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Drivelines - February 2014

Posted in News on December 25, 2013
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Photographers: Manufacturers

Let the Heavy-Duty Wars Begin!
The calendar says it’s not quite 2014 yet, but GM and Ford are already duking it out for heavy-duty pickup supremacy in the ’15 model year. (Yes, Ram has a new HD truck too, but as a ’14 model it’s sooo this year. Yawn.) Here’s how the battle lines are shaping up.

2015 Silverado/ Sierra HD
GM is wasting no time following up its ’14 light-duty pickup launch with new 2500 and 3500 models, which will go on sale in the first quarter of 2014. Like the 1500s, these big boys have new sheetmetal in regular, double, and crew cab configurations; redesigned interiors; new connectivity systems; and newly designed beds (in 6-foot 6-inch and 8-foot lengths) with accessories that include LED lighting and CornerStep bumpers. Interestingly, these trucks are not equipped with the biggest of the new EcoTec3 engines and instead carry on with the 6.0L gas V-8 (rated 360 hp for 2500s, 322 hp for 3500s, and 380 lb-ft for both) or 6.6L Duramax turbodiesel (397 hp, 765 lb-ft). Both are backed by six-speed automatics. A bi-fuel (gas and CNG) version of the 6.0 will be available too.

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StabiliTrak and trailer sway control are now standard on all models, including 3500 dualies. GM says that max payload on the trucks will be 7,374 pounds; the conventional tow capacity will grow from 18,000 pounds to 19,600; and fifth-wheel capacity also rises, from 22,500 to 23,200 pounds. (All these figures are for 4x2s, we’re sure. The 4x4 ratings will be lower.)

There will also be high-end GMC Denali versions of the HD trucks, with unique exterior design cues, interior trim, a Bose audio system, and other lux goodies.

“GM and Ford are already duking it out for 2015"

2015 Super Duty
Rumor had it there would be a new F-150 for 2015, so we were surprised when Ford came out of the chute with news about the Super Duty first. The big story here is the second-generation Power Stroke diesel. Still 6.7L, the new diesel has a bigger turbocharger with larger-diameter compressor and turbine wheels. The waste gate and waste gate controls were taken off, as the new turbo operates at lower pressures. No mention of output numbers, only that the new engine will produce more power than the current Power Stroke, which is rated at 400 hp and 800 lb-ft of torque.

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Ford has beefed up the F-450 with a stronger frame and suspension, commercial-grade 19.5-inch wheels, upgraded driveline components, and larger brakes (shared with the chassis-cab models). All this was done, Ford says, to improve the F-450’s towing and hauling capacities, though the company didn’t offer any new numbers.

The premium end of the truck market is seeing a lot of growth—and quite a few entries. So it’s no wonder that Ford freshened the look of the King Ranch model with new trim paint, black exterior accents, and new Mesa leather upholstery that looks like it has been branded with the King Ranch “Running W” brand. Yes, there is a real King Ranch in Texas, and at 825,000 acres it’s bigger than Rhode Island.

New Upgrades, Warranty for ARB
ARB has upgraded its line of air lockers so that every one of them now is built with forged gears and a two-piece case. As a result, all ARB Air Lockers are now covered by a five-year warranty, up from two years. To mark the changes, the company has designed a new logo incorporating the A and L in air locker in a symbol of a mountain, which will appear on the product’s packaging.

This Just In
GM has finally released output numbers for the biggest of the new EcoTec3 engines. The 6.2L V-8, available in half-ton ’14 Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, produces 420 hp at 5,600 rpm and 460 lb-ft of torque at 4,100 rpm. That, says Chevy, is the most power and torque available from any light-duty truck engine. Ford is close; Ford’s 6.2 V-8 makes 411 hp and 434 lb-ft. The Hemi in the Ram makes 395 hp and 410 lb-ft. The new EcoDiesel in the Ram puts out 240 hp and 420 lb-ft. The 5.7 in the Toyota Tundra produces 381 hp and 401 lb-ft. The 5.6L V-8 in the Nissan Titan makes 317 hp and 385 lb-ft. Nissan might be able to challenge Chevy in the torque department if the 5.0L Cummins diesel that Nissan plans for the Titan makes its reported mid-500 lb-ft of torque.

Roger Norman has merged SCORE and HDRA and created a single six-race series called the SCORE World Desert Championship. The 2014 series will include SCORE’s three Mexican races—the San Felipe 250, Baja 500, and Baja 1000—plus three races in California and Nevada. Full details and schedule information are available at

We have learned from AEV that online store kNOw Where 2Jeep has recently acquired the rights to produce the Nth Degree Mobility TJ product line. The store currently has several products already in stock and ready to ship, including 4.0L oil pan skidplates and rear spring relocators, and should be shipping complete Nth Degree long-arm suspension systems by the time you read this.

Five-Buck JK
It’s that time of year again. In February the California Association of 4WD Clubs will hand over the keys to a fully decked ’13 Jeep Wrangler to a lucky winner, and tickets are just $5. Poison Spyder Customs did the makeover on this year’s raffle Jeep, which is outfitted with a long list of custom gear: a RockKrawler long-arm suspension, Fox Racing shocks, Currie Rock Jock 44 axles fitted with ARB lockers, Motive Gear chromoly shafts, an Atlas II transfer case, RockBrawler bumpers, Crusher fenders, BFGoodrich Krawler T/As on TrailReady beadlocks, and much, much more. The winning ticket will be drawn February 23, 2014, at the association’s convention in Visalia, California, and you need not be present to win. Net proceeds go directly to the fight to keep public lands open. To order tickets, go to

Earth Watch
This year’s Cantina for the Con, a fund-raising event for the Rubicon Trail, raised $50,000 through raffle ticket and food sales (and the generosity of an anonymous donor who pitched in $15,000). All the money is used for trail maintenance, staff to help trail visitors, and to monitor legal issues that could affect the trail.

