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February 2005 4x4 News - RPM

Posted in Project Vehicles on February 1, 2005
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Contributors: Courtesy of Brenda Priddy & CompanyChris Doane For Brenda Priddy & CompanyMark A. Smith
Photographers: Chris Doane For Brenda Priddy & CompanyMark A. Smith

Buoyed by the upcoming debut of the midsize Hummer H3 (pictured), GM's Hummer division expects to sell 100,000 total units-H2s, H2 SUTs and H3s-in 2006. The new H3, based on the Chevy/GMC Colorado/Canyon platform, will go on sale this spring as an '06 model. The Colorado-sourced 3.5L I-5 engine and 4L60E transmission will be the base engine/trans combo; a five-speed manual will be an option. A brand-new Borg-Warner transfer case will be available with an optional 4:1 low-range gear which, when combined with the 4.56 axle gears available with the automatic trans, will give the new H3 a 69:1 crawl ratio. Six trim packages will be offered. Hummer reps were mum on pricing as of press time, saying only that the vehicle would be competitively priced for its segment. To see how some H3 prototypes fared on a recent trip to the Rubicon, check out our Trail test on page 46.

New Chevy TrailBlazer spied
The new TrailBlazer SS will arrive in mid-2005 (either as a 2005.5 model or 2006). The TrailBlazer SS will be powered by a 6.0L V-8 with horsepower expected to be in the 350 range. Riding on a lowered suspension, which it shares with the Saab 9-7X, the TrailBlazer SS will have a more aggressive stance and a lower center of gravity than the standard models. This picture shows the new highly modified rear bumper, and huge dual exhaust pipes.

First look: 2007 Chevy GMC Tahoe/Yukon
This thoroughly camouflaged vehicle is the very first picture of the re-engineered and re-styled Yukon and Tahoe fullsize SUVs for the 2007 model year. Not much is known about the major overhaul on the GMT800 platform SUVs, but we are expecting a hybrid version to be added to the lineup.

Smart Micro-Ute To Debut In 2006
Smart's first go-anywhere SUV will feature a lifted suspension, chunkier styling, flared wheel arches and larger rims. Utilizing interchangeable plastic panels that simply bolt to an underlying steel frame, the ForMore will make fixing body paneling damaged while off-road very simple to repair. Powered by a new 1.5L four-cylinder engine and possibly even a V-6 option, this micro-sized SUV will likely raise the bar for high-mileage 4x4s. The all-wheel-drive setup has been co-developed with Mitsubishi, and it will be used to underpin some of the Japanese company's products, starting with a Colt-based wagon, also due in 2006. The transmission will be a choice of two boxes: a standard five-speed manual, or Smart's trademark six-speed sequential unit. Inside, the ForMore will feature a utilitarian-like appearance, with ingenious seats that feature wipe-clean material to ensure mud stains are easily removed, while the dash will include a compass and an altitude meter to suggest the model's off-highway ambitions. The ForMore is expected to make its first appearance at the 2005 Frankfurt Motor Show. It will go on sale in 2006, likely as a 2007 model, and priced in the low $20,000 range.

2006 Ford Explorer
The '06 Explorer is still more than a year way, but Ford is busy testing a revised version of its popular SUV. New styling for '06 affects the front grille, front and rear bumpers as well as the hood. No word yet on whether the '06 Explorer gets a new powerplant or not.

Last spring, Jeep Jamboree founder Mark Smith visited a group of dedicated 4x4 enthusiasts in Thailand, and the result of their collaborations is a new four-event series: Jeep Jamboree Thailand. The series, which runs from August through December, will feature trail runs that range from entry-level 1 to 3 ratings to challenging 9- and 10-rated trails that will surely require substantial modifications such as lockers and winches. For those of you who'd like to visit but can't afford to transport your 4x4, the Thai Jeepers will have vehicles available for visitors. For more info, contact Wiserat Eampracha, Jeep Jamboree Thailand, Dept. FW, 30/283 M-6 Thongsonghong, Laksa, Bangkok 10210, Thailand, or visit

PhotosView Slideshow

Toyo Tires is offering one lucky 'wheeler a chance to win a customized '04 Ford F-150. The Toyo/Ford Racing sweepstakes F-150 features a number of Ford Racing components, as well as a Fabtech 6-inch suspension kit and KMC 20x10-inch XD wheels on Toyo 35x12.50R20 Open Country M/Ts. The sweepstakes will run through May 31, 2005, and the keys will be given to the lucky winner on July 4, 2005. Log on to to enter.

* According to Mitsui & Company, the only place to get an H2 in Japan, Hummer sales have climbed to 150 units this year. Small change in comparison to the 20,284 units sold in the U.S. during the first nine months of 2004.

* 3.7 million GM pickups built between 2000 and 2004 have been recalled to replace faulty tailgate support cables. So far, 73 cases where the cables failed resulted in some 19 claimed injuries. The affected models include the GMC Sierra, Chevy Silverado and Avalanche as well as the Cadillac Escalade EXTs.

* Porsche may rely on Toyota for the powertrain of a new Cayenne hybrid model. Currently the German automaker is conducting feasibility studies to determine whether or not the gasoline-electric powertrain found in the Lexus RX 400h would work.

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