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RPM: 4x4 and Auto News and Rumors

Posted in News on February 11, 2019
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Photographers: Courtesy of Manufacturers


Photography: GM

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Photography: GM

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That’s Interesting

•The Jeep Wrangler gets a star! Literally, a star. One star in its safety rating in the European New Car Assessment Program, which was due in a very large part to not having autonomous braking or other safety systems in this day and age.
•There’s an off-road performance package for the ’19 GMC Sierra AT4. Emphasis on performance. Expect to see an after-cat performance exhaust, performance intake, and 15 more horses and an additional 9 lb-ft of torque as compared to the regular 6.2L V-8 in the Sierra.
•Our sister pubs Motor Trend and Truck Trend both named the Ram 1500 a winner: MT for 2019 Truck of the Year and TT for Pickup Truck of the Year. MT gave the Jeep Wrangler 2019 SUV of the Year.
•The ’19 Ford Ranger has an estimated 21 mpg city and 26 mpg highway for a combo of 23 mpg.
•The Ridgeline Baja race truck from the Honda Off-Road Racing team finished Second Place in Class 7 at the 51st edition of the BFGoodrich SCORE Baja 1000.
•Among the 2019 Wards 10 best engines list were the 6.2L V-8 in the Chevy Silverado, the 3.0L turbodiesel in the Ford F-150, and the 3.6L eTorque V-6 in the Ram 1500.
•We kind of just need to run this statement as is, because we’re a bit speechless: “A new survey from AAA finds that 40 percent of Americans expect partially automated driving systems, with names like Autopilot, ProPILOT, or Pilot Assist, to have the ability to drive the car by itself.” That was probably a hard life lesson for the 40-percenters.
•ALG 2019 Residual Value Awards went to Land Rover in the Overall category. For mainstream utility, the Toyota Sequoia won for fullsize, while the Jeep Wrangler won for off-road. Toyota also won the truck segment, with the Tundra taking home a fullsize win and the Tacoma for midsize. Land Rover swept the premium utility category.
•Toyota Safety Sense was intro’d in 2015 and is now on 10 million vehicles globally. It’s the package with stuff like automatic high beam and a precollision system to prevent rear-endings and hitting pedestrians.
The Mopar Parts Distribution Center in Winchester, Virginia, now has Bronze status in the World Class Logistics program.
•Looks like the Jeep Compass will loan itself out to be the basis of an Alfa Romeo compact SUV.
•GM owns a Courtyard Marriott hotel across the street from its Detroit HQ. Now the automaker is selling it. Why? Why else do you sell your hotel?
•Don’t have a hotel to sell, so you don’t know why? This might help with the previous answer: GM is going to be reducing production at two plants in the U.S. and also ending production of some models at three of its assembly plants in the U.S. and Canada. The plan is to focus on electric and autonomous vehicles.
•Which is why Davenport University is offering all GM employees affected (directly) by the plant closures in Michigan up to $8,000 in scholarship funds that can be put toward a degree or 20 percent off a professional development course. Complimentary career services for a year will also be available.
•How do you feel about leaves powering a building? How about Leafs? Nissan’s using its Leaf electric vehicle for a program within the Nissan Energy Share initiative. It “leverages bidirectional EV charging technology to partially power its North American headquarters in Franklin, Tennessee, and its design center in San Diego, California.”
•Now pacing the 2019 Daytona 500 is Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a ’19 Chevy Silverado.
•Ford has begun renovations of the Michigan Central Station, the landmark train station that it purchased in 2018 to utilize as a campus for employees in the autonomous, EV, and mobility sectors. The station had been abandoned since 1988.
•Honda has developed the Autonomous Work Vehicle, an off-road vehicle built on an ATV chassis with the hope that it can be used for firefighting, search and rescue, agriculture, construction, and more. It has sensor-based autonomy and also the ability to be programmed by mode, including “follow me” and “A to B.”
•Raise your hand if you have pets and therefore despise the Fourth of July? Then you better hope Ford puts into production this innovative concept: noise-cancelling kennel. It’s part of the Blue Oval’s Interventions initiative, which takes automotive technology to solve regular problems. Like, solving the death threat that your dog thinks fireworks are.
•What is the Brabus 700 4x4 Squared? Check it:
•Redondo Beach is where you’ll find Garage 77, self-dubbed the “social classic car garage.” It allows members on-demand use of the classic cars in its fleet and access to shared recreational space. Or as it explained, “all the perks of owning a rotating fleet of rare classic cars, without any of the upkeep, know-how, or hassle.” Included in the fleet is a ’77 Jeep CJ-5.
•#DontDriveHigh is a new campaign from the Canadian Automobile Association South Central Ontario. This cannabis-education program is geared toward young drivers in an effort to help them understand that although cannabis is legal, they shouldn’t drive, and it demonstrates how their motor skills will be affected.
•The NIO ES6 electric SUV had its world premiere. It’s going to be available in China, but North America and beyond aren’t off the table quite yet.


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Is It True?

