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July 2005 4x4 News - RPM

Front View
Sean P. Holman | Writer
Posted July 1, 2005

Radical Suzuki

Suzuki calls the Concept-X2 a customer-focused SUV for adventure-seekers unwilling to sacrifice capability, power, performance, safety, or style in a right-sized sport-utility package. Whatever. We call it a possible replacement for the Vitara, and yes, it even has a ladder frame and low-range to go with that peppy V-6. If it is half as good as our long term XL-7 was, it will be a great little machine.

Stylin' Concepts, in partnership with Pro Comp Suspension, is giving away a 2005 Ford F-150 to one lucky reader of Four Wheeler, 4-Wheel & Off Road, or Off Road magazines. The Ford sports a mind-boggling array of aftermarket performance and style modifications, including:

* 6-inch Pro Comp suspension lift with billet front coilovers and rear traction bars
* 35x12.50-17 Pro Comp X-terrain tires on 17x9-inch 1079 Xtreme alloy rims
* Roush supercharger kit, stainless exhaust, and interior leather kit
* Auto Meter gauges
* KC lightbar
* Bushwacker fender flares
* Baer Big Brake kit
* T-Max 10,000-pound winch
* Hidden Hitch front hitch kit
* Owens diamond-plate floor mats
* And much, much more.

To find out how to enter, and whether you're eligible, look for the sweepstakes rules on page 106, and for the official entry form in this magazine. The contest begins after midnight Eastern time, May 31, 2005,and all entries must be postmarked by 5:00 p.m. Eastern time, August 22, 2005. Good luck!


This seven-passenger Jeep SUV, called the Jeep Commander, will go on sale this fall. The Commander will be built at the same plant that now builds the Grand Cherokee, and will offer the same selection of 4x4 systems, suspension, and powertrains as in the current Grand Cherokee. The two vehicles share the same platform and 109.5-inch wheelbase, but the Commander is 2 inches longer than the Grand overall to accommodate a third row of seats.

The Commander is the first Jeep with three rows of seats. The seats are arranged stadium-style, with the third row seats highest. The back two rows of seats fold flat to create a cargo platform that can hold up to 68.7 cubic feet. While the third-row seating is not as roomy as it might be in a larger vehicle, it was considered crucial to keep the wheelbase as short as possible to preserve the maneuverability of the Commander. Ground clearance is given at 8.6 inches. There will be two models, the standard Commander and an upscale Limited, and it will be available in 2WD, in addition to 4WD.

It might not look much different, but it is. Working with DaimlerChrysler's Street and Racing Technology (SRT) team, Jeep has developed "the ultimate performance sports utility vehicle," the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8.

Equipped with a 6.1L HEMI engine and specially developed full-time, all-wheel-drive system, the SRT8 seems intended to compete with the Porsche Cayenne Turbo and BMW X5 when it becomes available in the fall as a 2006 model. The 6.1L V-8 makes 415 hp at 6,200 rpm, and 410 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm, and because of a 10.3:1 compression ratio, runs on Premium gas. The transmission is a W5A580 five-speed automatic. There is a single-speed transfer case (MD146 SRT) that distributes torque front-to-rear via an electronically controlled clutch pack. Axle ratios are 3.73:1, with a 7.9-inch ring gear up front and an 8.9-inch ring gear at the rear. Brakes are discs with four-piston Brembo calipers. The SRT8 runs on high-performance, Z-rated 255/45 Goodyear Eagle run-flat tires.

The new Isuzu I-350, a five-cylinder 4x4 pickup truck, is the latest continuation of Isuzu's partnership with General Motors. The I-350 will be built in the USA at GM's Shreveport, Louisiana, plant starting in June 2005.

Isuzu collaborated with GM in developing the replacement for the S-10 pickup, with the result being the Chevy Colorado. Isuzu markets an Asian version of the pickup in Thailand, where it is called the D-Max.

In the U.S., the I-350, and its 2WD Extended Cab stable mate, the I-280, will differ from the familiar GM products only in trim level details and in warranty. Isuzu offers a 7-year/75,000-mile powertrain warranty and 7-year/75,000-mile roadside assistance program, which is more than twice as long as GM's 3-year/36,000-mile warranty. Pricing was not announced, but an Isuzu spokesman said, "I can assure you that the I-280 and I-350 will be priced attractively and competitively."
-John Stewart

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