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Drivelines - January 2014

Posted in News on November 12, 2013
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GM Unveils ’15 SUVs
General Motors’ new truck rollout continues. The ’14 half-ton pickup trucks just now hitting the market will soon be joined by revamped versions of the Chevy Tahoe and Suburban, and GMC Yukon and Yukon XL. On sale in the first quarter of 2014 as ’15 models, these new SUVs share some mechanical components with the Silverado and Sierra—including their drivelines—but no sheetmetal is common between the trucks and SUVs.

The EcoTec3 5.3L V-8 will be standard equipment in all four SUVs, while Denali models of the Yukon and XL will be available with the 6.2L EcoTec3 V-8. The frames of all four SUVs have been strengthened and their tracks widened to improve stability. Chevy LTZs and GMC Denalis will be fitted with the latest generation of magnetic ride control, which “reads” road conditions and can adjust damping levels in milliseconds.

"No sheetmetal is common between the trucks and SUVs"

Inside, rear-seat passengers get 2 more inches of legroom, and the second- and third-row seats now fold flat to better accommodate cargo.

Initial trailering specs show the 4WD Tahoe and Yukon can tow up to 8,300 pounds; the 4WD Suburban and Yukon XL 8,000; the AWD Yukon Denali 8,100; and the AWD Yukon XL Denali 7,800.

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This Just In
Automotive News recently published its annual crystal ball–gazing future product reports and turned up several interesting tidbits. Among them:

• There are plans for a “baby” Wrangler, but it sounds like a crossover vehicle, as it will be built in Italy with Fiat 500X models. The standard Wrangler is due for a revision for 2016, when it could get a diesel engine option.

• The next-generation F-150, due next year, is going on a serious diet with extensive use of aluminum in its construction. Also look for a new “Nano” V-6 engine. The truck will reportedly look a lot like the Atlas concept truck.

• A luxury ’15 Grand Wagoneer is coming to compete with the likes of the Cadillac Escalade and Lexus LX models.

• Along with a Titan redesign, Nissan is freshening its compact trucks. Changes to the Frontier pickup and Xterra SUV are expected for 2015.

• GM will reintroduce the compact Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups in the fall of 2014. A year after launch, a 2.5L or 2.8L four-cylinder Duramax turbodiesel will become available as an option.

• Expect to pay more for these new trucks than ever before. According to a study by TrueCar Incorporated, the average transaction price for a new vehicle this summer was $31,252, a record high.

• We keep hearing rumors that Toyota is going to stop making the FJ Cruiser, but the FJ will continue for at least another year. There are no changes for 2014, although a new Trail Teams special edition will be available early in 2014.

New Euro Wrangler
Jeep unveiled a new limited-edition Wrangler Polar Edition at the Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany. Most of the accessories are cosmetic: special Hydro Blue paint, gloss-painted wheels, and a body-color hardtop. As we read the press release we were reminded that in Europe the standard Wrangler powertrain consists of a torquey 2.8L turbodiesel, while the Pentastar V-6 is an option.

Diesel for Next Titan
Soon the Ram 1500 won’t be the only light-duty pickup on the market with a diesel engine option. Nissan is working on a much-needed update for its Titan fullsize pickup. The next-generation Titan will be available with a Cummins turbodiesel. The 5.0L V-8 will produce more than 300 hp, says Nissan, with pound-feet of torque peaking in the mid-500 range.

Little else is known about the new Titan—not even the on-sale date—though Nissan has said it will “add powertrain options and cab-and-box configurations to broaden the appeal of the new truck when it comes to market.” Diesel is one part of the puzzle; there could also be a regular-cab version (the truck is now King and Crew Cab) and possibly a V-6 engine option, both of which could put the truck on the radar of commercial users and buyers looking for a more economical version of the truck.

Nissan is touting the new Titan’s made-in-the-USA roots. The truck was designed at Nissan’s Southern California studio, is being tested in Michigan and Arizona, and will be built in Mississippi. The Cummins engines will be built in Indiana, while gas engines will be assembled in Tennessee.

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Earth Watch
• Laws allowing modifications to truck exhaust systems vary from state to state, and keeping up with those laws so you don’t get a ticket can be difficult. The SEMA Action Network has compiled state-by-state exhaust laws on its website (

• Jeep has renewed its partnership with Tread Lightly! for the 23rd year in a row. The land-use advocacy organization reminds members that they are eligible to buy any Chrysler vehicle at up to 1 percent below factory invoice through the Chrysler Affiliate Rewards program.

There’s an App for That
GMC has developed a new trailering app, available through the iTunes store, to help truck owners (and buyers) safely tow with their trucks. The app includes trailering tips, power and weight ratings, a prep checklist, and even a glossary of trailering terms.

