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October 2005 4x4 News - RPM

Posted in Project Vehicles on October 1, 2005
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Ford is out testing the next-generation Super Duty, which is scheduled to appear for the 2007 model year. Borrowing a move from the Land Rover playbook, the new Super Duty will incorporate large fender vents, a bolder front fascia, and upsized badging with the words "Super Duty" prominently displayed across the reshaped hood. Solid axles are still the name of the game for 4x4 models.

There is more to the '06 Dodge Ram than just MDS and the Mega Cab. All Dodge Rams will benefit from stiffer frames, upgraded suspensions, a new quieter interior with a restyled dashboard, and a more aggressively styled front end. Of direct interest to Four Wheeler readers will be the Ram 1500 1/2-ton model with its new coilover shock/A-arm suspension and electronic 4WD system, which now has an "Auto" setting for use on pavement and which disconnects the front axle for better fuel economy while in two-wheel drive. Also new for 2006 on the 1500 is the TRX4 off-road package that will include 17-inch wheels, all-terrain tires, monotube shocks, tow hooks, skidplates, and a limited-slip differential.

BFGoodrich Tires and Baja racing are synonymous, and the harsh deserts of Baja have proven time and time again that BFGoodrich Tires can take a beating. With 19 consecutive SCORE Baja overall wins, BFGoodrich Tires proudly celebrated its 30th anniversary in off-road racing this month. Visit BFGoodrich Tires online at

Because of the brisk sales of the Liberty CRD turbodiesel, DaimlerChrysler is considering expanding diesel engine offerings to other vehicles in its U.S. lineup, such as the Grand Cherokee, which already has a CRD version available in Europe. Could the 2.8L CRD find its way into the next-generation JK Wrangler? Anything is possible.

According to industry insiders, the Mitsubishi Montero will be discontinued in 2006. The large, V-6-powered, seven-passenger SUV has always maintained a quirky style all its own and impressed the Four Wheeler staff when we evaluated one (a 2003 model) in a long-term test. However, it has never been a bestseller, and the low sales volumes do not justify a replacement. Look for Mitsubishi to fill the seven-passenger role with an updated version of an existing crossover vehicle.

With the success of the Land Rover Experience Driving School in Asheville, North Carolina and Montreal, Canada, Land Rover has expanded its presence to the West Coast by opening up a third location at the Quail Lodge, near Carmel Valley, California. The school, which opened up in August 2005 will offer participants four-wheeling instruction in Land Rover vehicles in a setting that allows students to sample the latest Land Rover vehicles in a setting that befits the Land Rover lifestyle. For more information, log on to schools.

Congress Considers Reforming Endangered Species Act
Lawmakers from both parties are gearing up for a heated debate this summer on reforming the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Enacted in 1973, the law currently provides protection to 1,800 species and their surrounding habitats. While House and Senate leaders largely agree on the current problems with the ESA, there are vast differences in finding legislative solutions. For years, property owners and four-wheelers have argued that the law allows the government to quickly list a species and designate the surrounding area off-limits.

There have been several hearings in both the Senate and House. Senate Wildlife Subcommittee Chairman Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) recently stated that the hearings were a starting point in the process, and that he would not want to do anything to damage or weaken existing law: This is in sharp contrast to his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-CA). Chairman Pombo has allied with the Bush Administration, Western governors, and several Western lawmakers, and is pushing for quick and drastic reforms to the ESA.

To support his claims for ESA reform, Chairman Pombo recently released a SAN-supported report prepared by committee staff that highlights problems associated with the 30-year-old law. The 84-page document calls for a legislative update to existing law, in which it claims that only 10 species have been recovered and that 60 percent of listed species have an uncertain or declining status. Environmental groups have countered that species recovery is a long-term goal and that many of the species in question were placed on the list only in the past 15 years.

New Rule Allows States to Challenge Current "Roadless Area" Designations
The Bush Administration issued a final rule allowing states to petition the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to open areas previously closed under the Clinton Administration's so-called "roadless rule." The new rule establishes a process for considering state recommendations on which roadless areas should remain closed and which should be opened to logging, mining, or other commercial ventures. The revision is consistent with the SAN's position that state government and local communities should participate in forest-management decisions. In its comments on the proposed rule, the SAN noted that the state petitioning process could be an opportunity to correct inaccurate roadless designations and include uninventoried routes well known to users and state officials but that do not appear on current USFS maps. Governors will have 18 months to submit their petitions. They may submit scientific data and updated mapping information to support their recommendations. The rule covers nearly 58.5 million acres of national forests and grasslands, mostly in Western states.

* NHTSA tests prove SUVs are becoming safer, with 24 SUVs now earning a four-star rating in rollover tests, up from a one-star rating a year ago.

* A Chrysler version of the Dodge Durango will be called Aspen.

* Honda will begin placing government crash test ratings of its vehicles on new vehicle window stickers.

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