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2003 4x4 Trucks And SUVs - The Four Wheeler Guide To 2003 Trucks And SUVS

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on December 1, 2002 Comment (0)
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HEAVY-DUTY TRUCKS
If you're looking for a new 4x4, you'll be pleased to learn that model year 2003 will provide you with more options than a handyman can find at Home Depot. The popularity of SUVs and pickups has created a huge pool of vehicles from which to choose. There are so many vehicles, features and powertrains out there that you'll probably be able to find your perfect 4x4. But navigating through the seemingly endless field of 4x4s can get rough. Which one is right for you? First, consider what you plan on using your truck for: work or play, or maybe both? Will you be towing a trailer or boat? How often will you be off-pavement? And just how big a rig do you need?

Four Wheeler is here to save the day with this comprehensive guide to every vehicle with a two-speed transfer case offered for '03. We've categorized these rigs according to size and class and have included spec charts to make side-by-side comparisons a piece of cake. Whether you're looking for a monster to pull your trail rig or just a daily driver you can 'wheel on the weekend, this guide will help you figure out which 4x4 is your 4x4.

Trucks In This Category Include:
Chevy Avalanche 2500
Chevy Silverado 1500HD
Chevy Silverado 2500HD
Chevy Silverado 3500
Dodge Ram 2500
Dodge Ram 3500
Ford F-250 Super Duty
Ford F-350 Super Duty
GMC Sierra 2500HD
GMC Sierra 3500

Chevy Avalanche 2500

Chevrolet
The big news at Chevy is that the four-wheel-drive Silverado 2500HD is now available in several configurations including regular-, extended- or crew-cab models with either the Wideside long- or shortbox. Regular cabs are only available with the Wideside longbox. Last year the only 4WD model was the extended cab. The Silverado's standard engine remains the potent Vortec 6.0L V-8, with the 8.1L V-8 or the new Duramax 6600 diesel V-8 as options. The new Duramax delivers 300 hp at 3,100 rpm and 520 lb-ft of torque at 1,800 rpm. Chevy also offers a crew-cab shortbed 1500HD, built on the Silverado 2500 platform. The 1500HD comes standard with the Vortec 6.0L V-8 engine, a towing capacity of 12,000 pounds and a payload of up to 3,143 pounds.

The 2500HD has a GVWR of up to 9,200 pounds and can carry payloads of as much as 3,964 pounds. If you're tugging a heavier load than that, consider the 3500 with its GVWR of 11,400 pounds and a payload capacity of 5,559 pounds. Opt for Chevy's 6.0L V-8 and you're ready to tow as much as 10,500 pounds. The 8.1L V-8 and Duramax powerplants can each tow an impressive 12,000 pounds. This year the Silverado 2500HD/3500 Series comes with the OnStar system standard on LT extended-cab and crew-cab models.

All heavy-duty Silverado models come with double-A arm, torsion-bar independent suspension up front. In the rear, the 2500HD utilizes a semi-elliptic two-stage multileaf spring, while the 3500 chassis cab features a three-stage multileaf spring.

Chevy's other candidate in the heavy-duty class is the relatively new convertible-cab Avalanche, first introduced in 2001. For '03, the pickup/SUV hybrid features the StabiliTrak vehicle stability enhancement system and improved fuel economy for the Autotrac four-wheel-drive system, but only when driven in two-wheel drive. The Avalanche 2500 comes standard with a 340hp Vortec 8100 8.1L V-8 and a four-speed automatic transmission. This package offers a towing capacity of up to 12,000 pounds.

Dodge Ram 3500

Dodge
New from Dodge this year are the 2003 Ram 2500HD and 3500, with an all-new 345hp 5.7L Hemi Magnum V-8 and an optional 5.9L inline-six Cummins turbodiesel. The V-8 kicks out 375 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm, providing Dodge's heavy-duty pickups with towing capability of up to 10,800 pounds with the 4.10:1 axle ratio. Steering has been improved with an all-new recirculating ball system for improved response. A coil-sprung, solid-axle front suspension is standard on all four-wheel-drive models. The 2500HD and 3500 trucks feature leaf springs in the rear. In a nod to four-wheelers, Dodge brought front-axle ground clearance up to a respectable 9.3 inches for the 2500HD and 9.9 inches for the 3500. Both trucks are available in regular or quad-cab models, the 3500 with a shortbed as an option.

