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January 2012 Drivelines Off-Road Truck News

Posted in Features on January 1, 2012 Comment (0)
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Tacoma’s New Look
Toyota has revised the exterior for its ’12 Tacoma compact pickup, giving the truck a new hood, grille, headlamps, and front bumper. The facelift carries over to the inside as well, where the driver faces a new steering wheel and instrument cluster and a revised center console with new climate controls.

Other changes for the model year are trim-specific: SR5, TRD Sport, and Off-Road models receive new seat fabric (which is water resistant for the latter two), while heavy-duty, all-weather flooring is available in Access and Double Cab models.

Mechanically the Tacoma is unchanged. Engine choices still include the 2.7L, 159hp four-banger or the 236hp 4.0L V-6, both available with a choice of manual or automatic transmissions. The T|X and T|X Pro models are back too, building on the TRD Off-Road package with beadlock wheels, BFG Rugged Trail tires, sidesteps, and, in the Pro versions, cat-back exhaust.

Base prices for the new Taco range from $20,725 for a regular cab, four-cylinder with a manual trans to $27,835 for a Double Cab with the V-6 and an automatic.

Heed the Call
The partnership between Jeep and video game maker Activision has resulted in a second special game-themed Jeep model. The Wrangler Call of Duty: MW3 Special Edition will be in dealer showrooms right about the time Activision launches the game in early November. The Jeep—based on two- or four-door Rubicon models—will be outfitted with accessories from the Mopar catalog that include a front winch-ready bumper, rock rails, and taillamp guards. A power dome hood and 32-inch tires round out the package.

Ford, Toyota Team for Hybrid Trucks
Ford and Toyota, which had separately been working on the next generation of hybrid powertrains for their rear-wheel-drive vehicles, signed an agreement in August to collaborate as equal partners on a new hybrid drive system for trucks and SUVs. Under the agreement, the two companies will bring the best of their independently developed hybrid powertrain technology and knowledge to a new hybrid system, which will be used in rear-wheel-drive light trucks arriving later this decade. Once the new system is developed, the two companies will work independently to integrate it into their respective vehicles.

Gripping and grinning in the ceremonial photo are Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president of global product development (left), and Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota executive vice president of research and development.

Chill Jeep
Jeep introduced Europeans to the Pentastar V-6–powered Wrangler and Grand Cherokee SRT8 at the recent Frankfurt Auto Show in Germany. Also on the show stand was this special edition, called the Jeep Wrangler Arctic. Based on the Wrangler Sahara model, the Arctic comes with Mopar accessories and can be powered either by the Pentastar V-6 or the 2.8L turbodiesel we wish we could get here.

This Just In
• We could see a freshened Expedition SUV for the ’12 or ’13 model year, says Automotive News. Ford will likely replace the 5.4L V-8 in the current model with a version of the 3.5L EcoBoost V-6 and the Coyote 5.0L V-8. Slow sales of the extended-length EL models mean they will likely go away with the freshening.

• The ’12 Toyota FJ Cruiser gets a new Trail Teams edition painted monochrome Radiant Red and fitted with roof-mounted lights, Bilstein shocks, a locking rear diff, TRD alloy wheels, and BFG All-Terrains.

• Your Chevy dealer can add mobile Wi-Fi to a ’12 Silverado. The system, called Autonet, provides full Internet access for multiple users inside and within a 150-foot radius of the truck. The suggested retail price is $399.

• First Porsche, then Bentley. Now Maserati is the latest exotic nameplate getting into the SUV business. A concept Maserati SUV debuted at Frankfurt that’s based on the Grand Cherokee platform and will likely be powered by a 450hp Maserati V-8. We’ll have photos next month.

Titan Pricing Announced
Nissan’s Titan pickup continues essentially unchanged for the ’12 model year, other than the addition of a new sport appearance package with 20-inch wheels, step rails, special graphics, and new interior trim. All Titans are powered by the 5.7L, 317hp Endurance V-8, and the trucks are available in King Cab and Crew Cab styles. Base prices for the Titan range from $30,260 for a King Cab S model to $40,210 for a premium SL Crew Cab.

