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Drivelines - December 2013

Steve Mcqueens 1969 Chevy Truck
Drew Hardin
| Contributor
Posted October 4, 2013
Photographers: Manufacturers

The Latest Form The Industry

Tundra’s New Look for 2014
Toyota is entering a hotly competitive fullsize truck market—where it will face all-new GM rivals and Ram trucks sporting eight-speed transmissions and a light-duty diesel option—with only a facelifted Tundra for 2014. Although Toyota considers this makeover significant enough to call it the third generation, there’s nothing radically different about the Tundra beneath the fresh metal.

Tow ratings grow some, shock absorbers have been revalved to improve the ride over harsh road surfaces, and the steering system has been retuned to improve straight-line stability. A new transfer case with improved software allows shift-on-the-fly from 2-Hi to 4-Hi at speeds of up to 62 mph. Otherwise engine choices remain the same, with 4.6L and 5.7L V-8s available in 4x4 models. The regular, Double Cab and CrewMax cab configurations also carry over.

“There’s nothing radically different about the truck”

Consumer clinics indicated the styling of the previous Tundra was “too bubbly,” so the new look has sharper creases in the metal and a much bolder grille. There are five Tundra models—SR, SR5, Limited, Platinum, and the 1794 Edition—and each gets different badging and trim treatment.

The Tundra’s interior was revised as well, with an eye to making each trim level a bit different. Ergonomics were tweaked to bring radio and climate controls closer to the driver. A backup camera is now standard on all models, as is Toyota’s Entune infotainment system.

The ’14 Tundra goes on sale in September.

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New Look for 4Runner Too
Like its pickup truck cousin, Toyota’s 4Runner heads into the ’14 model year—its 30th year, believe it or not—with a new face and a redesigned interior but very little new under the skin. Toyota still offers the body-on-frame SUV in three trim levels (SR5, Limited, and Trail), and each has a little different look to set it apart from the others. The Trail models, for example, have color-keyed fenders and bumpers, while there’s more chrome in the Limited’s front end. A trailer hitch is now standard across the 4Runner lineup, as are a backup camera and the Entune infotainment system.

The 270hp 4.0L V-6 is the single engine available. The Trail model is still the four-wheeler’s choice, with Crawl Control, Multi-Terrain Select, sway bar disconnects, a locking rear diff, and a part-time transfer case that shifts with a lever. A new Premium version of the Trail model includes a moonroof, upgraded upholstery, and a premium audio system with navigation.

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Ranger to Race Dakar
Two factory-backed Ford Ranger pickups will enter the 2014 Dakar rally in January. Before you get too excited, understand that these are race trucks built from the Ranger sold overseas, not one due in America any time soon. A South African team is building the trucks with logistic support from a German company. The driver’s roster is equally diverse, containing South Africans, Germans, and South Americans.

The race trucks will be powered by 5.0L alloy V-8 engines sending 260 kW (about 350 hp) and 560 Nm (about 413 lb-ft) of torque to six-speed sequential transmissions and full-time 4WD. Top speed is estimated at 170 kph, or about 105 mph.

The next Dakar, January 5-18, is the sixth to be run in South America. It will cover about 5,300 miles through 13 competition stages, including a stage in Bolivia—a first for the event.

This Just In
Ford will offer a gaseous-fuel option on 3.7L V-6 models of the ’14 F-150, enabling those trucks to run on compressed natural gas (CNG) or pump gasoline. The package includes hardened valves, valve seats, pistons, and rings so it can operate on either fuel type through separate fuel systems.

A little over halfway through the year, Ford has a commanding lead in new truck sales over its rivals. According to Automotive News, Ford sold 427,935 F-series trucks between January and July, making it the top-selling light-duty vehicle in the country, car or truck. Chevrolet had the second most popular light vehicle in the country with 284,666 Silverados sold. Adding in the 104,215 GMC Sierras sold in that time frame can’t put GM ahead of Ford, though once production of the all-new ’14 models is fully up to speed, the General may have a shot. Ram sold 201,633 pickups in the first half of the year.

Toyota has launched a voluntary recall of some 342,000 ’04-’11 Tacoma Access Cab trucks to address a problem with the driver and front-passenger seatbelts.

Baja Social Club is a film documentary about the off-roading legends who first raced in the Mexican desert four decades ago. The film is scheduled for release this year; a trailer can be viewed on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4sprcpQx3A.

Earth Watch
Land-use and -access advocate Del Albright worries that “backcountry off-road recreation faces a critical juncture right now. Massive new wilderness bills haunt us, closures of long-standing OHV areas loom, and clubs are drifting apart in some areas with egos getting in the way of our future. It’s time for us to take charge, make some changes, and get things back on track.” To that end, Albright has compiled a plan he calls “Solutions for Saving Off-Road Recreation.” Read it at delalbright.blogspot.com/2013/07/solutions-for-saving-off-road-recreation.html.

Two years ago Ford and Toyota began a feasibility study to examine the idea of the two companies collaborating in the development of a hybrid drive system for light-duty trucks and SUVs. The results are in, and the automakers have decided to go it alone in regards to future hybrid systems.

Tread Lightly! members can apply for grants of up to $500 to help clean and maintain their local trails and off-roading areas. Visit tread lightly.org to learn more about the Cleanups by Quadratec Stewardship Grant Program.

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