Ford F350

Ford
The Ford Super Duty is a favorite of enthusiasts, thanks in no small part to its live-axle/leaf-spring front/rear suspensions, and various powertrain options. For 2003 Ford offers its all-new 6.0L Power Stroke diesel engine, offering 325 hp and 550 lb-ft of torque. The diesel engine will be available with a five-speed TorqShift automatic transmission or a ZF-built six-speed manual overdrive trans. Both the F-250 and F-350 are offered in Regular Cab, SuperCab or Crew Cab versions, and feature three trim levels: base XL, XLT and high-zoot Lariat.

The standard powerplant remains the 5.4L Triton V-8. Then there's the 6.8L Triton V-10 and the venerable 7.3 Power Stroke turbodiesel V-8. Towing and hauling ability are a big part of these trucks' appeal. With its stock engine and 4.10:1 axle ratio, the F-250 is rated to tow 8,900 pounds. (With the 3.73:1 axle ratio, towing numbers decrease to 7,800 pounds.) An F-350 with the 6.0L diesel and 3.73:1 axle ratio can tow a 12,500-pound trailer.

GMC Sierra 2500HD

GMC
The Sierra is GMC's heavy-duty player. The four-wheel- drive 2500HD and 3500 models are available in a variety of configurations. The standard engine for the regular-cab longbox is the Vortec 6000 6.0L V-8. Other engine choices include the 8.1L V-8 or the Duramax 6.6L turbodiesel. All models offer a five- or six-speed manual or four- or five-speed automatic transmission. Heavy-duty Sierras feature double A-arms and torsion bars up front and the same rearend setup as Chevy's 2500/3500 heavy-duty trucks. Hauling capacity for the 6.0L V-8 is 10,600 pounds, while the 8.1L V-8 and 6.6L Duramax each are rated for a respectable 12,000 pounds. The 3500 with the 6.0L V-8 can tow up to 9,900 pounds. These trucks can carry payloads from 3,076 for the extended-cab shortbed to 5,169 pounds in the extended-cab longbox.

Specification comparison chart
  BASE MSRP ENGINES HP/TORQUE (LB-FT) FUEL ECONOMY MAX PAYLOAD (LBS.) MAX TOWING CAPACITY (LBS.) TRANSMISSIONS
CHEVY*
Avalanche 2500 $36,294 8.1L V-8 285/325 13/17 1,958 12,000 4A
Silverado 1500HD $33,860 6.0L V-8 300/360 n/a 2,837 10,300 5M, 4A
Silverado 2500HD $31,245 6.0L V-8 300/360 n/a 3,144 10,600 5M, 4A
8.1 V-8 340/455 n/a 3,144 12,000 5M, 4A
Duramax V-8 300/520 n/a 3,144 12,000 6M, 5A
Silverado 3500 $34,831 6.0L V8 300/360 n/a 4,941 9,900 6M, 5A
8.1L V-8 340/455 n/a 4,941 12,000 6M, 5A
Duramax V-8 300/520 n/a 4,941 12,000 6M, 5A
DODGE**
{{{Ram 2500}}} $25,745 5.7L V-8 345/375 n/a 2,730 9,550 5M, 5A
8.0L V-10 305/440 n/a 2,460 11,100 5M, 4A
5.9L Diesel 250/460 n/a 2,030 12,800 5M, 4A
{{{Ram 3500}}} $27,450 5.7L V-8 345/375 n/a 4,800 10,150 5M, 5A
8.0L V-10 305/440 n/a 1,420 10,200 5M, 4A
5.9L Diesel 250/460 n/a 4,650 11,900 5M, 4A
FORD
F-250 $25,680 5.4L V-8 260/350 n/a 2,{{{960}}} 7,400 6M, 4A
6.8L V-10 310/425 n/a 2,960 10,200 6M, 4A
6.0L V-8 Diesel 325/550(m) n/a 2,960 12,500 6M, 5A
7.3L V-8 Diesel 275/520(m) n/a 2,960 12,500 6M, 4A
F-350 Super Duty $25,965 5.4L V-8 260/350 n/a 4,065 7,400 6M, 4A
6.8L V-10 310/425 n/a 4,065 10,200 6M, 4A
6.0L V-8 Diesel 325/550(m) n/a 4,065 12,500 6M, 5A
7.3L V-8 Diesel 275/520(m) n/a 4,065 12,500 6M, 4A
GMC*
Sierra 1500HD $34,365 6.0LV-8 300/360 n/a 2,831 10,200 4A
Sierra 2500HD $33,147 6.0L V-8 300/360 n/a 3,144 10,600 5M, 6M, 4A
8.1L V-8 340/455 n/a 3,144 12,000 5M, 6M, 4A
6.6L V-8 Diesel 300/520 n/a 3,144 12,000 5A
Sierra 3500 $34,319 6.0L V-8 300/360 n/a 4,941 10,600 5M, 6M, 4A
8.1L V-8 340/455 n/a 4,941 12,000 5M, 6M, 4A
6.6L V-8 Diesel 300/520 n/a 4,941 12,000 5A
*Chevy and GMC payload numbers are for crew-cab longbox.
**Dodge payload numbers are for Quad Cab with longbox. 3500 payload numbers are with dual rear wheels.
Abbreviations:
4A = four-speed automatic
5A = five-speed automatic
5M = five-speed manual
6M = six-speed manual

