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December 2012 Drivelines Off-Road News

Posted in Features on December 1, 2012
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Chevy Readies Silverado
Trying to beat the spy photographers at their own game, Chevrolet sent out this shot of a prototype Silverado undergoing water testing at the Yuma, Arizona, proving grounds. Chevy wasn’t forthcoming with any other details, other than to say the truck will go into production in 2013, which means it most likely will be called a ’14 model. Trade publication Automotive News said the truck will be several hundred pounds lighter than the current version, thanks to extensive use of aluminum body panels instead of steel. The truck will also get a new iteration of Chevy’s venerable small-block V-8, this one with direct injection to improve both power delivery and fuel economy.

AN expects Tahoe and Suburban SUVs, based on the pickup platform, to arrive at the same time as the Silverado. Heavy-duty 2500 and 3500 pickup models will likely launch a year later. Likewise, launch schedules for GMC’s Sierra pickups and Yukon/Yukon XL SUVs will mirror Chevy’s release timing.

No Mahindra
Mahindra has brought an end to its plans to offer a compact, diesel-powered pickup in the U.S., according to Automotive News. The India-based manufacturer has been in an ongoing legal dispute with its American distributor, and a recent failure to certify the truck for U.S. sale seemed to drive the final nail in the truck’s coffin.

Ram Outdoorsman Returns
The engineers at Chrysler’s Ram truck division, themselves avid hunters, campers, and fishermen, have added the Outdoorsman model to the ’13 Ram lineup. The Outdoorsman package combines popular towing equipment—a standard Class IV receiver, lighted four- and seven-pin harness plugs, heavy-duty cooling, a limited-slip rear differential, and a 3.92 axle ratio—with the Hemi V-8, LT tires, a 32-gallon fuel tank, auxiliary lighting, and other accessories. Among the options available for the Outdoorsman are the bedside storage RamBoxes, which can be tailored to hold rifles or fishing rods. You can even order vinyl flooring to make the truck easy to hose out. The Outdoorsman model is available on Ram trucks with either the Quad Cab or Crew Cab body, and in a choice of two bed lengths.

Lighter Land Rovers
While we are still waiting to hear if Land Rover will turn the concept DC100 (shown here) into the next-generation Defender—and whether that Defender will be offered in the U.S.—we have learned via Automotive News that a new Range Rover will be unveiled at the Paris Auto Show and that it will lose some 600 pounds by replacing its steel with aluminum. Hmmm. Do we sense a trend here?

The Last Liberty
Jeep Liberty production ended in August, after some 11 years and two Liberty generations. The Toledo plant where Liberty was built will be closed for retooling, as it will build a new Jeep crossover based on a Fiat platform. We were never really in love with the Lib, but at least it had some off-roading chops. Not sure we’ll be able to say the same about this new one.

This Just In
• The ’13 Jeep Wrangler lineup will include a model that we’re already thinking of as Rubicon Lite. The new Moab edition will have a rear locker, the Rubicon’s 17-inch wheels, 245/75R17 Goodyear Silent Armor off-road tires, rock rails, and front and rear off-road bumpers. Jeep is also freshening the Wrangler’s interior with new seats, new lighting, and optional Alpine speakers.

• In announcing its 2013 off-road race schedule, SCORE says it will no longer put on events in the U.S. “We have thoroughly enjoyed nearly 20 years of racing in Nevada, but for a variety of significant reasons, these races are no longer viable events for SCORE,” said Sal Fish, the sanctioning body’s CEO. Instead, there will be three SCORE races in Baja: the San Felipe 250 March 8-10, the Baja 500 May 31–June 2, and the Baja 1000 November 14-17. This year marks the 45th 1000, and to celebrate the course will run down the Baja peninsula from Ensenada to La Paz.

• We had a chance to tour Ford’s Rouge plant in Dearborn this summer and watch F-150s being built. Interesting factoids from the visit: All trucks coming out of that factory have already been ordered by dealers, and even that late in the year they were still called ’12 models. (In fact, a guide told us they were making ’11s up until November 2011.) When we were there the plant was running multiple shifts seven days a week, and each shift can produce about 600 trucks. And did you know the instrument panel in an F-150 can weigh as much as 150 pounds? Workers need a special robotic lift to help them position it.

• Speaking of the F-150’s weight, the Wall Street Journal says Ford, like Chevy and Land Rover, wants to build its next new half-ton trucks using a lot of aluminum instead of steel. That could cut some 700 pounds out of the truck, due in 2014, which would help it hit the tougher fuel economy regulations on the horizon.

Earth Watch
• It’s time for the annual eBay charity auction to benefit Tread Lightly! Some 50 companies have donated more than100 4x4, powersports, and outdoor accessories and gear to the nonprofit organization, ranging from a John Deere UTV to a Biffy Bag disposable toilet. All of the money raised goes toward keeping trails and other recreational sites open to the public. The auction will be held November 1-11.

