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May 2009 4x4 Truck & Automotive News - RPM

Posted in Project Vehicles on May 1, 2009
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Photographers: Brenda Priddy & Company

Caught! Next-Gen Grand Cherokee
Recently, we spotted the next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee undergoing testing. From these spy shots, we can tell that the Grand has increased in length over the current model and will be moving to an all-independent suspension system. Despite the change to a more on-road friendly suspension setup, Jeep insiders assure us that the new Grand will feature a host of technologies and will not lose any of its off-highway prowess.

GM Ends Team Hummer Sponsorship
With cost-cutting in style and an unknown future for Hummer, General Motors has pulled the plug on sponsorship for Rod Hall Racing. While Rod Hall Racing will sell the H2 SUT and H1 Alpha race trucks, they will keep the other championship trucks for now and campaign them in a few of the major 2009 races. We have spent ample time embedded with the Halls and can say they represent the top echelon of racing professionalism and can't wait to see where the winningest family in the history of Baja will go next. We wish the Halls the best of luck and thank them for their support of Four Wheeler over the years.

Ford To Phase Out Modular Production
According to, Ford is planning on phasing out the venerable 4.6L and 5.4L modular engines in the F-150 over the 2010 and 2011 model years, while phasing in the new, more powerful and fuel-efficient 5.0L Coyote engine family. The Coyote will be shared with the Mustang and features natural aspiration, four valves per cylinder, overhead cams, and early reports indicate the goal for this engine is 400 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. The 3.5L EcoBoost direct-injection and turbocharged V-6 will also make it into the F-150, as well as the 6.2L V-8 slated for niche products, such as the Raptor.

Mitsubishi Parks The Raider
Mitsubishi is quietly killing the Raider pickup truck, which has been around since 2005. Essentially a copy of the Dodge Dakota, we enjoyed the Mitsubishi's more trail-worthy DuroCross variant, but the truck never caught on with consumers, selling only about 3,000 in 2008. Mitsubishi will instead focus on its fuel-efficient lineup of small cars.

First Production Raptor Sold!
The first production Ford F-150 SVT Raptor was sold at the 2009 Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, for more than $130,000. This truck featured the 5.4L V-8, as the 6.2L engine will be a late addition to the production line. Ford will be donating all of the proceeds above the retail price to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Yamaha Helping To Keep Land Open
Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A., via the company's new OHV Access Initiative, injected more than $700,000 in cash and equipment in 2008 directly into projects across the country supporting safe, responsible riding and sustainable, open riding areas. In the program's first year, Yamaha took a leadership role in the ongoing issue of OHV access by providing GRANTs (Guaranteeing Responsible Access to our Nation's Trails) to more than 65 local, regional, and national organizations representing the greater OHV community.Awardees from the OHV Access Initiative's fourth quarter funding cycle include:

The California Trail Users Coalition
Cheaha Trailriders, Alabama
Aitkin County, Minnesota
Arrowhead ATV Club, Minnesota
Dixie National Forest, Cedar City Ranger District, Utah
Florida Trail Riders
Lewis County Department of Forestry,
Parks & Recreation, New York
Paul Bunyan Forest Riders, Minnesota
Rose City--Lupton Area Chamber of Commerce, Michigan
Embarrass River ATV Park and Campground, Wisconsin
Town of Rome, Dyracuse Recreational Park, Wisconsin

The primary purpose of the OHV Access Initiative is to provide funding of OHV access-related projects that include, but are not limited to: Trail development, restoration and maintenance, Trail signage and map production, Staging area construction, renovation and maintenance, land stewardship and education, responsible OHV riding education and outreach, and Legislative lobbying effort. Each quarter, Yamaha accepts applications from non-profit or tax-exempt organizations including OHV riding clubs, national forests and associations, and national, state, and local government agencies. A committee then reviews each application and awards GRANTs to deserving projects.

Quick Hits
* Ford and Navistar have reportedly settled all outstanding lawsuits and the current engine contract will expire at the end of the year.

* GM's plan of renewal may include trimming its brands to just four.

* Isuzu has officially abandoned the U.S. consumer market and will solely focus on commercial vehicles.

* Ford's F-series has retained it best selling vehicle crown for 2008 with 515,513 units sold.

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