•Early 2020 for the Hyundai pickup?
•A Ford Focus–based pickup?
•Is a downsized Ford Bronco also coming, and built off the Focus platform? And now that Focus-based pickup is making sense?
•Did Ford file for a trademark in Australia and New Zealand for “Puma”? Is that the downsized Bronco name there? And also, a cat? And a sneaker?
•Will the Mack II Engine Plant in Detroit reopen for the purpose of building the upcoming Jeep Grand Cherokee sporting three rows?
•Is Elon Musk jumping into the cargo-van business with Daimler?
•Has Hyundai made it possible to unlock and start the ’19 Santa Fe with a fingerprint, at least in China?
•Is Volkswagen in hot water again, this time for selling preproduction test vehicles without telling customers that’s what they were, when the automaker should have crushed them (cars not customers)?
•Also, is Volkswagen done putting effort into developing new generations of gas and diesel engines after the ones it’s currently working on, so that it can focus on electric?


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Your Government at Work

•If you don’t like electric vehicles, better remove British Columbia from your agenda. It’s expected that the province will no longer sell anything that’s not electric by 2040.
•Conversely, if you like electric vehicles, you better remove the U.S. from your agenda. The administration is looking into ending subsidies for them.
•On the other hand, if you like electric vehicles, you better add New York to your agenda. New York State is boosting initiatives to get people to buy electric vehicles.
•California is pretty OG when it comes to its environmental agenda—and now Colorado intends to follow suit, notably with regard to selling vehicles that are low-emission and have improved fuel economy, beginning in 2022. In fact, California has now sold 500,000 electric vehicles.
•And on that note, CARB agenda: “The California Air Resources Board today approved a first-of-its-kind regulation in the United States that sets a statewide goal for public transit agencies to gradually transition to 100 percent zero-emission bus fleets by 2040.”
•Now coming from the EPA: the Cleaner Trucks Initiative agenda. It’s about updating the emissions standards for heavy-duty trucks and engines.
•Part of a statement from Toyota: “Toyota is pleased the U.S., Mexico, and Canada have signed a trilateral trade agreement to modernize North America’s manufacturing platform. This agreement is a critical step toward protecting auto-related jobs, including those of the 137,000 Americans who make their living working for Toyota.” Part of a statement from Ford: “Today’s signing is an important step towards achieving free and fair trade in North America. We look forward to being a collaborative partner to support the ratification of the agreement in all three markets because it will support an integrated, globally competitive automotive business, helping to drive volume and support manufacturing jobs.” You get the gist of the industry regarding the United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) agreement.
•Additional Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTV) have been ordered from the U.S. Army. Oshkosh Defense received the request for 6,107 more, to the tune of $1.69 billion.
•For doing this job for 77 years so far, Hankook Tire received a proclamation by Montgomery County, Tennessee, Mayor Jim Durrett. The tiremaker is a key employer in Montgomery County. A section of the proclamation read, “Whereas, in 2014, Hankook broke ground on its 1.5-million-square-foot plant located on 469 acres in Clarksville-Montgomery County. Today, this highly automated plant reflects its latest and most advanced global tire manufacturing technology.”


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What’s Happening in the Industry

•Good news if you like tires and Pep Boys is expanding its Ship-to-Store service to a national level. You can buy your tires on, and then choose which Pep Boys you’d like them shipped to for installation.
•Akron Public Schools and East Community Learning Center in Ohio hooked up with Bridgestone to officially open the Firestone Complete Auto Care Center, which will give 100 students a chance to get handsy with automotive technology and business practices, all for learning how to run a retail store. Said Bridgestone in a statement, “Akron Public Schools retrofitted a portion of the existing automotive technology lab at East CLC in conjunction with Bridgestone, who donated materials, fixtures, and point-of-sale systems. The center comes complete with software programs, a customer waiting area, and equipment to service vehicles, creating a real-world experience for the students.”
•While we’re here talking about Bridgestone and Firestone: December 2018 would have been the 150th birthday of Harvey Firestone, if, you know, he were alive, and if, you know, people lived 150 years. It also marked the 30th anniversary of Bridgestone merging with Firestone.
•Headline we saw: “Falken Tyre Europe Announced as Official Sponsor of the 26th IHF Men’s Handball World Championship in Germany and Denmark.” Question we had after headline we saw: Handball World Championship?
•Advance Auto Parts is on the move—its headquarters is switching from Virginia to North Carolina.
•Mahle’s got a new R&D center in Valencia, Spain. It’ll focus mainly on electronics and, perhaps, the rain in Spain.
•At lunch today, a staffer wondered aloud whether one day Goodyear might expand its manufacturing plant in Slovenia. Honestly, it’s been on all our minds. The answer is yes—construction has begun and the expansion will create more jobs and more annual production capabilities.
•Valvoline scooped up 17 quick-lube locations in Southern California and turned them into Valvoline Instant Oil Change service centers.


Four Wheeler App

We saw a list about the best apps for productivity. We then said to ourselves, what would be the best app for automotive productivity? We knew it would need to have lots of vehicles to look at, plus tech, products, four-wheeling, adventure, news, and more to get us inspired to hit the dirt, the garage, or the drawing board. Therefore, guess which app topped our list for best app for automotive productivity, according to us? The Four Wheeler app! We had no choice though but to name it No. 1 through No. 10—it has everything and then some, all day, every day, even on holidays and snow days. Download it at the App Store.


