Here is the first official rendering of the Hummer HX, the concept precursor to the much- anticipated 2010 Hummer H4. It is widely known that Hummer is interested in expanding the brand with a smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicle, making the H4 a natural competitor to the Jeep Wrangler JK. But don't be fooled-just because small and fuel-efficient are mentioned together, the HX was built to wheel with a high-performance suspension and powerful V-6. We were recently invited to the Hummer studio in Warren, Michigan, to get a look at the upcoming concept in the flesh and confirmed much of what we have already reported-with a few new details. From firsthand experience, we can tell you the HX will have 35-inch tires, front and rear lockers, a removable hardtop panel system, a slantback roof, and a super-trick four-wheel independent suspension featuring coilover shocks and jounce shocks. Originally thought to be built off of the H3 platform, the HX uses a unique chassis, and since Hummer announced all vehicles in its lineup will be biofuel-capable by 2010, it is a safe bet the HX will run off E85. Look for a full HX report after the North American International Auto Show.
The other small four-wheeldrive concept with two doors that will appear in Detroit is the Land Rover LRX (Can someone figure out a new naming convention, please?). Landy's concept sport-utility is suppose to fit below the LR2 in theory, and is categorized as a cross-coupe, or compact SUV with sporting pretensions. Looking every bit like a modern Land Rover, the LRX takes Land Rover's family design to the next level with its taut proportions and aggressive stance. Land Rover says the LRX will feature advanced green technologies, and while it will be tuned for the highway, will still have the Hill Descent Control and Terrain Response systems found on other Land Rovers. You can bet, like the HX, this is more than just a styling study.
To help raise money to protect outdoor recreation, the nonprofit Tread Lightly! is automatically entering all its new and renewing members for a chance to win gear from several outdoor companies. A one-year Individual Membership in Tread Lightly! is $25. The money raised goes toward the organization's education and restoration initiative designed to keep the outdoors healthy and accessible. Prizes include a set of four Goodyear 00passenger or light-truck tires of the winner's choice; a 110-volt PullzAll from Warn Industries; a prize package from Cabela's consisting of a West Wind four-person tent, rechargeable lantern, Mountain Trapper zerodegree sleeping bag, and a fivepiececast-iron cooking starter set; a prize package from Coleman with a Road Trip party grill, two-in-one packaway lantern, two-gallon jug, 16-quart Excursion cooler and an Event-14 tent with a sun wall; and an outdoor campfire grill from Adjustagrill. There isn't a better time to join Tread Lightly! Individuals, clubs, and businesses can join Tread Lightly! online at www. treadlightly.org or by calling 800/966-9900. Winners will be drawn throughout the year. No purchase is necessary to win.
We recently had a chance to check out Ford's 3,388-acre Michigan Proving Grounds (MPG) in Romeo, Michigan, to see how tough the 2008 Super Duty really is. Ford invited select journalists to sample the 2008 Super Duty back-to-back against the similarly optioned competition as well as attend a technology seminar with hands-on time with the Super Duty's major components.
While the weather was cold and rainy, it gave us the perfect conditions to sample Ford's heavy hauler. By far our favorite part of the day was draining the mud pit in a bright red F-250, but we also enjoyed the off-road course and the infamous suspension-torturing Silver Creek loop, a digital reproduction of the Arizona Proving Grounds' creek bed, reformed in concrete at the Romeo facility. Just don't take it in Brand X, or you may need kidney dialysis when you are done.
Ford also gave us the opportunity to tow 20,000 pounds with F-450s, really illustrating the difference in Ford's enhanced transmission Tow/Haul mode and superior integrated trailer brake controller when driven against the competitors' vehicles.
It was amazing to see what Ford put its products through to make sure the vehicle you get is as durable as possible. We came away impressed with the facility and the truck. In fact, the 2008 Super Duty recently won the 2008 Four Wheeler Pickup Truck of the Year competition.
-Sean P. Holman
In order to help promote diesel technology, Jeep is now offer- ing the CRD diesel option on the Laredo trim of the Grand Cherokee. They have even reduced the diesel option for Limited and Overland models. Pricing is downright reasonable, at $3,235 for fourwheel- drive Laredo models and only $1,010 for Overland or $1,655 for Limited fourwheel drives. This may be the best deal going in diesels for 2008.
Industry insiders say that Nissan is looking for a U.S. partner to help it develop the next-generation Nissan Titan to keep development costs down. Nissan has reportedly been in talks with Chrysler over just such a deal. This could mean anything from sharing parts to sharing manufacturing facilities, or sharing platforms. Other reports point to the next-generation SUVs from both companies also being discussed. We'll fill you in if we hear anything else.
2007 Legislation Victories
California Annual Inspection: SAN opposed legislation that threatened to require annual smog-check inspections for vehicles 15 years and older was defeated. The bill also would have required that funds generated through the additional inspection fees be deposited into an account, which can be used to scrap older cars.
Minnesota Off-Road Trucks: SAN helped defeat a bill that sought to restrict modi- fied 4x4 trucks to minimally maintained roads and to areas specifically designated for their use. The legislation defined 4x4 trucks as four-wheeled motor vehicles manufactured to operate on public roads and subsequently modified with special tires,suspension, or other equipment.
New York Grilleguards: SAN again helped defeat legislation to prohibit the use of grilleguards attached to a motor vehicle's chassis in New York. The measure relied on unsubstantiated claims that grilleguards create the potential of greater harm to other vehicles in the event of a collision and obstruct airbag sensors, rendering the airbags useless in an accident. The bill sought to require owners of vehicles currently equipped with grilleguards (including those purchased with this equipment from a dealership) to remove them.
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 cosponsors, are from eastern states. The breadth and magnitude of lands affected by this bill has turned this issue 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. Within that context, the SAN 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.