LIGHT-DUTY TRUCKS

Trucks In This Category Include:
Chevy Avalanche 1500
Chevy Silverado 1500
Dodge Ram 1500
Ford F-150
GMC Sierra 1500
Toyota Tundra

Chevrolet
The Silverado 1500 leads the way for Chevy in the light-duty truck market. GM's best-selling vehicle, the 1500 regular-cab comes standard with a 200hp 4.3L V-6. Optional engines include the 4.8L V-8 and 5.3L V-8.

Not much has changed since last year, except that for '03 the 1500 extended cab now comes with optional Quadrasteer, a four-wheel steering system that improves maneuverability in slow driving conditions and improves handling at higher speeds.

The Chevy Avalanche 1500 is available with only one drivetrain: a 5.3L V-8 engine that kicks out 285 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. It's mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. The 1500 is available with many of the same new features as the larger 2500. These include the addition of the StabiliTrak system and improved fuel economy when driven in two-wheel drive.

Dodge Ram 1500

Dodge
For '03, Dodge introduces two new option packages to its Ram 1500 pickup: "Off Road" and "Work Special." The former gives drivers several key four-wheeling features, including a 3.92:1 axle ratio, all-terrain tires, a limited-slip differential, heavy-duty engine cooling, skidplates and tow hooks. The "Work Special" model isn't nearly as dirt-worthy, offering bumpers that feature a rear step pad, a dark-gray grille and sportier wheels. Regardless, the 1500 remains Dodge's bread-and-butter pickup, with its 4x4 model delivered with a standard 4.7L V-8 and five-speed NV3500 manual transmission. These Rams are available in both regular and quad-cab models with either short- or longbeds. Other available powertrains for the 1500 include the 4.7L V-8 with 5-45RFE multispeed automatic or the more robust 5.9L V-8 with the 46RE four-speed automatic. Regular and quad-cab Rams with the shortbox have an estimated payload of 1,450 pounds; the longbox version can carry a payload of up to 1,510 pounds. The 4x4 Ram shortbed with a 3.92:1 axle ratio and 4.7L V-8 is rated for a towed load of up to 5,500 pounds.

Ford F150

Ford
The F-150 is available in two-door Regular Cab, four-door SuperCab or four-fullsize-doors-version SuperCrew. The Regular Cab comes with a standard 4.2L V-6, producing 202 hp at 4,800 rpm and 252 lb-ft of torque at 3,400 rpm. A 4.6L Triton V-8 and 5.4L Triton V-8 are also available. Dual A-arms, torsion bars, shock absorbers and an antiroll bar up front combine with a leaf-sprung solid axle rear. The Regular Cab can tow up to 5,400 pounds, while the stock SuperCab and SuperCrew tow 6,600 and 6,200 pounds, respectively. Those numbers increase to 8,400 pounds with the 5.4L V-8 Regular Cab with 3.73:1 axle ratio.

