We'll let you decide on the styling, but here it is: The long awaited uncovered look at the 1500 Z-71 package, caught as our spy staked out a brochure shoot location for several days. The look isn't as radical as we were expecting, or even as progressive as the new Tahoe, but the pickup version of the the GMT900 platform certainly has its own look. The new Silverado (and GMC Sierra twin) are expected to be available at the end of this year.
Despite not being sold as a 50-state vehicle, and yet roughly doubling its estimated sales projections to approximately 11,000 units, Jeep has ended production of it Liberty CRD diesel SUV, citing the expense to meet more stringent 2007 emissions standards. In its place will be the ultra-clean Bluetec diesel version of the Grand Cherokee. The Grand will come with a 3.0L V-6 with common-rail fuel injection and will be shared with the Mercedes-Benz E-class. Fuel economy is expected to be 30 percent better than comparably equipped gasoline models, and should have an over-400-mile range. With the success of the Liberty and the anticipated success of the Grand Cherokee CRD, don't expect Jeep to stay out of the compact diesel market too long. We anticipate a cleaner diesel to find its way back in to the Liberty lineup when it is gets its next freshening, possibly for the 2008 model year.
Nitto Tire North America is expanding its product lineup with the new Dune Grappler Desert Terrain tire. The Dune Grappler is aimed at enthusiasts who want aggressive tread for off-pavement use, but also want a quieter and more comfortable ride on the pavement. The tire will feature three-ply sidewall construction and a computer-designed tread. This new tire will be offered in load range ratings of "D" and "E," making the Dune Grappler ideal for heavier trucks, such as the Ford Super Duty and Chevy Silverado. Rim fitment will range from 15 to 22 inches. For more information, log on to www.nittotire.com.
According to industry sources, Nissan has green-lighted the heavy-duty Nissan Titan. Believed to be offered in both gas and diesel versions, this will put Nissan on even footing with Toyota, which will also be offering a heavy-duty version of the upcoming Tundra. The new Titan should be available by the 2009 or 2010 model year.
Minnesota 4x4 Truckers Stake Claim
Working with local and regional off-highway vehicle groups, SEMA managed to kill amendments to a Minnesota bill that would have limited modified 4x4 trucks to minimally maintained roads and to the area in the state specifically designated for their use. The amendments sought to severely restrict 4x4 truck access to hobbyists by prohibiting use of "trails;" defined 4x4 trucks as four-wheeled motor vehicles manufactured to operate on public roads and subsequently modified with special tires, suspension, or other equipment. The amendments were passed on the House and Senate floors at the last minute. The amendments were removed at the request of the four-wheeling community by a conference committee of House and Senate legislators.
* Industry insiders say that Ford has chosen a 4.4L V-8 diesel, based on its Land Rover's 3.6L version, to power an upcoming diesel F-150.
* VW has put the '07 Touareg Turbodiesel on hold until low-sulfur diesel is available this fall. On the current fuel, the Touareg emits a white smoke from the particulate filter.
* Rumor has it that Hummer wants to be known as GM's diesel brand, which could mean a U.S.-spec diesel H3 in our future.