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4x4 and Auto News and Rumors

Posted in News on September 14, 2017
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Photographers: Courtesy of Manufacturers


Photography: GM

That’s Interesting

•Jeep has revealed pricing of the ’18 Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, which is the 6.2L-equipped, supercharged, quick-version of the SUV, worth 707 hp and 645 lb-ft of torque. Also known as a Jeep with a V-8: $85,900.
•By the numbers: AAA calculated owning and using a new vehicle in 2017 for its Your Driving Costs study and found that a driver averages $8,469 annually. There’s a “however.” However: While you’d expect econoboxes to cost less, it was small SUVs (as well as hybrids and EVs) for the real win, offering lower-than-average costs. The other “however”? Of the nine categories evaluated, pickups were the most expensive to drive ($10,054).
•Roy Lunn has passed away at age 92. He’s credited with helping to develop many historic vehicles (like the Ford GT40), but give him a big moment of reflective silence for his involvement in the development of the Jeep Cherokee XJ.
•You know all that pesky safety tech, especially the accident-avoidance stuff, on the new vehicles? The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety did some research and found that lane-departure warning is indeed lowering the rate of single-vehicle sideswipes and head-on crashes.
•Do you have an ideal vehicle? Well, if you don’t, AutoPacific does—or at least the people who completed the survey do. The 2017 Ideal Vehicle Awards took the thoughts of 54,000 owners of new ’16 and ’17 vehicles and had them evaluate what they would change in 15 categories, which included ride and handling, power, and storage. Ford scored more wins than any other automaker, including for the light- and heavy-duty F-series. The GMC Yukon XL and Jeep Grand Cherokee also won their categories of large SUV and midsize SUV, respectively.
•Toyota and Mazda are teaming up to do a few things, including to develop EV and connected-car tech. Probably just a complete coincidence: Toyota’s Collaborative Safety Research Center has kicked off a new research program centered around autonomous and connected tech.
•What’s the Land Rover Experience? Travel, Land Rover style. Two trips are set: Moab in 2017 and Africa in 2018. Go here to learn more so that you can go:
•If you have a newer vehicle, you know the price of replacing a lost key is about $4,000,000. Toyota Financial Services now offers an insurance of sorts—Key Replacement Protection, which will replace your issue for up to $800, and also offers lock-out assistance, towing, transportation rental, and more. There’s even replacement for nonprogrammable keys on the key ring.
•Nissan’s making it get more real: The new ProPilot Assist is definitely not being called “self-driving” and is definitely being called “hands-on.” It’s designed to handle acceleration, steering, and braking during stop-and-go single-lane driving. Nissan said that the forward-facing camera and radar, plus sensors and ECM “help the driver stay in the center of the driving lane and to maintain vehicle speed (set by the driver) or help maintain a gap to the preceding vehicle if the vehicle speed drops below the driver-set speed. It also can slow the vehicle to a complete stop and holds the vehicle during traffic jam conditions.” Should be available on select vehicles starting in 2018.
•PEMCO Insurance talked to drivers in Washington, who believed pets as passengers are more of a distraction than kids as passengers. But Oregon drivers ranked pets and kids the same.
•We weren’t sure whether to align this item with news of the ProPilot Assist or the one about children distracting you in the car. So, you decide: The ’18 Nissan Pathfinder will be the first recipient of Rear Door Alert, which sounds like it would behave as the fridge-door-is-ajar warning does, but no. This will honk at you a bunch of times after you’ve parked so that you’ll remember to check your backseat for living things.
•“Ford’s investigation into this issue is ongoing. However, the company has discovered holes and unsealed spaces in the back of some Police Interceptor Utilities that had police equipment installed after leaving Ford’s factory.” Ford’s words about reports of carbon-monoxide odor in the automaker’s Police Interceptor Utility vehicles. This is separate from claims of the same variety regarding civilian Explorers, but Ford said owners of those regular Explorers need not worry about this.
•We’re not sure we want to even discuss this whole collaboration between Lyft and Taco Bell and the app and the drive-thru, and the “ultimate Taco Bell experience.” And especially not the big rollout in 2018 of “Taco Mode.”


Is It True?

•Audi will be switching to a standardized name for power output, in kilowatts? Like, if a model has 30 badging, it means power output between 81-96 kilowatts? And matched with the type of engine tech? For example, 30 TDI?
•Hold on: The new Jeep pickup could be called Scrambler?
•2019 could be the year of the Land Rover Defender in the U.S.?
•Tesla is going to get in the self-driving semitruck business?
•You know the Bonneville Salt Flats—home to many historic races? It’s been dealing with salt erosion, but there’s a plan for a program to deliver salt for the next 10 years in order to increase the salt surface? And will it be from Amazon Prime?
•They’re still talking about a Ferrari SUV, and like really talking this time?


Your Government at Work

•St. John’s Rock ORV Trail and associated campground have opened in Savage River State Forest in Maryland. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is who to send the cards and flowers to.
•SEMA and Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundable reps have met with the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to talk about outdoor recreation and economic things, including how to create jobs, the Recreation Not Red Tape Act, and trade agreements.
•The Yamaha Outdoor Access Initiative sets out to support efforts for responsible use of OHVs and to educate on land use. Every quarter, it takes applications from nonprofits and tax-exempt groups, outdoor enthusiast orgs, and others trying to protect land, maintain access, and so on…and awards funds. Check it out at


What’s Happening in the Industry

•Baja Designs: You’re 25 years old. But then you probably knew that.
•New 4 Wheel Parts in Ogden, Utah: You’re officially open. But then you probably knew that. scored a gig as the first Eaton authorized service center.
•Jay Leno’s Garage Advance Vehicle Care line has products related to that. If you wax, one of its new ones is Spray Wax. Not for legs, etc.
•Rugged Radios took a Polaris and turned it into a WWII-ish Willys Jeep-like vehicle called Rugged General.