Toyota
This year Toyota adds a new model to its line of fullsize Tundra pickups-the Access Cab StepSide model with its new grille and bumper design, and a deeper bed-increased to 19 inches from the original 17.2. The Tundra is available with either a 190hp 3.4L V-6 or a 240hp 4.7L V-8. The V-6 can be ordered with a four-speed automatic or a five-speed manual, while the V-8 comes only with a four-speed automatic. Tundra features IFS and leaf springs with staggered low-pressure shocks that cushion the truck's rear. The Tundra possesses decent payload capacities. The standard manual Access Cab 4x4 can haul 1,680 pounds compared to the automatic's 1,624. By comparison, the most powerful 4x4 V-8 model, the Access Cab SR5, can carry only 1,512 pounds.

Specification Comparison Chart
  BASE MSRP ENGINES HP/TORQUE (LB-FT) FUEL ECONOMY MAX PAYLOAD MAX TOWING CAPACITY (LBS.) TRANSMISSIONS
CHEVY
Avalanche 1500 $34,394 5.3L V-8 285/325 13/17 1,322 7,{{{900}}} 4A
Silverado 1500 $21,113 4.3L V-6 200/260 16/20 1,821 5,000 4A, 5M
4.8L V-8 270/285 15/18 1,821 5,000 4A, 5M
5.3L V-8 285/325 15/18 1,821 8,400 4A, 5M
6.0L V-8 {{{300}}}/360 n/a 1,821 10,200 4A, 5M
Silverado 2500 $26,122 6.0L V-8 300/360 n/a 3,076 10,200 4A, 5M
DODGE
Ram 1500 $22,180 4.7L V-8 {{{240}}}/300 13/18 1,450 5,550 5M, 5A
5.9L V-8 245/335 11//16 1,370 12,500 4A
FORD
F-150 $23,535 4.2L V-6 202/252 16/19 1,705 5,400 5M, 4A
4.6L V-8 231/293 14/18 1,860 5,800 5M, 4A
5.4L V-8 260/350 14/18 1,775 7,200 4A
{{{GMC}}}
{{{Sierra}}} 1500 $23,103 4.3L V-6 200/260 16/20 2,027 5,000 5M, 4A
4.8L V-8 275/285 15/18 5,000 5M, 4A
5.3L V-8 285/325 15/18 8,400 5M, 4A
6.0L V-8 300/360 n/a TK 5M, 4A
TOYOTA
Tundra $24,445 3.4L V-6 190/220 15/18 1,680 4,800 4A, 5M
4.7L V-8 240/315 14/17 1,512 7,200 4A

Abbreviations:
4A = four-speed automatic
5A = five-speed automatic
5M = five-speed manual
6M = six-speed manual

COMPACT TRUCKS

Trucks In This Category Include:
Chevrolet S-10
Dodge Dakota
Ford Ranger
Ford Sport Trac
GMC Sonoma
Mazda Truck
Nissan Frontier
Toyota Tacoma

Chevy S-10

Chevrolet
This is the last year for the Chevy S-10, sort of. In 2004 the S-10 will be replaced by the Chevy Colorado. But one last vestige, an S-10 Crew Cab, will still be offered. Regardless, the '03 S-10 has been improved upon with a new fuel-injection system for the 4.3L V-6, the only engine offered on 4x4 models. The four-wheel-drive S-10 is available in either extended-cab or crew-cab body types. The crew cab is available with one transmission, a four-speed automatic, while the extended cab offers that transmission as an option, with a five-speed manual as standard equipment. Once again, Chevy offers its ZR2 off-road package for the S-10, which includes extra-wide wheel flares, Bilstein shocks and 31-inch all-terrain tires. S-10's extended cabs are rated with a maximum trailer capacity of 5,500 pounds, and a maximum payload of 1,362 pounds.

