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April 2007 4x4 News - RPM

Front View
Posted April 1, 2007

2008 Dakota Caught!

While we don't know much about the upcoming Dodge Dakota, from the looks of the prototype seen here, it will sport a front end freshening with a grille similar to the Nitro. We expect the Dakota to offer the Nitro's 4.0L V-6 in place of the current 3.7L as well as an updated (and hopefully more competitive) version of the 4.7L V-8. The '08 Dakota should be available by fall.

After an intense analysis of the data, and sending a team of engineers to our test site to recreate a deployment, General Motors has determined that the airbag deployment that occurred during our Pickup Truck of the Year test (March '07) was within the parameters for the vehicle and that there was no malfunction; the system operated as designed. The following is the official statement from General Motors' assistant chief engineer Jully Burau regarding the side curtain airbag deployment that occurred in our 2007 GMC Sierra Crew Cab:

"The RRAB deployment that occurred during the sand dunes driving event by Four Wheeler was a commanded deployment. This occurred during aggressive off-road driving.

"GM immediately responded to the incident by sending a team out with instrumentation and an experienced driver to try to recreate the event. Thirty seven runs with a seasoned off-road driver were made (in an attempt) to recreate the event. In none of these runs did a deployment occur. Within the data there were 99 occurrences where the airbags were 'enabled' (made ready to deploy) should additional data indicate the need to deploy, but again no event commanded a deployment as in the original incident.

"The deployment was due to a unique set of circumstances, which included the amount of roll the vehicle had at deployment and the amount of change of angle over the previous period of time. The sand surface (very deformable surface) that allowed the vehicle to side slide down some of the incline also contributed. The deployment that occurred was just inside the parameters that would trigger a deployment.

"GM feels we understand the deployment and the parameters of the event, which allowed the deployment to occur as expected.

"When it comes to safety systems, GM errs on the side of safety for its customers, and that is why the RRAB deployed in this circumstance.

After 30 consecutive years as America's best-selling pickup truck, Ford has announced some changes for the 2007 model year that will keep Ford trucks at the top of the heap. For starters, the '07 F-150 is now rated to tow 11,000 pounds, more than any other 1/2-ton pickup. It also retains its class-leading 3,050-pound payload rating. Also new for the '07 F-150 are standard tire-pressure monitoring, auxiliary input jack, and navigation. On the Super Duty side of the fence, the redesigned '08 model began production in December and will be available as you read this and has been priced lower than the outgoing truck while offering a broader range of models, such as the F-450. Key options will include an all-new 6.4L Power Stroke turbodiesel engine, navigation, tailgate step, and power telescoping and folding mirrors.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has revised the tests used to calculate the fuel economy of cars and light trucks in an effort to better reflect "real-world" driving conditions. As a result, the new measurements are expected to reduce the fuel economy ratings for most vehicles by an average of 8 percent for highway driving and 12 percent for city driving. At issue is the methodology the EPA has used since 1985 to estimate fuel consumption for highway and city driving. The new testing procedures incorporate higher road speeds, rapid acceleration, the use of air conditioning, and operation in cold temperatures. It also includes other factors such as varying road grades, wind resistance, tire pressure, vehicle load, and different fuel properties. The new standards will take effect with the 2008 model-year window stickers.

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