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April 2013 RPM - Automotive News

Posted in News on April 1, 2013
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That’s Interesting
The ’13 Nissan Titan will start at $31,670 for the S King Cab 4x4, working its way up to a starting price of $37,040 for the King Cab PRO-4X.

Ram’s got a new commercial truck division, with an eye toward development, sales, and support.

The all-new ’13 Range Rover is a full-aluminum-bodied dealio, so definitely don’t put it in the microwave. There’s the new fully auto Land Rover Terrain Response, a 5.0L V-8, a redesign, and an adaptive suspension system.

The ’13 Chevy Silverado now has StabiliTrack combined with an integrated trailer sway control.

Ford Racing has a new global identifier for its competitors in worldwide contingency programs: a black/blue stripe.

Nearly 80 percent of new-vehicle buyers use the Internet while shopping. J.D. Power and Associates says so.

J.D. Power and Associates also says that according to its own 2012 U.S. Sales Satisfaction Index Study, which measures the new-vehicle-purchase customer satisfaction level, Lexus came out on top for luxo brands. In the not-so-luxo department, Jeep hit the bottom. Sitting between Jeep and Ram was Mitsubishi.

Speaking of, the top Kelley Blue Book Best Resale Value award named the Jeep Wrangler No. 1 in the top ten models. Guess customer satisfaction comes only when it’s a used Wrangler? The Toyota FJ Cruiser and Tacoma rounded out the top three. offers the Ultimate Hot Rodder’s Garage Package, including an engine crane, jackstands, and tiles for $89,999. Oh, and there’s a Shelby Cobra Replica, too. surveyed vehicle owners about what they named their ride. The top name? Beast. Some of the others? Penny. Betsy. Lucy. And, really, Big Red? Creativity fail.

Bigfoot Is Now Electric
It was bound to happen—we now have the first-ever battery-powered monster truck, Bigfoot. No. 20 is the first electric one in history, with 36 Odyssey car batteries providing juice (360 volts). There’s also a DC electric motor (for 800 lb-ft of torque). There are custom driveshafts, heavy-duty ZF planetary axles, 66-inch Firestone flotation tires, eight nitrogen-charged racing shocks, custom limiting straps, and oodles more. But the point is, it’s library-quiet now. And that whole green thing.

Is It True?
Jeep Grand Cherokee? 3.0L V-6 diesel? Eight-speed auto trans? 240 horses and 420 lb-ft of torque? Coming early 2013? Finally?

It’s for a vehicle we don’t care about, but seriously? Ford is using Tupac Shakur to pimp the ’13 Fusion?

Paris is going to ban vehicles 17 years and older from driving in some areas because of emissions issues?

A charbroiled burger puts out more particular matter than ’07-’10 clean-diesel trucks? Claims a study by the University of California-Riverside?

Underground F-150 SVT Raptors are going for nearly $160,000 in China? Maybe Ford should sell them there?

A Ram Power Wagon in 1500 skin?

The Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Michigan is now closed?

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition
As you might expect, with the Rubicon turning 1-0, a special edition is in our midst: the ’13 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition, to be very specific. It’s available in the spring and will include a ½-inch increase in ride height over the “regular” Rubicon, special bumpers, Mopar rock rails, and, as you’d expect, loads of 10th anniversary badging. There’s also an available “anniversary red” leather interior. Hey, don’t mock what would match perfectly with the 10th’s red tow hooks.

Your Government at Work
Did you know the Michigan state senate gave a thumbs-up to August 2012 as Automotive Heritage Month? Now you know; note it and begin planning accordingly.

Hey, did you also know Pennsylvania approved June 5, 2012 as Pennsylvania Motorsports Day? Can we keep this coming?

The SEMA Action Network and its supporters helped stop legislation in New York that would have put a progressive purchase surcharge on some new vehicles based on state calculations of carbon emissions. It could have resulted in you paying up to $2,500 more for a vehicle.

There’s a bill floating around in the House of Reps that would allow low-volume car manufacturers to build some specialty vehicles nationwide. A regulatory structure would be put in place for the vehicles that would include replica street rods, customs, and more typically used in exhibitions and such.

GM Aiming To Improve Tire Technology
GM engineers and scientists are hooking up to research how to make tires better. The new National Tire Research Center in Virginia (to which GM donated $5 mil) has state-of-the-art performance machinery that will provide data to help improve tire design, make them more adaptable to various terrain, and improve vehicle dynamics. The crown jewel of the center is the Flat-Trac LTRe, which can run a tire up to 200 mph and provide info such as braking and torque on various surfaces.

Random Quote:
“Driving a car actively demonstrates to potential rescue dog adopters that you can teach an old dog new tricks. The dogs have achieved amazing things in eight short weeks of training, which really shows with the right environment just how much potential all dogs from the SPCA have as family pets.”
—Christine Kalin, SPCA Auckland CEO, to The New Zealand Herald; Three dogs have been getting driving lessons in New Zealand

What’s Happening in the Industry
My Ford Garage—loads of Ford-licensed stuff with the Blue Oval. Check it out at

Chevy and Disney have teamed up for a virtual kind of experience at Epcot Florida. Test Track allows you to pretend to be a vehicle designer, wherein you can use computer technology, put your design on a test rack, and race it in extreme conditions (the virtual kind of extreme).

Download the Bosch Parts Finder app from the App Store. And soon from Amazon. It provides part numbers, photos, tech, and features. For Bosch things, if you were unclear.

Have you seen Ford’s consumer site, Ford Social ( You can post ideas for Ford to read, pics of your Ford, and read all the news and inside scoop straight from the Blue Oval itself.

What Are the Worst Tires Ever?
In this issue is the story “Choosing Wisely” about which tires we think are the best. But what about the worst rubber? Come on over to Four Wheeler’s Facebook page ( and tell us your thoughts! These are our picks:

Brubaker: Back in the ’80s, a friend gave me a set of well-used Flot-Trac RV tires. They actually worked pretty well on the rock and dirt trails in Colorado and South Dakota, and fairly well on the paved road. However, they were a handful on snowy roads. After one trip on snow I pulled ’em off and threw on a set of radial street tires.

Cappa: Super Swamper Thornbird, hands down. It was designed mostly for the street, like the old Dick Cepek Silent Giant. Both tires are ugly and don’t work very well off-road.

Mansour: The Interco Thornbird. It’s basically the automotive equivalent of a mullet. Sure, it may look like it’s a good time tire, but a quick trip down the trail and you’ll realize that this hillbilly M/T is all show and no go. FW

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