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4x4 and Auto News and Rumors

Posted in News on January 22, 2019
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Photographers: Courtesy of Manufacturers


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That’s Interesting

•Winners of 2018 SEMA Vehicle of the Year award were the Ford F-series for truck, the Jeep Wrangler for 4x4/SUV, and the Polaris RZR Turbo S for powersports. The wins go to the ones trending the most in the aftermarket in terms of products and accessories being developed, which translates to those that are the coolest in a roundabout way.
•Ford and Mahindra will be collaborating/sharing powertrain and connect-vehicle projects, but in India only. For now.
•Ford’s also buddying-up with Avis Budget to make for better user experiences when it comes to vehicle rentals, and also when it comes to efficiency for that process via connected tech.
•Production on the ’19 Ford Ranger is officially in action. It’s happening at the Michigan Assembly plant that the Blue Oval invested $850 million into for building the pickup and also the ’20 Bronco.
•Jaguar Land Rover opened a manufacturing plant in Slovakia—that’s a first for a UK auto company.
•Solar panel roofs will be found on Kia and Hyundai starting in 2019, mainly to charge batteries, but don’t be surprised to see that on its regular vehicles, like for heating seats.
•People are talking about the Salomondrin Ford Raptor S. Galpin Auto Sports built it, and you can see what they did by going here: They’re building 24 more, should your taste buds be awakened.
•2019 Kelley Blue Book Best Buy awards: fullsize SUV, Ford Expedition, and Ford F-150 for pickup.
•For its efforts in recruiting and employing military veterans, Fiat Chrysler received gold medallion certification.
•Which one of you did Ram want to know that its “Farmer” commercial turned 5 years old? They must think a lot about your interest in this commercial, as this news came in the form of a press announcement.
•Nissan brought the Frontier Sentinel to the São Paulo Motor Show. What makes it interesting is that it’s been designed for rescue missions—and has Nissan Leaf batteries.
•The Zebra is a vehicle insurance search engine, and it did an investigative report sans Keith Morrison to figure out whether the insurance industry collects data about your online behavior to decide what to charge you. Like, if you use Gmail, you might pay $100 more, but AOL might save you $100. Or, if you’re online at 3 a.m., you might pay $58 more than others. Using an iPhone? You might pay more than Android users.
•According to LendingTree, millennials who owe the most money on their vehicles seem to be located primarily in the South.
•J.D. Power created VIN Based Option, which is said to be accessible by all NADA Values Online subscribers. “This new feature utilizes packaging, content, and descriptive features specific to a vehicle’s entire 17-character VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) to enhance and customize each vehicle valuation instead of the basic 11-character VIN.”
•The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said the ’19 Ram 1500 crew cab earned “good” in all six crash tests (the highest rating). The last generation of Ram didn’t do so well in the roof strength and driver-side small overlap front tests.
•And more good talk: The Ram 1500 was also named Green Car Journal’s 2019 Green Truck of the Year.
•Geely, which is the Chinese automaker that owns Volvo and Lotus, bought the Utah Motorsports Campus, known for its off-road and rockcrawling courses.
•Volkswagen has taken the wraps off what it’s calling the “next generation” pickup, the Tarok. The double cab has seating for five, but with the option to fold down the rear cab for more cargo space.
•Bit the dust: Cadillac’s subscription program. Whose sub service is next?
•AAA and Lyft have joined forces, and possibly in your neck of the woods. The AAA owned and operated Car Care Centers may just provide you a Lyft ride to or from a center.
•If you’re a fan of disrupters, look no further than the electric-pickup world. There’s yet another independent contractor getting in on the action: Rivian, an American electric-vehicle maker. The company will be releasing both an SUV (R1S) and a pickup (R1T). The tagline is, “Street-smart. Dirt-, rock- and dune-ready.”
•An ’18 Nissan Armada, driven by work-from-home moms, finished 11th out of 41 in the 2018 Rebelle Rally, a 10-day, 1,600-mile off-road competition.
•Who wouldn’t click on a headline that began “Toyota and Kevin Costner Build…” since we’re all about click bait. That’s probably all you really need to know, though.


Is It True?

•Ford was one of the names on a patent to eliminate new-vehicle smell? Also known as the poetic invention that “relates to ink compositions containing hydroxylated and carboxylated polymers that are functionalized with reactive metal complexes and alkyl phosphates, which provide adhesion to a wide range of substrates without decreasing the viscosity stability of the composition”? But the U.S. will get to keep the smell because we like it?
•Ford’s also going to start using graphene—the first time ever for vehicle use—which is a 2D nanomaterial referred to as “miracle material,” as it’s 200 times stronger than steel? And you already know it for its use in smartphones?
•Is Ford planning to eliminate the Explorer in Egypt?
•Is this the last Ford item already? That it might share a vehicle platform with Volkswagen? And of the electric-vehicle variety?
•Nope—the last Ford item would be that the ’20 Bronco will have a seven-speed manual trans?
•GM will use the power of wind to help with the building of pickups and SUVs in Texas?
•Because Bentley is now in the SUV business, we’re going to cover the automaker’s every move, including wondering aloud, Did it open its first dealership in Israel?
•The ’19 Aston Martin SUV will be called DBX? And wasn’t that a rapper’s name?
•Bankrupt alert: The Bob Bondurant High Performance Driving School?
•You can get yourself the current-edition Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra clear through 2019, while also having the option of the new edition?


