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November 2009 4x4 Truck & Automotive News - RPM

Posted in News on November 1, 2009
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Power Wagon Returns!
Here is the first photo that we have of the 2010 Dodge Power Wagon. Proving the rumors wrong, the Power Wagon is indeed part of the 2010 Ram HD line-up. Seen here undergoing testing, it appears to use the same mechanicals as the current truck, including the 17-inch polished forged aluminum wheels wrapped in BFGoodrich All-Terrain tires. We expect the current axles and sway bar disconnect system, as well as Bilstein shocks, to round out the package. Also identifiable in this photo is the Warn 12,000-pound winch, nestled behind the stock bumper. Perhaps most significant is the obvious availability of the new, generously sized Crew cab body style.

Nissan Tweaks For '10
Nissan has announced minor changes to its truck lineup for 2010. Our 2009 Four Wheeler of the Year-winning Xterra now comes standard with the Technology Package if you order it in the SE or Off Road trim levels, while the exterior color palette has been simplified to six colors. The 2010 Titan now offers Active Brake Limited Slip, Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), and side curtain airbags standard on all models. Our favorite model, the PRO-4X, also gains a badge on the tailgate, a standard receiver hitch with seven-pin wiring and trailer brake pre-wiring, in addition to standard Bluetooth phone connectivity. Two new colors are available. Lastly, the 2010 Nissan Frontier gains standard side and curtain airbags on all models and VDC on V-6-equipped trucks. One new exterior color is offered.

Say Good-Bye
2010 will be the last year of the Ford Explorer Sport Trac. With a new unibody Explorer on the way and slowing sales of the Sport Trac model, Ford has decided not to replace it after the current design expires in 2010. So what does this mean for midsize truck buyers who are interested in a crew cab? Well, the newly redesigned 2012 Ford Ranger should debut in a couple of years to fill in that hole. Until then, you can now get Sync, chrome steps on Limited models, and two new exterior colors on the 2010 Sport Trac.

Ford Gets 2010 Tweaks
Just because the F-150 was all new for '09 doesn't mean Ford is going to stand still, as evidenced with some of the changes Ford has made to the 2010 F-150. According to Ford, all 2010 F-150s get a completely overhauled braking system that includes new front calipers, master cylinder, brake booster, and new brake rotors that have been upsized six percent. Ford is hoping the changes will result in less dust, shorter stopping distances and improved pedal feel. Other changes include redesigned headrests that sit back farther and are made from different foam for increased comfort, and the addition of Ford's MyKey programmable key system. The step Flareside side box has been dropped and the SuperCab/5.5-foot box configuration is reserved for the Raptor.

Poison Spyder Supports CA4WDC Sweepstakes
Poison Spyder Customs has donated a set of Poison Spyder Body Armor and Poison Spyder Rocker Knockers with Rock Sliders for the 2009 Jeep Wrangler that will be given away on February 20, 2010 during the California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs' annual convention in Sacramento. California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs is selling tickets for the drawing through the date of the convention for $2 each. The sweepstakes grand prize is the Jeep Wrangler outfitted by Poison Spyder and other off-road aftermarket vendors, and several other prizes will be given away as well. To learn more about the California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs, their annual convention, and the sweepstakes give-away, visit For more information about Poison Spyder Customs products, check out

Ram Tows More In 2010
Dodge's reassessment of its testing protocols has netted the Ram 1500 a 1,350-pound tow rating increase without any hardware changes. Using identical components to the 2009 truck, the maximum GCWR increases by 1,500 pounds to 15,500 pounds and the maximum tow rating has increased from 9,100 pounds to 10,450 pounds (on a regular-cab, longbed, two-wheel-drive model with the 5.7L Hemi and 3.92 gears and 17-in wheels), better matching the Ram's towing capability to the Silverado, F-150, and Tundra. Dodge says the Ram chassis is more capable than previously tested. And these revised numbers reflect Dodge's confidence in the Ram. Other changes for 2010 include a 50-pound bump in maximum payload, optional trailer towing mirrors, and finally an integrated trailer brake controller.

Land Use Notes
Feds and California Propose Tire Fuel Efficiency Ratings
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the State of California have issued separate proposals to establish a tire fuel efficiency rating system. The plans stem from a 2007 federal energy law and a 2003 California law mandating programs to provide consumers with information about the fuel efficiency of replacement tires. Both laws contain a SEMA provision exempting manufacturers of tires that have the same inventory control number (SKU), plant, and year, and have been produced or imported in annual units of less than 15,000. Under the federal program, tire manufacturers would be required to label their replacement tires for fuel efficiency, safety, and durability based on performance tests established by the NHTSA. Tire retailers would display a NHTSA-provided tire fuel efficiency consumer information poster. Manufacturers and retailers that have websites would need to link to a tire website that NHTSA would develop as part of a national tire maintenance consumer education program. The federal performance tests would seek to identify a tire's rolling resistance (a measurement of fuel efficiency), traction (the tire's ability to stop on wet pavement), and treadwear life. The NHTSA is required to issue a final rule by December 2009 and manufacturers would then have one year to meet all of the rule's requirements.

California is the only state that can establish a tire fuel efficiency program that is potentially more expansive than the federal program, since it was the first to enact a law. At the moment, California regulators are proposing a program that would assign a "fuel efficient tire" ranking to the top 15 percent of tires with the lowest rolling resistance within their size and load class. All other tested tires would be ranked as "tires that are not fuel-efficient." If enacted, the testing program would take effect in mid-2011. Manufacturers would also be required to report other tire information such as load index, federal Uniform Tire Quality Grading System (UTQG) rating, and speed rating. On a related note, the California Air Resources Board recently enacted a new rule requiring service stations to check tire pressure on all cars coming in for service as of July 2010. The rule covers all tires sold to replace tires that come with new passenger cars and light trucks.

Book Review:
Four Wheeler's Bible, 2nd Edition
Ever wanted to know the biggest tire you can safely run on any axle? How to calculate spring rates? What the torque yield is for every single axleshaft? How to re-gear for larger-than-stock rubber? Well, Four Wheeler's Bible, 2nd Edition, by longtime FW contributor Jim Allen, answers those questions-and a whole lot more-in authoritative detail. Spanning 256 full-color pages, this Bible has got the gospel on everything from basic off-pavement driving skills, to map reading and orienteering, to advanced winching techniques, with hundreds of mathematical and geometric formulas and diagrams included to increase your wrenching IQ. Whether you've been wheeling for decades or you're just starting out, there's something of interest in here for every wheeler, with hundreds of photos and illustrations to boot. It's available online from Amazon and other e-tailers, or via Motorbooks Workshop at

Quick Hits
* The arrival of the Mahindra pickup is now slated for early 2010. The US-spec truck is expected to look similar to the newly upgraded Australian-market version.

* Warn was recently awarded the World Excellence Award by Ford Motor Company.

* Ford to dump spark plugs? A recent report says Ford is working on a system that will replace spark plugs with lasers.

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