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May 2012 Drivelines Off-Road Truck News and Rumors

Jeep Grand Cherokee
Drew Hardin
| Contributor
Posted May 1, 2012

Automotive 4x4 News

Diesel Grand on the Way
Finally! Chrysler announced it will sell a diesel-powered Grand Cherokee in the U.S. for the ’13 model year. No details were given about the engine, though we guess it will be some version of the 3.0L V-6 common-rail turbodiesel available in other markets. (One of those overseas-spec diesel Grands is seen in this photo.) Jeep will add a third production shift to the Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit to build the diesel Grands, bringing some 1,100 new jobs to the Motor City.

New Power Wagon Models (But Still No Diesel)
The Ram Power Wagon is available in two new trim levels for the ’12 model year. New ST and Laramie versions bookend the current Power Wagon SLT, as the ST is a value-oriented model and the Laramie adds deluxe equipment. The ST will be recognizable by its single-tone paint, black grille, chrome bumpers, and black fender flares. The Laramie version (seen here) adds leather seats, dual-zone climate controls, a premium audio system, and a woodgrain dash. MSRP for the Power Wagon ST is $42,620 and for the Laramie $51,995.

Land Cruiser Redesign
Toyota’s Land Cruiser has a new look inside and out for the ’13 model year. Toyota has given the Land Cruiser a new grille and headlamps, plus underbody panels behind the front bumper that smooth its aerodynamics and help protect the engine and transmission. Inside, new electronic gear includes Entune, Toyota’s new multimedia system that combines navigation, Bluetooth, and mobile apps with AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio.

The Cruiser is still powered by a 381hp 5.7L V-8 mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. A new Multi-Terrain Select system dials in wheel slip control to match trail conditions (more slip for sand and mud, less for rocks). Toyota’s CRAWL Control returns, but now with five programmable speeds to automatically regulate engine speed and braking force.

Base price for the ’13 Land Cruiser is $77,955, and it should be in Toyota showrooms when you read this.

Fresh Look for LX 570
Right after we heard about the redesigned Land Cruiser, Lexus sent word that its big SUV, the LX 570, received a freshening as well, with a new grille and headlight treatment, new 20-inch wheels, and a revised interior. The ’13 LX 570 also gets the new five-speed CRAWL Control and the new multimedia system, which in the Lexus is called Enform.

This Just In
• The Range Rover Evoque was named the North American Truck of the Year for 2012 by a panel of 50 automotive journalists from the U.S. and Canada. Other semifinalists for the award, which was announced at the Detroit Auto Show, were the BMW X3 and Honda CR-V. Hmm, not exactly the trucks of the year, are they?

• We’ve learned from Automotive News that GM plans to put eight-speed automatic transmissions in its next generation of fullsize pickups and SUVs. The move is seen as a way to get better fuel economy from the trucks, as the greater number of gears will help engines run more efficiently. GM’s new fullsize trucks are expected in late 2013.

• The sales results from 2011 are in, and the Ford F-150 was, again, the bestselling vehicle in the U.S., car or truck. The Chevrolet Silverado was second and the Ram seventh. Cars filled out the rest of the top 10.

• The bright yellow Chevy pickup that Parnelli Jones, Walker Evans, and Rick Mears raced in the desert back in 1975-1976 is now on display at the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame inside the Harrah’s auto collection in Reno, Nevada. The truck won the Parker 400, Baja 500, Mint 400, and Baja 1000, and was so successful in Class 8 that it was moved into Class 2 Open, where it defeated two-seat race vehicles and was crowned the SCORE Overall Class 2 Points Champion.

• In more Hall of Fame news, our own Rick Péwé was on hand to watch Rob MacCachren and Ron Bishop be inducted into the Hall of Fame for 2011. A silent auction raised more than $10,000 to support the organization.

Earth Watch
• Central Pennsylvania’s Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area (AOAA) recently received a grant of $1.5 million from the state for construction of off-highway vehicle facilities, 200 miles of trails, trailhead amenities, parking, utilities, ADA access, and landscaping. Jeep Jamboree USA has already made plans to hold an event there in August.

• SEMA tells us the Off-Road Business Association (ORBA) has been exploring options for the protection of the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation (OHMVR) trust since July 2011, along with its strategic partners AMA District 36, AMA District 37, the American Sand Association, and the California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs through the use of its registered state lobbyist, Aaron Reed and Associates. The OHMVR, established to provide accessibility to off-highway recreation and provide a variety of services and benefits to California residents and visitors, operates on an $85 million yearly budget that comes primarily from gas taxes and the sale of Green Stickers. The state borrowed $10 million in gas taxes from the budget before it reached the OHMVR trust earlier this year, according to Fred Wiley of ORBA, and the removal of the funds will continue indefinitely.

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