• The BlueRibbon Coalition tells us legislation has been introduced in California that would designate the Clear Creek Management Area as a National Recreation Area. That would reopen the popular OHV site to motorized and non-motorized recreational use, after it was closed by the BLM due to concerns over naturally occurring asbestos. According to the BRC, there is no documented case of injury caused by the asbestos, “despite decades of inhalation of the soils in question by humans in every conceivable activity.”

60th Jeepers Jamboree
This year’s running of the famous Jeep-in on the Rubicon Trail marked six decades of Jeeper Jamborees, and organizers made sure the trail ride had some very special features. A 60th anniversary Jeep was raffled off, participants got anniversary shirts and other swag, and a display of some 22 flat fenders in an area called Flatville accompanied the usual festivities at Rubicon Springs. Jeepers also got an up-close-and-personal visit from the Forest Service, which deployed a water-dropping helicopter to help extinguish a nearby fire started by a rollover accident. That delayed the usual Sunday departure up Cadillac Hill (the scene of the fire), but nobody seemed to mind having to spend another day hanging out in the Sierras and talking Jeeps.

december 2012 Drivelines 60th Jeepers Jamboree Photo 40146908

Mega Diesel
Looking for a diesel engine with more power than what the factories have to offer? How much power do you want? Gale Banks is now selling the Banks 866T, a 6.6L turbodiesel fitted with a Bosch common-rail high-pressure fuel system, a water-cooled Garrett VNT turbocharger, a Banks AutoMind ECU, and other components designed to pull from 275 to 475 hp and 600 to 850 lb-ft of torque from the engine—and that’s just in the base state of tune.

Gale Banks is also offering this engine in a version (seen here) that makes 575 hp and 950 lb-ft of torque. Upgrades include a heavy-duty long-block and high-strength cylinder heads, high-flow exhaust manifolds and turbo plumbing, and a high-volume oiling system with piston-cooling nozzles. Still not enough? A streetable 1,200hp version is in the works.

These are brand-new engines, not rebuilds, and are sold ready-to-run with a GM-pattern flywheel housing, wiring harness, oiling system, starter, and pedal connections. Prices start at $15,980. Visit for more info.

Deere’s New Gator
If you think John Deere’s Gators are all six-wheeled flatbed utility vehicles used to tend golf courses and school yards, think again. John Deere has entered the recreational utility vehicle (side-by-side) market with the RSX850i. The new Gator is available in three states of tune: Sport, Trail, and Base.

The Sport model (seen here) is the hot rod of the group, with sport seats, alloy wheels, Maxxis tires, and adjustable Fox shocks. The Trail model is outfitted with a brushguard, a front receiver hitch, rear bumper, and cargo box rails. The plain RSX is the blank canvas, awaiting factory or aftermarket accessories.

All models come equipped with an 839cc, V-twin, liquid-cooled, four-cycle, gasoline motorcycle engine that produces 62 hp. John Deere quotes a 0-30 mph time of three seconds and a top speed of 53 mph for the new Gator. They ride on fully independent suspensions with 10.3 inches of ground clearance in front and 9 inches of travel in back. All are equipped with automotive-style doors and have an ISO-certified rollover protection structure with three-point belts and lots of grab handles.

In our photo the Gator is painted traditional John Deere green and yellow, but other colors are available, including olive, black, and Realtree Hardwoods HD camo. Prices starts at $12,999 for the base RSX, $14,999 for the Trail model and $15,499 for the Sport. Visit for more info.

• Nov. 1-3: Cullman Jeep Jamboree, Cullman, AL. Info:

• Nov. 2: Mojave Road trail ride by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Barstow, CA to Las Vegas,NV. Info: 310.374.8047,

• Nov. 8-12: Lone Star Jeep Club’s Fall Run, Superlift ORV Park, Hot Springs, AR. Info: 501.625.3600,

• Nov. 9: Riot on the River desert race by HDRA, Laughlin, NV. Info:

• Nov. 9-11: Desert Splash 2012 by Parker 4 Wheelers, Parker, AZ. Info: 909.239.1162, email

• Nov. 9-11: Panamint Valley Days by California Association of 4WD Clubs, near Trona, CA. Info:

• Nov. 14-17: Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, Ensenada to La Paz, Baja California, Mexico. Info:

• Nov. 17: Getting Started Off-Road Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Hungry Valley SVRA, Gorman, CA. Info: 310.374.8047,

• Nov. 17: Toy Drive by North American XJ Association’s Sierra Chapter, at the Hollister Hills and Prairie City OHV areas, central California. Info:

• Nov. 18: Advanced Beginner Off-Road Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, El Paso Mountains, Mojave, CA. Info: 310.374.8047,

• Nov. 21-26: Turkey Run, Superlift ORV Park, Hot Springs, AR. Info: 501.625.3600,

• Nov. 24: T&T Railroad Adventure by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, near Lucerne Valley, CA. Info: 310.374.8047,

• Nov. 30–Dec. 2: Transwest Ford Henderson 250 by Best in the Desert, Henderson, NV. 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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