance of the event due to our press lead times.
Surplus City Mud & Crawl
The fifth annual Surplus City Fall Mud & Crawl at the Urban Assault OHV area in Oroville, California, fell on the Patriot Day weekend this year, so in addition to the rockcrawling, mud bogging, monster truck rides, teeter-totter, and other events, local police, fire, and military personnel displayed vehicles in honor of those lost in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
The driving events were open to wheelers of all skill levels, from newbie to pro. Winners on the manmade rockcrawl course included Aarron Sykes in the Unlimited class, Cody Minter in the Super Mod class, and Damien Granados in the Modified B class. In the mud, newcomer Kevin Burns won the Stock mud drag class, Richard Lozano won Super Stock, Jerrad Compton won the Diesel class, and Gary Upton won both Pro Stock and Unlimited classes.
The next Mud & Crawl will take place in April or May 2011. Watch www.cj-jeep.com for information.
It seems like Jeep has been flirting for years with the idea of building a pickup version of the Wrangler. Back in 2007, when the JK was new, the JT concept truck hit Moab and the SEMA Show. Just last year, Mopar took the concept on a retro spin with the Nukizer 715, a homage to the Kaiser M-715.
The idea may be closer to reality these days. According to Automotive News, a Jeep pickup was shown to some 4,000 Chrysler dealers at a meeting attended by CEO Sergio Marchionne and Chrysler's brand chiefs. According to the trade journal, Jeep CEO Michael Manley concluded his presentation to the dealers saying, "You never know what might show up in your showroom someday." As Manley walked off the stage, the pickup appeared and was greeted by enthusiastic applause.