GMC
This year GMC offers the Sonoma, based on the S-10, as an extended-cab shortbox or crew cab with two versions of the SLS trim level. The 4WD model is available with the standard 190hp 4.3L V-6. As expected, towing and payload numbers are identical to those of the S-10.

Ford
For '03, Ford has improved and refined the Ranger pickup, offering two body styles, several trim levels and either manual or automatic transmissions. The Ranger's FX4 continues to be available, but the really exciting package is the FX4/Level II package, which comes with 31-inch BFGoodrich All Terrain T/A KO tires, a Torsen limited-slip diff, Bilstein shocks, front and rear tow hooks and skidplates.

Ford offers the Ranger with three engines: the scarce 2.3L inline-four, which you don't want anyway; a 3.0L V-6 and a 207hp 4.0L V-6. Each is available with any four-wheel-drive model. This year Ranger braking has been improved with larger rotors (now 305mm, up from 286mm), new front brake calipers and larger rear-wheel brake cylinders.

In an attempt to lure the extreme-sports crowd, Ford's Explorer Sport Trac claims to offer drivers the room and ride of an SUV with the bed and cargo capacity of a pickup.

This pseudo-SUV is powered by a 210hp 4.0L V-6 mated to either a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission. The Explorer Sport Trac can tow up to 5,300 pounds and has a maximum payload of 1,520 pounds. Standard Sport Trac models use torsion bars, gas shocks and an antiroll bar up front, with leaf springs, shocks and an antiroll bar in the rear.

Dodge
If you're a Mopar guy looking for a smaller truck, consider the Dakota. You can order the four-wheel-drive Dakota as a Regular Cab, Club Cab or Quad Cab, each available in three trim levels. This year, the Dakota features the new 5-45RFE five-speed automatic transmission with the 4.7L V-8 engine. Besides the 4.7L powerplant, Dodge also offers the Dakota with the 3.9L V-6 and the 5.9L V-8, still the only V-8 in this class. Dodge discontinued the 2.5L engine. The Dakota has great towing and payload numbers, with a maximum towing capacity of 6,600 pounds and a top payload of 2,160 pounds.

Four-wheel disc brakes with rear-wheel antilock brakes are now standard on 4WD models 5,350 GVWR and over.

Mazda
Based on the Ford Ranger, Mazda's B-Series of light trucks, which last year featured the B3000 and B4000 models, was consolidated and renamed the Mazda Truck in 2002. New features that accompany the truck include the optional Off-Road package for the 4x4 Cab Plus 4. The package includes 31x10.5R15 BFGoodrich tires, side step tubes, and tie-down rails on top of the bed sides. The Mazda Truck is available only with a 207hp 4.0L V-6.

Nissan
If you're shopping in this group and cargo space is your main concern, check out the '03 Nissan Frontier, offering the longest bed in its class with the Crew Cab Long Bed. The Frontier Crew Cab is available in four trim levels, while the King Cab offers five. Nissan offers the pickup with a 210hp supercharged 3.3L V-6 or standard normally aspirated 3.3L V-6.

Never afraid of innovation, Nissan will offer the Frontier with a retractable top, a first for the compact market. All normally aspirated V-6-equipped Frontiers will earn an additional 10 hp (now 180), two extra lb-ft of torque (now 202) and an additional one mile per gallon.

Toyota
The Toyota Tacoma remains mostly unchanged from the '02 model, with the exception of standard ABS brakes added across all trim levels. As in past years, the Tacoma is offered with the TRD off-road package, which includes more aggressive tires, better shocks, progressive coils and, most importantly, an electric rear locker. Available powertrains include the 2.7L I-4 or 3.4L V-6. A-arm and coils support the front, while a live axle with leaf springs supports the rear.

