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August 2007 4x4 News - RPM

Posted in Project Vehicles on August 1, 2007
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The 4.7L SOHC V-8 found in everything from the Grand Cherokee to the Ram is getting a power boost in some models, starting with the 2008 model year. Still E85-compatible, DaimlerChrysler engineers have increased the compression ratio, improved port flow, added a new combustion system with twin spark plugs per cylinder which results in boosted power outputs in the newly freshened '08 Dakota from 260 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque to 290 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque. The renewed '08 Grand Cherokee benefits even further with a bump from 235 hp and 305 lb-ft to 305 hp and 334 lb-ft, an increase of about 30 percent in hp and 10 percent in torque. Finally, it sounds like the 4.7L will get the power it deserves-we'll let you know what we think when we drive the new models.

We recently returned from the New York Auto Show, held each Easter Week at the Javits Center on Manhattan's west side. New York isn't typically known throughout the industry for its truck and SUV unveilings, but this year a few OE manufacturers took the wraps off some hip new 4x4 sheetmetal. Later in the year, we'll be reviewing these rigs in greater detail-and we hope to have 'em all on hand for our 2008 Four Wheeler of the Year test next year-but for now, here are our quick takes.

What's New: More powerful and refined, GM's 4x4 mega-(br)ute takes aim at the luxury SUV segment.
What's Hot: Gets the 393hp 6.2L V-8 and six-speed automatic from the GMC Yukon Denali; tow rating bumps up to 8,000 pounds; all-new interior with Escalade-level amenities a big step up in quality; finally gets a backup warning system, as well as head side-curtain airbags.
What's Not: At 6,600 pounds, more portly than ever; tow hooks recessed in front bumper could be harder to reach; the torsion-bar frontend refuses to die.
Our Take: Repositioning the Hummer towards the luxury end of the 4x4 consumer market was inevitable, and while its future may lie as a buffed boutique brand, it's still game for any trail that can accommodate its girth.

What's New: Look under the hood!
What's Hot: Adios the five-cylinder, hola the 295hp 5.3L V-8; front diff now made of cast iron instead of aluminum; tow rating gets a boost to 6,000 pounds; backup warning system is now an option.
What's Not: Puncture-prone tires still your only choice with the Off Road Adventure package; #@&!#&@!! torsion bars.
Our Take: The General has addressed the H3's most glaring mechanical weakness, but premium rubber and a new front suspension should be on the short list for gotta-have upgrades next year.

What's New: Now sporting the 3.8L V-6 and a new five-link rear suspension, the latest Liberty is all-new from the ground up.
What's Hot: Six-speed manual tranny has 4.46:1 1st gear; Sky Slider canvas roof a novel twist on a removable soft top; Sirius rear-seat TV should keep kids and in-laws quiet; coil-spring IFS and five-link rear should be better on the trail.
What's Not: No more VM diesel option; six-speed comes with 3.21:1 axles; Nitroesque styling an acquired taste.
Our Take: The Liberty was overdue for refreshening, and DaimlerChrysler went one better with this full-up relaunch. We can only wonder what impact the similar-looking (and less expensive) Patriot will have on future sales.

What's New: Everything. The LX is all new from the ground up, with awesome power on tap.
What's Hot: Gets the 381hp 5.7L V-8 and six-speed from the Toyota Tundra pickup; new electrohydraulic suspension raises automatically in low-range; "Crawl Control" mimics cruise control in low-range; it actually has a low-range; Torsen limited-slip diffs.
What's Not: Myriad electronic nannies; crummy aspect ratio (20s); poor breakover angle and low ground clearance; evil running boards; likely to cost more than two H3s.
Our Take: In our own experiences, Lexus 4x4s have been far more capable on the trail than they look. We can't vouch for this one yet, but it won't be lacking for power, that's certain.

What's New: A rejuvenated interior and exterior, and a new Mercedes-sourced common-rail V-6 diesel.
What's Hot: 360 lb-ft in an upscale SUV; it's rated at 31 mpg highway, 24 city; it's already available at your local Jeep dealer.
What's Not: It'll cost you over 50 grand for a diesel 4x4 Limited.

Our Take: Given its typical effect on the sticker, a diesel probably makes more sense in the WK right now than in the Liberty-but if it's still too much bank for your bucks, the WK offers four other engine choices, including the 4.7L V-8 that's now rated at 305 hp. Personally, we can't wait to drive the diesel.

What's New: From the sick minds at Rides comes this one-off Crown Vic with equal parts altitude and attitude.
What's Hot: Coil/link rear suspension; Pirelli Scorpions a mighty fine tire; vehicle has strong local appeal.
What's Not: Should be obvious.
Our Take: It's big, it's lifted, what more do you want? Let the hate mail begin.
-Douglas McColloch

As part of its overall plan to revitalize the General Tire brand, parent company Continental Tire North America Inc., has introduced a new logo to represent the brand in the Americas. The new logo symbolizes Continental's rededication to the General brand with bold new type and graphic elements. Rumor has it the company will also be offering some competitive products for the 4x4 market in the near future. Check out next month's issue for more details.

SEMA recently announced that Toyota will be the official Vehicle Manufacturer of the 2007 SEMA show. This will mark the first time the automaker will serve as the Vehicle Manufacturer of the Show. In addition to exhibiting at the SEMA Show, Toyota supports SEMA's project vehicle program with SEMA members, provides SEMA members with hands-on early access to vehicles, and takes part in the association's OEM roundtable program. The 2007 SEMA Show takes place October 30-November 2 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Details about the 2007 SEMA Show are available at

* Starting in the 2008 model year, Ford vehicles will offer Sony-branded head units.
* Ford has extended oil change intervals on all 2007-and-newer gasoline models to 7,500 miles.
* Toyota says the new Tundra mix is running about 70 to 80 percent being ordered with 5.7L engines, much higher than the anticipated 50 percent.

Minnesota Law Attempts To Limit 4x4s
Legislation that would limit modified 4x4 trucks to minimally maintained roads and to the area specifically designated for their use has been reintroduced to the Minnesota Legislature. The SAN-opposed measure would severely restrict 4x4 truck access to Minnesota hobbyists by prohibiting use of "trails," including those designated south of Highway 2 and those north of Highway 2 that are currently open for ORV use. The proposed bill also defines 4x4 trucks as four-wheeled motor vehicles manufactured to operate on public roads and subsequently modified with special tires, suspension, or other equipment.

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