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January 2013 Drivelines

Posted in Features on January 1, 2013
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New Jeeps for 2013 & 2014
Trailhawk is the name of this new Grand Cherokee model, one of several offerings coming this year and next from Jeep. The Trailhawk concept truck got rave reviews when it debuted at Moab, Jeep says, so the package was put into production.

Trailhawk is equipped with “winch ready” steel bumpers, rock rails, a Quadra-Lift air suspension, and Goodyear all-terrain tires, with the option of a locking rear diff. The Trailhawk will be easily spotted thanks to its special badges and black hood decal.

Plans are still underway for a seven-seat version of the Grand Cherokee, called the Grand Wagoneer, to debut as a ’14 model , according to a report in Automotive News. Also look for a diesel engine for the ’14 Grand Cherokee and an eight-speed automatic for the Grand and Wrangler, says AN.

Roush Raptor
We recently toured the facility near Detroit where Roush Performance builds hopped-up Mustangs, and we were surprised to see a Raptor in there. Turns out Roush is putting together a kit for the 6.2L V-8 in Ford’s desert truck that includes a TVS 2300 twin-screw supercharger to boost output to 525 hp and 535 lb-ft of torque. The kit also includes an exhaust system, special Roush headrest embroidery, and a graphics package.

This particular truck is special, built for NASCAR driver Greg Biffle to compete in a charity event. It has a three-tone Sherwin Williams paintjob, 18-inch V-Tec wheels mounting BFG Mud-Terrain KM2 tires, a Baja-style spare-tire holder, custom lighting, and body armor.

Plans call for the Roush Off-Road Package to be available through Roush, and Roush-authorized Ford dealers. The folks at Roush estimate that it will add $8,000-$12,000 to the cost of the Raptor.

Range Rover: The Next Generation
Land Rover hasn’t introduced an all-new version of its tony Range Rover since 2002, so this is big news for fans of the luxurious, capable, (and, yes, pricey) British SUV. This latest Range Rover is certainly an evolutionary, not revolutionary, change from an exterior design standpoint, but a lot has changed beneath the aluminum skin. Extensive use of aluminum in the Rover’s unibody, in fact, shaved some 700 pounds, which improved fuel economy.

Engine options for the U.S. market include two 5.0L V-8s, one naturally aspirated (375 hp) and the other supercharged (510 hp). Backing the engines is an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission and a fulltime 4WD system with a 2.93:1 low-range ratio. A new Terrain Response 2 system uses onboard sensors to tailor the engine, transmission, center differential, and suspension to suit a variety of terrain conditions, from gravel to rockcrawling.

The new Range Rover rides on a fully independent suspension—double wishbone in front, multilink in the rear—fitted with height-adjustable air springs that can raise the body nearly 3 inches. The system allows more than 12 inches of wheel travel in back and 10 inches in front.

Of course, the new Range Rover also offers all the interior amenities of an English manor home, including a choice of leather grades for the upholstery, real wood trim, LED mood lighting, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, and audio options that run all the way up to a 1,700-watt reference system with 29 speakers and surround sound. A two-place rear seat option includes seats that not only recline but also massage. You can even order a cooler to store beverages between the rear seats.

This can be yours for an MSRP starting at $83,500 when the Range Rover goes on sale this winter.

This Just In
• Watch for fresh sheetmetal on the ’14 Frontier and Xterra, say the crystal-ball gazers at Automotive News. A new Titan truck is still a couple years away, they say, but when it does arrive it may do so with a regular cab (a Titan first) and a smaller V-8 option than the current 5.6L.

• Chrysler has initiated a dealer repair program for some of its 3.6L Pentastar V-6 engines due to a problem with the cylinder heads. Chrysler is vague about what the problem is; customers have complained about engines stalling and making strange ticking noises. The problem affects just a small percentage of the Pentastars (about 1 percent, or 7,500 of the 1.5 million engines built over the last two years), says Automotive News, but customer repair requests have apparently flooded dealerships, causing delays in getting the engines fixed.

• Badlands Off-Road Adventures, which puts on a monthly series of “Getting Started” off-road driving clinics at the Hungry Valley OHV area north of Los Angeles, is now offering the classes in Borrego Springs, about 90 miles east of San Diego. Visit for more info.

Earth Watch
• The Marine Corps still wants to annex the popular Johnson Valley off-roading area in Southern California as part of its Twentynine Palms base, but local 4WD groups are working to keep the area open. SEMA has joined the fight and presented a plan whereby the Marines would obtain special-use BLM permits for the area during the two months of the year when they want to hold maneuvers, leaving it open to recreation the rest of the time. The Corps, on the other hand, wants ownership of more than half of the area (some 147,000 acres) and would grant access to just 40,000 acres for OHV use during the 10 months it is not holding maneuvers. Congress is enacting legislation that will require the Marines to study alternative ways to share the land with the OHV community, says SEMA.