Four Wheeler App

Do you know we here at Four Wheeler use the Four Wheeler app to read tech and other stories? But not for hubris reasons—we like to revisit Four Wheeler articles and tech, and also look for building ideas for project rigs. It’s like a whole, “I’m not only the Hair Club president, but I’m also a client” kind of thing.


“A cloaking device includes cloaking region boundary planes oriented non-planar to each other, each of the cloaking region boundary planes having an outward facing mirror surface and an inward facing opaque surface.
—From, for the Toyota patent application publication on August 10, 2017, for translucent A-pillars


“Deep neural network-based classifiers are known to be vulnerable to adversarial examples that can fool them into misclassifying their input through the addition of small-magnitude perturbations. However, recent studies have demonstrated that such adversarial examples are not very effective in the physical world—they either completely fail to cause misclassification or only work in restricted cases where a relatively complex image is perturbed and printed on paper. In this paper we propose a new attack algorithm—Robust Physical Perturbations (RP2)—that generates perturbations by taking images under different conditions into account…We physically realized and evaluated two attacks, one that causes a Stop sign to be misclassified as a Speed Limit sign in 100 percent of the testing conditions, and one that causes a Right Turn sign to be misclassified as either a Stop or Added Lane sign in 100 percent of the testing conditions.”
—The wordy way researchers from University of Washington, University of Michigan, Stony Brook University, and University of California Berkeley described how street signs with graffiti or other defacing items can confuse an autonomous-vehicle’s algorithms. We’ll commence losing sleep over this…now.


“Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced today that it has received a certificate of conformity from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a conditional executive order from the Air Resources Board (ARB) of the State of California, permitting the production and sale of FCA US 2017 model-year light-duty Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles equipped with 3.0-liter diesel engines.”
—Statement from Fiat Chrysler on July 28, 2017


Midnight Edition ’18 Nissan Titan, Titan XD, and Frontier

Midnight Editions of the Titan, Titan XD, and Frontier will be joining the Pathfinder as part of Nissan’s growing blacked-out fleet of offerings. We still don’t know what it’ll cost, but we do know it’ll give you a black grille, black rims, body-colored bumpers, and more. The Titan can be had in Midnight Crew Cab SV and SLs, while the XD is also Crew Cab SV and SL—but only for 4x4s with the Cummins diesel. Frontier Crew Cab SV two- and four-bys with auto trans can Midnight.


Photography: GM

A Stock Chevy Colorado ZR2 Competes for Hall Racing

There was just one midsize stocker at the Best in the Desert General Tire Vegas to Reno Race presented by Fox, and it was named first in Class 7300. What was it? A stock Colorado ZR2 with Chad Hall and Frank DeAngelo of Hall Racing doing driving duty. The Colorado did have the mandated safety items, including a 44-gallon racing fuel tank and rollcage, plus some must-haves like two-way radios and KC HiLites racing lights. And there was a Chevy Performance exhaust. Also, some prototype performance parts. OK, but other than all that, completely stock.


Check Out this One-of-a-Kind Ford Raptor

This would be the Ford F-22 F-150 Raptor, and it was inspired by the U.S. Air Force’s F-22 Raptor fighter jet. It went up for auction at the Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture Oshkosh and raised $300,000 for the org’s Young Eagles, which as you can probably guess is about kids getting stoked about flight.


’18 Ram 3500 Gets More Torque, Unique Hitch

The ’18 Ram 3500 has 930 lb-ft of torque and 30,000-pound tow capabilities with a fifth-wheel hitch. The 6.7L Cummins-equipped truck has a hitch designed by Ram Engineering. This setup will cost you $1,395. (It’s part of an upfit package.)

MTOD info:

Nov 3 LIVE! Virgin Australia Supercars, Auckland SuperSprint
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Nov 6 Engine Masters, Episode 28
Nov 6 Mobil 1 The Grid
Nov 8 GP Confidential, Post Mexico + Preview Brazil
Nov 8 Head 2 Head, Episode 96
Nov 9 Ferrari Challenge Europe, Mugello
Nov 9 Put Up or Shut Up, Episode 5
Nov 10 Auto Mundial
Nov 10 Motorsport Mundial
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Nov 16 LIVE! Lamborghini Super Trofeo – Europe, Imola
Nov 16 FIA World Rallycross, South Africa
Nov 16 Roadkill Garage, Episode 24
Nov 17 LIVE! Lamborghini Super Trofeo – Europe, Imola
Nov 17 Auto Mundial
Nov 17 Motorsport Mundial
Nov 17 Porsche Carrera Cup Australia, Bathurst
Nov 20 Mobil 1 The Grid
Nov 21 Dirt Every Day, Episode 71
Nov 22 GP Confidential, Post Brazil + Preview Abu Dhabi
Nov 23 HOT ROD Garage, Episode 59
Nov 24 LIVE! Virgin Australia Supercars, Newcastle 500
Nov 24 Auto Mundial
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Nov 24 Trans Am Racing Series, Circuit of the Americas
Nov 27 LIVE! MOTOR TREND Awards, Los Angeles, CA
Nov 29 FIM Freestyle MX World Championship, Shenzhen, China
Dec 1 Auto Mundial
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Dec 4 Engine Masters, Episode 29
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