Join the Land Use Fun Tour
The BlueRibbon Coalition’s Del and Stacie Albright are lining up the Trail Access Partnership Tour, a fun four-wheeling convoy dedicated to trail access awareness. Starting at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, the tour will join the 31st annual Hump n Bump by the Vegas Valley 4 Wheelers in Logandale, Nevada, and then move on to Parker, Arizona, for the 16th annual Desert Splash put on by the Parker 4 Wheelers.

Del tells us there will be evening discussions on land use and motivational seminars, plus tech tips will be offered from sponsoring vendors such as Nemesis Industries, Burnsville Offroad, T&T Customs, Daystar, and Olympic 4x4 Products. You can RSVP for the tour at www.trailaccesstour.com.

Earth Watch
• The fourth annual Tread Lightly! charity auction on eBay takes place November 1-11. Among the items to be sold to raise funds for the land use organization are a Yamaha Grizzly 550 ATV, a John Deere Gator 625i XUV, a set of five tires from BFGoodrich, a Talon winch from Superwinch, and two certificates for a Jeep Jamboree from Jeep Jamboree USA.

• Morrison Trail in Clark, Wyoming, is the latest benefactor of the BFGoodrich Outstanding Trails Program. BFG presented a $4,000 check to the Magic City 4 Wheelers to be used to help preserve the trail, which is in Wyoming’s Shoshone National Forest.

Calendar
• Dec. 2-4: Transwest Ford Henderson 250 desert race, Henderson, NV, by Best in the Desert. Info: www.bitd.com

• Dec. 3: Sand Driving Clinic, Oceano Dunes near Pismo, CA, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Info: 310.374.8047, www.4x4training.com

• Dec. 3-4: JeepSkool, NE Ohio. Info: www.jeepskool.com

• Dec. 10: Getting Started Off-Road Driving Clinic, Hungry Valley SVRA, Gorman, CA, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Info: 310.374.8047, www.4x4training.com

• Dec. 10: Wheelin’ 4 Toys, Kansas Rocks Recreation Park, Mapleton, KS. Info: www.brushbeaters.com

• Dec. 10-11: Rage at the River desert race, Laughlin, NV, by SNORE. Info: www.snoreracing.net

• Dec. 11: Winch and Recovery Clinic, El Paso Mountains, Mojave, CA, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Info: 310.374.8047, www.4x4training.com

• 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 4wheeloffroad@sorc.com. Please submit your info at least four months in advance of the event due to our press lead times.

New Trans & More for Ram HD
The ’12 model year brings some refinements to the heavy-duty Ram trucks, including the addition of a new six-speed automatic transmission for Hemi-powered models. SLT, Outdoorsman, Power Wagon, Laramie, and Laramie Longhorn models now feature a standard integrated trailer brake control, and the GVWR in Ram 2500s has bumped up from 9,000 to 9,600 pounds.

New Defender Concept
Land Rover debuted the DC100 at the Frankfurt Auto Show, a concept vehicle that represents “a modern interpretation of the iconic Land Rover Defender,” says the company. “This isn’t a production-ready concept but the beginning of a four-year journey to design a relevant Defender for the 21st century,” said Gerry McGovern, director of design at Land Rover. Land Rover confirmed that a new Defender—likely carrying design cues from the concept—will be introduced for the ’15 model year, though it’s unclear if the model will be available in the U.S.

Menzies Dominates Crandon
Mopar Ram Truck Pro 2 racer Bryce Menzies was unstoppable at the Traxxas TORC Series in Crandon, Wisconsin, over the Labor Day weekend, winning his main events on both Saturday and Sunday.

“That was one of the wildest races I’ve ever been in, with all the rain and mud,” said Menzies. “I definitely had to be patient and went through every single tear-off I had on my helmet.”

Menzies left Crandon with a 26-point lead over Ram teammate Rob MacCachren for the Pro 2 championship.

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