Specification Comparison Chart
  BASE MSRP ENGINES HP/TORQUE (LB-FT) FUEL ECONOMY MAX PAYLOAD MAX TOWING CAPACITY (LBS.) TRANSMISSIONS
CHEVY
S-10 $19,702 4.3L V-6 290/250 16/22 1,362 5500 5M, 4A
DODGE
Dakota $19,{{{200}}} 3.9L V-6 175/225 15/20 1,490 3,950 5M, 5A
4.7L V-8 230/295 14/19 1,440 5,400 5M, 5A
5.9L V-8 250/345 12//17 1,330 4,350 4A
FORD
Ranger $20,660 3.0L V-6 154/180 18/21 1,260 3,820 5M, 5A
4.0L V-6 207/238 15/18 1,260 5,{{{740}}} 5A
Sport Trac $26,375 4.0L V-6 210/{{{240}}} 15/19 1,480 5,080 5M, 5A
GMC
Sonoma $19,715 4.3L V-6 190/250 17/22 1,362 5,500 5M, 4A
MAZDA
Truck n/a 4.0L V-6 207/238 16/19 1,260 n/a 5M, 5A
NISSAN
Frontier $18,599 3.3L V-6 180/202 17/20 1,146 5,000 4A, 5M
3.3L SC V-6 220/248 15/18 970 5,000
TOYOTA
Tacoma n/a 2.7L I-4 150/177 19/21 1,814 5,000 4A, 5M
3.4L V-6 190/220 17/20

Abbreviations:
4A = four-speed automatic
5A = five-speed automatic
5M = five-speed manual
6M = six-speed manual

FULLSIZE SUVS

SUVs In This Category Include:
Chevy Suburban
Chevy Suburban 2500
Chevy Tahoe
Ford Excursion
Ford Expedition
GMC Yukon
GMC Yukon XL 1500
GMC Yukon XL 2500
Hummer H1
Hummer H2
Lexus LX470
Toyota Land Cruiser
Toyota Sequoia

Chevrolet
The Suburban is available as a 1/2-ton 1500 version or a 3/4-ton 2500. This year, Chevy has added its StabiliTrak system to this legendary SUV. StabiliTrak is a computer-controlled braking system designed to improve vehicle stability on slick road surfaces.

Both the 1/2-ton and 3/4-ton Suburban are offered in two trim levels, LS or LT. The 1/2-ton is available only with the 5.3L V-8 mated to a 4L60-E four-speed automatic. This year, Chevy did add electronic throttle control (ETC) to all Suburban powertrains. The 2500 is delivered with a standard 6.0L V-8 and 4L80-E transmission, but an 8.1L V-8 is optional. This engine comes with the stronger 4L85-E transmission.

The Suburban features independent front suspension with torsion bars. The 1/2-ton model utilizes a five-link coil spring in the rear, while the 3/4-ton rig uses two-stage semi-elliptic, multileaf springs with a semi-floating rear axle. Additionally, Chevy added the Quadrasteer four-wheel-drive steering system to the 2500. The 1/2-ton Chevy Suburban has a maximum payload of 2,077 pounds and the power to tow an 8,100-pound trailer. The 2500 has a payload of 2,840 pounds and a trailer towing capacity of 12,000 pounds.

The Chevy Tahoe is 20 1/2 inches shorter than the Suburban. The LS trim features the 4.8L V-8, while the LT level features the 5.3L V-8. This engine is an available option for the LS. Both models feature the 4L60-E four-speed automatic. As with the Suburban, the Tahoe now features Chevy's StabiliTrak and electronic throttle control.

The Tahoe rides on an independent front suspension and five-link coil spring with load leveling in the rear. It can be ordered with a special Z71 off-road package, with a specially tuned suspension, a locking rear differential, P265/70R17 all-terrain tires and OnStar for added security. The four-wheel-drive Tahoe is rated to tow up to a 7,400-pound trailer and has a payload capacity of 1,672 pounds.

Ford
The Expedition features an all-new interior and exterior, a stiffer chassis and independent rear suspension. But that's only the beginning for the blue oval. Except for the Hummer H1, the Expedition is the only fullsize SUV with four-wheel independent suspension. Expedition also features an all-new braking system with larger rotors: 13 inches up front and 13 1/2 inches in the rear.

Ford offers the Expedition with either the 4.6L V-8 or 5.4L Triton V-8. With this larger engine, the Excursion boasts a towing capacity of 8,650 pounds and a payload capacity of 1,615 pounds. Carrying cargo is made all the more easier because the Expedition's second- and third-row seats can be folded in several configurations.

