1999 Ford F-Series, 1998 Toyota Land Cruiser and More
'99 Ford F-Series
We can still hear the noises Péwé was making as though it was yesterday-the boy could hardly contain himself as he learned of the all-new '99 Super Duty Series F-250s and F-350s. And who could blame him? There's the new 5.4L Triton V-8, the 6.8L Triton V-10, and the revised 7.3L direct-injection Powerstroke diesel; all-new five- and six-speed manual transmissions or optional 4R100 automatic trans; a solid front axle suspension (4x2s have improved Twin I-Beam); and power disc brakes all around.
But that's not all! There are Regular Cab, SuperCab, and Crew Cab models with shortbed or longbed options; the 4x4s are available with a GVWR up to 12,500 pounds; there's a humongous cab with seating for three across; and there's no resemblance to the F-150, thanks to a new "pronounced power dome hood," flush-mounted headlamps, air inlets alongside the grille, and lowered beltline side window glass (we've heard it called the "Ford Ram").
Since sales of Ford's big pickups have been gaining on those of the GM C/K series, the Super Duty Series ought to make things even more interesting. Next month we'll hit the road with one and let you know what we think.
1998 4xFun Fest Schedule
Looks like we'll be returning for a third time to the home of the monster of all 4xFun Fests, Sandwich, Illinois. It'll be held September 19-20 at the De Kalb County Fairgrounds, which is just moments from Chicago. The other Fun Fest will be at a new venue for us, the International Off-Road Raceway in Crandon, Wisconsin, August 1-2.
Over the next few months, we'll be revealing some special happenings you can expect at the Chevrolet-sponsored 1998 shows. But we can tell you now that the success of previous Fests has been due to the following that each attraction has gained: the Extreme Truck Challenge, the mud bogs, the show'n'shine, and the manufacturers' midway. For more information, contact our Special Events department at 213/782-2341 or fax 402/464-5931.
Farmers Insurance Group and Progressive Corporation will be charging drivers in some states higher liability-coverage rates for pickups and SUVs.
Chevy will debut a crewcab shortbed fullsize and a production version of the S-10 "Hugger" truck. We should have more details next month.
Can't afford a 4x4 or simply want a 4x2 for off-roading? Toyota will debut a Tacoma PreRunner, essentially a 4x4 without the front drive assembly and the transfer case. It'll have the same ground clearance and ride height as a 4x4 and will be available with the same features and special packages as the four-by, including the TRD off-road suspension package and an on-demand, full-locking rear diff. The 2.7L four-cylinder will be standard, but you will be able to step up to a V-6 and even 31-inch tires. Toyota also created a TRD package for the T100, the Tacoma, and the 4Runner, which includes a California emissions-legal supercharger, an after-cat exhaust system, off-road coil-over struts, and carbon-metallic brake pads.
Cadillac will produce a fullsize sport/utility based on the Catera platform.
Autoweek reports that J.D. Power's second-annual APEAL survey focused on auto safety and asked consumers what features they wanted in their new vehicles and what those features should cost. Fifty-nine percent wanted ABS at $386; 18 percent wanted traction control for $205; 32 percent voted for a "smart" passenger-side airbag at $176; 23 percent for daytime running lights at $24; and 7 percent for automatic 911 calling for a charge of $50.
Rumors are that the onslaught of consumer demand for sport/utilities (especially the bigger-is-better variety) just might be one of the causes of a potential gas crunch and possibly a global-warming treaty.
Automotive News reports that 1997 will be the last model year for the Land Rover Defender 90. Land Rover opted not to meet a U.S. safety regulation that requires two airbags in all cars and light trucks.
Industry folks say the '99 Suzuki Sidekick will be redesigned with body tweaks (yes, more rounded), a more powerful engine, live-axle/coil-spring rear suspension, and disc brakes at all corners.
'98 Toyota Land Cruiser
It sure seems as though 1998 is developing into the year of big automotive developments, among which is the first major revamp of the Toyota Land Cruiser since 1991. The new model will sport a V-8 based on the one in the Lexus LS400 and independent front suspension (outside the U.S. you will find some solid axles, though). Not only that, the 'Cruiser chassis has been updated and refined with the addition of three crossmembers (now nine versus six); a "floating member" that locates the torsion bar on the frame crossmember to stabilize the IFS and prevent harshness and vibration; and significantly increased wheel articulation.
The Toyota will once again feature full-time, two-speed four-wheel drive mated to a four-speed auto tranny (a five-speed manual trans can be ordered outside the U.S.). The full-locking rear differential will again be an option, but unfortunately, the design of the IFS forced the front differential locker to be discontinued. ABS will be operational in low range, even with the center diff locked.