News, Notes, Reviews, and Other Important Stuff
'02 Supercharged XterraNissan revealed the enhanced '02 Xterra recently at the Chicago Auto Show, only two years after introducing the first Xterra. The new Xterra, featuring dramatic front end styling, a supercharged V-6 engine option, and a totally revised interior with a new instrument panel and a Rockford Fosgate-powered audio system, will go on sale late this summer
A new hood with a 48mm raised power bulge centersection clears the way for the supercharged V-6, and Xterra front fenders with large flares add to the muscular look. New 17-inch wheels with off-road 265/65R17 tires complete the look of supercharged SE Xterras, while 16-inch wheels are available on XE and standard SE models. New exterior colors include Shock Blue and Sedona, a new red, and new trim colors have been added. SE models come with a dark titanium finish on all exterior trim, accessories, and wheels.
The supercharged 3.3L powerplant uses a roots-type Eaton blower and produces 210 hp and 246 lb-ft of torque. Supercharged Xterras are available in two-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive versions with a five-speed manual or four-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission.
Diesel Excursion Desert RacerThe Power Stroke engine, best known for its reliability in Ford trucks, was recently used as the powerplant of a new concept vehicle designed to race in the desert. International Truck and Engine Corporation, manufacturer of the 7.3L diesel engine, worked with Ford Motor Company to build this SUV, which will race in six events this year, including the SCORE Baja 500 in June, the BITD Las Vegas to Reno in September, and the SCORE Baja 1000 in November. Veteran racers Matt Scaroni and Tom Watson will drive the Excursion in competition.
Participation in the off-road racing series allows us to test engine performance, chassis, suspension, and transmission components in extreme conditions," said Bob Rath, Vice President of Quality and Reliability, Engine Group, International. "This is just one example of how we are working closely with Ford to develop high-performance diesel trucks and SUVs capable of meeting the toughest endurance needs."
The concept Excursion was built in five months by a team that included John Marking of Fox Shocks, Ron Norton of National Springs, and Bill Varnes of Mirage Racing. International Truck and Engine field service representatives Bob Rath and Mark Wildman led the team that built and maintained the vehicle. The Ford's engine is an experimental version of the Power Stroke and is capable of producing as much as 400 hp and 850 lb-ft of torque. The SUV was highly modified for racing; it has a 137-inch wheelbase, a 60-gallon fuel cell, and a radically changed suspension that provides more than 16 inches of rear wheel travel and 11 inches of front wheel travel
For more information about the Excursion and the company itself, visit the company's Web site at www.internationaldelivers.com.
TrailBlazer Trophy TruckAt a recent event in Southern California,General Motors gave journalists the opportunity to take a ride in its latest off-road venture - a new TrailBlazer built for racing. Unlike the TrailBlazer of the past, which was, in essence, an options package for the S-10 Blazer, the '02 TrailBlazer is an all-new vehicle that is larger in all dimensions than the previous sport utility vehicle. The TrailBlazer is powered by a 4.2L inline-six, marking the first time GM has used an I-6 in its lineup since the 1980s. It is a dual-overhead cam powerplant with four valves per cylinder and puts out 270 hp at 6,000 rpm, making it the engine to beat in its class. This engine is also capable of serious pulling power, with 275 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 rpm.
With this kind of power under the hood, it made sense to look into the possibilities this platform had. GM's Racing department took possession of a TrailBlazer and transformed it into the race truck in the photo above. It has competed in the southwest United States, as well as in Baja, where two of these TrailBlazers finished in Second and Third in the Trophy Truck class in the Baja 2000, and will be on the circuit for the remainder of the year.
Sun TrackerWestin Automotive Products has put together a unique '01 Ford Explorer that is sure to turn heads as it travels down the road. The graphics on the two-door Sport 4x4 depict a powerful sun and radiating flames. The hot Ford has a Gibson exhaust system to enhance its performance; Pro Comp all-season tires and Center Line billet aluminum wheels provide a go-anywhere footprint.
A Westin Safari lightbar in the front holds PIAA's powerful XT80 lights, and Westin's tough step bars help protect the sides of the vehicle and provide easy vehicle access. In the rear, a Fey's Perfect Match rear bumper is installed in conjunction with a Hidden Hitch receiver to haul a variety of road toys. Interior carpeting and floor mats were provided by Nifty Products, and to top it off, a bike and roof rack from Sunco was bolted in place.
The Sun Tracker has been touring the United States, attending consumer and trade functions, open houses, auto shows, and various other events.
Dana Seeks LibertyEarlier this year, Dana Corporation announced that it will supply rear main driveshafts, independent front axles, and beam-style rear axles for the '02 Jeep Liberty. This continues the tradition of use of Dana products on Jeeps, which started with the first Jeeps in the 1940s. The driveshafts are a combination of Spicer 1310- and 1330-series steel rear main assemblies and feature Spicer Life maintenance-free U-joints. The front and rear axles feature all-aluminum carriers and tubes to improve fuel efficiency; larger pinion stems and bearings to reduce noise and vibration, and net-formed differential gears for increased strength and durability. The axles use a system known as Dual Advantage, a dual-disconnect system that improves fuel efficiency by reducing drag. Dual Advantage allows the differential gears in the front axle to remain stationary when the axle is disconnected. Dana will also supply a series of engine and fluid systems products for the Liberty.
Has Honda's Passport Expired?The Passport, an SUV designed by Isuzu and also sold as the Isuzu Rodeo, has been a part of the Honda lineup since 1994, with little modification in the seven years that followed its introduction. It is likely Honda will stop selling this vehicle in 2003, to be replaced by a Honda derivative of the Acura MDX. Honda's version of the Acura is said to be less expensive than the MDX, with more car-like ride and handling. Isuzu has not announced any changes that will affect its production of the Rodeo.