The Ford Excursion, meanwhile, continues to be based on the Super Duty chassis, with solid axles at both ends, and is offered with four different engines, including the 5.4L Triton V-8, 6.8L Triton V-10, 7.3L Power Stroke V-8 or the new 325hp 6.8L Turbodiesel V-8, available later in the model year with an all-new five-speed TorqShift automatic transmission. The Excursion has a payload capacity of 1,800 pounds and a maximum towing capacity of 11,000 pounds, with the 7.3L Power Stroke. The Excursion is available in XLT, Eddie Bauer and Limited trims.

GMC Yukon XL 2500

GMC
GMC's Yukon series is based on the same chassis as Chevy's Tahoe and Suburban. The Yukon is offered with four different drivetrains, including the 4.8L V-8, stock for the Yukon; the 5.3L V-8, stock for the Yukon XL 1500; and the 6.0L V-8, standard on Yukon XL 2500. A final engine, the 8.1L V-8, is optional for the 2500. Both the Yukon and Yukon XL 1500 come standard with four-speed automatic transmissions, with the larger 8.1L V-8 mated to a 4L85-E four-speed automatic transmission.

This year, innovations like StabiliTrak are optional for all Yukons; also available is the four-wheel steering system, Quadrasteer, for the Yukon XL 2500. Towing and payload numbers are similar to the Tahoe: up to 8,100 and 1,616 pounds, respectively.

Hummer H2

Hummer
Renamed the H1 last year, the classic Hummer is available as a four-door open-top model or as a four-door wagon. Still built by AM-General, both feature the 6.5L turbodiesel V-8 and four-speed automatic 4L80-E transmission standard. This year's model is available with new features like an optional rear ELocker locking differential from Eaton and a heavy-duty brushguard. The H1 has a four-wheel independent suspension and variable-rate heavy-duty coil springs.

The new H2, meanwhile, previewed in the September edition of Four Wheeler, is available strictly as a hard-top with a 315hp 6.0L V-8 and a 4L65-E four-speed automatic overdrive transmission. The H2 features a standard Borg-Warner two-speed transfer case with a low-range ratio of 2.64:1. An Eaton electric locker comes as standard equipment. The H2 is built on a ladder-type frame that is derived from the Tahoe and Suburban frames. H2 suspension is highlighted by a front IFS A-arm/torsion bar and five-link coil spring rear suspension with a solid rear axle.

Lexus
If luxury is the key ingredient you're looking for in your four-wheel-drive SUV, check out the Lexus LX 470. A near-clone of the Toyota Land Cruiser, the LX470 has only some minor changes for '03. Lexus engineers have coaxed an extra 5 hp out of its engine, and fitted it with a five-speed automatic electronically controlled transmission. Exterior revisions include standard 18-inch wheels with 275/60 mud-and-snow HR-rated tires, a revised grille and bumpers and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

Toyota
Those looking for the ultimate Toyota 4x4 will find it in the Land Cruiser. The Land Cruiser comes with a standard 235hp 4.7L V-8, producing 320 lb-ft of torque at 3,400 rpm. This year, the 'Cruiser enjoys such standards as a stock 4.10:1 rear axle ratio, 17-inch alloy wheels with P275/65R17 tires, power-tilt and telescoping steering, steering-wheel audio controls and automatic locking doors.

Toyota's largest SUV is the Sequoia. The Tundra-based Sequoia is available with one engine, a 4.7L V-8. It uses IFS and a four-link, coil-spring semi-floating solid rear axle. Toyota has made some key changes to the Sequoia this year, including a rear load-leveling suspension, the same locking multimode transfer case used in the new 4Runner and an available seven-pin towing connector. If you plan on towing with the Sequoia you can expect to tow a trailer up to 6,200 pounds capacity and get a payload of 1,305 pounds on a 4WD Sequoia Limited.

