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February 2012 RPM Off-Road News

Posted in News on February 1, 2012
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Ram Changes for 2012
Ram Trucks has made more official announcements for 2012, including the anticipated Ram Box option on the 6-foot-4-inch bed found on heavy-duty trucks. Other previously unannounced changes include new trim levels for the Power Wagon, which include the SL model which starts at $41,625, the previously standard SLT model, which now starts at $45,565, and the luxurious Power Wagon Laramie, which starts at $51,000. The Power Wagon Laramie also deletes the Power Wagon sticker package and marks the return of the chrome “Power Wagon” lettering across the tailgate. Additionally for 2012, Ram is extending the availability of its V-8-for-the-price-of-a-V-6 Express model to include Quad and Crew Cab configurations and offering a limited run of Ram Mossy Oak Edition Outdoorsman trucks, featuring the Mossy Oak camouflage brand as a central theme.

Restless Raptor
Not happy to rest on the success of the Raptor, Ford has announced some changes for its ’12 model. Most noticeable are the new wheels, exterior graphics, and interior package. However, the changes don’t stop at the visual. Lurking just beneath the sheetmetal is a new-for-2012 front Torsion helical-style limited slip differential to compliment the any-speed rear locker and a grille-mounted front-facing video camera. The video camera, which uses the 4.2-inch navigation display, allows the driver to see what is ahead when the view is otherwise blocked. The Raptor is available in both SuperCab and SuperCrew body styles with a 5-foot-5-inch bed and Racing Red has replaced Molten Orange on the color palette.

Quick Hits

  • Recent spy photos suggest a Trailblazer replacement will make a return, using the new Colorado chassis.
  • Nissan has vowed to remain patient with the slow-selling Titan. A refreshed model is due in 2013.
  • The current Land Rover Defender may soldier on in Europe until 2017, thanks to a new diesel engine that meets more stringent EU6 emissions standards.

Colorado Is Coming
After months of speculation, GM has made it official: the next-generation Colorado will be sold in the U.S. While product details will be released at a later date, the global Colorado has already gone on sale in Thailand and in other markets. GM says the U.S.-spec version will offer attractive fuel economy and capability. Two four-cylinder diesel engines power the Colorado overseas, but it is more likely that we will see four- and six-cylinder gas engines anchoring the lineup in the U.S., with a diesel an option. Could this leverage Ford in to bringing the Ranger back? We don’t know the answer, but we’d love to see a competition and choice in the compact and midsize segments once again.

Legislative Notes
SEMA-Supported Legislation Requires Government To Study Effects of E15 Gasoline
Legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives requiring the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to seek independent scientific analysis on the effects of 15-percent-blend ethanol gasoline (E15) on vehicles and engines. The review would include an evaluation of the short- and long-term environmental, safety and performance effects of E15 on both on- and off-road vehicle engines. Last January, the EPA decided to allow the use of E15 in vehicles manufactured after 2001 based solely on a limited study by the U.S. Department of Energy. SEMA has been a strong supporter of further testing to gauge the effects of E15. SEMA opposes the introduction of E15 into the marketplace due to concerns that the additional content will harm automobiles of all ages, including special-interest collector and historic vehicles. In addition to the potential harm of E15 on engine components, the EPA has no procedure in place to ensure that misfueling does not occur or any plan for ensuring regular gasoline continues to be available for older vehicles. SEMA’s concerns have been echoed by a number of other organizations.

Another Bill Introduced in Congress To Require Online Collection of State Sales Tax
Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to require companies that sell goods via the Internet and catalogs to collect sales tax in the same manner as “brick-and-mortar” retailers. The “Marketplace Equity Act” (MEA) is similar to the “Main Street Fairness Act” introduced earlier this year. Both bills would allow states to force retailers to collect sales tax from consumers even when the companies otherwise have no physical presence in that state. The Main Street Fairness Act requires states to participate in the Streamlined Sales Tax Agreement, which sets uniform tax rules. To date, 24 states are full participants. In contrast, the MEA would set minimum federal rules and then allow states flexibility in establishing individual rules. The state would have three choices in selecting a tax rate—a single rate, a maximum state rate or a rate based on customer’s location. If the latter, the state would be required to supply tax software. Both bills authorize a “small-seller exemption.” The Main Street Fairness legislation does not set a limit but instead defers to the Streamlined Sales Tax Agreement, which currently establishes a threshold of $500,000 and below. The MEA exempts companies from collecting sales tax if they have either less than $1 million in total sales or less than $100,000 in sales in a particular state. Under a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court decision, states cannot force retailers to collect use taxes unless the company has a physical presence in the state (“nexus”). However, the Court also noted that Congress could pass legislation authorizing states to collect use taxes within the scope of interstate commerce. In lieu of the federal law, many states have expanded the definition of nexus in order to compel companies to collect taxes.

I Brake for Speed Traps
The National Motorists Association (NMA) released a list of 25 cities with the highest number of reported speed trap locations over the past two years. The speed trap locations were posted by the public on the NMA’s National Speed Trap Exchange website ( The Speed Trap Exchange identifies the specific locations of thousands of chronic speed traps in the United States and Canada. Information about each listing is enhanced by commentary from motorists who have encountered the police operations. Here are the top 10 cities had the most reported speed traps since September 1, 2009. They are ranked by speed traps per 100,000 residents.

1. Livonia, Michigan 27.9
2. Windsor, Ontario 17.6
3. Orlando, Florida 17.2
4. Las Vegas, Nevada 11.0
5. Denver, Colorado 10.9
6. Reno, Nevada 10.4
7. Tampa, Florida 8.9
8. Colorado Springs, Colorado 7.2
9. Austin, Texas 6.1
10. Sarasota, Florida 6.1

You Might Be Trailerin’
If you are a big fan of Jeff Foxworthy, you might be a redneck—and now you can camp like one too, thanks to a partnership between Livin Lite Recreational Vehicles and Foxworthy Outdoors. Livin Lite, an innovator of all-aluminum campers, offers three distinct camo-infused models to choose from, including the Quicksilver Foxworthy Edition (a soft-top, automotive tent camper) the Camplite Foxworthy Edition (a line of ultra-light all-aluminum, enclosed travel trailers that come in a variety of automotive colors), and the Foxworthy Edition Toy Haulers (an all-aluminum spacious models with rear ramp doors that can accommodate a large family and their toys). No word on whether the DVD player comes preloaded with any Foxworthy comedy routines.

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