Here is your first official look at the General Motors GMT900 fullsize truck platform, which will come to market first as the '07 Chevrolet Tahoe, followed by the Chevy Suburban, Avalanche, Silverado, the GMC Yukon, Yukon XL, Denali, Sierra, and the Cadillac Escalade line. The new trucks and SUVs feature distinctive styling, industry-leading panel fits, and a selection of four- or six-speed automatic transmissions, along with a beefed-up range of Gen IV small-block V-8s. These vehicles will be the most fuel-efficient in their class, featuring a myriad of fuel-saving technologies. In addition, GM designers spent time making the new interior among the best in the business with soft-touch materials and upscale designs. GM is also studying hybrid and diesel technology for their next bestsellers.
This is the best shot yet of the all-new Tundra that will bow in 2007. Original plans called for the Double Cab and regular Tundra to remain on separate life cycles, but now our sources tell us that the whole line will be revamped at the same time. The third-generation Tundra regular- and extended-cab will finally become as fullsize as the competition. We expect to see the design closely mimic that of the FTX concept.
Suzuki has announced the '06 Grand Vitara, which is new from the ground up. Ditching the traditional frame for a hybrid unibody design, the Grand Vitara still retains a traditional 4WD system as an option. With a larger, more refined interior, a high amount of features, the best warranty on the market and an accessible price, we expect the new Grand Vitara to impress us as much as the outgoing model did. Grand Vitara base prices range from $18,999 to $23,299. We'll give your first view in our upcoming 2006 Four Wheeler of the Year test, coming next month.
Arthur A. Martin IV, a native of Chicago, couldn't be happier after winning the Grand Prize of the Toyo Sweepstakes, a custom '04 F-150. Featured on a colorful poster and as a download for your desktop from toyosweeps.com, this great-looking Ford pickup is outfitted with exciting components from Ford Racing and includes a Fabtech Dirt Logic 4.0 coilover suspension, glistening KMC XD Series Wheels, and aggressive 33-inch Open Country M/T tires from Toyo. Thousands of contestants from around the country entered online, mailed in entries, or filled out applications at their dealers for a chance at winning this great-looking Toyo Tires Ford F-150.
Last month, we brought you the concept sketches of the new crossover Jeeps-the Patriot and Compass. While we think the Compass might appeal to some (although we aren't sure who they might be), our focus is on the classically styled Patriot, which has a hint of XJ Cherokee and XK Commander in its lines. With a 2.4L four-cylinder engine, the Patriot is outfitted with an AWD system said to be sturdy enough to garner a "Trail Rated" badge on the fender. We'll let you know if we think it is worthy of the Jeep name and heritage after we get some seat time in the rough. Stay tuned.
After a destructive hurricane season where many Americans in the Gulf region were displaced, several automotive manufacturers have stepped up to lend a helping hand. Ford has donated more than $6 million in money, supplies, and vehicles to the region, while Dodge has delivered $4.4 million in aid, including 100 sorely needed trucks, filled with supplies (above). Isuzu employees, in a grassroots effort, managed to send more than $34,000.
* Hummer has announced the sale of its 100,000th H2 SUV.
* The Bush Administration plans to boost fuel economy standards by about 6 percent over the next three model years.
* Oregon and Washington are considering the adoption of California's strict emissions standards.
* GM and DaimlerChrysler have inked a deal that will allow them to share technology and develop hybrid vehicles together.
* Production of the Ford Excursion ended September 30.
OHV Advocates Convene Summit in Washington, D.C.
SEMA and the SEMA Action Network joined with the Off-Road Business Association (ORBA) and the BlueRibbon Coalition to sponsor a Washington Summit for Motorized Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation. More than 60 participants from 20 organizations asked members of Congress to support Endangered Species Act (ESA) reform legislation and to preserve access for off-highway vehicles (OHVs) on federal lands.
A key topic of the summit was proposed changes to the ESA. Chairman Richard Pombo (R-CA) of the House Resources Committee is pursuing a rewrite of the law to better achieve its goals: saving endangered animals and plants. Enacted in 1973, the ESA has saved only 10 species out of 1,800 listings. Meanwhile, millions of acres of land have been closed with more set-asides in the works. For years, property owners and 'wheelers have argued that the government lists species and sets aside land too quickly and without enough scientific evidence.
Chairman Pombo is working with other members of Congress, state and local lawmakers of both parties to craft a better approach. The SEMA-supported legislation calls for mediation before lawsuits, more scientific input on identifying threatened species and creating recovery plans, and more local input and a different approach to setting aside critical habitat. The focus would be on saving species, not just locking up land.
A House Resources Subcommittee also held a hearing on Motorized Recreational Use on Federal Land. Representatives from the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management discussed efforts to regulate OHV use on federal lands due to their growing popularity. The agencies will be designating "officially sanctioned roads and trails" for OHVs. Off-road community representatives emphasized that there are scores of user-created roads and trails that don't yet appear on Forest Service maps. They want these inventoried so that they can be officially sanctioned.
They came from as far as Georgia and Wisconsin, for a bit of prize money and bragging rights at Edge Products' Weekend on the Edge Diesel Drags and Dyno Day. Those familiar with high-power diesels know traction is a big issue, and while many of these trucks were run in four-wheel drive, BFG All-Terrains and Dunlop Radial Rovers don't give the best grip on a green dragstrip. (They might not be rated for 100 mph, either.) Lack of qualifying limited the number of official times-at least one nitrous-assisted Chevy on slicks showed low 12s at the finish lights, and top numbers in the Open Class went to Jim Bigley's '89 Chevy with a Duramax and AWD (12.945 seconds at 112.82 mph). The best single turbo time was Kyle Smith's '01 Ram at 13.5/98.4 and Lance Groft's '04 Ram at 14.5/103.2. The Special class had only one truck, and it ran 13.852 seconds at 100.7. At the dyno, Kennedy Diesel's Duramax ruled with top numbers of 726 hp and 1,374 lb-ft of torque. The most powerful Ram in attendance was Shane Boyer's '02, with 601 hp and 1,100 lb-ft, and the best Ford was a '99 7.3 at 391 and 753. Check out the Web sites of DHRA (www.dhraonline.com) and Edge Products (www.edgeproducts.com) for more on the diesel drags.
For the third time in three years, the Senate voted to create the 106,000-acre Wild Sky Wilderness in Washington's Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. The Senate also passed legislation to designate as wilderness 300,000 acres in northern California's Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, and Napa counties. Off-highway vehicles (OHVs) would be banned from the areas since wilderness is by definition "roadless." The SAN opposes the legislation since it would close existing, legal OHV roads and trails. Alternatively, the SAN supports a "backcountry designation" that would generally protect the lands as wilderness but also designate areas for motorized recreation where appropriate. It is unclear when or if the House will take up the two Senate bills.