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The Years Best New 4x4 Truck Products of 2008

Posted in Product Reviews on December 1, 2008
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The year 2008 brought with it much innovation for the 4x4 community. So much, in fact, that it was difficult for us to squeeze the best of 'em in the following pages. It doesn't matter what type of rig you sport-chances are you either want to purchase, or already possess, something from this list. If not, take note because we've been salivating over them all year, and now it's your turn to see what products made the cut for Four Wheeler's annual year-end best list.

Drivetrain

What is it: Atlas 4SP
Why it's Cool: This stout reworking of the awesome Atlas 2 adds two additional gear ratios, thanks to a planetary gearset mounted prior to the input shaft. They come ready to install and are available in your choice of ratios: 5.4:1 or the incredibly low 10.3:1.
Where to get it: 800/350-2223, www.advanceadapters.com


What is it: Dynaloc Hubs
Why it's Cool: These redesigned locking hubs are three times stronger than traditional hubs, and feature a "fail to lock" feature that won't leave you stranded on the trail.
Where to get it: 714/596-4461, www.dynatrac.com




What is it: Gear Vendors Double OD
Why it's Cool: Double overdrive allows significant fuel savings, thanks to lower engine rpm. On Duramax applications, this product is said to add up to 4 mpg while cruising at highway speeds.
Where to get it: 800/999-9555, www.gearvendors.com



What is it: Ultra Seal U-Joints
Why it's Cool: These inexpensive U-joints are much stronger than traditional-style joints while incorporating a nifty internal seal that keeps water and mud from reaching the bearings.
Where to get it: 888/452-7979, www.qualitygear.com



What is it: Solid Axle JK SpynTec
Why it's Cool: The SpynTec hub conversion allows owners to add the functionality of locking hubs to the popular Jeep JK. With hubs unlocked, steering is easier, the front drivetrain is preserved, and increased mpg can be observed.
Where to get it: 330/538-9791, www.solidaxle.com



What is it: Stak Replace-A-Case
Why it's Cool: This trick aluminum Dana 300 housing allows owners to clock the transfer case, adding valuable ground clearance under a rig's belly. This product is also very handy for switching from right-hand to left-hand front output drops.
Where to get it: 915/584-2400, www.stak4x4.com



What is it: Eaton E-Locker for Dana 30
Why it's Cool: This heavy-duty selectable locker was designed especially for the newer Dana 30 axles with 27 or 31 splines. This locker is said to be the strongest locker available for the Dana 30 axle.
Where to get it: www.eaton.com



What is it: Stage 8 Locking Spindle Nuts
Why it's Cool: Dana 44/60 owners rejoice because these locking fasteners are guaranteed to stay tight, no matter what abuse you throw at them. Manufactured from chromoly steel, each part features a precision fit that provides significant strength over traditional-style spindle-nut arrangements.
Where to get it: 800/843-7836, www.stage8.com





Wheels

What is it: Walker Evans 20-Inch Wheels
Why it's Cool: When you combine more than 50 years of desert racing experience with the desire to have the lightest and strongest wheel available, you get Walker Evans wheels. Now mix that with the desire to run plus-size rubber (40 to 54 inches) and the Walker Evans 20-inch wheels are hard to beat. Made from cast-aluminum featuring triangulated design elements, this wheel is awesome at dispersing energy spikes while remaining super-lightweight. The valve stems are tucked in out of harm's way as well.
Where to get it: 951/784-7223, www.walkerevansracing.com

What is it: Poison Spyder Customs Spyder Lock Wheels
Why it's Cool: Poison Spyder Customs set out to build a super-stout Jeep/buggy wheel, and ended up with a unique look that can survive a thrashing. The beadlock ring stiffens the face of the wheel, protecting both the hub and valve stem from carnage, while little grooves clamp against the tire to prevent slippage. Flush-mounted Grade-8 hardware ensures serviceability while steel inserts imbedded in the aluminum engage as the wear surface for long thread life.
Where to get it: 303/777-4820, www.spydercustoms.com

What is it: AEV Beadlock Wheels
Why it's Cool: AEV has some of the coolest Jeep add-ons available, and these beadlocked wheels are no exception. Featuring recessed valve stems to protect against the rigors of hard-core trail abuse, these wheels offer individualistic style designed to survive. We also like the fact that these wheels are hubcentric and DOT-compliant, thanks to a toothed-positive locking ring design.
Where to get it: 406/251-2100, www.aev-conversions.com