“I know there’s a little overlap, based on some clinics we’ve done, with the current customers of Wranglers, but there’s also a completely different customer we haven’t talked to since [Dodge] Dakota times. Or even Jeep Comanche times.”
—Ralph Gilles, head of design for Fiat Chrysler, to Autotrader Canada about the Jeep Gladiator


“It’s possible that we would be interested, if they were going to sell a plant or not use it, that we would take it over.”
—Elon Musk to 60 Minutes, regarding potentially buying a General Motors factory that had closed


“Our research says the buyer isn’t someone who wants an F-150 and can only afford a Ranger; they want something different. We felt Ranger would be much more of a personal-use, adventure product. It became a relatively easy decision.”
—Mark LaNeve, vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service for Ford, according to Autoweek


“However, especially for large sport-utility vehicles, placing items at a vehicle-forward portion of the cargo area when the second- or third-row seats are stowed may be difficult because such areas are difficult for the user to reach when standing at the rear of the vehicle/cargo area. To solve this and other problems, the present disclosure is directed to a cargo area load floor conveyor system. Advantageously, the cargo area load floor conveyor system includes a transitional gearbox adapted whereby a single motor drives both the translation of the second- or third-row seats between a stowed configuration and a deployed configuration, but also drives the operation of the load floor conveyor.”
—From the U.S. Patent Application Publication with a publish date of November 29,2018, in which Ford patented a “Third-Row Conveyor Load Floor.” As in, in the future, there might be a conveyor belt in the cargo area of your vehicle.


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’20 Jeep Gladiator Pickup

Jeep built a truck. Well, that took forever and three decades. The Jeep pickup we all knew was coming and have been waiting for that isn’t called Scrambler arrived for its official viewing in 2018 as a 2020 model and will be in dealerships around April 2019, and it is called…Gladiator. It’s the vehicle that Jeep calls “100 percent truck, 100 percent Jeep, 100 percent original.” Kind of. And now, this:

The Gladiator has the traditional seven-slot grille, albeit wider than the “norm” to make way for air intake for the midsize’s towing purposes: 7,650 pounds (and 1,600-pound payload capacity). At birth, the truck will have the 285hp 3.6L V-6 worth 260 lb-ft of torque and be mated to a standard D478 six-speed manual transmission (optional is an 850RE eight-speed automatic transmission); a 3.0L EcoDiesel V-6 is due in 2020 (same eight-speed trans).

Expect there to be four Gladiator models: Sport, Sport S, Overland, and Rubicon. All will have Dana 44s front and rear, although the Rubicon will have the heavy-duty, wide-track variety. Standard for the Rubicon is the 4.10 axle ratio; the others will have 3.73. The fine print: 3.73 is optional for the Rubicon, and the Sport has the option for 4:10. Also standard for the Rubicon will be Tru-Lok diffs front and rear and electronically controlled sway-bar disconnect, as well as Fox monotube shocks. The other Glads will have an optional Trac-Lok limited-slip rear. Transfer cases differ as well: Rubicon, Rock-Trac NV241; others, Command-Trac NV241. Everything should be Wrangler-familiar to you.

Numbers you’ll be interested in: The wheelbase is 137.3 inches, and the overall length is 218 inches. Height (hardtop) is 73.1 inches, while the width is 73.8 inches. For comparison, the ’19 Wrangler is 118.4 inches for the Unlimited, 73.6 inches tall, and 73.8 inches wide. Curb weight of auto-equipped Wrangler Rubicon is 4,145 pounds; curb weight of the auto-equipped Gladiator Rubicon is 5,072 pounds. The bed length with the tailgate closed is 60.3 inches; 81.3 when open.

Mopar wasted little to no time prepping available add-ons for the Gladiator—to the tune of more than 200 items with the name Mopar or Jeep Performance Parts available already. You’ll find items such as tube doors, tonneau covers, storage for the bed, and a 2-inch lift. You can also opt for roof racks, bedliners, cold-air intake, grab handles, bumpers, rock rails, off-road lights, and hood graphics, such as “1941” and a lengthy ditty called “Jeep Grilles Through the Years.” Find those and the 184-plus other parts at

As we went to press, there was no official pricing yet for the Gladiator, but the configurator was live, so head to to build and see more specs, packages, and options—and maybe pricing.


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Photography: GM

’20 Chevy Silverado Heavy Duty, Plus Silverado HD High Country

As you read this, the ’20 Chevy Silverado HD should be ready to make a formal appearance, including actual details about the new truck. We do know that if you’re looking for the holiest of holy, it’s going to be the High Country trim, or what Chevy calls “range-topping.” Details about the new Silverado HD are still close to the vest, but we know it’ll have a new gas engine and six-speed transmission as well as the Duramax V-8, worth 910 lb-ft of torque, which will be hooked to a brand-new Allison 10-speed transmission. New trailering tech will also be a feature.

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