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September 2012 RPM Off-Road Truck News

Posted in News on September 1, 2012
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That’s Interesting
The Jeep Wrangler is the Official Vehicle of USA Basketball. You know, because running back and forth across the court is so last year.

The bifuel ’13 Silverado and Sierra HDs will be priced $11,000 over base models. The 6.0L V-8 runs on gas as well as compressed natural gas.

Ford is thinking about using cash as a sustainable material for its vehicles’ interior trays and bins. No, that isn’t to show off its lack of bailout assistance. As an alternative to petroleum-based products, paper currency that’s out of service and has been shredded has the potential to be used.

Cadillac’s Super Cruise isn’t, say, some totally super cruise ship or some totally super cruise night or some totally super Tom Cruise. It’s semiautonomous technology in the departments of steering, braking, and lane-centering. “The system could be ready for production vehicles by mid-decade,” said Cadillac. “Have mercy on our souls,” said Four Wheeler.

Remember Carmageddon, when the 405 freeway was shut down in Los Angeles and authorities told everyone to run screaming to their panic room with canned goods? Turns out the city seemed to have a baby boom nine months later.

Ferrari’s Facebook page had more than 8 million likes when we went to press. Have you liked Four Wheeler yet? Surely we’re better than Ferrari.

Demand is so high for EcoBoost V-6 engines, Ford has added a third shift where they are built.

AAA released its annual “Your Driving Costs” study (aka how much you’re paying to drive), which factors in fuel, maintenance, depreciation, insurance, registration, and a couple of other realities. By the way, AAA has been putting out this study since 1950, when it was determined that driving a car 10,000 miles each year cost 9 cents per mile. For 2012, AAA determined it’s 59.6 cents per mile, based upon 15,000 miles annually.

The research pointed to almost 70 percent of those polled picking an engine 1.3L or smaller for their first vehicle. They did not survey Americans, clearly.

What kids want: research between Chevy and MTV Scratch (um?) surveyed more than 3,000 Millennials to learn that 69 percent believe buying a car is a major milestone on the road to adulthood, while 32 percent are interested in cars and 77 percent think about fuel economy. No percentage available on how many think “16 and Pregnant” is an awesome TV show.

More studying: found that in 2011, females headed for small, fuel-efficient cars as a purchase, while males wanted large trucks and SUVs. That’s news?

Another: USAA found that troops coming off deployment had 13 percent more at-fault accidents compared to before deployment. Losing control of the vehicle was the most common. It also found that once they’d been home for six months and readjusted to life on American roads, the rate of accidents declined.

And one more for the cheap seats: A report by the Society of Automotive Engineers claims that turn-signal neglect is a big ol’ problem. Observing 12,000 vehicles, it was discovered that 48 percent of drivers didn’t bother to signal when it came to changing lanes, and 25 percent skipped it in turns.

Random Quote:
“We’ve got the oldest truck in the game. I think we could use something stronger.”
—Texas dealer Rox Covert, who has around four months’ worth of fullsizes at his two Chevy and two GMC stores, according to Automotive News. Rox Covert (not his porn name) likes only about three months’ supply. And he’d like the all-new versions to arrive now.

Is It True?
The all-new GMC Sierra will have a 3.6L V-6 and turbocharged 3.0L V-6?

Purchases of new vehicles with manual transmissions are on the rise?

A University in Germany is working on a smart tire that would shape-shift on the fly based on a change in weather or terrain?

The new land speed world record for fastest toilet is 46 mph? There was a previous record?

Another Random Quote:
“We’re talking to basically every car company to see what their level of excitement is and how do we work with them.”
—Google Project Manager Anthony Levandowski, to The Detroit News, about offering self-driving technology

What Stops an Avalanche? Itself
Remember 2001? Yes, the year we met the ’02 Chevy Avalanche. Remember 2012? Yes, the year we said, nice to have met you Avalanche, now don’t let the door hit you in the tailgate. This is the final year of production, and it’s going out in…style? Sure, you could say that—there’s a special edition: The ’13 Black Diamond Avalanche model will have unique badging, body-colored parts, and more offerings available on the LS and LT. And there’s basically a going out of business sale—pricing has been reduced across the Avalanche lineup.

Avalanche Things to Know
More than 580,000 were sold

An Avalanche transported the Olympic flame in the torch relay before the ’02 Olympic Winter Games

It was redesigned for 2007

A Z71 version won Four Wheeler of the Year in 2007

Most Annoying 4x4s
Which 4x4 do you think is the most annoying in 4x4 history? Come on over to Four Wheeler’s Facebook page and tell us which and why. These are our which and why:

Brubaker: Chevy Trailblazer: Every time I see one I’m reminded that the nameplate began life as an upscale trim package on the awesome S-10 Blazer. I can understand GM wanting to pirate cool stuff from the successful and impressive S-10, but c’mon, they stuck the nameplate on a vehicle that is longer, wider, and taller than an S-10, and in my opinion not as good off-road. Heck, ya couldn’t even get a ZR2-style package on the Trailblazer. Lift kits are limited, too. And what’s up with that ginormous muffler clearly visible on the back end?