What is it: Mamba M4 Wheels
Why it's Cool: Mamba Off-Road Alloys M4 wheels are unique in design and offer a tough and rugged look. Each feature a diamond-cut, clearcoated finish with forged 6061 aluminum trim bolts, studs, and nuts. Included are two-piece, die-cast aluminum center caps with stainless steel hardware. They're available in 17- to 22-inch sizes and with offsets for stock height and lifted trucks.
Where to get it: 800/735-2822, www.mambawheels.com

Bumpers/Body Armor

What is it: Expedition One Trail Series JK Bumpers
Why it's Cool: These bumpers add beef where it's needed while also maintaining effective approach and departure angles. The rear bumper features an innovative swing-out tire carrier that opens with the OE tailgate.
Where to get it: 801/726-3530, www.expeditionone.biz



What is it: ARB H3 Winch Bumper
Why it's Cool: ARB engineers its bumpers to work with a vehicle's airbags, plus you get to add a winch, auxiliary lighting, and even a CB antenna. Anyone can appreciate the quality of this bumper-it looks as good as it protects.
Where to get it: 866/293-9078, www.arbusa.com



What is it: Kilby JK Gas Tank Skid
Why it's Cool: Kilby Enterprises designed this skid so that end users wouldn't have to fight with the underside of a JK to gain ample protection. Segmented into three manageable sections, this product requires only one set of hands and a single wrench for installation.
Where to get it: 818/565-5945, www.onboardair.com


What is it: Pro Comp JK Dual Sport suspension kit
Why it's Cool: This is the first kit of its kind. Designed to rockcrawl as well as it handles whoops, this kit takes JK performance to a whole new level.
Where to get it: 619/216-1444, www.explorerprocomp.com




Suspension

What is it: Rancho MyRide Controller
Why it's Cool: This wireless controller allows you to adjust your Rancho shocks' ride quality on the fly. We dig the ease of installation and the affordable price.
Where to get it: 734/384-7804, www.gorancho.com




What is it: KORE '08-'09 Tundra Long-Travel Suspension
Why it's Cool: KORE developed a long-travel suspension that doesn't require a wider-than-stock track width to achieve upwards of 12 inches of travel with 4WD.
Where to get it: 760/749-8687, www.koreperfomance.com




What is it: Off Road Unlimited 3/4-ton GM SAS
Why it's Cool: This 100-percent bolt-on conversion kit includes all the necessary components to convert your '01-'08 GM from IFS to a four-link/solid axle with coilover shocks. The system will accommodate a 37- to 40-inch tire. The kit includes all necessary brackets and hardware, a pair of 2.5-inch coilover shocks, a complete front Dana 60 axle assembly, brake lines, rear springs, and rear shocks.
Where to get it: www.offroadunlimited.com

What is it: Specialty Products Jounce Shocks by Light Racing
Why it's Cool: These hydraulic bumpstops offer finite adjustment of compression and rebound while taking up less space than traditional hydraulic bumps. Thanks to their compact size, Light Racing was able to package these units into easy-install kits for vehicles where traditional hydraulic bumpstops simply wouldn't fit before.
Where to get it: 800/525-6505, www.lightracing.com

What is it: Rubicon Express TJ Stretch kit
Why it's Cool: This conversion allows short-wheelbase TJ owners to stretch the rear half of a '97-'06 Wrangler's suspension for better performance both on and off the pavement. Other parts are required, but this kit is where you should start.
Where to get it: 877/367-7824, www.rubiconexpress.com


What is it: Teraflex HD Forged JK Adjustable Track Bar
Why it's Cool: This massive adjustable track bar looks more like a track bar off a 1-ton pickup. Manufactured from a forged piece of steel instead of tubing, this part will not let you down on the trail. It's said to work best with 4-inch lifts or taller.
Where to get it: www.teraflex.biz


What is it: ORE JK Evo Lever
Why it's Cool: The fab gurus at Off Road Evolution designed this rear cantilever-style coilover conversion to work with almost any aftermarket suspension system. The completely bolt-on setup increases wheel travel as well as improving on-road ride adjustability. Unlike anything else on the market, this kit takes JK performance to a whole new level. (Check out next month's issue for a complete review.)
Where to get it: 714/870-5515, www.offroadevolution.com

