Hummer has announced that the new-for-'06 H3 will start at a remarkably reasonable $29,500 and will be at dealerships by the time you read this. Standard on the Shreveport, Louisiana-built H3 is full-time four-wheel drive, OnStar, and a five-speed manual transmission. Several option packages focusing on luxury or off-pavement capability will be offered, in addition to the typical fare of upgrades, including leather, XM radio and a CD changer, 33s, and (what we're really waiting for) a 4.0:1 transfer-case option with a 69:1 crawl ratio. In other H3 news, GM has decided that it will build an additional H3 plant in South Africa to feed the export market, where H3s will be sold in right- and left-hand-drive models. Look for our First Drive of the H3 in next month's issue.
After realizing that customers don't associate brands such as Chevrolet and Hummer with the mothership, General Motors has made a move to equip all new vehicles with its corporate "GM" insignia. The move will start with vehicles in the '06 model year and will eventually appear on all of GM's products, despite the fact that GM is trying to differentiate its brands from one another. We are still trying to make sense of it.
Four Wheeler's Real Truck Club Challenge is coming back to the Badlands. The annual club event, held each August, returns for 2005 to Badlands ORV Park in Attica, Indiana, the weekend of August 6-7. As we did last year, we'll have 20 top teams representing clubs from all over North America, and we'll run them through some of the Badlands' toughest traps: the Rock Pit, the Mud Hole, and the infamous Buzzard's Roost. And unlike our signature Top Truck Challenge, Real Truck Club Challenge is open to the public.
To find out more about RTCC for 2005, and to see highlights of last year's event, log onto www.fourwheeler.com. For information about the Badlands, and to get directions to the park, check out www.badlandsoffroad.com. Four Wheeler's Real Truck Club Challenge is presented by Nissan in association with Toyo, Skyjacker, Detroit Locker, Precision Gear, and Reider Racing.
Our spies caught the next-generation Suburban out road-testing, and despite the heavy camouflage, there is no mistaking what this vehicle is. The upcoming Suburban, due out at the beginning of next year, is all new and built on the latest GM fullsize truck platform, dubbed GMT900. In addition to the Suburban and fullsize pickups, the GMT900 will spawn new Yukons, Tahoes, Escalades, and H2s. Official introduction is slated for the 2006 Detroit Auto Show, next January.
Not to be outdone by GM, DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler group, including Dodge and Jeep, has decided that Hemi has become such a powerful identifier and marketing tool for its brands that the current badge suffers from size inadequacy issues. So the Hemi badge is getting a boost by 136 percent on trucks to presumably answer the question that haunts Dodge Ram owners everywhere; "That thing got a Hemi?"
The newest member of the Land Rover LR3 family, the 216hp 4.0L V-6 version, will start at $38,950. For your money, you still get Terrain Response, air suspension, 18-inch wheels, and a six-speed automatic transmission. The V-6-powered SE version goes on sale in July.
The newest member of the Primedia truck stable, Diesel Power, is now on sale with its second issue. Covering the latest tech and tests, with plenty of step-by-step installation tips, Diesel Power continues as the voice of the turbodiesel enthusiast. And due to popular demand, an additional issue of Diesel Power will be appearing on your newsstand within the year.
The newest issue of Diesel Power went on sale June 14. Check your local newsstand for availability.
Indiana 'Wheelers Unite to Open Abandoned Mining Area
After 10 years of planning, land purchases, management agreements, construction, and networking with state and local governments, a new facility in an abandoned mining district five miles northeast of Dugger, Indiana has opened. The property was given the name "Redbird State Riding Area" and is managed under the state Division of Outdoor Recreation with support from volunteers known as the Redbird Management Group.
The Redbird State Riding area currently consists of 640 acres, including parking, restroom facilities, and a shelter house for picnics. Signs are posted at trailheads with difficulty ratings, types of vehicles allowed, and map location points. These amenities are just phase one of a multiphase project. Future improvements include additional land acquisition; an interpretive trail for education and history; a training range for vehicle safety classes; and an office and storage building.
Federal Government Issues Plans For California Deserts
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released two 30-year desert management plans that are intended to balance the needs of recreation, development, and wildlife in the Mojave Desert and Imperial Sand Dunes in southeast California. Both are popular destinations for off-highway vehicle (OHV) enthusiasts. The BLM plan for the western Mojave Desert encompasses 9.3 million acres and distinguishes between land targeted for development or conservation and protection of more than 100 endangered plant and animal species. The plan adds more than 800 miles of Mojave Desert roads to the off-highway inventory, increasing the total to 5,098 miles. The plan for the Imperial Sand Dunes, also called the Algodones Dunes, covers 160,000 acres. It would open more than 85 percent of the dunes to OHVs, reversing a five-year-old temporary court order. Under both plans, builders, miners, utilities, and others could develop at one location if they set aside or pay to preserve wildlife habitat elsewhere.
* The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced that tire-pressure-monitoring systems will be required by the '08 model year on all vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds.
* Congratulations go out to Jeep, whose Grand Cherokee has surpassed the 3-million units mark.