The GMT360 SUV group is rapidly progressing with the introduction of the Oldsmobile Bravada at the New York Auto Show last spring and the recent sightings of the Chevrolet Blazer replacement - the TrailBlazer. Besides the standard wheelbase models, stretched versions of the Envoy and the TrailBlazer will also be offered, probably for the 2003 model year. A new 4.2L inline-six will be offered, including a V-8 for the long-wheelbase seven-passenger models.Brenda Priddy
Is A 3,000-Mile Oil Change Necessary?
Automotive Lubrication Online announced the release of its first e-book, Exposing the Myth of the 3,000-Mile Oil Change, which is the first of its kind, it contains more than 20 pages of objective evidence showing that 3,000-mile oil changes have not been necessary for nearly 30 years.
According to Michael Kaufman, author of the new e-book, "Lubricants manufacturers are doing everything they possibly can to keep motorists in the dark about extended oil drains. You see, the time and money savings available to motorists taking advantage of extended oil drains is tremendous. However, if the majority of auto owners begin to extend their oil change intervals, the lubricants industry will be forced to completely restructure their marketing and manufacturing practices. Obviously, they are not willing to do this without a fight."
Exposing the Myth of the 3,000-Mile Oil Change is offered as a free download at www.bestsyntheticoil.com/article/ebook.html.
Mercedes-Benz Introduces Cabriolet Gelaendewagen
In keeping with its reputation for building the most exclusive, most expensive SUVs in the world, Mercedes-Benz has added a new G-Wagen to its off-road stable - the Cabriolet. Being touted as the planet's first and only power-top convertible SUV, the Cabriolet is equipped with a 5.0L V-8 that produces 300 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque and will take the 3-ton two-door from 0 to 60 in a dizzying 7-1/2 seconds.
Built in Graz, Austria, the Cabriolet's heavy-gauge steel body sits on a rigid box frame that is designed to surround and protect all the major components. Inside, you'll find such amenities as a burled walnut console; a leather-and-walnut steering wheel; a programmable heating system that will set the vehicle's interior temperature 24 hours in advance; Parktronic backup radar; heated seats; and a hands-free cellular phone; all protected by a heavy-duty rollcage.
The suspension consists of solid axles, front and rear. with coil springs at each corner. The drivetrain mates the new M113 5.0L V-8 from the 2000 S-class/SL500 with the electronically adaptive five-speed automatic transmission found in other Mercedes vehicles. All of this is connected to a fully automatic, High/Low range transfer case, permanent all-wheel drive, and cockpit-controlled locking hubs.
As with the other two members of the Gelaendewagen family - the long-wheelbase five door and the short-wheelbase three door - the handful of Cabriolets that make it to our shores will be the province of G-Wagen USA in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the sole U.S. distributor.
GM To Build Flex-Fuel Fullsize Suvs
General Motors has announced its plans to begin building fullsize sport utility vehicles with flexible fuel capabilities. Beginning in the 2002 model year, all Chevrolet Suburbans and Tahoes, and GMC Yukon XLs and Yukons equipped with the 5.3L V-8 will be able to run on varying blends of ethanol and gasoline - from 100 percent gas to a maximum of 85 percent ethanol (E85). The new Chevrolet Avalanche with the standard 5.3L V-8 will also have E85 capabilities beginning in the 2003 model year.
The fullsize sport utilities join the Chevy S-10 and GMC Sonoma small trucks, whose E85-compatible 2.2L four-cylinder engines went into production late in 1999. By current estimates, GM will have produced more than one million flex-fuel trucks by the end of the 2004 model year.
According to Thomas G. Stephens, GM vice president and group director of engineering, "E85 is a viable alternative to gasoline where it is available. It is a renewable fuel that can be produced from grain or agricultural waste, and that makes it very attractive."
GM's flex-fuel trucks offer the same warranty as its gasoline-powered models. Further, the E85 system will be offered to customers at no additional charge.
Lake County, Illinois, is now home to a new group of four-wheelers: the Firewalker Four Wheel Drive Club. They are looking for new members and invite anyone who is interested to visit them online at FirewalkerFWDC@aol.com.
Winners Announced In Jeep Cherokee Sweepstakes
Four-Wheel Drive & Sport Utility magazine has released the names of the lucky winners in its most recent sweepstakes.
Grand Prize Winner: Mike Callahan, Clifton Heights, Pennsylvania
First Prize Winner: Charles Klemm, Farmersville, Texas
Second Prize Winner: Bernie Southerland, Mesa, Arizona
Isuzu At Work On 2002 Axiom
Axiom, named by a Web surfer in an Internet contest, is based on Isuzu's ZXS concept, first displayed at the 1999 Tokyo Motor Show. The production vehicle will be built at the Subaru-Isuzu plant in Lafayette, Indiana, with an estimated 24,000 units built annually for the North American market.
Isuzu's newest SUV is considered a hybrid: A combination of station wagon and sport utility vehicle, referred to as a sportwagon by Isuzu insiders.
The 215hp Axiom is powered by a 3.5L DOHC 24-valve V-6 with a four-speed automatic gearbox. It is equipped with Intelligent Suspension Control (ISC) that monitors and adjusts shock valving for optimal ride and handling. It also features Isuzu's Torque-On-Demand 4WD system. Independent front double-wishbone suspension and a five-link live axle with coil springs in the rear round out the package.
Inside, occupants will find a Multi-Information Display (MID) center, which is a first for Isuzu. The display has many features, including a digital compass, a sound system, and climate controls, in addition to a U.S. atomic synchronized clock.
Even with all the bells and whistles, we hear that the ABS and side airbags will be optional when the Axiom debuts next April.Brenda Priddy
National Drivetrain Opens Third LocationBuilding on the success of its Chicago and Las Vegas locations, National Drivetrain is opening a third location in Atlanta. This will be home to its Eliminator ring-and-pinion series, including its new line of automotive accessories, from bugshields to bumpers. All three locations will carry a full line of new and rebuilt transmissions, transfer cases, and third members. National Drivetrain can be found online at www.nationaldrivetrain.com.
Bestop Acquires New Patent
Bestop, widely known for its extensive line of soft tops, doors, consoles, and other accessories, announced that it has acquired an exclusive license to use a patented two-piece Jeep Wrangler hardtop design. "The design is a radical move from traditional fiberglass tops and couples the patented design with Strata composite technology," states Paul Valas, General Manager of Bestop. The Strata design was awarded the DaimlerChrysler Innovation Award at the SEMA Show in 1999.