Buyers of the '11 Jeep Wrangler will benefit from a much-needed interior refreshening, along with a couple of other notable updates, such as redesigned hardtops with larger window openings and a body-color option on Sahara models. The significantly upgraded and now quieter interior boasts higher quality materials, more storage, and a console-mounted 110-volt outlet, as well as locker and sway-bar disconnect switches that are placed higher up on the dash. The steering wheel is now shared with the Grand Cherokee and has steering wheel controls to operate various vehicle functions. Changes to the MyGIG media system include streaming Bluetooth audio, a new USB interface, and for the first time, the Wrangler will offer heated power mirrors. Other detail touches include "Since 1941" being embossed on the passenger-side grab handle. Running gear is carried over until 2012, when the 3.6L Pentastar V-6 replaces the current 3.8L V-6.
TRX4 Goes Outdoors
Ram has announced that the TRX4 off-road package has been renamed on all Ram 1500s as the Outdoorsman. And for the first time, the heavy-duty trucks get the same dedicated off-road package as the 1/2-ton. Rather than catering to wheelers, Ram is targeting the Outdoorsman models as a package for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you check off the Outdoorsman package on the 1500 or HD trucks, you'll get standard trailer towing and lighting upgrades, as well as skidplates and all-terrain tires, along with a limited-slip differential and two-tone paint. The Ram Box is optional on the 1500 models and can be upgraded with the new Ram Box Holster option to securely carry either long guns or fishing rods.
Toyota Revises Tow Ratings
Without any changes, the '11 Toyota Tundra is now rated to tow less than its 2010 counterpart. Toyota is one of the first manufacturers to begin certifying its trucks using a Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) towing standard known as J2807, or "Performance Requirements for Determining Tow Vehicle Gross Combination Weight Ratings and Trailer Weight Ratings." Starting in 2013, all manufacturers are required to switch to this standard so that consumers can directly compare tow ratings from each manufacturer. What this means is a more realistic picture of truck capability for consumers. As for the Tundra, the biggest change comes for the four-wheel drive 5.7L CrewMax, which is down 1,100 pounds to 9,000. Four-wheel-drive regular cabs will only see a 400-pound change to 10,100, while Double Cabs will now be rated at 500 pounds less, or 9,800 pounds.
T|X Your Taco
Available on a limited basis, the new Toyota T|X and T|X Pro Packages can be added to a Tacoma V-6 Access Cab or V6 Double Cab on both 4x2 PreRunner and 4x4s equipped with the TRD Off-Road Package. The T|X Package gives the Tacoma a more sinister look with TRD 16-inch black alloy bead-lock wheels and 265/70R16 BFGoodrich Rugged Trail tires. Black tube side steps, a stainless-steel exhaust tip, and unique exterior graphics give the T|X the look of a custom truck, but at a special value. The MSRP of the T|X Package is $1,699, a savings of $754 compared to the package items ordered as separate options. The T|X Pro Package adds a TRD cat-back performance exhaust system to give the V-6 a throatier sound and a bit more power, and carries an MSRP of $1,699, representing a savings of $720 versus the package contents added as separate accessories. Both T|X and T|X Pro packages are covered under the three-year/36,000-mile comprehensive vehicle limited warranty.
FAST-Aid to the Rescue
In August 2010, our tight-knit wheeling community suffered a tragedy when a race truck went off course at the Mojave Desert Racing California 200, killing eight spectators and injuring many more. FAST-Aid-a non-profit organization geared towards providing financial, educational, and personal assistance to injured racers, support teams, and their families and ensures that the necessary support is in place to complete a thorough recovery and rehabilitation from motor sports racing incidents-immediately stepped in and organized a relief fund to help victims of the tragedy. As of this writing, FAST-Aid, with the help of countless individuals, as well as corporate donors, such as Mango Racing and 4-Wheel Parts, have raised over $100,000. The funds will be used to help in funeral costs, medical bills, expenses that need to be paid as a result of lost work, and to help set up trust funds for the children on the tragedy. FAST-Aid also assists those directly involved by helping to arrange counseling to prevent possible Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other long-term psychological effects of this tragic accident. To donate specifically to help the California 200 casualties, please go to www.fast-aid.org/california-200.html. One hundred percent of the funds received will be applied to assisting their families in this difficult time and donations are tax-deductible.
