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February 2007 4x4 News - RPM

Posted in Project Vehicles on February 1, 2007
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With the recent introduction of the Dodge Nitro on the second generation Jeep Liberty platform, we knew it wouldn't be long before the Liberty received its share of the upgrades. Our spies caught the Liberty out testing and it is clear that while it will share the greenhouse and other components with the Nitro, it gets its own Jeep styling cues, including trapezoidal wheel openings and a front fascia right off of the Commander. This prototype also has a retractable fabric roof by ASC, which appears to be an option for the new 'ute and will hopefully bring some of the Wrangler's open-air atmosphere to the Liberty lineup. For those keeping score, the new Liberty is known internally as the KK and we expect a similar engine lineup as the Nitro, including the 3.7L and 4.0L V-6 engines, with a return of a turbodiesel model possible.

This special-edition FJ Cruiser from TLC combines all the best 4x4 sport equipment to enhance the ability and presence of the stock FJ Cruiser. The TLC FJ Cruiser features an ARB bull bar with Warn 8000 winch, IPF foglights, Old Man Emu suspension system, TLC rear skidplates, GOBI roof rack with lighting and rear ladder, American Racing wheels with BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain tires, Magnaflow exhaust system, Airaid intake system, TLC dual-battery management system with Optima's upgraded horns and headlights, on-board CO2 Power Tank for air tools, ARB recovery gear, Pioneer audio/nav/satellite system with backup camera, as well as a durable interior by Roadwire. The Heritage Edition FJ Cruiser package is available through select Toyota dealers and TLC featuring many components proven on Toyota Trail Head project vehicles in use on trails nationwide. For more information, check out

It may be late to the party, but the diesel VW Touareg is back-as a 2006 model. Thanks to the new low-sulfur diesel fuel availability, VW's 2006 Touareg, equipped with a particulate filter, now meets the U.S.'s strict 2006 emissions standards. This V-10 model, which won our 2005 Four Wheeler of the Year award, has 310 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque, and will have a base price of $67,750. Only a handful of '06 models will be imported while VW looks for a solution to keep the Touareg in the U.S. when the emissions regulations tighten again for the 2007 model year.

While not your typical trail machine, Honda's new HondaJet can get you over just about any challenging terrain and has become a hot seller, with more than 100 orders in the first three days it was on sale. This is no surprise considering the HondaJet sets new standards for performance, quality, and comfort to its class of aircraft with the usual Honda engineering and design innovation. HondaJet introduces a series of new technologies that signify a revolutionary departure from conventional light-jet designs. Its most unique and recognizable feature-the over-the-wing engine mount (OTWEM) configuration-liberates precious fuselage space for increased room in the cabin and cargo stowage, while significantly reducing aerodynamic drag at high speeds for major improvements in performance and fuel efficiency. The HondaJet features a class-topping cruise speed of 420 knots with an IFR range of 1,180 nautical miles and a 30 to 35 percent gain in fuel efficiency at cruise speed versus other jets of comparable performance. HondaJet's luxuriously appointed cabin is about 1 foot longer than even larger light jets and features a fully private lavatory. Surprisingly, no invitations to drive one have come to the offices of Four Wheeler (no word on whether it even has four wheels).

Ever wanted to see your truck in our magazine? Now you've got a chance to see what you-and your fellow 'wheelers-are building for rocks, mud, sand, and snow. Our newest publication, Readers' Rigs, is the only 4x4 magazine devoted exclusively to you and your 4x4-be it a Chevy, Ford, Jeep, Toyota, or anything else that plays in the dirt. In each issue you'll find profiles of more than 100 reader vehicles, with plenty of photos, in-depth specs, and comments from owners about which setups work, which ones don't, and their picks of favorite parts and accessories. Be sure to check out the premier issue when it hits your local newsstand on February 13, 2007.

By the time you read this, Ultra-Low Sulfur diesel fuel should be available at gas stations nationwide. This new fuel has a 97 percent reduction in sulfur content and is one of the keys to the design and availability of clean diesel engines in the light-duty vehicle market as well as bringing American diesel fuel closer to that of the diesel fuel found in Europe. The new fuel is compatible with current engines and will lead to an immediate 10 percent reduction in emissions with the older technology, but an up to 95 percent reduction with new engines designed to run on the cleaner fuel.

California Off-Highway Recreation
A resolution was adopted by the California State Legislature to commemorate the 100th anniversary of recreational motor vehicle use at Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. The resolution declared October 20-22, 2006, as Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area Days. Located near Pismo Beach, this 4,900-acre California state park has provided a long history of motorized recreation on the beach and adjoining dunes. The resolution declared that in managing the area, the Division of Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation of the Department of Parks and Recreation has endeavored to balance the needs of off-highway vehicle users and protection of the environment, which reflects the SAN's position on OHV access rules.

Concerns Raised about Forest Service's OHV Policy
The SAN and its land access partner, the Blue Ribbon Coalition (BRC), are closely monitoring the implementation of U.S. Forest Service (USFS) policy that will designate roads, trails, and other areas for any off-highway vehicle (OHV) within the National Forest system. In 2005, the USFS announced the new regulations for OHV use in national forests and grasslands.

Under the new policy, local agency officials are required to seek public comments from state and local officials and other stakeholders in determining routes open to OHV use. Of immediate concern to the SAN are the proposed closures in the agency's Southern Region.

Currently, only half of the 155 national forests and 20 grasslands have designated roads and trails open to OHV use, which include more than 200,000 miles of forest roads and 36,000 miles of inventoried trails. As recommended by the SAN, USFS will also consider "user-created" routes in the review process. Many of these routes came into existence during "open" management and serve a legitimate need and purpose, and do not pose an environmental threat. USFS anticipates that it will take up to four years to complete the route designation process. To help in this effort, BRC has gathered information and developed a Web page with up-to-date information, by state, on the inventory process in most of the National Forests. OHV enthusiasts are encouraged to visit and click on the "Forest Service" button for the latest information on how to get involved with route designations in their area.

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