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May 2006 4x4 News - RPM

Posted in Project Vehicles on May 1, 2006
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All the speculation about the new Tundra was finally put to rest at the 2006 Chicago Auto Show. When Toyota unveiled the brand-new '07 Tundra, it was instantly clear that they've entered the 11/42-ton pickup war in a big way.

Only the most basic of specifications are available at this time, but we can tell you that Toyota says that bumper-to-bumper, the new Tundra Double Cab is 10 inches longer than the Access Cab model it replaces. The new Tundra will be offered in three cab configurations, and they each boast more room than their current counterparts. The '07 Double Cab has a wheelbase of 145.7 inches, which is 17.4 inches longer than the current Access Cab and 5.2 inches longer than the current Double Cab. Toyota's Jim Press says that an even bigger four-door model will be trotted out when they get closer to the launch date.

The '07 Tundra will be available with a brand-new 5.7L i-Force V-8, which Toyota says has the largest displacement of any truck engine in Toyota's history. A 4.0L V-6 and an updated 4.7L V-8 will also be available. If you order the 5.7L V-8 you will be able to get another first: an all-new six-speed automatic transmission, which is the first Toyota has offered in a truck. Toyota says all of these things culminate to offer a towing capacity in excess of 10,000 pounds.

We'll have more information and more photos of the '07 Tundra in next month's coverage of the Chicago Auto Show as well as in issues down the road.-Ken Brubaker

Hello, GL-Class. Mercedes has finally retired the G-Wagen for a new SUV built on the ML-Class/R-Class unibody architecture. Starting out with the 388hp 5.5L V-8-powered GL 500 and 340hp 4.6L GL 450; the GL-Class will still sport low-range (2.93:1) and expand seating to seven, also the same number of forward gears offered in the 7G-TRONIC transmission. Despite the size and capability, the GL-Class will be among the cleanest, most fuel-efficient vehicles in its class, especially when the GL 320 Bluetec diesel V-6 offering hits the market. With the diesel, the GL is expected to return 26 mpg in highway driving and is so clean, that it will pass stringent emissions standards past 2008, in all 50 states. This Bluetec diesel is also rumored to become available in the R-Class, ML-Class, and Jeep Grand Cherokee in the U.S.

Despite rumblings from the rumor mill that the '07 Navigator would be departing the U1 fullsize SUV platform for one shared with Land Rover, our pictures confirm that the biggest Lincoln will continue to share its underpinnings with the Ford Expedition. The new Navigator sports Lincoln's latest egg-crate grille design and an updated interior. A stretched version of both the Navigator and Expedition will hit the market shortly after the standard wheelbase versions are introduced.

With sales of Hummer's H3 surpassing expectations for the brand, Hummer has announced a new trim level dubbed the H3X. Based on the H3 Street concept shown at SEMA, the 2007 H3X is designed to appeal to buyers interested in a custom look. The H3X is equipped with the Luxury package, chrome tube steps, and chrome appearance package, as well as a body-color grille and spare tire cover, unique tires, wheels, and a brushguard. Hummer is also producing the limited edition Pacific Blue and Fusion Orange H2 SUV and SUTs. Each color will be limited to 1,000 vehicles, and will come standard with such features as an uplevel exterior appearance package, forged wheels, heated windshield washer fluid, and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system. Fusion Orange also gets a reverse camera system.

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National Park Service Releases Draft Plan on OHV Use
The National Park Service has released proposed changes to its management policies that regulate off-highway vehicle use within the park system. The management policies serve as a virtual handbook for park superintendents and other park officials. The NPS considered revising their policies after receiving criticism from Congressional Republicans, who stated that NPS had shifted too far in favor of conservation, at the expense of public access. The SAN has urged Federal agencies to not adopt "one-size-fits-all" land access policies and allow for increased involvement by state and local officials and the four-wheeling community in the decision-making process. In regards to OHV access, the proposed language closely mirrors existing policies in stating, "Routes and areas may be designated for off-road motor vehicle use by special regulation within national recreation areas, national seashores, national lakeshores, and national preserves, and then only when determined to be an appropriate use. Consistent with the executive orders and the Organic Act, park managers must immediately close a designated off-road vehicle route whenever the use is causing or will cause unacceptable impacts." The SAN supports this proposal, given its directive to allow individual park officials to use public input and available scientific data to resolve access issues. Copies of the proposed changes can be downloaded on the NPS Web site at: Home.cfm?projectId=13746

Endangered Desert Plant May No Longer Threaten Four Wheelers
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will consider removing the Peirson's milk-vetch plant from the Endangered Species list. The plant, which is found only in portions of the Algodones Dunes in California's Imperial Valley, has been at the center of legal battles for a number of years. The so-called Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area is managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and is a popular destination for off-highway vehicle recreation. Access to large portions of the 160,000-acre site has been restricted in order to protect the plant. The American Sand Association, the Off-Road Business Association, and other OHV groups have said data collection show that there are more milk-vetch plants than in 2001 and that the plant's reproductive capacity is stable and strong enough to warrant delisting. The groups also cited a BLM report, which stated that only an estimated 0.3% of the plants showed evidence of OHV damage. The FWS will initiate a yearlong status review, after which the agency could propose that the plant be delisted. The SAN supports legislation before Congress that calls for increased local involvement and the use of best scientific data in determining the status of a species.

Every October, the 4x4 industry gears up for the Off-Road Expo, which is held at the Fairplex in Pomona, California. In what has become a pre-SEMA tradition of giving sneak peeks at new products and project vehicles, the Off-Road Expo has exploded, since its inception six years ago. Last year, 287 vendors participated in the event, which drew a crowd of more than 40,000.

In addition to Four Wheeler projects RangeRunner and Teal-J, there was live entertainment, freestyle motocross action, pretty girls signing posters, product demonstrations, and good food. Each year, thousands of fans line up early and pack the Expo, so to get the scoop for this year's show, check out
-Sean P. Holman

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