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April 2009 4x4 Truck & Automotive News - RPM

Posted in Project Vehicles on April 1, 2009
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Photographers: Jim Dunne/Brenda Priddy & Company

2010 Dodge Ram HD Mega Cab
Our spies recently caught single-rear-wheel and dual-rear-wheel Mega Cab models out for their final shakedowns, both with 8-foot beds, a new option for 2010. Adding the 8-foot box should increase the Mega Cab's attractiveness to fifth-wheel towers. Camouflage over the rear wheelwells of the dualie truck hides new fenders that sources say are stamped into the sheetmetal, similar to the Chevrolet Silverado HD dualie's rear haunches. Because the 5.7L Hemi V-8 was just upgraded to 383 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque for 2009, it is expected to remain the base engine for the HD trucks with the carryover 6.7L turbodiesel Cummins six-cylinder continuing as the optional engine.

Suzuki Prices Equator And Grand Vitara
American Suzuki Motor Corp. announced pricing for its all-new Equator pickup truck and freshened Grand Vitara compact SUV. Equator Extended Cab models will start as low as $17,995, with a four-cylinder engine and 2WD in the Base trim level. The Equator Crew Cab 4WD will set you back $28,095, while the RMZ-4 Off-Road version is a steal at $29,325. Base model Grand Vitaras carry a starting MSRP of just $19,249 with the Luxury trim level 4WD model going for a still-affordable $25,649.

Chrysler Says Diesel Ram 1500 Still Coming
While Toyota has shelved plans for a diesel Tundra and Ford has halted the 4.4L turbodiesel V-8 for its F-150 as it watches for more favorable market conditions, Chrysler says it is still committed to the 5.0L turbodiesel Cummins V-8 slated for its light-duty Ram 1500. Despite a current premium for diesel fuel and clean diesel technology, Chrysler says a 1/2-ton diesel still makes sense and hopes it will attract new customers into the Ram fold. Also slated for the Ram, and due before the diesel engine, will be a Ram hybrid utilizing similar technology to the Durango and Aspen hybrids, despite canceling the production of the hybrid Durango and Aspen just months after launching them.

Hummer Sweeps Best In the Desert Season Finale
Team Hummer concluded the 2008 desert racing season with its second hat-trick of the year as it swept the stock classes at the December 6 Best In the Desert (BITD) Racing Association's Fabtech Desert Classic 2008 season finale. Once again, Chad Hall and the H3 Alpha were the first Stock Class vehicle to cross the finish line, earning a class victory in the Stock Full SUV (4100) Class. Josh Hall and the H2 SUT secured the Stock Full Truck (8100) Class victory, finishing just five seconds behind his brother. Team owner and family patriarch, Rod Hall, earned his fifth BITD class victory of 2008, racing his H3 to a Stock Mini (3100) Class win. The victories also secured the team's sweep of all three BITD Stock Class season championships, adding to the pair of SCORE International Stock Class season championships secured at the 2008 Baja 1000. With a total of five class season championships, 2008 marks the most successful year for Hummer Racing since the team was founded in 1993.

2008 Team Hummer season highlights include:
* Rod Hall wins SCORE International and BITD Stock Mini Class season championship in the H3.

* Chad Hall wins SCORE International and Best in the Desert Stock Full season championship in the H3 Alpha's inaugural season.

* Josh Hall wins Best in the Desert Stock Full Truck season championship in the H2's SUT's first complete season.

* Team Hummer becomes the first team to sweep Stock Class championships in both SCORE and BITD in the same season.

* A Hummer was the first Stock Class vehicle to finish in 8 of 10 races in 2008, including the Baja 500 and Baja 1000.

Jeep J8 Begins Production
This is not a rumor or a typo. It is not conjecture or speculation. Chrysler and the Arab American Vehicles Company have started to produce our much longed-after Jeep J8 utility vehicle in Cairo, Egypt. The Jeep J8 marks the Jeep brand's return to commercial and military vehicle production with a vehicle designed to meet the needs of both non-government organizations and government agencies. Originally unveiled in 2007, the J8 is available as a two-door with an extended pickup bed for personnel or equipment transport, or a four-door multipurpose vehicle. It will be produced with numerous vehicle-body and seating configurations in either right- or left-hand drive.

With the 2008 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited as a starting point, Jeep engineers increased the vehicle's capability and versatility. The frame of the Wrangler Unlimited is reinforced for increased payloads up to a maximum of 2,952 pounds. Axles, brakes, and suspension components are engineered specifically for more demanding military and civilian government use, including utilizing a leaf-spring suspension and Dana 60 in the rear. The J8 is powered by a 2.8L four-cylinder turbodiesel engine that produces 158 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, providing towing capability of up to 3,500 pounds.

The J8 also features a unique air-intake system with special filtration and a hood-mounted snorkel that enables the J8 to ford water up to 30 inches deep and operate in sandstorm conditions for up to five hours. While not designed for frontline combat operations, the Jeep J8 is fully armor capable and excels in a variety of duties. Tow eyes and heavy-duty bumpers allow the Jeep J8 to be easily transported by airplane or helicopter.

BFGoodrich Tires Recognizes Pritchett Canyon Trail
Several members of the Moab Friends-For-Wheelin' club recently gathered to celebrate as BFGoodrich Tires named the Pritchett Canyon Trail as one of its 2008 Outstanding Trails and awarded the club a grant. Located southwest of Moab, the Pritchett Canyon Trail follows the Colorado River drainage and gives wheelers several options depending on driver skill and experience. The BFGoodrich Tires grant will be used to preserve the trail and continue conservation efforts for one of North America's premier areas for off-roading. BFGoodrich Tires, working in conjunction with Tread Lightly! and United Four Wheel Drive Associations (UFWDA), chose the Pritchett Canyon Trail because it provides riding opportunities for many skill levels on varied terrain with many spectacular views. The Moab Friends-For-Wheelin' club is a non-profit, organization and supports Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) recreation within the spirit of Tread Lightly! A major objective for the club is to provide a common organization through which members can promote the pastime of off-roading to the community and other enthusiasts.

Projects such as trail maintenance and restoration, community service, and effective communication with other four-wheel-drive organizations and government land-use agencies are additional objectives for the club. Launched in 2006, the BFGoodrich Tires Outstanding Trails program is dedicated to the responsible use, and preservation of, off-road trails while providing aid in the trails' conservation efforts. Over the past two years, the Outstanding Trails program has recognized 11 off-road trails in nine states and two in Canada. The program has also given $42,000 in grants to clubs and seen more than 1,700 participants in trail events.

The following additional five trails have also been selected as part of the 2008 BFGoodrich Tires Outstanding Trails program:

* BlackCat Trail located on Superstition Mountain near San Diego, California

* Blacktail/Wild Bill National Recreation Trail located in northwest Montana

* Iron Range OHV Recreational Area in Gilbert, Minnesota

* Quinn Trail that leads to Quinn Lake in Ottawa, Canada

* Beasley Knob OHV trail located near Blairsville, Georgia

* To learn more about these trails, visit the Outstanding Trails website at

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