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April 2005 Letters To The Editor

Posted in Project Vehicles on April 1, 2005
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The "Letter of the Month" author will be sent one of Four Wheeler's highly prized license plates. So be sure to include your full name and address when you write Four Wheeler at:
Four Wheeler Magazine
6420 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Reader: I sit in my easy chair every year when your Pickup and Four Wheeler of the Year issues come in the mail. In your defense, there is usually not much to choose from. But when it came to your Pickup Truck of the Year (Jan. '05), it was downright laughable.

I've listened to you magazine guys hammer the automakers for not putting real suspensions under real trucks, i.e., solid front axle. Then, when a company like Ford refuses to compromise, you place them last in a field of trucks that shouldn't be mentioned in the same breath.

After looking at the specs, I'd say the Super Duty did very well. For a savings of about $2,500 over the Dodge, the Ford provides the consumer with a V-10 engine, great brakes, superior towing and load capacity, and the Lariat package which, among other things, includes leather seats. The Dodge, on the other hand, didn't even have power steering, according to your specs. And talk about gutless! Remember, the Dodge is a 3/4-ton truck with an 11,000-pound towing capacity. Can you imagine dropping 11,000 pounds behind that engine? You'll really want the Cummins then. You will also see the downside of that cushy suspension as that truck squats to the bumpstops and wanders all over the road. Silly city boys.

As far as I'm concerned, the rest of the field you tested couldn't pack the Super Duty's spare tire. I'd like to see you drop a 40-foot fifth wheel behind the Tacoma. You would probably be arrested before you hit the county line. I know what you're thinking-"This is a four-wheel-drive magazine," and I agree. But I argue that anyone who pays $43,000 for a four-door, fullsize 6,100-pound Dodge truck and takes it off-road could be a moron.

Let's face it. If your readers want to know how these things happen, all they have to do is look at that full-page ad for a brand-new advertiser in the same issue: AAM/Dodge. And yes, Dodge had to farm out the work to AAM to get what they got, but in my opinion, you sold out your readers for some ad dollars. But that's business.
John A. Ijams
Grand Junction, CO

Editor: We may indeed be morons, but we will gladly acknowledge that the Super Duty is a superior tow vehicle. Further, we do test each truck loaded to half-payload at the dragstrip to generate acceleration and braking numbers, and this gives us a pretty good impression of how well each vehicle is set up to carry a load. However, the balance of our pickup truck testing is done with empty beds and empty hitches. This, in our minds, reflects more of the real world, a world in which the vast majority of pickups spend the vast majority of their working lives unladen. If our test was called "Bass Boat Hauler of the Year," you're right, the Ford would've won hands-down. But our test attempts to be a bit more encompassing than that, and we'll gladly stand by our choice.

Regarding the advertising ... well, if you think our awards are really driven by ad revenues, you'd think we'd have been a lot "smarter" than to have picked a Volkswagen to be our Four Wheeler of the Year this year, or a Lexus the two years before that. But of course, that wasn't the case-and as with those vehicles, we chose the Power Wagon this year because it was, to our minds, the best of the bunch.

Reader: How can you declare a winner when you only pick some trucks to compete? I think you forgot several trucks in your shootout test. Let's name a few, shall we? The Chevrolet Avalanche, GMC Sierra 1500, Ford F-150, F-250, F-350, Explorer Sport-Trac, Hummer H2 SUT, and the Lincoln Mark LT, just to name a few. I don't want a specific brand to win, but you people who pick these tucks should try to make it fair for all makes and models, or just don't do it.

Editor: Our "of the Year" tests are, and have always been, limited to 4x4s that are either all new or substantially revised from a previous model year. That's why the Avalanche, F-150, and others you mentioned weren't tested this time around. The Lincoln wasn't available yet. We did test the Hummer SUT in our Four Wheeler of the Year test (Feb. '05). And yes, we know it has a bed, per se, but we still don't consider it a "true" pickup.

Reader: I just bought a Nissan Titan and I am trying to find information on the Project Titan that appeared at Top Truck Challenge. I wanted to know if you could tell me what kind of lift, tires, wheels, and so on the Nissan Titan has in your coverage.
Joseph S. Morse
Houston, TX

Editor: It's taken us a while to get this project up and running again, but our Titan returns this month with a brand-new suspension lift, along with new wheels and tires, on page 92.

Reader: I used to hear stories from my dad about him and his friends going out with their CJs, Blazers, and Scouts, spending their weekends in the woods getting muddy and winching each other out when the mud got a little too deep ... and also heard an interesting story of a game of hide-and-seek that involved a Willys, a winch, and a tree. All these stories got me into thinking about buying a truck, and this summer I bought my first one: an '84 Toyota Land Cruiser 60, a truly awesome truck, and I love it. Unfortunately I can't pull the hide-and-seek trick with its 4,500-pound dry weight, but it's a fun truck. So far, I've upgraded it with a shackle lift to clear 30-inch tires, and with ARB Lockers in front and back, it's unstoppable.

The first couple of weeks I got nagged by my mother about how I'd hate paying for the gas that my truck would eat-and I do-but the first time I took it off-road and used the lockers to get out of some nasty mud, I realized how much I love it, and how all the disadvantages of owning a truck are paid off the first time you get off the pavement.

P.S. Can you guys consider sending me a Four Wheeler license plate?
Dan Gulley

Editor: We aim to please. Consider it done, and welcome to the four-wheelin' family!

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