• You may have already heard that the federal government’s new fuel economy and carbon dioxide emissions standards would raise automakers’ fleetwide fuel economy target to 54.5 mpg by 2025. That’s a fleet average number, keep in mind, not the intended fuel economy for all vehicles, so trucks that need powerful engines will likely fall out of that range and be offset by very fuel efficient—or even electric—cars. Still, we can expect the trend toward efficient six- and four-cylinder engines to continue and make inroads in the truck segment, so big-displacement V-8s may become a thing of the past.

• Yamaha approved more than $120,000 in grants during the second quarter of 2012 to promote responsible OHV use. Since starting the program in 2008, Yamaha has invested more than $2 million in the OHV community.

Built JK As Cheap Truck Challenger?
It all depends on how you read the rules. For a $3 raffle ticket you could win this built ’12 JK Unlimited from the California Association of 4WD Clubs (Cal4Wheel). It has been fortified with bombproof parts like Poison Spyder Customs tube fenders and rock sliders, an Advance Adapters Atlas II transfer case, Metal Cloak suspension, Yukon Grizzly lockers, and more. The Jeep will be raffled at the annual Cal4Wheel convention in Rancho Cordova on February 16. You don’t need to be present to win, and tickets can be purchased online at If a reader wins, you really should bring it to our next Cheap Truck Challenge.

Pathfinder Goes Mainstream
Years ago, Nissan’s Pathfinder was a truck-based SUV rugged enough to win our 4x4 of the Year award—twice. Times have changed, though, and except for us four-wheeling diehards, very few buyers want a truck-based SUV anymore. So Nissan has completely redesigned the Pathfinder, turning it into a car-based crossover that will have tremendous appeal to families. Four-wheelers? Not so much.

If you’re looking for a pavement-based people mover, the Pathfinder is among the best. Not only are all three seating rows spacious, but Nissan has developed a new sliding second-row system, called Latch and Glide, that makes plenty of room to climb into the third row, even with a baby seat strapped in a second-row seat. (See what we mean about families?) The new 3.5L V-6 has lots of pep, and it will return 25 mpg on the highway if you watch your speed—pretty good for a 4,290-pound vehicle.

What the Pathfinder can’t do is wheel very well. The All-Mode 4x4-i AWD system is a front-wheel–biased powertrain with a single-speed transfer case that can be used fulltime or locked to provide a 50/50 torque split between the front and rear wheels. On graded roads it works just fine, but it doesn’t take much (a rutted hillclimb, for example) to overwhelm the drive system and the pavement-oriented tires. We also found that the suspension system, which provides a very supple ride on-road, is just too soft off-road, dragging the front air dam through even the mildest whoop-de-dos.

The Pathfinder does have a 5,000-pound tow capacity, though, so put it on your short list when it’s time for a new toy hauler.

Jeeps & More at Chrysler Museum
If you find yourself in the Detroit area, be sure to stop in at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum, housed at Chrysler’s headquarters in Auburn Hills. It is not the biggest museum in the area (the Henry Ford is hard to beat in that regard), but truly significant, interesting, and offbeat stuff is on display there. We liked the WWII diorama built to display this MB, and across from it was an enormous Sherman tank engine. Apparently Chrysler built the engine by bundling five six-cylinder engines so it could use existing tooling. The massive powerplant (1,250 ci) put out 445 hp.

PhotosView Slideshow

New Tundra, FJ Models
There’s no huge news from Toyota for 2013; instead, the maker is refining its existing truck lineup. For instance, the Platinum package that was available as an options bundle for the Tundra CrewMax Limited is now a standalone trim level. Platinum-level trucks feature heated and ventilated front seats, a DVD/navigation system, a powered moonroof, and woodgrain-style interior trim.

The FJ Cruiser continues essentially unchanged, except the Trail Teams special edition is finished in Cement Gray this year. The 4Runner is also a carryover model, though SR5 versions now have a switch to actuate the transfer case, not a lever.

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

• Dec. 1: Advanced Beginner Off-Road Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, El Paso Mountains near Mojave, CA. Info: 310.374.8047,

• Dec. 1: Holiday 200 desert race, Barstow, CA. Info:

• Dec. 2: Getting Started Off-Road Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Hungry Valley SVRA, Gorman, CA. Info: 310.374.8047,

• Dec. 7-9: Rage at the River desert race, Laughlin, NV. Info:

• Dec. 8: Wheelin’ 4 Toys by the Brush Beater Jeep Club, Kansas Rocks Recreation Park near Mapleton, KS. Info:

• Dec. 8: Sand Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Oceano Dunes near Pismo, CA. Info: 310.374.8047,

• Dec. 9: Winch & Recovery Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, El Paso Mountains near Mojave, CA. Info: 310.374.8047,

• Dec. 27-31: New Year’s Eve Fire and Ice Run and Bonfire, Superlift ORV Park, Hot Springs, AR. Info: 501.625.3600,

• 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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