Photos: GM

Your Government at Work

•It seems NHSTA is getting complaints about death wobble from the ’18 Jeep Wrangler JL.
•The EPA puts out a list of national companies that are the largest green-power users, to the tune of there being 100 that make the list. GM’s Arlington Assembly joint made the cut—No. 76, if you have a number fetish.
•There’s large amounts of chatter that Israel is intending to ban the sale of new gas and diesel vehicles after 2030.
•If you can hear that over the chatter regarding Spain doing it too come 2040.
•The headline from NHTSA said enough: “Fatal motor vehicle crashes are down by almost 2 percent after 2 years of large increases.”
•And honestly, these people said it better for us, too: “Electrify America and the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission today announced plans to install electric vehicle charging stations, the first along the Ohio Turnpike.”
•Not sure whether they said it better for us as well or whether we’re now finding this copy-and-paste laziness our YOLO thing, but: “The California Air Resources Board today approved a $483 million plan to fund clean car rebates, zero-emission transit and school buses, clean trucks, and other innovative, clean transportation and mobility pilot projects.”
•Before you turn your nose up at the thought of an electric vehicle, know that Austria is probably going to let those vehicles have a higher speed limit than that of gas and diesel vehicles.
•Canada, looks like you’re getting maintenance and construction work done on the Alaska Highway to modernize it/rebuild the roads.


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What’s Happening in the Industry

•Among the winners of new product awards at the ’18 SEMA Show were the Lund/AVS hood protector for best exterior accessory, Rancho for a Jeep Wrangler JL Sport Suspension System, and Cooper Tire for the Discoverer AT3 4S.
•If you’re pretty into the idea of a new Ford truck, but really don’t care about the Ford Ranger, but do really care about the Ford F-150 or Ford Explorer, know that you have the Ford Ranger to thank for the Ford F-150 and Ford Explorer’s new access to Yakima accessories, since the Ford Ranger got the ball rolling for dealership access to kayak racks, tents, bike racks, and more Yak products. Buying the accessories from a Ford dealership will earn you a 3-year or 36,000-mile Ford warranty (or even an extended warranty).
•New axles for the new Jeep Wrangler: Mopar and Jeep Performance Parts have that handled by way of a team-up with Dana. The JPP Ultimate Dana 44 AdvanTEK axles feature stuff like a nodular-iron diff cover 9.5mm tube, beefy 1410 U-joints, and chromoly 4340 axleshafts. High clearance means there’s a 1/2-inch gain in ground clearance. There are mounds of gear ratios, including 4.56, 4.88, 5.13, and 5.38.
•New company alert: MW Co. is the name, but you’ll recognize the names that make it: MOMO and Weld, both of wheel fame.
•Something we never say: “In vehicle-cover news…” Covercraft has scooped up Carver Industries. Custom-fit vehicle covers galore. We better trademark that last sentence.
•BFGoodrich and Tire Stickers are making it possible to customize your tires. Now, don’t get super excited—it’s only decals for the sidewalls. Truthfully, if you had wanted more than that, we’d question your taste. Go here:
•AxleTech has partnered with Thor Trucks, and what’s happening might surprise you. Surprise! It’s a heavy-duty, all-electric powertrain.
•Superlift launched a high-performance lineup called Black Diamond. Due out in a couple months, suspension kits will be available for a few models to start, including the Jeep Wrangler JL, ’15-present Ford F-150 and F-250, ’19 Chevy Silverado, and ’19 Ram 1500.


Four Wheeler App

Happy 2019, aka a new year, a new you, living your best life yet. And the only way to do that is to download the Four Wheeler app. Don’t believe us? There’s literally only one way to find out the truth, by downloading our app, then waiting for the best life to begin over the remaining months of 2019. But ask yourself: How can that not happen with tons of tech, products, feature vehicles, installation how-tos, product guides, news, and more right at your fingertips? Download at the App Store for the answer.


“The price is a little high, but with all the technology on it, I guess it's worth it. But, in the future, it's something a lot of people won't be able to afford.”
—Ernest Johnson to Detroit Free Press, regarding the high cost of pickups nowadays. He just got a ’19 GM pickup.


Photography: GM

“When we began working to develop this engine, GM didn’t initially dictate how many cylinders or how much displacement. We only knew the metrics for power and efficiency that were required. This engine met all those requirements.”
—Scott Dammann, lead engineer, to Forbes, regarding the ’19 Chevy Silverado 1500’s new four-cylinder engine


“The self-driving capability that Tesla Inc. customers have been able to pay for but not activate for two years is going on hiatus. The electric-car maker has dropped from its online design studios the option to pay thousands of dollars more for what it called full self-driving, a higher-level feature for its Autopilot system. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk tweeted late Thursday that the feature ‘was causing too much confusion.’”
—Article on, regarding Tesla eliminating its self-driving option since customers couldn’t figure out how to use it. Foreshadowing of the autonomous movement in general?