- Mahindra has finally gotten EPA approval to sell light-duty diesel pickups in the U.S.
- The new Dodge Durango, which is based on the Jeep Grand Cherokee will eschew four-wheel drive in favor of all-wheel drive in order to keep the mission of the similar vehicles separate.
- Rumors are that the next generation of GM's large SUVs will continue the tradition of body-on-frame construction.
Wilderness Bills Pending in Congress
Wilderness bills can vary in size and impact on the hobby. The following are wilderness bills currently in Congress that could dramatically reshape the face of OHV recreation.
Northern Rockies: The "Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act" (H.R. 980) invents the term "Northern Rockies Bioregion" and then uses it as the reason to outlaw any motorized activity on nearly 24 million acres of land in five states (Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Wyoming) using the wilderness designation.
Utah: More than one-sixth of Utah would be off-limits to any form of motorized recreation if Congress approves H.R. 1925, "America's Red Rock Wilderness Act of 2009." The bill would designate 9.4 million acres of land in Utah as "wilderness." Most of the 168 co-sponsors of the legislation represent areas east of the Rockies.
Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act (S. 3294): 330,000 acres of land in Idaho.
Colorado Wilderness Act (H.R. 4289): 34 areas totaling 850,000 acres in Colorado.
San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act (H.R. 3914; S. 2762): 44,000 acres in southwestern Colorado.
Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Wilderness Act (S. 1689): 272,000 acres in New Mexico.
Cerro Del Yuta Wilderness and Rio San Antonio Wilderness (S. 874): 236,000 acres near Taos, New Mexico.
Forest Jobs and Recreation Act (S. 1470): Sets aside 600,000 acres while protecting timber harvesting in Montana.
Devil's Staircase Wilderness Act (S. 1272; H.R. 2888): 30,000 acres in Oregon.
Tony Dean Cheyenne River Valley Conservation Act (S. 3310): 50,000 acres in South Dakota.
Tennessee Wilderness Act (S. 3470): 20,000 acres near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee.
While these bills have not yet been passed, other wilderness bills have resulted in real trails being closed to OHV enthusiasts. Some examples of areas where off-road recreation is no longer permitted are:
Canaan Mountain Sawmill Road, Utah: The road was built around the turn of the last century for access to a sawmill at the top of Canaan Mountain in Utah near the Arizona border. For decades, it had been a popular recreation route with spectacular vistas of the Grand Staircase and Arizona Strip. In 2009, Congress included the Canaan Mountain Wilderness, along with nearly 160 other measures, in the Omnibus Public Land Management Act. As a result, OHV access was then outlawed on nearly 2.2 million acres of new wilderness in nine states when the law took effect in March 2009.
Dickshooter Ridge Road, Idaho: About 17 miles of road on Dickshooter Ridge between Battle and Deep Creeks was closed when the Owyhee Canyonlands Wilderness was created in southwest Idaho as a result of the 2009 law. The road offered spectacular views of vertical walled gorges and vistas of the surrounding desert plateaus. The road was named after Dick Shooter, who established a homestead there and was the original route that old-timers used to travel from Silver City to Salt Lake and the Humboldt (Nevada) area.
Lonstine River Road, Oregon: The popular road south of Lonstine, Oregon, would be closed if Congress passes the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act. The legislation invents the term "Northern Rockies Bioregion" as the reason to outlaw any motorized activity on nearly 24 million acres of land in five States (Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Wyoming). Bill sponsors want to create the Eagle Cap Wilderness and close the road within the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.