What is it: JKS Manufacturing ACOS Pro
Why it's Cool: The ACOS Pro combines all the benefits of the original adjustable coilover spacer with a fully adjustable nitrogen-charged bump shock for complete control over suspension compression. Load leveling couldn't be simpler, as the ACOS Pros feature built-in 3.25 inches of ride height adjustment.
Where to get it: 308/762-6949, www.jksmfg.com

Tires

What is it: BFG Mud Terrain T/A KM2
Why it's Cool: This is the tire that everybody is talking about right now. Thanks to ultra-flexible construction, this tread conforms to any terrain providing ample traction with little or no worry about flats.
Where to get it: www.bfgoodrich.com



What is it: Nitto Dura Grappler
Why it's Cool: This tire may fall into the poser category at first glance, but trust us, it works awesome as an all-around work truck tire. On pavement, the Dura Grappler is one of the quietest we've ever tested and you can't beat Nitto's claimed 45,000-mile tread wear warranty (65,000 miles on P-metric sizes). Slick surfaces are no match for the Dura Grappler's heavily siped continuous tread blocks.
Where to get it: www.nittotire.com

Ligthing

What is it: Rigid Industries Edge LEDs (formerly Holder)
Why it's Cool: This new version of the race-proven Holder LED bar is said to be the brightest and most efficient LED available today. Rigid Industries has also figured out the cleanest way to mount the Edge LED Bars to popular builders' rigs such as the Jeep JK and TJ, Toyota FJ, and Hummer H3. Shown here is the prototype Jeep JK version.
Where to get it: 480/655-0100, www.rigidindustries.com

What is it: Vision-X Xmitter LED Lightbar
Why it's Cool: The Xmitter LED Lightbar was designed to produce a tremendous amount of light in a compact package. The 12-inch version produces 3,600 lumens while drawing only 4 amps and boasting an astonishing 292,000-hour lifespan. Each lightbar is manufactured of stainless steel and aluminum for long-lasting durability. Measuring in at less than 3 inches tall and 4 inches deep, the Xmitter lightbars are perfect for mounting in tight spaces where traditional lights would never fit. They're available from 6- to 42-inch lengths, and all come standard with flat surfaces and tube mounts with rubber shock isolators.
Where to get it: 888/489-9820, www.visionxusa.com

What is it: Baja Designs Forward Lighting LEDs
Why it's Cool: LEDs offer superior vibration resistance over any other type of lightbulb available today. Baja Designs took this technology one step further by housing 18 of these high-output LEDs inside an ultra-durable finned-aluminum housing complete with an unbreakable polycarbonate diffuser lens. These lights produce an outstanding bright white light rated at 2,880 lumens while consuming just 50 watts of power. Best of all, each lamp includes the Baja Designs patented quick-adjust system that makes every light super easy to aim.
Where to get it: 760/560-2252, www.bajadesigns.com

Electrical

What is it: sPod and Source for JK
Why it's Cool: This stand-alone switch panel and relay pack/power distribution point integrates seamlessly with your factory Jeep JK's electrical system. The device controls up to six electrical circuits and requires no permanent modifications whatsoever. Simply bolt the unit in and connect two wires to your battery-no mess, no fuss. The switch panel features lighted rocker switches rated at 30 amps each.
Where to get it: 661/755-8139, www.4x4spod.com

Tools

What is it: Light Racing Flared-Hole Die Kits
Why it's Cool: These dimple dies allow users to add rigidity to a piece of sheetmetal by stretching a flared edge around a circular hole. Sold individually or in kits with popular sizes, these tools offer fabricators and mechanics that professional touch found only on racing vehicles.
Where to get it: 800/525-6505, www.lightracing.com


What is it: Mac's Custom Tie Downs D-Vice
Why it's Cool: This receiver-hitch-mounted bench vise makes trail repairs simple.
Where to get it: 800/666-1586, www.macscustomtiedowns.com





What is it: Miller Diversion 165 AC/DC TIG Welder
Why it's Cool: Designed specifically for first-time TIG welders who want to take on motorsports TIG-welding applications, such as chassis fabrication, patch panels, aluminum oil pans, stainless exhaust systems, and chromoly rollcages.
Where to get it: 800/426-4553, www.millerwelds.com