MVP Gets VIP LT (Translation: World Series Player Gets Chevy Silverado LT Trail Boss)

Photography: MLB photos/Chevrolet

A new ’19 Chevy Silverado LT Trail Boss was handed over to the 2018 Willie Mays World Series MVP Steve Pearce. In case you don’t follow ball sports, allow Chevy to explain: “Pearce hit .333 for the Series (4-for-12) with a 1.167 slugging percentage, thanks to three homers and a double. He drove in eight runs and scored five.” That probably didn’t help if you don’t follow ball sports. Suffice to say, when the Boston Red Sox won the World Series, he was a pretty, pretty, pretty good player then and had been all season. Chevy’s the Official Vehicle of Major League Baseball, which is another reason for the truck giveaway.


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Custom Fords from the ’18 SEMA Show

Last issue, we showed you some unique Rangers that Ford and some of its partners created for the ’18 SEMA Show. Here are a few unique F-series that might give you some building ideas of your own as well.

Transfer Flow took an F-150 with the 3.0L diesel and added lots of aftermarket goods, including new tires and wheels, a 6-inch coilover kit, exhaust, front and rear bumpers, roof rack, and, of course, a Transfer Flow 50-gallon replacement fuel tank and another 40-gallon-er in the bed that’s a toolbox combo/refueling kit upgrade plus movie projector screen inset, all in the name of “ultimate family Ford F-150 adventure truck.” Everything from lighting to a recovery kit also made the cut.

A Super Duty was the subject of a collab between Ford and Wilderness Collective, a moto tours company, which included a suspension lift, Ford Performance exhaust, manual front lockers, 37-inch rubber, rooftop tent, lighting, heavy-duty bumpers, and more.

Work truck inspo? The Super Duty by DeBerti Design, which included turning the 6.7L Power Stroke into a 900hp diesel powerhouse. Suspension upgrades, a custom utility bed, trailer hitch, and welding products were among the items that make the stealth work truck be a work truck.


Which Truck is the Truck of Texas?

The Texas Auto Writers Association named the ’19 Ram 1500 Truck of Texas at the Texas Truck Rodeo (runner-up was the Power Wagon). SUV of Texas? Doubt you saw this coming: ’19 Maserati Levante GTS. Runner-up was the ’18 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. In the compact SUV slot was the ’19 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk as runner-up, although Jeep did win the midsize SUV category for the ’18 Wrangler Sahara. It beat out the ’19 Toyota 4Runner Nightshade Limited. Over in fullsize, the ’19 Nissan Armada Platinum was runner-up. There’s also a luxury section, which the ’19 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit snagged for midsize. When it came to the off-road segment, the ’18 Wrangler Rubicon took tops, with the ’19 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro falling in behind. Pickups scoring first places in their categories included the ’19 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro for midsize, the ’19 Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn for luxo, commercial win for the ’19 Nissan Titan XD, and’19 Ram Rebel for off-road pickup.


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’19 Toyota 4Runner Nightshade, Tacoma SX, Tundra SX

There are three new options in the Toyota mix. The ’19 4Runner can be had in Nightshade Special Edition style, which means lots of black, including wheels, accents, and inside. Opting for this 4Runner Limited tacks on $1,740. Meanwhile, the pickups get an SX package. We’re not entirely sure what Toyota meant when it said of the Tundra SX, “Relying on a selection of color-keyed accents and blacked-out wheels, SX combines thoughtful upgrades to create what may be the cleanest Tundra to date,” but we can tell you that cleanliness runs an MSRP of $1,630 and it’s based on the SR5. The Tacoma SX is based on the SR and gets the blackout treatment for $560.


Photography: GM

Chevy’s Got Race Parts for the Colorado ZR2. It’s Also Got a Special-Edition Colorado

Let’s start with the exciting news, then move to the basic news. Exciting: Chevrolet Performance worked with Multimatic and Hall Racing to develop 15 race parts for the Colorado ZR2. These include a body lift, front lift kit, long-travel shocks, jounce shock setup, rear diff cover, and steel driveshaft. You can learn more at Basic: Chevy sold nearly 430,000 Colorados since the 2015 model year hit, so to celebrate the 4, the Bow Tie brings us the special-edition Z71 Trail Runner. Think Z71 off-road package meets the skidplate protection of the ZR2 meets the unique flow-through grille of the ZR2 Bison meets the now-there-are-four-off-road-themed-Colorados-you-could-snag (or collect them all).


’19 Ram 1500 North Edition

A cold-weather truck is the idea behind the special-edition Ram 1500 North. What your money gets you—an MSRP of $45,890—is an engine-block heater, factory 1-inch lift, severe-snow–rated Falken LT tires (as in, the snowflake symbol), heated mirrors, Mopar all-weather mats, remote start, towhooks, electric-locking rear axle, and more. If you know the Big Horn, that’s the basis, and you can get it in crew cab shortbed or longbed with either the 3.6L or 5.7L.

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