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March 2007 4x4 News - RPM

Posted in Project Vehicles on March 1, 2007
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Our spies have been hard at work once again scouting out future products-this time in Belgium, where they found the next-generation Toyota Land Cruiser/Lexus LX out testing. From the photos, it is clear the new Land Cruiser retains its classic proportions and look, with a more modern grille and falling roofline. The tailgate we have come to appreciate is retained, and powertrain choices are thought to be a V-6 turbodiesel for some markets, a 300hp 4.7L V-8 and a nearly 400hp 5.7L V-8, with five- and six-speed automatic transmissions. While the rest of the world will get the new SUV in 2007, we Americans will have to wait until 2008.

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After dabbling in IFS platforms for the past several years, Jeep seems to be listening to its faithful core of customers who have demanded more solid-axle alternatives to just the Wrangler. In response, Jeep has released this sketch of the Trailhawk concept that was set to debut last month at the 2007 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. While it doesn't depict much, we do know that it is a sophisticated SUV body on the new Wrangler chassis, with open-air attributes, probably a sliding canvas roof that precedes the production version on the upcoming Liberty. While we really like the idea, we'd rather see a true XJ replacement than another luxo-ute.

Chrysler recently announced its new MyGIG head unit for those of us who are button-pushing techno-geeks. What's so special about MyGIG, you ask? How about the auxiliary input (for connecting your iPod), a 20GB hard drive (for storing your favorite photos or music), embedded Sirius satellite radio, a USB jack (for uploading music or photos), two audio outputs, and Bluetooth hands-free calling. That's in addition to the 6.5-inch color LCD touch screen with Navigation and AM/FM/CD/DVD capability (yes, it'll even play your favorite movies-while parked). Is there anything MyGIG doesn't do? Well, you still have to do the driving. MyGIG will be offered in select models for 2007 (such as the Wrangler), before becoming available throughout the model lineup.

Tech Editor Sean Holman once again rode shotgun for Rod Hall Racing and Team Hummer, this time in the 39th annual SCORE Tecate Baja 1000. Competing in the Stock Full class, Sean co-rode for Josh Hall in the No. 861 Hummer H2 race truck, splitting seat time with Josh's normal crew of Sam Cothrun and Thad Stump. Josh and co-riders completed the grueling 1,047.8 miles of this year's race in 26:30:45, averaging a speed of 39.65 miles per hour. Josh, who drove the entire race, finished more than five hours ahead of the nearest Stock Full competitor, completing his second consecutive Baja 1000 class victory. Not to be outdone by his son, team owner Rod Hall piloted his Team Hummer H3 to an eventful Third Place Mini Stock class finish, securing the 2006 SCORE class points championship. Rod's victory marks his third Baja 1000 class victory and the 11th Baja 1000 class win for Team Hummer. It also represents the 26th class win for the Hall family, further securing their place as the winningest family in Baja 1000 history. Hall's finish also continues his streak as the only person to have raced in every Baja 1000 in a four-wheeled vehicle. Four Wheeler Feature Editor Robin Stover also competed in the Baja 1000, riding shotgun for Team KORE/Worthington Racing, finishing third overall in the same class.

Rumor has it that Hummer will have shown a concept at NAIAS to foreshadow the 2010 Wrangler-fighting H4, in addition to some expanded product offerings, such as the V-8-powered H3 we have been reporting on for some time now. If the Internet is to be believed, we should expect an H3-based pickup within the next two years and a GMT900-based H2 SUT by model year 2010.

Congress Approves OHV-Friendly California Wilderness Bill
Congress approved and sent to President Bush compromise legislation that would designate 300,000 acres in Northern California's Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, and Napa counties as wilderness. Although off-highway vehicle (OHV) use is traditionally restricted in wilderness areas, the SAN-supported compromise provided for approximately 79,000 acres to be set aside as recreation management areas for off-road vehicles. The measure also provided for the use of "cherry-stem" roads within the wilderness areas to allow continued motorized access to existing roads and trails. Wilderness legislation is consequential to SAN members since it potentially denies access to 4x4 trails and riding areas. The SAN continues to support land use decisions that allow local stakeholders to participate in the decision-making process. President Bush is expected to sign the bill into law in the near future.

SAN Stands By Oregon Four Wheelers
Responding to a U.S. Senate bill that would designate an additional 125,000 acres of Wilderness around Mount Hood, Oregon, the SAN sent a letter to key Congressional members stating that additional public involvement was needed before proceeding with the wilderness proposal. The SAN also commented that the U.S. House of Representatives has already approved a measure that would increase the Mount Hood Wilderness Area by 77,000 acres. Included in the SAN-supported House bill were provisions for the conversion of old forest roads into new recreational trails and to provide for a revenue sharing system for the fees collected from recreation and land use. While off-highway vehicle (OHV) use is traditionally restricted in wilderness areas, the inclusion of these provisions was due to ongoing involvement and input from the local and OHV community.

* The most popular color for new cars is once again silver, according to PPG Industries.

* Ford is pulling back on production of its once dominant Explorer SUV, due to declining sales.

* For you Tundra fans, the new on-sale date for the redesigned model is February 12, 2007. Toyota is holding back until it can launch with the new 5.7L V-8. See page 54 for more details.

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