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December 2002 4x4 Truck & Auto News - RPM

Posted in Project Vehicles on December 1, 2002
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Contributors: Brenda Priddy & Co.
GM's new Vortec 2800 I-4 engine. It will debut on the 2004 Colorado.

GM's New 5-Cylinder Engine Debuts
Get Inline
In anticipation of the release of its new Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon pickup trucks for '04, GM has introduced the powerplants that will drive these compact trucks. Based on the new-in-'02 Vortec 4200 inline-six, the new five-cylinder Vortec 3500 I-5 and Vortec 2800 I-4 will both be available for the Colorado and Canyon. The engines share 89 percent of their components and GM claims they "provide the power of a V-6 and the efficiency of an I-4." The Vortec 3500 I-5 is targeted to produce 215 hp and 225 lb-ft of torque, while the Vortec I-4 promises 170 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are designed to meet Federal Tier II/California Low Emission Vehicle II (LEV II) standards.

A rigid block structure, a well-balanced crankshaft and a counterbalance shaft should reduce excess noise and vibration. The engines' exhaust cam phaser, borrowed from the other inline Vortec engines, enables variable valve timing, which improves smoothness at idle, fuel economy and emissions reduction.

Perhaps you're wondering, how weird is a five-cylinder engine? Not very, as it happens. Mercedes-Benz built them, and very successfully, as far back as the mid-'70s. Audi has built them and Volvo still does. And if you were to acquire a European diesel-powered Liberty, it would be powered by a five-cylinder engine.

A Larger Durango Could Be On the Way.

SPY Photos!
The Next Durango
After seeing some spy photos of the '04 Dodge Durango, code named HB, we can safely say its designers are distancing this SUV from the Dakota pickup, from which it originally was derived. Instead, Dodge has gone in the same stylistic direction as the Ram trucks, extending the new Durango's wheelbase nearly 10 inches longer than its current length. According to sources, a choice of several engines may make it under the Durango's hood, including a 3.7L V-6, 4.7L V-8 or 5.7L Hemi V-8.

Toyota's '05 Tundra four-door.

This Just In:
New Tundra Crew Cab In The Works
Toyota is developing a new Crew Cab version of its fullsize Tundra, most likely as an '05 model. Besides the larger four-door cab, Toyota designers combined the '03's styling changes with updates planned for the '06 model year. The prototype you see here reveals a new grille design with more space between the now slightly pivoted slats. In addition, the air intake below the grille is noticeably larger. While the headlamps will remain nearly identical to those on the '03 models, the foglights will probably be reworked. Expect the '05 Tundra Crew Cab in dealerships sometime in early-to-mid 2004.

Mitsubishi's new Outlander will be available in all-wheel drive.

Versatile Crossover: Mitsubishi's Outlander
Mitsubishi has unveiled its new entry-level crossover SUV, the '03 Outlander. Built on the Lancer/Galant automotive platform, the front- or all-wheel-drive unibody Outlander will be offered in two trim levels, LS and upscale XLS. It's powered by a 2.4L transverse inline-four engine mated to a four-speed automatic with a manual shifting feature, producing 140 hp at 5,000 rpm and 157 lb-ft of torque at 2,500 rpm. The Outlander features independent MacPherson struts up front and an independent multilink with coil springs in the rear, giving it a very smooth and comfortable ride. We had a chance to drive the 4WD Outlander XLS and were impressed by its versatility and design. The interior is roomy yet pleasant, highlighted by a sporty gauge cluster, an in-dash analog clock, circular air vents that flip over when closed, and ample storage space in the center console and cargo space in the rear. On the pavement, Outlander's 68.9 inches of width and 66.3 inches of height provide the vehicle with a low center of gravity that enables it to take turns confidently. We even got to do some "all-wheeling" with it, and to our surprise, the Outlander held its own, climbing up a loose low-grade hill and over some mild rocks with minimal tire slippage. The Outlander is positioned in the same new entry-level crossover SUV class as the Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester, and like those vehicles, it will not be available with a two-speed transfer case.

The Spotter
I'll Be Baack!
Happy 55th Awnuld! Infamous Hummer advocate Arnold Schwarzenegger got a new pewter metallic H2 as a birthday gift from GM and AM General when he took part in Hummer Homecoming 2002, a gathering of Hummer owners at AM General's test track in South Bend, Indiana.

Nice Dubs
Superior Industries makes wheels for the Dodge Ram and Chrysler PT Cruiser. Now, the Spotter discovers that the company will also be supplying Dodge with the wheels for its Dakota pickup

Crash Notification
General Motors will begin adding an advanced automatic crash notification (AACN) system to vehicles equipped with OnStar. The system will notify 911 dispatchers if the vehicle is involved in a moderate to severe collision.

Promises, Promises
Isuzu Motors announced last August that its banks and top shareholder General Motors would throw it a lifeline of at least $1.35 billion. In return, Isuzu promised to slash its debt and return to profit over the next two years.

Cadillac SUW
Yet another carmaker is entering the growing all-wheel-drive segment. This time it's Cadillac. Yes, Cadillac. Built on GM's Sigma architecture, the new SRX rear-wheel-drive sport/utility wagon hits dealerships in summer 2003 with a standard V-6 and an optional Northstar V-8. Up next, the Rolls Royce pickup! Just kidding, just kidding.

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