Engine Performance

What is it: Snow Performance MPG Max
Why it's Cool: The MPG Max kit from Snow Performance adds up to 3 mpg to any diesel pickup by simply injecting a mixture of water and methanol (windshield washer fluid) into the combustion chamber. The system is controlled by boost pressure and exhaust gas temperature, so a built-in gauge is included in the control unit. Extra power is just one bonus of this setup. Water methanol is also known to remove harmful carbon deposits on intake runners and around valves and valve seats and from the tops of pistons.
Where to get it: 866/365-2762, www.snowperformance.net

What is it: Bully Dog PMT for Diesel Pickups
Why it's Cool: The PMT is four products in one. It serves as a downloader with three preset performance settings including Tow, Performance, and Extreme modes. It also serves as a monitor, allowing the driver to watch the vehicle's performance and operating conditions. The PMT serves as a versatile tuning device, allowing adjustment settings of drivetrain, transmission, and vehicle safety parameters. An additional feature of the PMT is the ability to scan, read, and erase diagnostic trouble codes.
Where to get it: 866/285-5936, www.bullydog.com

Winching

What is it: Warn Industries Power Plant
Why it's Cool: The Power Plant winch combines the proven performance of a Warn 9,000- or 12,000-pound winch with a built-in air compressor that will easily fill tires and run an impact gun for up to 30 minutes.
Where to get it: 800/910-1122, www.warn.com





What is it: ARB Snatch Block 9000
Why it's Cool: This new snatch block features a computer-optimized two-piece polymer pulley design for increased functionality and safety during a vehicle recovery. Smart features like rounded safety edges protect hands during recovery situations. Thanks to innovative design, the working load encountered during winching has a positive effect on the unit. High-strength, low-density materials contribute to a total weight reduction of nearly 50 percent over other comparably rated snatch blocks.
Where to get it: 425/264-1391, www.arbusa.com

What is it: Smittybilt XRC-8 Winch
Why it's Cool: This 8,000-pound winch won't break the bank. Value pricing doesn't mean it has to stop working on the second trip out. This winch packs a punch and keeps on pulling thanks to a 5.5hp series-wound motor and a 172.8:1 planetary gear ratio. Included are 92 feet of galvanized 5/16-inch steel cable, safety hook, and roller fairlead.
Where to get it: 888/717-5797, www.smittybilt.com

What is it: Mac's Custom Tie Downs Recovery Straps
Why it's Cool: These tow straps are the official recovery strap of the '08 Top Truck Challenge. This means that the potent TTC recovery crew depended on their durability to remove a variety of competition rigs from extreme situations. Rated from 14,000 to 57,000 pounds, these straps are made from the highest-quality strap material available today. Each undergoes strict quality control to ensure specific working load limits, and each is made by hand in Sagle, Idaho. Trust our experience, these straps are a must-have for any trail machine.
Where to get it: 800/666-1586, www.macscustomtiedowns.com

Chemicals

What is it: Royal Purple Engine Break-in Oil
Why it's Cool: This oil is specifically formulated to aid in breaking in brand-new engines. The lubricant combines highly refined mineral oil, preferred for engine break-in, with advanced additives containing high levels of zinc and phosphorus to optimize protection in flat-tappet and roller engines.
Where to get it: 888/382-6300, www.royalpurple.com

What is it: Evans Waterless Coolant
Why it's Cool: Evans Waterless Coolants are a waterless chemical blend that results in more efficient cooling due to a higher boiling point, which reduces the occurrence of boilover, cavitation, and detonation. Not only does this stuff not boil over, but it also will not freeze. At extreme cold temperatures, it contracts and becomes extremely thick, just the opposite of waterbased coolants. Electrolysis and corrosion are also completely eliminated by this product.
Where to get it: 888/990-2665, www.evanscooling.com

Interior

What is it: Grant Revolution Steering Wheel
Why it's Cool: Now you can enjoy the look and feel of an aftermarket steering wheel without losing the function of your vehicle's airbag. The new wheels retain all factory steering-wheel switches, and multiple designs are available to match your own custom look. Currently these steering wheels are available for all '03-'08 GM pickups and SUVs.
Where to get it: 818/247-2910, www.grantproducts.com

What is it: Mastercraft Baja RS Suspension Seat
Why it's Cool: Mastercraft rewrote the rules when they created the Baja RS suspension seat. Essentially this seat provides comfort found in other suspension seats, along with one added bonus-it reclines to give the user a preferred angle adjustment of the back portion of the seat.
Where to get it: 800/565-4042, www.mastercraftseats.com






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