Cappa: Hummer H2: When it first came out, all the wanna-be ballers that couldn’t afford a Hummer H1 bought in to the hype and thought they had themselves an unusually capable 4x4 for a third of the price. What they really got was a shoebox rebodied GM Tahoe that would puke its front diff and tie-rods on any slightly difficult hillclimb. The pinnacle of stupidity was when you could find online H2 forums claiming the H2 was more capable than a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. Good riddance.

Holman: S-10 Blazer: The S-10 Blazer, introduced in 1983, was a K5 wannabe in a smaller package and without the removable roof (although rust would remove some of it over time). Like the pickups they were based on, the first generation S-10 Blazers were so bad, they came from the factory with one of two 4WD actuation systems that were already broken and a level of quality pioneered by overseas sweatshops. The IFS front suspension rode more like a solid axle without shocks and the “upgraded” 2.8L V-6 engine could lose a drag race against molasses. Going up hill. While getting worse fuel economy. But, if mileage was your gig, they also offered an anemic 1.9L Isuzu diesel that reminded you why the first three letters in diesel are “DIE”. When was the last time you saw one on the trail? Enough said.

What’s Happening In The Industry
Car builder and way-more-than-just-a-footnote-in-automotive-history, Carroll Shelby, has passed away at age 89.

Mickey Thompson has added new sizes to its Baja MTZ Radial mud-tire lineup.

Hot Rod magazine (hey, that’s our sister we’re talking about!) has just been upgraded to Defcon 2—in the good way. The brand is relaunching, including an all-new magazine and an all-new, plus there’s now a Hot Rod Then & Now app for iPad. “Hot Rod TV on Speed” and “Hot Rod Live Radio” will continue as spin-offs of the magazine. Check it all out. We did and dug it.

Hi Mopar! Welcome to the same age as Grandpappy, 75.

The Edelbrock Performance Academy at Ohio Technical College has opened. It’s about learning to tune hi-po stuff. A+.

eBay Motors says that 173,000-and-counting parts and accessories sell each week through its mobile apps.

Jeeps and Jeep
There’s a new limited-edition Wrangler Unlimited, Grand Cherokee, Compass, and Patriot, and its name should be familiar if you read last month’s RPM, in which we mentioned names under consideration for a blacked-out Grand concept. Anyway, the Facebook has spoken, and the winning name is: Altitude. A blacked-out theme about covers it for the latter three. The Wrangler Unlimited, however, also has a body-colored hardtop and 18-inch rims with black spokes. There’s more stuff for the extra bucks for this model, but…eh. You got the gist.

Now, those models you can get. However, the Mighty FC Concept is a Mopar-inspired/Forward Control hybrid of a lengthened ’12 Wrangler Rubicon with the cabin moved ahead of the front axle. That’s a roof from the Mopar JK-8 conversion kit and custom front clip. Spot the portal axles? They’re newly available from Mopar. The Mighty FC is not.

Your Government At Work
Were you wondering what happens to mine-resistant vehicles after they’ve done their tour of duty? Great question, reader. According to, about 20,000 MRAP types will be coming back from Afghanistan and Kuwait, with the Army thinking it will repair and update them, then lock them in storage for TBD future usage. Some people are peeved, as these cost a bloody fortune and might now collect bloody dust.

“There is actually a regulatory doughnut hole.” That’s NHTSA Administrator David Strickland, according to Automotive News, regarding the fact that, oops, no one is sure which government agency is allowed to set laws regarding distracted driving and mobile phone use.

Road-rage bill in New Jersey—Jessica’s Law has passed, ensuring road-rage prosecution is a third-degree crime.

The Hawaii state legislature has approved July 13, 2012 as Collector Car Appreciation Day, which the SEMA Action Network helped designate as a national day commemorating auto restoration and collection. So, you either just missed the celebration or need to hurry up and buy party favors, depending on when you are reading this. Check for events near you.

Project Hexapod
This rideable 135hp propane-fueled (forklift engine) hexapod robot is named Stompy. It’s hydraulically powered and weighs 2,500 pounds. The distance between the centers of its two middle legs is 17 feet. It’s the byproduct of Robotics Intensive: Rideable Hexapod, a 4-month course in which students design, manufacture, and program a rideable hexapod robot. Stompy is the third Artisan’s Asylum (a nonprofit community craft studio in Massachusetts) “house robot.” The purpose of the course and robot is for students to learn they are designed and built. And, obviously, how to be cooler than you.

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