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August 2009 4x4 Truck & Automotive News - RPM

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

Spied! Mahindra Truck On Track
Mahindra is on track for a 2010 model year launch here in the States, but we caught this test vehicle undergoing cold-weather testing in northern Scandinavia.

Sitting on Mahindra's Scorpion platform, we'll be seeing two-door and four-door trucks in both two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive versions arriving on our shores in late 2009. A Mahindra SUV will follow about a year later, likely for the 2011 model year. These lightly camouflaged pictures show a facelift for the Indian and European markets. The U.S. version will have a unique grille that is different from what's attempting to hide under the black vinyl in these photos. Power for the U.S. versions will come from a Urea-based 140hp common rail-diesel, and all the vehicles will have a six-speed automatic transmission.

AEV Announces J8 For The US
For those of you who have lamented the fact that Chrysler's military J8 is not offered in the U.S., it is time to get excited because AEV has come to the rescue with its American Expedition Vehicles AEV J-8 MILSPEC. Until now, the J8 was only sold to foreign militaries and governments. A very limited number of 2010 J8s will be made available to enthusiasts in the United States exclusively from AEV as the J8 MILSPEC rolling chassis.

Just as with the standard J8, the J8 MILSPEC is designed to pass one of the world's toughest durability cycles, which is three times more severe than what civilian applications must endure. Both axles are beefed up to a heavy-duty Dana 44 front and a Dana 60 rear. The frame is built for severe use, and the rear suspension uses leaf springs to facilitate more than a 2,500-pound payload capacity and a 3,500-pound tow rating. The J8 Milspec will accept two powertrain options (installation is the responsibility of the buyer): Either a VM 2.8-liter diesel engine rated at 174 hp and 339 lb-ft of torque or a 5.7-liter V-8 Hemi rated at 330 hp and 375 lb-ft of torque by way of the AEV Hemi JK Kit. Both engine choices will use a five-speed automatic transmission. The vehicles also have a number of military-specific components, including tow loops that are rated for helicopter use, an air filter capable of running as long as five hours in zero visibility dust storms and remote-mounted batteries. Don't look for satellite navigation or leather seats, options are limited to Desert Sand or Military Green paint, a choice of a three-door or five-door body styles and air conditioning. The J8 Milspec will only be sold through AEV and its authorized network and will be assembled in Detroit by AEV. or more information, contact

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Revealed
Announced simultaneously at the New York Auto Show and in Moab, Utah, at the Easter Jeep Safari, the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee takes the brand to a new level. Built on the Mercedes ML platform, the new Grand takes the best styling cues of the beloved WJ and the outgoing WK and blends them in to a beautifully modern SUV. The 2011 Grand Cherokee features a longer wheelbase, a high-quality, luxurious interior that features soft-touch plastics and real wood and an all-new fully independent Quadra Lift air suspension with Selec-Terrain four-wheel drive system. Despite the upscale appointments and design, Jeep engineers maintained a focus on trail capability. The new Grand will offer a choice of three four-wheel drive systems, two engines that include the next-generation 280hp 3.6L V-6 or 360hp 5.7L Hemi, both backed by a five-speed automatic transmission and retaining its Trail Rated credentials. We'll have our take on the 2011 Grand Cherokee in a future issue.

Raptors For Everyone
Ford has announced that the Raptor will start at an incredibly reasonable $38,995 for the "base" model with the venerable 320hp 5.4L engine. Stepping up to the estimated 400hp 6.2L version will still be a palatable $41,995. Options packages have also been announced and will include the luxury package ($1,950), exterior graphics package ($1,075), and interior accent package ($395). We'll take ours in all-black, 6.2L, with nav, please.

BFG Names 2009 Outstanding Trails
BFGoodrich Tires, in collaboration with Tread Lightly! and United Four Wheel Drive Associations (UFWDA) has announced plans for its 2009 Outstanding Trails program. This year, due to the current economic climate, the program will be reduced but will continue to focus on helping off-road clubs and organizations by allowing trails and areas to be kept open and accessible for all to use. Launched in 2006, the Outstanding Trails Program is dedicated to the responsible use and preservation of off-road trails while providing aid in the trails' conservation efforts. From coast-to-coast, BFGoodrich Tires has identified the most "outstanding" off-road trails. Nominated for uniqueness, terrain type and enthusiast following, the trails selected for this year's program are Fordyce Creek Trail, California, and the privately-operated Barnwell Mountain Recreation Area, Texas. During the course of the program, which runs May through October, BFGoodrich Tires will be at club events associated with these trails and areas to highlight the uniqueness of each location as well as educate off-road enthusiasts on the responsible use of each trail.

Barnwell Mountain Recreation Area (BMRA): This beautiful 1,800-acre park located five miles north of Gilmer, Texas is a shining example of what club members and volunteers can accomplish and has become one of the premiere off-highway parks in the United States. The park's facilities and trail systems were designed and constructed strictly for motorized off-road purposes by the all-volunteer membership and is mapped and rated with proper signage.

The Fordyce Creek Trail: Nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Fordyce Creek Trail has a rich history starting as an old wagon trail serving the 19th century mining town of Summit City at Meadow Lake prior to evolving into the OHV trail it has become. The trail was lost for many years after the mines closed and is now accessible after many years of effort by a group of dedicated off-road enthusiasts. The trail has incredible High Sierra beauty with five winch hills and four water crossings, ending at Meadow Lake, which is adjacent to Fordyce Lake.

Quick Hits
* Toyota's A-Bat pickup concept will remain a concept for now.

* Ford will expand the 6.2L engine option from the Raptor and Harley-Davidson to the XLT and Platinum for 2011.

* The mildly upgraded 2010 Toyota Tundra will start at $26,680 for the base four-wheel drive model.

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