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April 2006 4x4 News - RPM

Posted in Project Vehicles on April 1, 2006
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With its new fullsize SUVs currently taking up the spotlight, GM is busy in the background preparing for the introduction of its next-generation pickups. We recently caught the upcoming GMT900, replacement for the current GMT800-based Chevrolet Silverado, out testing. It is hard to see here, but the Chevy's styling is said to reflect that of the '03 Cheyenne fullsize truck concept, and the interior is different than the Tahoe and Suburban. As expected, the new Silverado (and its GMC Sierra sibling) will carry forward with several cab and bed configurations, including the Crew Cab/shortbed you see here, and will offer the same advancements and fuel-saving technology as offered on the SUVs. Expect to see the GMT900 pickups near the end of 2006, following the staggered releases of the Tahoe/Yukon/Escalade, Suburban/Yukon XL, and Avalanche.

BFGoodrich Tires has once again won the granddaddy of all off-road races, the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, accomplishing something no other tire manufacturer in the four-wheel vehicle category has ever been able to do, extending their winning streak to 20 consecutive races. The legendary desert race was held Nov. 17-20, 2005 in Baja California, Mexico, starting and finishing in Ensenada and extending over a rugged course on both sides of the majestic peninsula. This past year also marked the 30th anniversary of the storied tire manufacturer. For more information, log on to

4 Wheel Parts Wholesalers is pleased to announce the 2006 schedule for Truck Fest. Truck Fest, owned and operated by Transamerican Auto Parts, will land in eight cities throughout 2006, starting with San Mateo (California) Expo Center on March 11-12. Truck Fest is a free-admission event, featuring over 100 manufacturers of products for the truck, Jeep, and SUV market. Hours of operation are normally 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. 5 p.m. on Sunday. Inventory from manufacturers will be on site and sold through 4 Wheel Parts, the event title sponsor. For more information on Truck Fest, e-mail Brent Goegebuer at or visit

Another milestone was reached at the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 as Rod Hall (No. 761) crossed the finish line in 28:11:21, in the process extending his record class win total to 18. Hall, who has competed in each of the 38 Tecate SCORE Baja 1000s in a four-wheel vehicle, has won a title in each of five different decades. This year, he drove a new Hummer H3 to its first SCORE desert racing victory. He also became the first Stock Mini racer to complete a SCORE race this season. Driving solo for the first time in several years, the venerable Hall, who is 67, quipped, "My sons won't give me enough driving time, so Hummer gave me one of their new H3 vehicles to test. I'd say we passed the test. In all the years of the SCORE Baja 1000, it was probably the roughest I have ever seen. I wanted this one bad, and we got it. It's great to see my boys finish 1-2 in Stock Full as well. I guess you could almost say it was a 'Hall' of a race."

GM is investing $20 million at its Shreveport, Louisiana, plant to increase production of the hot-selling Hummer H3 and its Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon pickup siblings. Colorado and Canyon sales are up, and the Hummer H3 continues to drive record sales at Hummer, broadening its appeal beyond a niche brand. Hummer is helping GM attract a younger, more affluent customer base. The average age of a Hummer owner is 44, and about 70 percent of vehicles traded in by H3 buyers are non-GM models.

General Motors has decided to change the aptly named Displacement on Demand fuel-saving technology to the less descriptive Active Fuel Management, beginning with the '07 Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon, and all following models equipped with the technology. Active Fuel Management is a fuel-saving technology that enables the engine to automatically and seamlessly operate on only half of the engine's cylinders when full power is not needed, improving efficiency by as much as 12 percent in some vehicles. GM currently offers the fuel-saving technology in nine vehicle models-more than any other automaker.

House Passes Endangered Species Reform Bill
Four wheelers cleared a key hurdle in reforming the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as the House of Representatives approved legislation to update the 30-year-old law. Sponsored by House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-CA), the Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act of 2005 (TESRA) passed on a 229-193 margin. The bill is a product of years of hearings and scientific research and would place the focus on species recovery while also giving local communities incentives to cooperate with federal rules. The SAN has made passage of the ESA reform bill a legislative priority. The existing law has eliminated access to millions of acres of land, including many roads and trails responsibly enjoyed by off-highway (OHV) enthusiasts, while providing little benefit for species. The bill now moves to the Senate.

Following recommendations made by the SAN, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) announced new land management plans for four Southern California national forests which would open up more backcountry trails to off-highway vehicles (OHVs). The management plan for the Angeles, Cleveland, Los Padres, and San Bernardino national forests allocates an additional 87,000 acres of land that the agency will recommend for wilderness protection. If approved by Congress, that would increase the total wilderness area within the four forests to nearly 1.2 million acres, more than one-third of the parks' combined 3.5 million acres.

The new plans identify approximately 25 percent of the inventoried roadless areas where OHV use will be permitted, but only on a limited number of designated roads and trails. In its comments to USFS, the SAN noted that most of this acreage already had some form of OHV use. The new plans also address so-called "user-created" trails and, where appropriate, will add these routes to the system. USFS officials stressed that the 25 percent figure does not allow for free rein by OHV users, and details regarding specific trail systems will come at a later date.

* For the '05 model year, silver once again reigns as the most popular new vehicle color-followed by white, gray, blue, and black.
* Jeep has announced that the frighteningly quick Grand Cherokee SRT-8 will go on sale with a price of only $39,995.
* According to The Car Connection, Nissan has developed a clear paint that repairs itself when scratched and will debut on an SUV to be named later.

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