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June 2006 4x4 News - RPM

Posted in Project Vehicles on June 1, 2006
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The sneaky folks at Dodge thought they would slip this one by without us noticing, but here it is-the 2007 Dodge Ram chassis/cab. Sure, the point of the press release was Dodge's triumphant return to the chassis/cab market, but the underlying information confirms the real scoop. The '07 Ram 2500 and 3500 will be offered with a new Cummins ISB 6.7L I-6 and new heavy-duty six-speed automatic transmission. At press time, Dodge was playing its cards close to its vest by quoting the current 5.9L power ratings for the 6.7L, but you can rest assured that the numbers will be close to, if not, best in class. The diesel competition is staying fierce with GM's new 6.6L Duramax LBZ, the upcoming 6.4L Power Stroke, and the entry of Toyota and Nissan into the diesel market in the near future.

Ford has released photos and information on the '07 Expedition. This freshened Expedition sports a new interior and a new model, the EL. The stretched Expedition EL is 14.8 inches longer overall than the standard model and sits on a 131-inch wheelbase (12 inches longer than the standard Expedition), with a seating capacity of nine. The familiar 5.4L 3V V-8 with 300 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque will continue to power the Expedition line, but is now backed by a six-speed automatic transmission. The maximum tow rating is 9,100 pounds.

Robby Gordon, driving his Toyo Tires/Hummer/Jim Beam race truck, scored First Place in the competitive Trick Truck class of the Blue Water Resort and Casino Parker 425 in Parker, Arizona, last February. Gordon's win is especially sweet as he piloted the same Robby Gordon Racing Hummer H3 that recently competed in the grueling Dakar Rally in Europe and Africa.

Gordon's victory is the first time a Hummer H3 has won in the Trick Truck class, and it's the first time the truck has raced in North America. It also demonstrates the capabilities of his potent racer, which is shod with Toyo's 37x14.50R15 Open Country M/T tires. Gordon chose Toyo's Open Country M/T over other brands in his own independent test near the end of last season. He feels the Open Country M/T provides excellent grip in sand and rocks, and has proven exceptionally durable in hostile terrain.

GM's OnStar division will take on in-car navigation systems by offering audible turn-by-turn instructions. GM hopes to have 1 million vehicles capable of the new technology for the 2007 model year. While this will be an upgrade service to the OnStar service, no price has been announced.

In honor of 65 years of Jeep Heritage and capability, Jeep is celebrating 65 years of go-anywhere/do-anything capability with special edition models of the '06 Commander, Grand Cherokee, Liberty, and Wrangler, all equipped with popular and unique features. The Jeep 65th Anniversary Edition vehicles will be offered in Light Khaki, Dark Khaki, Bright Silver, Black, and a new color, Jeep Green.

Despite recent efforts to differentiate itself from the crowd, confused Lincoln has decided to trade in its character-rich nameplates for a personality-devoid alphanumeric naming convention. The Aviator becomes the MKX (pronounced "Mark X"), the Zephyr car becomes the MKZ, and curiously, the redesigned Navigator remains "Navigator," while the Mark LT hasn't changed to MKLT yet. Huh? Maybe sales are down because potential customers are confused.

Land Rover's intriguing new e-Terrain Technology Concept is a demonstration platform for future technologies that will be seen on Land Rover models in the next few years. Featuring innovative applications of new technologies that enhance both on- and off-pavement performance, the e-Terrain system has potential for a 30 percent improvement in fuel economy. The key to Land_e's importance is that it shows available and relevant technologies-plus some new systems that are unique to Land Rover-in the most innovative and effective way possible. It combines mechanical and electrical advances to make gains in areas ranging from transmission function to cooling efficiency, and from battery power management to power steering efficiency-all without compromising the breadth of on- and off-pavement capability that defines all Land Rover products. The technologies that Land_e showcases are: Integrated Electric Rear Axle Drive, ISG Integrated Starter-Generator, Innovative Propshaft with Seamless Re-connect, Terrain Response e-Mode, Biodiesel capability, ITP (Intelligent Thermal Program), EPAS (Electric Power Assisted Steering), and IMES (Intelligent Management of Electrical Systems). We'll have more news about these systems as they roll out on new Land Rovers in the future.

Nevada 'Wheelers Drive To Save Butterflies
Several environmental groups have sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to include on the Endangered Species List a rare blue butterfly believed to only exist around the Sand Mountain Recreation Area in western Nevada. The dunes are about 600 feet high and two miles in length and are a popular destination for four-wheelers. The area is managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The butterfly relies on the Kearney buckwheat plant for its food supply, a shrub unique to the area. The plant covers about 1,000 of the recreation area's 4,795 acres. In recent years, local and national off-highway vehicle (OHV) organizations have been working with the BLM, FWS, local governments, tribes, and environmentalists to craft a voluntary approach to protect the shrub and save the butterfly without necessarily listing the insect as an endangered species. This includes OHV travel route designations, fencing to protect habitat and more education and enforcement efforts. These groups will continue their efforts to reach a collaborative conservation plan. Meanwhile, the FWS has agreed to undertake a review on whether a listing is warranted. Friends of Sand Mountain has been leading the local effort to preserve responsible OHV use at the recreation area. Other organizations supporting a voluntary approach include SEMA, Off-Road Business Association, California Off-Road Vehicle Association, California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs, American Sand Association, and the Blue Ribbon Coalition.

Washington Trail Access
The SAN is supporting a bill in Washington State to require the Department of Natural Resources to inventory all roads and trails under its jurisdiction. In the future, the Department would have to ensure that there is no net loss of roads or trail miles available when making any changes in public road access. Roads temporarily open for forestry operations would not qualify toward the mileage quota of roads available for public motorized access.

* A new free classifieds site for everything Jeep is
* Insiders tell us that the Wrangler-fighting Hummer H4 program is back on track after a delay from regrouping.
* Toyota recently announced that it has manufactured its 15 millionth vehicle in North America.

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