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May 2005 4x4 News - RPM

Posted in Project Vehicles on May 1, 2005 Comment (0)
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Photographers: Courtesy of Brenda Priddy & Company

Toyota has announced that it is building a vehicle which is closely themed after the retro FJ Cruiser concept of a few years ago. The FJ Cruiser, as it will be known, will be patterned off of Toyota's half century of building rugged and affordable off-pavement performers, such as the original FJ40, 4Runner, and 4x4 compact pickups and will be squarely aimed at, you guessed it, the "active-lifestyle set." In other words, Nissan Xterra, look out. We'll let you know more in next month's column.

Nine volunteers from the Drive Around the World organization set out on the LONGITUDE Expedition Nov. 1, 2003, in specially prepared Land Rover Discoverys. The Expedition is a 50,000-kilometer drive around the world-crossing four continents, through 34 countries-to raise funds that will help cure Parkinson's disease. The trek has taken the team along some of the most desolate and demanding places on the planet. In addition to raising money, Drive Around the World's LONGITUDE Expedition is conducting a motor-oil endurance test for Mobil 1's 10W-40 with SuperSyn(tm) synthetic oil. The agreement with Mobil 1 is to run the entire 32,000-mile global expedition with no oil or oil filter changes in all four LONGITUDE Expedition Certified Discoverys. The decision to go with K&N came while the expedition approached Australia's Gun Barrel Highway, a 500-mile barren track that stretches from east to west across Central Australia and is made up of talc-like dirt. With K&N filters clearing the air, the engines got all the clean air they needed and the motor-oil longevity was extended. The journey concluded on February 25th, 2005 at Land Rover's headquarters in Irvine, California.

Toyo Tires(r) announces the 2005 celebration of the 60th Anniversary of Toyo Tire & Rubber Co., Ltd. Founded on Aug. 1, 1945, the Toyo Group includes Nitto Tire North America and Toyo Automotive Parts (USA) Inc. Toyo Tires provides a broad range of tire styles for pickups and SUVs. Toyo also supports today's lifestyle as a sponsor of many popular racing series and events. For more information on Toyo Tires(r) products, log onto toyo.com or teamtoyo.com.

The current generation of fullsize GM trucks is a bit long in the tooth and has been with us since 1999. Since that time, the F-150 has undergone a freshening and a full redesign, Dodge has expertly marketed the Dodge Ram Hemi to hungry Mopar fans, Toyota has introduced and upgraded the Tundra, and Nissan has jumped into the fullsize truck pool head first. But rest assured Chevy and GMC loyalists, GM says its redesigned trucks and SUVs are on the way. The new vehicles, based on the GMT 900 platform, which replaces the GMT 800 that underpins the current generation, should be unveiled at the end of this year. No word yet on what GM will offer for powertrain selection.

In a surprising move, Ford has gone against all predictions and developed the second-generation Sport Trac ahead of the AWOL next-generation Ranger. The production version, caught here testing near the Detroit Auto Show by our intrepid spy, carries an identical interior and many styling cues from the concept. This time around, the Sport Trac will really be based on the sophisticated Explorer platform (as opposed to the old Ranger platform), and will offer four-wheel drive and the Explorer's 4.6L V-8 as options. With worthy competition for newcomers, such as the Honda Ridgeline and old favorites, such as the Tacoma Double Cab, Ford will be upping its game to compete in this hotly contested segment.

Ford has done it again. After the first full year of the redesigned F-150 on the market, Ford sold an industry record 939,511 trucks to continue the F-series as the best-selling vehicle in America, 23 years in a row. This figure topped Ford's previous record of 911,597 F-series back in 2001.



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Good Decisions
SEMA, on behalf of the SAN, submitted comments to a U.S. Forest Service (USFS) proposal that would establish a state petitioning process for inventoried roadless area management. The SEMA/SAN-supported proposed rule will allow OHV access decisions to be made at a local level, ensuring the proper balance between access and preservation is achieved. SEMA commented that the proposed rule should eliminate ongoing legal challenges to the current roadless policy set in 2001. Given the overwhelming response to the proposed rule, it is uncertain at this time if and when a final decision will be released by the USFS, but we'll keep you informed.

California Bans OHVs From 570,000 Acres
A federal judge ordered the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to close off-highway vehicle (OHV) access to more than half a million acres of California desert that is home to a desert tortoise protected under the Endangered Species Act. The ban covers large portions of the Sonoran and Mojave deserts in eastern San Bernardino, Riverside, and Imperial counties east of the Salton Sea and Joshua Tree National Park, including a number of washes popular with four wheelers. (The ban does not affect the Algodones Dunes in Imperial County, where 'wheelers and conservationists reached a separate, interim settlement banning 4x4 access to about 80,000 acres and allowing use of another 80,000 acres.) The ban took effect immediately and will remain in effect until the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rewrites habitat protection plans for the area. SEMA joined with OHV groups in expressing disappointment in the decision, which adds more acreage to the millions already closed-off to OHV access across the western United States. SEMA is also concerned that it will be difficult for the BLM to post signs to distinguish between legal and illegal OHV access areas.

* Rumors have been swirling that Jeep is trying hard to make a business case for the Gladiator concept, which they hope to have in showrooms for the '07 model year.

* CSM Worldwide expects a new definition for the term "Big Three" by decade's end. According to CSM, the Toyota Group will pass DaimlerChrysler as the third largest seller of automobiles in the United States by 2009.

* GM is mulling over the discontinuation of the disappointingly slow-selling GMC Envoy XUV.

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