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February 2008 4x4 News - RPM

Posted in Project Vehicles on February 1, 2008
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Photographers: Brenda Priddy & Company

Here is the latest photo of the 2009 F-150 regular cab, which is expected to lose its four-door configuration, in favor of two large doors. The latest information on the F-150 hints at a new displacement of 5.8L for the upcoming Boss engine, which will also come in a 6.2L flavor. Also, the 4.4L turbodiesel V-8 is still on track for the new F-150. Our photographer tells us that the style on the new F-150 will more closely mimic that of the Super Duty and will have a three-bar, Super Duty-style grille, bolder fender flares, and a Power Dome hood. We are hoping to see the new F-150 in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

For 2008, Toyota has introduced a new Off-Road package to the FJ Cruiser.The optional Off-Road Package enhances the FJ Cruiser for demanding off-pavement excursions and includes unique 16-inch alloy wheels with 265/75R16 BFGoodrich Rugged Trail tires, specially tuned Bilstein shock absorbers, a cyclone pre-air cleaner, and a rear differential lock that works in conjunction with the active traction-control system. We'll try to get our hands on one in the near future.

Land Rover has joined forces with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) by donating a Land Rover LR3 that has been built to be fully autonomous so it can take part in the forthcoming 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge. MIT has completely modified the LR3, so that without human driver assistance or remote control, the vehicle is able to drive itself and perform simple tasks such as avoiding obstacles and merging into moving traffic. The LR3 uses state-of-the-art hardware to view the environment and to track its own motion while driving on major roads or moving through cities. It is equipped with LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) range finders with vision sensors in order to view the environment, helping it avoid obstacles that might get in its way. In order to track its progress along the roads, the vehicle uses a combination of GPS (Global Positioning System) and INS (Inertial Navigation System). With this combination of technology, the vehicle can locate itself within half a meter anywhere in the world, giving it the ability to stay on road at all times. By grouping these technologies, the LR3 can navigate itself while avoiding anything that might get in its way. The DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) Urban Challenge is an annual competition where several autonomous vehicles, like this specialized LR3, compete against each other in several different rounds. After successfully completing the qualifying round in early August, Team MIT and the LR3 have been invited back to compete in the challenging semifinal round, which took place last October, with the goal of making it to the final competition at Victorville, California, the following month. During the competition, the vehicles will need to traverse through a 60-mile mock city course within six hours, and will be challenged with tasks while completing a stipulated route. Some of these tasks include executing simulated supply missions while merging into moving traffic, navigating traffic circles, negotiating busy intersections and avoiding various obstacles-all without a driver or via remote control.

Each fall, the Off Road Motorsports Hall of Fame, based in the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada, presents eight off-road enthusiasts with one of the highest honors in off-road motorsports: Membership in the Hall of Fame. This year's inductees, voted in by a committee of judges with distinguished backgrounds in the off-road motorsports industry, included legendary figures as the late Mickey Thompson, Baja racing legend Frank "Scoop" Vessels, and renowned photojournalist Sue Mead, pictured here at left. Besides having covered some of the most insanely hard-core 4x4 events on the planet for us-such as the Dakar Rally, Camel Trophy, and G4 Challenge-for nearly 20 years, Sue's been a part of the Four Wheeler family since Day 1-her very first assignment in off-road journalism, in fact, was as a photographer for our Four Wheeler of the Year test back in 1988. She's come a long, long way since then, and we can't think of a more deserving honoree.

To check out the complete roster of 2007 inductees, and to find out how to visit the ORMHOF museum, log onto to www.ormhof.com.

2007 marks the 50th anniversary of Toyota in America and 40 years of the legendary SCORE Baja 1000. In 1973 Toyota won its first off-road race, the Baja 1000, in the Four Wheeler FJ-40 Land Cruiser. TLC commemorates these two anniversaries with the new SCORE BAJA 1000 Limited Edition ICON featuring a highly durable, clear velvet, powdercoated hand-brushed aluminum body with black crocodile powdercoated trim; textured pewter-finish dash with Racepak instruments and Lowrance navigation; full recovery gear; and adventure support systems on board including a racing jack, Powertank, ARB air compressor, Warn XP cradle-mount winch, IPF HID lighting system, and a rockin' stereo system made to be heard above the roar. With a 450hp alloy LS6 delivering power through a modified 4L65E automatic and a shift-on-the-fly Atlas II transfer case turning 1-ton Dynatrac axles, the ICON BAJA 1000 is ready to launch. An advanced triangulated four-link/coil suspension, with Sway-a-Way Race Runner remote-reservoir coilover shocks and nitrogen bumpstops, DJ Safety limiter straps, and dual sway bars assure a controlled landing on any terrain.

The Score Baja 1000 Limited Edition ICON will be built by the special Advanced Projects Team at TLC in Los Angeles. As part of the ICON BAJA buying experience, TLC will offer an optional driver training course at Wide Open Baja. The special SCORE BAJA 1000 Limited Edition ICON is expected to be priced at $145,000.

Eastern Lawmakers Move to Deny OHV Access to 24 Million Acres In Western States
Members of the House Natural Resources Committee met to consider legislation that would set aside an unprecedented 24 million acres of public lands in the Northern Rockies. This land would be designated as "wilderness" and by definition, motorized recreation would be strictly prohibited in these areas.This proposal has been reintroduced numerous times over the last 12 years. While the bill has bipartisan support, the sponsors of the measure and a vast majority of the co-sponsors are from eastern states. The breadth and magnitude of lands affected by this bill has turned this into an east-west debate. During the hearing, Congressional members representing the affected states expressed their vehement opposition to the bill. In addition, representatives from the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management testified on the administration's opposition to the measure. While it is safe to assume that the bill, as written, will not become law under the current administration, this could change in the future depending on which party controls Congress and the White House. Wilderness legislation is consequential to SEMA members since it potentially denies access to off-roaders and the equipment that they purchase. SEMA continues to support land-use decisions that allow local stakeholders to participate in the decision-making process. Within that context, SEMA supports compromise approaches on wilderness areas that balance the need to preserve access to appropriate motorized recreation while protecting some of our nation's natural wonders.

* Rumor has it that Hummer has a safari-themed H2 and a race-inspired H3 planned for Sema.

* Mopar has a new chrome grille available for the JK, presumably for those who recently replaced a Golden Eagle CJ.

* AEV plans a 525hp Hemi-powered JK for SEMA, and we'll be all over it.

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