The Utah State Office of the BLM has awarded a five-year grant to Tread Lightly! to help implement the organization’s Ride On Utah education and outreach campaign. The partnership brings together multiple federal and state public agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service, BLM, Utah Division of State Parks and Recreation, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, and Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, to spread research-based messages promoting responsible recreation consistently and across boundaries of lands any of these agencies manage.

For the 15th consecutive year, Toyota was a major sponsor of the National Public Lands Day in September, during which volunteers built and maintained trails, removed trash from trails and other public spaces, and planted trees, shrubs, and other flora. More than 180,000 volunteers worked at some 2,200 sites across the country.

SEMA reports that the Massachusetts Joint Transportation Committee is considering a bill (H.B. 3149) that would ban the use or sale of aftermarket exhaust systems “that increase the sound emission of any vehicle.” The bill seems targeted at motorcycles, as those are the only vehicles in the bill with a clear noise standard to enforce. But all vehicles would be affected. To learn how to fight the bill, visit

Hall of Fame Inductees
The Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame inducted five members in a special ceremony during the Off-Road Expo in Pomona, California. The inductees were pioneering motorcycle racer Larry Bergquist; Bigfoot creator (and tech innovator) Bob Chandler; Frank DeAngelo, who set the standard for off-road race pits through his work with BFGoodrich; Jerry Herbst, founder and backer of Herbst Motorsports; and Bob “the Weatherman” Steinberger, who since 1972 has provided much-needed radio communications to desert race teams in the U.S. and Baja. The induction banquet enjoyed its biggest attendance yet, with some 300 people on hand to celebrate with the inductees.

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Brute on the Rubicon
This summer, the crew from American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) traveled from Missoula, Montana, to the Rubicon Trail in northern California to test their latest creation, the JK Brute double cab. The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited–based pickup hybrid retains the width of a stock JK but stretches the wheelbase 23 inches and the Jeep’s overall length by 41⁄2 feet. That gave the Brute plenty of room to carry the kitchen and supplies for the entire week, including two supersized Yeti coolers.

AEV brought two JK Brute double cabs to the Rubicon along with an assortment of AEV-equipped Unlimited JKs. Also along for the ride were a few of AEV’s international dealers from Canada, Germany, Japan, and South Africa.

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SEMA Show Preview
The annual aftermarket parts extravaganza that is the SEMA Show in Las Vegas is just around the corner. Here are a few highlights of what companies say they plan to display.

Concept Silverados
“Ultimate Preparedness” is the theme of Chevrolet’s SEMA concept trucks. The Black Ops version (below), based on a ’14 Silverado crew cab 4x4, is a “survival kit on four wheels,” says Chevy. It’s equipped with custom-fabricated lower body armor, a winch up front, and a lockable, bed-mounted Truck Vault storage unit. Inside the Vault are a solar power pack, a pair of gas masks, gloves, a military first aid kit, a folding shovel, and rope. The Volunteer Firefighter concept (right and below right), built from a Silverado double cab with the Z71 suspension, has attention-getting red and silver paint, emergency lighting on the roof, a siren and PA system, and a toolbox in the bed, plus custom bed mounts for firefighting gear.

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We can always count on Omix-ADA to bring an interesting collection of vintage Jeeps to the SEMA Show. The company will display several wartime jeeps from the collection we showcased in our December issue—including three early prototypes—and host an onsite build of a modern military-inspired Wrangler. (The photo of a ’44 Willys SAS jeep is from last year’s show.) The prototypes will include a Ford GP, a Bantam BRC40, and a Willys MA. Other jeeps scheduled to appear include a ’42 Willys MB, a ’43 Ford GPA, a ’51 M38, a ’52 M38A1, and a ’67 M715.

Mopar is playing it coy with its SEMA reveal, teasing us with the news that there will be 20 Mopar-modified Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram, Fiat, and SRT vehicles, but releasing very few photos of said concepts. The Ram looks to be surf ready, and the Cherokee? All we can say for sure is that the tow hooks are orange, not red. Hmmm. Watch these pages for a full roundup of SEMA concepts in the coming months.

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Jan. 11:
Truckhaven Challenge by the California Off-Road Vehicle Association, Ocotillo Wells, CA.

Jan. 11:
Getting Started Off-Road Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Hungry Valley SVRA, Gorman, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047,

Jan. 12:
Advanced Beginner Off-Road Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, El Paso Mountains near Mojave, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047,

Jan. 13:
Tire repair and Hi-Lift Jack Mini Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Mojave, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047,

Jan. 24-26:
Winter Fun Festival by California Association of 4WD Clubs, Grass Valley, CA.

Jan. 25:
Getting Started Off-Road Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Borrego Springs, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047,

Jan. 26: Advanced Beginner Off-Road Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Borrego Springs, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047,

Jan. 31–Feb. 2:
Bluewater Resort Parker 425 desert race by Best in the Desert, Parker, AZ.

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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