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May 2012 Drivelines Off-Road Truck News and Rumors

Posted in Features on May 1, 2012
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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.

Field Finds
Any interest in old iron out there? If you poke around a bit, you never know what you might find. A buddy of ours, Doug Kielian of Auto Kraft Body & Paint in Lincoln, Nebraska, sent us photos of two of his latest field finds, a Travelall that “followed me home for a couple hundred bucks” and a Scout he rescued from a salvage yard.

“I run across so many neat potential projects when I’m out and about,” he says. “I guess I go out of my way searching for them, knowing that in 20 years or so they will have all been crushed and sent overseas to make cheap toasters! So I save what I can.”

Got a cool field find or a nearby yard with some vintage tin just waiting to be saved? We’d like to hear about it. Send some info and high-resolution photos to We’ll share the neatest stuff.

Flying Dutchmen
Our coverage of desert racing is usually focused on the big-name teams, but a lot of racers out there gunning for glory also deserve face time in the magazine. One such team is the Flying Dutchmen—Nick, Larry, Johnny, and Michael Vanderwey—who have been desert racing for 21 years and campaign the No. 84 Trophy Truck. After a successful 2011 season, including Second Place overall at the Baja 1000 and Third overall at the Baja 500, the Dutchmen have their sights set on the SCORE Championship and an overall win in 2012.

To get there, the team plans to pay more attention to detail and prerace planning, including preparation of the truck and fine-tuning the pit strategy and crew plans to be use during the races. “Last year, except for a DNF at Laughlin, we finished every race with the leaders, just a minute or so off the overall win,” says Nick. “This year we plan to shave those minutes and collect the overall win.”

Their Trophy Truck is powered by an 830hp, 454ci Chevy small-block built by Dougan’s Racing Engines. It is backed by a Turbo 400 automatic from by Rancho Drivetrain Engineering and uses an underdrive unit, built by Tubeworks, to help turn the 42-inch BFG Baja Proven tires on TrailReady beadlock wheels. Other sponsors and contributors to the Flying Dutchmen are KC Hilites, King Shocks, All Start Electric, and the Got Milk? campaign.

We’ll keep you posted on how the Dutchmen do during the 2012 SCORE season.

Win an Alaskan Adventure
Yamaha has partnered with outdoor outfitters Cabela’s in a special sweepstakes where the grand prize (for three winners) is an all-expenses-paid trip for two to Alaska. Why Alaska? Yamaha’s Grizzly 700 FI EPS is the bestselling big-bore ATV up there. The adventure package, worth $9,200 per winner, will include Grizzly ATV rides, guided trips to Alaska’s best fishing spots, a $500 Cabela’s gift card, and much more. Act fast, as entries close March 31. Visit

• Mar. 31–Apr. 8: Easter Jeep Safari, Moab, UT, by the Red Rock 4-Wheelers. Info:

• Mar. 31–Apr. 1: Schuss Mtn. Snow Challenge, Schuss Mountain at Shanty Creek Resort, Bellaire, MI. Info:

• Apr. 2: Easter Safari for First Timers, Moab, UT, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Info: 310.374.8047,

• Apr. 3: Quadratec annual barbeque at Moab, Moab Area High School, Moab, UT. Info:

• Apr. 6: Disorder on the Border HDRA desert race, Plaster City, CA. Info:

• Apr. 12-14: Cajun Jeep Jamboree, Francisville, LA. Info:

• Apr. 12-14: 8th Annual Wisconsin OHV Association off-highway vehicle enthusiasts workshops, Mole Lake, WI. Info:

• Apr. 13-15: PCI Race Radios 300 desert race, Ridgecrest, CA, by SNORE. Info:

• Apr. 21: Getting Started Off-Road Driving Clinic, Hungry Valley SVRA, Gorman, CA, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Info: 310.374.8047,

• Apr. 22: Advanced Beginner 4WD Clinic, El Paso Mountains, Mojave, CA, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Info: 310.374.8047,

• Apr. 25-28: Tennessee Mountains Jeep Jamboree, Oak Ridge, TN. Info:

• Apr. 26-28: Arch Canyon Jeep Jamboree, San Juan County, UT. Info:

• Note: If you have a 4WD event you want us to publicize, please send the date, location, a description, 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.

Coolest Fast Reading Place
Jess Willhite sent in this photo of himself sitting in Mark McMillin’s Trophy Truck the day before the Baja 1000. “Finished Fourth overall and Fourth in class,” he wrote. “Always have my 4Wheel & Off-Road magazine with me.”

Nissan Pathfinder Concept
We were excited to hear that Nissan planned to “reinvent” its Pathfinder as the “next-gen SUV” until we learned that the redo will make it a car-based crossover. Back in the day, Pathfinder won our 4x4 of the Year competition—twice. We don’t expect a three-peat anytime soon.

Happy 100th, GMC!1952 Willys M38
Chevrolet made a huge deal of its 100th birthday last year with special models, TV ads, and even an Internet radio station devoted to Chevy-themed music, yet we almost missed the one press release GM issued about GMC turning 100 in 2012. Here are a few factoids from that release, a list of “10 Little Known Things about GMC.”

GMC was launched in 1912 when the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company merged with two others, Reliance and Randolph. Before the merger, in August 1909, a Rapid F-406-B was the first truck to reach the 14,110-foot summit of Pikes Peak. GMC built the 1941 Futureliners, which carried mobile auto shows across the country, and it also built about 584,000 military vehicles during World War II, including the CCKW-353 6x6 Jimmy deuce-and-a-half and the amphibious Duck. Happy birthday, GMC!

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