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May 1998 RPM - Off-Road Truck News

Isuzu Trooper Front Three Quarter
Posted May 1, 1998

Reviews, Previews and Miscellaneous

4x4 High-Technology Update
Last month, we gave a little information about the vehicles and their technology coming later this year and next ("Previews for 1998, '99 and Beyond"). Since then, we've learned a few more details.

The word is the '99 Land Rover Discovery will offer a longer wheelbase and include an electronic Hill Descent Control (HDC), now offered on the (Europe- and Australia-only) Land Rover Freelander. The system can be activated by pulling a collar on a gear knob to enlist electronically controlled braking pressure to keep speeds down on steep descents. In addition, a driver-operated, variable-rate swaybar control will allow the axles and suspension to loosen up when entering a trail-by flipping a switch-then tighten back up for cornering on pavement. Thus far, it has not been described as a mechanical "disconnect," a'la the new (non-U.S.) Nissan Patrol.

Also worthy of attention, the new Isuzu Trooper (and its upscale twin Acura SLX) has a completely new transfer case, called Torque On Demand (TOD). The Borg-Warner 44-22 transfer case has its own separate computer to take inputs from each wheel, transmission, and engine, as well as the center differential. All this information allows the transfer case to virtually eliminate under- and oversteer conditions by precisely distributing torque through the front and rear driveshafts. And it can take readings (and adjust!) thousands of times a second. The system allows for a part-time (two-wheel drive) mode, a full-time (TOD) mode, and a locked-center-differential low-range (4-Lo). Shift-on-the-fly capability is provided by an electromagnetic clutch plate in the front axle (very similar to the Mitsubishi Montero) that will match the spinning axle's speed when shifted into TOD.

1998 Four Wheeler Of The Year
Newly appointed President of Chrysler Corporation, Tom Stalkamp, gets more good news as John Stewart, Vice President and Editorial Director of Four Wheeler, presents the 1998 Four Wheeler of the Year Award to the Dodge Durango. The presentation was made at an informal ceremony during the 1998 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. The 5.9-liter Dodge Durango narrowly edged out the strong-running Jeep Grand Cherokee 5.9 Limited and five other new-for-'98 trucks. See last February's issue of Four Wheeler for more details.

Shooting Aros At The Bull's-Eye
"This is the most rugged and dependable small four-wheel drive sold," says Catalin Tutunaru, Chief Engineer at ARO. Born in the same small town at the base of the Carpathian Mountains where ARO 24s are built, Catalin knows the newly imported compact 4x4 in every detail. And although he knows he has an uphill battle to wage, he's confident its military lineage (along with over 170 dealers around the country) will help it do battle with the competition.

For those looking for more information, here's what we have: the front independent suspension uses a coilover, MacPherson strut-type setup, while the rear has a five-leaf spring pack mounted on top of the live axle. The part-time Borg-Warner transfer case offers a 2.48:1 low-range, employing a Ford Explorer-type dash-mounted dial rotary switch, which includes "4x2," "4x4 High," and "4x4 Low" settings (no Neutral). As one might expect, the ARO is ready to be towed, with the factory recommending hubs unlocked, a 4x2 setting, key on, and transmission (auto or manual) in Neutral.

The engine will be a 3.0-liter (3.50-inch bore, 3.14 stroke) overhead-valve V-6, reaching 145 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 162 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,500. Ground clearance at the rear differential is reported to be 9.5 inches on 245/70R15 tires, with plenty of room, we're told, for larger 265s in the fenderwells. In addition, ARO will offer a Safari Package, including a roof rack, lightbar, hard exterior spare tire cover, side steps, bigger tires, and lens guards. Base-model ARO 24s (all are four-wheel drive) list for $12,997, while Safari-equipped AROs will run under $17,000. For information concerning a dealer near you, contact 888/ARO-4BY4 or find them at

Win A Jeep At Gravelrama
Yet again, the fun-loving Mid-Western I.O.K. Four Wheelers are giving away a Jeep at the 28th Annual Gravelrama in Cleves, Ohio. The Jeep in question (pictured) is a stock '89 YJ-Straight Six, five-speed manual-just begging for some mods. The drawing will take place on the final day of Gravelrama (August 30, 1998), and the lucky ticket holder need not be present to win. Tickets are $1 each, seven for $5, and fifteen for $10. To request your chance to win, contact the I.O.K. 4-Wheelers, Jeep Raffle, Dept. FW, P.O. Box 36, Cleves, OH 45002. The winner will be responsible for all taxes, fees, and license.

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