STX Returns to F-150 Lineup
Ford has brought back the value-oriented STX trim level for the ’14 F-150 pickup. Slotted in the truck’s lineup between XL and XLT models, the STX bundles equipment not normally found on the entry-level trucks, including 17-inch aluminum wheels, power accessories (door locks, windows, and so on), A/C, cruise control, and a body-colored front bumper fascia. Look for STX models to start under $30,000; 4WD models will be pricier.

New GM Pickups Ace Crash Test
The ’14 Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra earned a five-star overall vehicle score for safety following crash testing done by the NHTSA—the first pickup trucks to do so. Testing was done on crew cab models only, which GM expects will make up 60 percent of the new truck’s sales.

Rampage to Return?
Dodge phased out the midsize Dakota pickup in 2011, citing a lack of demand for smaller pickups. But a future product report in trade journal Automotive News said the automaker may get back into the compact truck game for fuel economy reasons, with a small truck that would resurrect the old Rampage name. The earliest this truck would appear is 2016, says AN, and could be a unibody vehicle with a truck bed, a configuration similar to the Honda Ridgeline. Could it look like this ’06 concept truck, also called Rampage? Time will tell.

Across the USA— on Dirt
A team from Land Rover has driven across the continental U.S. and done it totally off-road. Land Rover driving instructor Tom Collins led a convoy of three Land Rover LR4s, all stock vehicles with the exception of winches and roof racks, across the Trans-America Trail, a motorcycle trail created by Mississippi adventure motorcyclist Sam Correro. The group left from Land Rover’s driving school in Asheville, North Carolina, and drove to Port Orford, Oregon. The 4,300-mile trip took 27 days. 4WOR staffer Harry Wagner joined the group for the Rocky Mountain section and will be sharing the details in our March issue.

New Rubicon X, Freedom Edition Wranglers
The Jeep Wrangler isn’t getting any major revisions for 2014, but a new version of the Rubicon, the Rubicon X, will be available in both Wrangler and Unlimited body styles. The Rubicon X is built with a winch-capable front bumper (which also has removable end caps), a Power-Dome hood, red towhooks, and Mopar rock rails. Mechanically the Rubicon X shares equipment with the standard Rubicon, including its Rock-Trac 4:1 transfer case, front and rear lockers, and BFGoodrich KM 255/75R17 tires mounted on 17-inch Rubicon aluminum wheels, although the X model’s wheels are painted satin black with polished faces.

Jeep is also bringing back the Freedom Edition. Based on the Sport and offered with special paint and graphics inside and out, the Freedom Edition will benefit our servicemen and -women, as Jeep will donate $250 from the sale of each to the USO as part of the Jeep Operation Safe Return initiative.

Pricing Set for ’14 Tacoma, 4Runner
Toyota has managed to keep prices for the ’14 Tacoma pickup truck nearly the same as the ’13. Across the lineup, pricing rose just four-tenths of a percent, averaging about $100. The base 4x4 regular cab now starts at $21,725, while the double-cab V-6 longbeds start at $28,285. Both prices exclude delivery charges.

Little is new for the Taco for 2014. A new SR appearance package includes body-colored exterior pieces (fender flares, bumpers, door handles, and so on) and foglights. The Entune infotainment package gets an upgrade. The display for the backup camera has moved from the rearview mirror to the head unit on the instrument panel.

The redesigned 4Runner, which we talked about in detail last month, sees prices rise from 4 to 6 percent, though the Trail model (the one with all the good off-roading gear) is actually cheaper by 4 percent. Trail models start at $35,725; a base 4Runner SR5 4x4 is $34,695; and the Limited 4x4 model is $43,400.

• Dec. 6-8: Henderson 250 desert race, Henderson, NV, by Best in the Desert.

• Dec. 7: Getting Started Off-Road Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Hungry Valley SVRA, Gorman, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047,

• Dec. 7-8: Adventures in Off-Road Driving Level 1 instruction by Off-Road Experience, Fernley/Lovelock, NV.
Info: 925.606.8301,

• Dec. 8: Tire repair/Hi-Lift Mini Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Hawthorne, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047,

• Dec. 13: Off-Road Night at the Iron Horse Bar & Grill, Ventura, CA.
Info: 805.477.0783,

• Dec. 13-15: Rage at the River desert race by SNORE, Laughlin, NV.

• Dec. 14: Getting Started Off-Road Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Borrego Springs, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047,

• Dec 14: Wheelin’ 4 Toys by Brush Beater Jeep Club, Kansas Rocks, near Mapleton, KS.

• Dec. 15: Advanced Beginner Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Borrego Springs, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047,

• Dec. 28-30: New Year’s Eve Fire and Ice Run and Bonfire, Superlift ORV Park, Hot Springs, AR.
Info: 501.625.3600,

• Note: If you have a 4WD event you want us to publicize, please send the date, location, a description of the event, and contact info—phone numbers and/or email/website address—to Calendar, 4-Wheel & Off-Road magazine, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245; fax 818.566.8501; email Please submit your info at least four months in advance of the event due to our press lead times.

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