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New Trucks Debut at Detroit, Chicago Shows
Within the next couple of years we will see all-new fullsize pickup trucks from GM, Ford, Ram, and Toyota, and many of those trucks were introduced (or at least teased) at the Detroit and Chicago auto shows. Here's a look at those reveals, plus other significant introductions.
Chicago: 2014 Toyota Tundra
"Chiseled" is how Toyota describes the look of its redesigned Tundra pickup. The most obvious difference is the new grille, which is taller and integrates the hood's leading-edge intake with the lower bumper pieces. As with previous models, the new Tundra will be available in regular, Double Cab, and CrewMax cab styles and in several trim levels: SR, SR5, Limited, Platinum, and the new 1794 Edition (seen here), named for the ranch founded in 1794 where the Tundra plant is located in San Antonio. Each trim level will get a variation on the grille and lower bumper treatment to separate the grade levels.
The Tundra's interior has been redesigned to improve ergonomics and better separate the truck's grades. The instrument panel gets a multifunction display between the gauges, and the climate controls are closer to the driver. A backup camera and Bluetooth will be standard on all Tundra models. Limited versions and above get leather upholstery and trim materials unique to each grade. A blind spot monitor with cross-traffic alert will be available, as will parking assist, navigation, and Toyota's Entune Infotaniment system.
The Tundra carries over its 4.0L V-6, 4.6L V8, and 5.7L V-8 engine. The V-6 is backed by a five-speed automatic transmission; the V-8s get six-speed automatics. Shock absorber valving has been revised for better straight-line stability.
Look for the all new Tundra at dealerships in September.
Ford Atlas Concept The folks at GM could not have been happy about this. While they showed their '14 Chevy and GMC 1500 pickups to the public for the first time at Detroit, Ford stole some of their thunder with this F-150 concept, a tip-off to the redesign coming for 2015. The front-end styling borrows cues from the Super Duty, and several aerodynamic components-such as shutters in the grille and wheels and a drop-down front air dam-smooth the air flowing over and under the truck to improve fuel economy. Also working for more mileage is an EcoBoost engine with stop/start engine shutoff technology.
Some of the most interesting features on the Atlas are work related. The tailgate step, for example, is also a cargo cradle to hold long items above the truck. LED lights and cargo tie-down points are integrated into the bed, as are 110-volt outlets for charging power tools. Under the bed Ford has stashed ramps to assist in loading wheeled cargo. To make trailering easier, Dynamic Hitch Assist helps you line up the truck with a trailer using visual cues on a center display screen. A feature called Trailer Backup assist "allows drivers to backup to a trailer with the twist of a knob" says Ford. That one we have to try.
Ford stole some of their thunder
Detroit: 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee
A diesel engine is finally finding its way back into the Grand. The 3.0L V-6, which Jeep calls the EcoDiesel, produces 240 hp and a healthy 420 lb-ft of torque. It will be backed by a new eight-speed automatic transmission that will also be used with the Grand's other engines. Jeep expects the diesel to return 20 mpg city, 28 mpg highway in 4x4 models (and about 30 highway in 2WDs). The diesel engine gives the Grand a 7,400-pound tow capacity (7,200 for 4x4s); the eight-speed brings the V-6's tow rating up to 6,200 pounds.
Jeep has also revised the Grand's off-roading systems, improving the Selec-Terrain traction control and adding a feature called Selec-Speed Control with Hill-ascent and -descent Control, which allows the driver to control the Jeep's speed going up- or downhill using the paddle shifters instead of the pedals. (Can't be sure why Jeep thinks hand throttles would be preferred in those situations, but we'll give it a shot and let you know how it works.)
The Grand Cherokee gets a minor facelift for "14: slimmer headlights, revised front fascia, and larger taillamps with LED lights. A new high-end Summit model is even more luxurious that the Overland, with premium leather upholstery, heated and ventilated seats. and even an 825-watt Harman Kardon Surround-sound audio system.
Chicago: Ram ProMaster
ProMaster is a line of fullsize commercial vans that Ram debuted at Chicago. Why do we care? The powertrain. In addition to the Pentastar V-6, the ProMaster vans will be available with a 3.0L inline-four EcoDiesel engine that produces 174 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Sounds to us like a good candidate for a Ram 1500.
Also intriguing is the diesel's M40 transmission, which Ram describes as a six-speed automated manual. "At its core it's a manual," says the maker, though gearshifts and clutch functions are made via an electro-hydraulic system. Drivers can choose to manually shift through the gears, though the transmission's software will do the mechanical work.
Detroit: Jeep Compass
The mini Grand (at least that's what it looks like to us) for 2014 gets a minor facelift and a new six-speed transmission, the fully electronic 6F24. It's smaller and lighter than the previous transmission and has a close-ratio gearset with a 4.21 First to provide quick acceleration from launch. Though most Compass models are front- or all-wheel drive, the '14 can be ordered with the Freedom Drive II 4x4 off-road package, which includes a low range gear in the transaxle.
Detroit: VW CrossBlue
We were interested in VW's CrossBlue crossover because of its hybrid powertrain, which pairs a 190hp clean diesel engine with two electric motors and a DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission. When pulling together, the powertrain makes 305 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. It's fast and efficient, propelling the VW to 60 mph in just 7.2 seconds and returning 35 combined mpg. The diesel by itself powers the front wheels. In EV mode the diesel decouples from the driveline and an 114hp electric motor powers the rear wheels. In off-road mode the engine and rear motor drive all four wheels, and the second, front-mounted electric motor is a generator-powered by the diesel-for the rear motor. The seven-seat CrossBlue shown at Detroit was a concept, but it will likely go into production in VW's crossover lineup between the Touareg and Tiguan.
This Just In
Ram 1500 was named North American Truck/Utility of the Year by a panel of 49 journalists from the U.S. and Canada.
Five members of the Bigfoot monster truck racing team will compete in Robby Gordon's Stadium Super Trucks Series, which kicks off April 6 in Phoenix. Also on the bill are the Stadium Super Trucks (600hp race trucks modeled after factory trucks, racing on DOT-approved tires), plus UTV and ATV racing. Visit www.stadiumsupertrucks.com for more info.
Longtime BFGoodrich desert racing support coordinator and BFG employee Jeff Cummings was named Sal Fish SCORE Person of the Year at the annual SCORE awards banquet, where BFG was named both contingency company of the year and pit support partner of the year.
Roger Norman, the new head of SCORE International, will host a series of "Dirt Live" internet broadcasts each Tuesday at 6 p.m. Pacific Time at www.score-international.com. The hour-long show will webcast from Norman's race shop in San Diego and will focus on news from SCORE and HDRA.
Some 110 hours of Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series competition will be broadcast on TV this year. The shows will air on CBS, CBS Sports Network, NBC Sports Network, Speed, and Lucas-owned MAVTV. For more details on broadcast dates and times, visit lucasoil.com.