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September 2002 4x4 Truck & Auto News - RPM

Posted in Project Vehicles on September 1, 2002
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GMC Unveils Envoy XUV. But, Uh, What's An XUV ?
GMC recently introduced the '04 Envoy XUV, which it claims is the most adaptable SUV ever offered. So what's an XUV, and what makes the Envoy XUV different from all the other SUVs out there? What it is, is a development of the multipurpose theme first stated by the Chevrolet Avalanche, but without that truck's pickup-like personality. What makes it different from other SUVs is that its power-sliding roof converts the cargo area, with the touch of a button, from fully enclosed to open air. This feature allows the Envoy XUV to transport large and tall items, such as refrigerators, as the roof is no longer in the way.

Another innovative feature of the Envoy XUV is its next-generation midgate. Similar in function to the Chevy Avalanche's midgate, it can be flipped down to create more cargo room. In fact, with the midgate down, the XUV has enough room to haul 4x8 sheets of plywood. The midgate glass can also be lowered with the push of a button.

PhotosView Slideshow

The rear cargo area is engineered to be heavy-duty and weather resistant. It also features the QuickDrain system to quickly channel water out of the cargo area. This allows the cargo area to be hosed out after hauling wet or messy items. Four tie-down rings are found in the cargo area to help owners keep their cargo secure. As if that weren't enough, in an echo of '70s station-wagon technology, the tailgate can also either drop or swing out, and it features a power window.

Standard power for the Envoy XUV comes in the form of the Vortec 4200 inline six-cylinder engine delivering 275 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque. For those requiring more urge, a new all-aluminum 5300 Vortec V-8 generating 285 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque will also be available. Both engines come mated to the 4L60E four-speed automatic transmission. Production for the Envoy XUV begins in mid-2003 at GM's Oklahoma City plant.

SPY Photos!
'04 Dodge Durango Test Mule
Dodge's Durango is set for an '04 makeover. This prototype was photographed in full disguise recently in Detroit. The new Durango, sitting on a hydroformed frame, will be slightly larger with seating for eight, according to sources. Styling, though difficult to assess from these photos, will reflect cues from both the PowerBox and M80 concept vehicles. But the real gem of the redesigned Dodge will be all the engine choices, which are said to include a 3.7L V-6, 4.7L V-8 and a 5.7L hemi V-8.

Though parked here, the new Durango can move, thanks to a planned hemi engine.

PhotosView Slideshow

Caught: '04 Ford F-150
These are believed to be the first photos ever of the '04 Ford F-150. Known as P221 to Ford's folks-in-the-know, this redesign of the popular truck offers owners a more aggressive, intimidating look. Front-end styling will be a cross between the F-350 Tonka concept and the Super Duty trucks. Performancewise, the engine and transmission will be updated with a Navistar 4.5L V-6 turbodiesel, most likely added for the '05 model year. In addition, the F-150 Lightning with a supercharged DOHA 5.4L V-8 is also expected for '05. Look for the F-150 at dealerships by early next summer.

Hard to tell from this photo, but the new F-150 will be updated with touches of the Tonka concept vehicle.

The Spotter
* Blazer Continues
Despite persistent rumors to the contrary, Gary Cowger, President of GM North America, says that Chevrolet will continue to produce the Chevy Blazer-at least for now. Said Cowger in an interview with the trade publication Automotive News, "[The] Blazer is a very popular car out there. Given that you've got it at the right price point...I think we can keep that in the market a little longer."

* Ram Is A Contender
Watch out Ford and GM, Dodge Ram sales are up. A company representative told The Spotter that sales of the Ram pickup have increased each month over sales figures from the same period last year.

* New SUVs
Mitsubishi announced that it will add two new SUVs to its line by Spring 2003. The Outlander mini-SUV will be available by year's end. Meanwhile Mitsubishi's as-yet-unnamed car-based SUV, built on the all-new PS platform, should hit showroom floors in early 2003. It'll be a sporty vehicle in the vein of the Toyota Highlander.

* The Green World
At press time California's government was considering new legislation to put stricter limits on greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide emissions. If signed, the new law, known as AB 1058, would apply to vehicles for the '08 model year.

* New Power Stroke
Ford plans to replace the 7.3L Navistar Diesel engine with a 6L Power Stroke V-8 in all its heavy-duty trucks by early next year. The new engines offer more power, better fuel economy and lower emissions. Rated at 325hp and 550 lb-ft of torque, the Navistar will be offered in F-Series Super Duty pickups and the Ford Excursion SUV.

For The Record
In "Neat Stuff" (July '02), we told you about Jacobs Omni Ignitions, a system we like a lot. Trouble is, the Omni now is out of production. Some quick checking reveals that the Mileage Master or Off-Road Edition from the company's Energy Pak line are close replacements that will provide the same benefits that the Omni systems provided.

Two-Second News
The famous Rubicon Trail is now under heavy scrutiny by the environmentalist community. In order to help insure continued public access to the trail, the U.S. Forest Service is implementing a new check point and information booth at the Loon Lake trailhead. The booth will be staffed Saturdays and Sundays from Memorial Day through Labor Day. For more information contact CA4WDC at 800/4x4-funn (494-3886).

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