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RPM: 4x4 and Automotive News and Rumors

Posted in News on July 19, 2017
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Photographers: Courtesy of Manufacturers


That’s Interesting

•Sometimes you use roadside assistance that isn’t duct tape and a chain. So, you may be pleased to learn Farmers Insurance has tweaked its roadside assistance app to make you pace and curse less while on the side of the road. It can find you quicker and you’ll get arrival notifications in real time and also a map to reverse-stalker the progress.
•Instant Gold Status? It can be yours as a Shell Fuel Rewards user. You’ll save around five pennies per gallon. It’s a teaser to the real status symbol of 2018: Gold or Silver benefit levels. Learn more at
•The Official Automotive and Mobility Partner of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Teams is Toyota.
•Tesla’s Model X SUV got five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in every category it crashed the vehicle in as part of how it creates safety ratings. Or, in Tesla’s words: “Making it the first SUV ever to earn the five-star rating across the board. More than just resulting in a five-star rating, the data from NHTSA’s testing shows that Model X has the lowest probability of injury of any SUV it has ever tested.”
•More from the SUVs You Don’t Care About file: As if the Lincoln Navigator weren’t big enough (seriously, Drivers of Lincoln Navigators, you are not a compact, so stop parking there), Lincoln went bigger. The extended-length ’18 Lincoln Navigator is a foot longer than the regular.
•Wait, one more from that file: Dodge Durango R/Ts for 2018 will have the same performance hood and fascia as the SRT model.
•And from that same file’s pickups section: Shelby is back in the hi-po muscle/street-truck world—it has built 150 of the ’17 Shelby F-150 Super Snake. To get the 750 horses, you’ll need $96,880. At least.
•PAL-V now has a production facility in the Netherlands. What will take place there will be the building of the PAL-V Liberty flying car.
•While we’re talking air, Frost & Sullivan predicts there’ll be more than 10 companies in the flying car business by 2022.
•OK, but what about flying-driving thingys? MIT’s got some researchers working on that by way of drones that can both fly and drive.
•If thinking about the fact that you’ll probably live long enough to see flying cars makes you feel old, here’s how to feel older-old: The movie Smokey and the Bandit has turned age 40.
•Also looking down the barrel of getting elderly: Mazda’s rotary engine is now 50.
•“New climate goals for the Lyft platform as we do our part to ensure the United States remains on track to meet the goals of the Paris accord” includes a goal of having a minimum of 1 billion rides per year via electric autonomous vehicles—by 2025.
•Automatic Emergency Braking as standard equipment? That’s right: Nissan’s doing it for 2018 models, including the Pathfinder.
•The Points of Light Foundation has named Toyota Financial Services as one of the most community-minded companies in the U.S.
•The first Jeep Compass rolled down the assembly line in India at the Ranjangaon Joint Venture plant.


Is It True?

•Jaguar’s new SUV will be called E-Pace? And the ’18 model will likely be based on the Land Rover Discovery/Evoque platform? Yet the E does not stand for all-electric; that will be left up to the I in the I-Pace?
•Might electrical engineers from Duke University, working with Fetch Automotive Design Group, soon bring us carbon-nanotube–based sensors in our new tires to warn of a low-tread situation? And the sensors will be cheap because they’ll be printed?
•The ’18 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is so fast that it requires potential owners to sign a waiver before they get the keys?
•Out around town is the prototype ’19 Chevy Silverado 1500—with diesel?
•Buyers are putting more money down on a new or used vehicle, according to
•A Ford Ranger Raptor? Would you excuse our drool?
•Cummins is multitasking and branching off from diesels? Alternative fuels and electrification are next?
•Did really do a story on how vintage Ford pickups are gonna be the next big thing? Thereby making our eBay perusal-porn too spendy a habit?
•Among the least-expensive vehicles to insure according to are various Jeeps, the Nissan Frontier S, and the Ford F-150 XL?


Photography: NASA

Your Government at Work

•California is requiring Volkswagen to put electric vehicle charging stations in disadvantaged areas.
•According to a statement from the California Air Resources Board (CARB), it “reached settlements with Derive Systems Inc. and Hypertech Inc. to resolve violations of the California Health and Safety Code related to the advertising and sales of illegal aftermarket performance parts in California, especially tuner products made for diesel pick-up truck engines.” Meaning: “The parts had not been evaluated by CARB to demonstrate that they did not negatively impact the vehicle’s emissions. As a result, it is illegal to sell or install them on consumer vehicles in California.”
•NASA + self-driving cars? NASA at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center has partnered-up to work on them. It’s also pimping its property: the 3-mile-long Shuttle Landing Facility runway, because “it could be a test site for driverless cars under the Central Florida Automated Vehicle Partnership supported by NASA under a Space Act Agreement.”


