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January 2007 4x4 News - RPM

Posted in Project Vehicles on January 1, 2007
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Ford has just taken the wraps off of the redesigned 2008 Ford Super Duty line. The most important upgrade is the all-new 6.4L Power Stroke sequential turbodiesel V-8, which replaces the 6.0L engine. Official numbers on the powerplant are 350 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque, up from 325 hp and 570 lb-ft on the 6.0L. The new diesel is one of the cleanest on the market and conforms to the new emissions standards, using new low-sulfur diesel fuel, which should be widely available as you read this. The transmission choices remain a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic. Other innovations are an F-150-like interior, a tailgate that incorporates a step, and for those big haulers, a consumer grade version of the commercial F-450 model, complete with a pickup bed from the factory. The F-450 can tow 24,000 pounds (versus 19,200 for the F-350) or carry a 6,000-pound payload (versus 5,800 for the F-350)-making it best-in-class by 1,500 pounds. The '08 Ford Super Duty will go on sale in early 2007. We'll have a more comprehensive look in an upcoming issue.

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Ford isn't the only manufacturer making heavy-duty pickup truck headlines this month, and as we showed you last month, GM has been busy preparing an answer to the all-new Super Duty. The '07 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra HD pickups carry forward the 1/2-ton styling theme, but with a more aggressive treatment and available in three cab configurations, two bed lengths, two interiors, and for the first time, the Z/71 off-road package. Standard is the 6.0L Gen-IV small-block V-8, now producing 353 hp and 373 lb-ft of torque. The 6.6L Duramax turbodiesel V-8 engine also gets a boost in power to lead the segment with 360 hp and 660 lb-ft of torque, and is once again backed by the robust Allison 1000 six-speed automatic. We'll fill you in on our driving impressions soon.

Toyota recently showed off the longbed version of the new Tundra. The Double Cab version (pictured) has a 165-inch wheelbase and can seat up to six people. The longbed model, aimed mostly at contractors and commercial customers, will have a 97.6-inch bed and when equipped with the all-new 5.7L V-8, with horsepower well north of 350, will be able to tow more than 10,000 pounds. The Tundra lineup will be built at Toyota's new, state-of-the-art San Antonio, Texas, plant. We recently returned from a testdrive, and we'll have our impressions in the March '07 issue.

Earlier this year, GM announced that it would expand OnStar services by offering turn-by-turn navigation capability, which works by routing the navigation instructions through the vehicles audio system on most models. Some vehicles will get the service standard and will offer it as a $100 upgrade on other models. After the first year, GM plans to offer navigation for $299 a year.

We recently had a chance to get behind the wheel of an '07 Dodge Ram chassis-cab equipped with a heavy dump bed and one with a stake body. Both vehicles were used to showcase the new 6.7L Cummins turbodiesel V-8, which will be available on the '07 Dodge Ram Heavy Duty pickup lineup. In the chassis-cab application, the new engine is rated at 305 horsepower and 610 lb-ft of torque, while in the pickup it will be rated at 350 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque. The new engine is backed by either a six-speed manual or all-new Aisin six-speed automatic transmission, with PTO capability.

Experiencing the new powertrain is not unlike the current model, but the new engine is quieter and smoother, revving quickly and offering better torque delivery down low, thanks to the 0.8L increase in displacement. Turbo lag is also greatly reduced, and the overall curve is more linear. Despite the refinements, no one will mistake this for anything but a Cummins engine.

One feature that consumers will love is an aggressive tow/haul feature that works amazingly well in conjunction with an industry-first exhaust brake, made possible by the new Variable Geometry Turbocharger. The exhaust brake, which works by altering the vanes on the turbo, will improve towing safety, extend brake life, and reduce potential for brake overheating on downhill grades.

Other features of the new Cummins are an engine overhaul interval that has been extended to 350,000 miles (100,000 miles longer than the competition) and certified B5 biodiesel compatibility.

If someone wanted to give you a four-wheel-drive truck, you wouldn't complain, would you? Well, it just so happens that Goodmark and Stylin' Concepts want to give one lucky winner a tricked-out '06 Chevy Colorado as part of their Goodmark/Stylin' Concepts Offroad Truck Sweepstakes. Best part is, there's no purchase necessary to enter or win. For more details about the sweepstakes, see page 92 of this issue.

* Jeep has announced that despite $3,000 of increased content, the '07 Wrangler will start at $18,765 for the two-door JK and $20,410 for the four-door Unlimited.

* Ford will offer stability control standard on all vehicles by the '09 model year, slightly ahead of federal regulations.

* Because of an outcry by enthusiasts, the Mercedes G-Wagen will soldier on, supplemented by the GL-class, rather than replaced by it.

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