What’s Happening in the Industry

•Hankook Tire donated $150,000 to Disabled American Veterans in support of the Mobile Service Office program. It has also created Hankook Heroes to honor American veterans. Go to
•Quadratec is partnering with Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area in Coal Township, Pennsylvania, to build trails within the complex’s 6,500 acres. The goal is to protect recreational access and promote responsible wheeling.
•General Tire and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) are in a partnership, making The General the Official Tire of the UFC in the Asia-Pacific region.
•Federal-Mogul Motorparts launched, where auto service pros can find an online community to talk tech.
•Polaris donated $108,000 to the National Forest Foundation to take their relationship to the next level and also include improving OHV riding trails in Florida and Minnesota.
•Dana began construction on an 80,000-square-foot manufacturing/assembly plant in Chongqing, China. It’s due to open in 2018 and will build driveline products for the Chinese market.
•The Pentathlon D? It’s a new long-haul tire from Pirelli.
•A four-week technician training program is available from Pro-MECH Learning Systems and is called TechSpedite. Learn more at
•$30,872 is what the check was that went to the Off-Road Business Association (ORBA) from 4 Wheel Parts. The reason was the Round Up charitable fundraising initiative for promoting and preserving off-road use on public and private land.
•You know CURT for its towing products and accessories. Now meet its new corporate name, CURT Group, since it has grown to include ARIES, Luverne Truck Equipment, and other brands. The company acquired United Welding Services while we were writing this, which makes truck accessories and storage stuff. We’re guessing as you’re reading this, something else got acquired.


Four Wheeler App

App-arently we think it’s app-ropos for you to get the Four Wheeler app as soon app-possible, and we make no app-ologies for the subliminal app-urtenances here regarding the Four Wheeler app for your mobile app-aratus. We’re app-reciative for the download as it app-ertains to those who dig stories about 4x4s, events, builds, tech, products, road tests, and more. We app-laud your good taste.


The UK pickup market is picking its pace up.”
—Matthias Schmidt, editor of the AID Newsletter, to


These claims are baseless and we will vigorously defend ourselves. The Duramax Diesel Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra comply with all U.S. EPA and CARB emissions regulations.”
—Official statement from GM on May 25, 2017, regarding allegations of emissions tampering on its Duramax engine


Nissan Frontier Attack Concept

When you think monster trucks, you think Nissan Frontiers, right? Of course you don’t. But Nissan does, which is why it built a Frontier called the Attack Concept. It rides higher than a production Frontier, and features chrome and red accents plus beefy-like appearance touches to give it that aggressive look. If you look closely, you might also notice it has a larger roof and seats versus the NP300 Frontier that off-roaders in Latin America know. Under the hood is a Euro-spec 2.3L diesel engine and there’s a manual six-speed and the expected hill descent control and hill start assist. Don’t like it? Fine—it was built with the Latin American market in mind anyway. On a different subject: Nissan also figured out how much to charge us for the ’17 Nissan Titan and Titan XD. Pricing starts at $35,580 for an S King Cab 4x4, while at the opposite end is the XD PRO-4X King Cab 4x4 with an MSRP starting at $50,490.


’18 Ram Limited Tungsten Edition

Stop fighting it—accept the fact that automakers are insisting on making pickups “luxurious.” That’s the automakers’ word, and in the case of the ’18 Limited Tungsten Edition, Ram’s other words are, “taking truck opulence to the highest level” and “higher level of sophistication,” and “affluent truck buyers.” The gist is, it’s Limited trim with Tungsten Edition branding as well as special materials and colors, a suede headliner, a sport hood for the 1500, and body-colored parts, such as bumpers and mirrors. Get it as a 1500, 2500, 3500, Crew Cab, Mega Cab, and short or long wheelbase.


Photography: GM

’17 Vehicles with the Best Quality

New-vehicle quality? Get your quality reviews from the J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Initial Quality Study. It takes the number of problems per 100 vehicles during the first 90 days of ownership and converts that to a ranking. For example, Ford and Ram tied for fourth place as highest-ranking brands in quality; the two brands also made notable strong improvements overall compared to previous years. The highest-ranking nameplate (the big nod) went to Kia. Chevy shared No. 5 with BMW and Hyundai. Jeep found itself near the bottom, but it outranked Land Rover. In terms of specific segments, the Nissan Frontier was highest in midsize pickup, while the Ford Expedition took large SUV. The Chevy Silverado took top billing in both light- and heavy-duty pickup categories.

Also, J.D. Power asked, and insured motorists answered: Satisfaction with how much auto insurance costs is down, and you can point a finger (guess which finger?) at rate increases for 26 percent of customers and also at the bump in frequency and severity of crashes. This was the finding in the J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Auto Insurance Study.

Ford Expedition Gets FX4 Off-Road Package
The family truckster just got more of a rep—the ’18 Ford Expedition added the FX4 Off-Road Package. Now, before you wonder why Ford would off-road-up the Expedition of all vehicles, know that the Blue Oval said that more than 20 percent of the vehicle’s owners claim to hit the dirt. On purpose. The FX4 version means specially tuned shocks, seven skidplates, rubber floor liners, electronic limited-slip, 18-inch wheels, Terrain Management System, and…chrome running boards.

Win a Custom ’17 Ram 2500 Power Wagon
It’s called the Get Trucked Up Giveaway, and is brought to you by the team of Yokohama Tire and crazy-arse Nitro Circus. Now through October 15, 2017, you have a chance to win a custom ’17 Ram 2500 Power Wagon equipped with Yokohama’s new Geolandar M/T G003 mud-terrains. Also, at Nitro Circus Live events, a set of ’em will be up for grabs. The truck doesn’t have just those tires, though—AEV did some modifying. Go to to enter and for more details.

MTOD stuff:
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Sept 26 Dirt Every Day–Episode 69
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Oct 2 Ignition–Episode 184
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Oct 5 Ferrari Challenge Europe, Silverstone
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