Specification Comparison Chart
  BASE MSRP ENGINES HP/TORQUE (LB-FT) FUEL ECONOMY MAX PAYLOAD MAX TOWING CAPACITY (LBS.) TRANSMISSIONS
CHEVY
Suburban $39,006 5.3L V-8 285/325 13/17 9 8,100 4A
Suburban 2500 $40,703 6.0L V-8 320/360 n/a 9 12,000 4A
8.1L V-8 340/455 n/a 9 12,000 4A
Tahoe $36,272 4.8L V-8 275/290 14/17 9 7,400 4A
5.3L V-8 285/325 14/17 9 7,400 4A
FORD
Excursion $40,410 5.4L V-8 255/350 n/a 9 7,{{{600}}} 4A
6.8L V-10 310/425 n/a 9 11,000 4A
6.0L V-8 Diesel 325/550 n/a 9 11,000 5A
7.3L V-8 Diesel 250/525 n/a 9 11,000 4A
Expedition $34,905 4.6L V-8 232/291 n/a 9 5,750 4A
5.4L V-8 260/350 n/a 9 8,650 4A
GMC
Yukon $36,805 4.8L V-8 275/290 14/16 9 8,100 4A
5.3L V-8 285/325 14/17 9 8,100 4A
Yukon XL 1500 $39,710 5.3L V-8 285/325 14/16 9 8,100 4A
Yukon XL 2500 $41,262 6.0L V-8 320/360 n/a 9 12,000 4A
8.1L V-8 340/455 n/a 9 12,000 4A
HUMMER
H1 n/a 6.5L V-8 Diesel 195/430 n/a 4 7,646 4A
H2 $48,065 6.0L V-8 315/360 n/a 6 7,000 4A
LEXUS
LX470 $63,125 4.7L V-8 235/320 13/17 8 6,500 4A
TOYOTA
Land Cruiser $53,{{{405}}} 4.7L V-8 235/320 13/16 8 6,500 4A
Sequoia n/a 4.7L V-8 {{{240}}}/315 14/17 8 6,200 4A

Abbreviations:
4A = four-speed automatic
5A = five-speed automatic
5M = five-speed manual
6M = six-speed manual

MIDSIZE SUVS

SUVs In This Category Include:
Chevrolet Blazer
Chevrolet TrailBlazer
Chevrolet TrailBlazer EXT
Dodge Durango
Ford Explorer
Ford Explorer Sport
GMC Envoy
GMC Envoy XL
Infiniti QX4
Isuzu Ascender
Isuzu Axiom
Isuzu Rodeo
Jeep Liberty
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Kia Sorento
Land Rover Discovery II
Range Rover
Lexus GX470
Mercedes Benz G500
Mercedes Benz ML320
Mercedes Benz ML500
Mitsubishi Montero
Mitsubishi Montero Sport
Nissan Xterra
Nissan Pathfinder
Porsche Cayenne
Suzuki XL-7
Toyota 4Runner

Chevy Trailblazer

Chevrolet
This year the Chevy Blazer features a new fuel-injection system for its standard 4.3L V-6. Available in two trim levels, four- or two-door LS or two-door Extreme, the Blazer is now positioned between the Tracker and TrailBlazer.

Introduced last year, the TrailBlazer features a standard 4.2L I-6 engine mated to a four-speed automatic 4L60-E transmission. The 16-inch-longer TrailBlazer EXT has an optional 290hp 5.3L V-8, a third-row seat and room for seven adults. The LS, LT, LTZ and EXT trims all feature independent dual A-arm suspension with shocks and a torsion bar up front and a five-link solid axle with shocks and a 24mm antiroll bar at the rear. Four-wheel ABS and hydraulic-assisted rack-and-pinion steering is standard on all models as well.

Dodge
Offering seating for eight, Dodge's Durango comes standard with a 4.7L V-8, four-wheel disc brakes and 16x7 aluminum wheels. Durango R/T is fit with the 250hp 5.9L V-8, the largest engine in this class, a full-time four-wheel-drive transfer case and upscale interior appointments such as two-tone leather-trimmed high-back bucket seating. The Durango has a maximum towing capacity of 7,550 pounds and 1,670-pound payload. A limited-slip diff is optional on all models and standard on the R/T. The Durango rides on independent dual A-arms, coils springs, shock absorbers and an antiroll bar up front and a live axle with four-leaf springs, shocks and an antiroll bar in the rear.

Ford
Last year, Ford redesigned the Explorer from the ground up. For '03 the Explorer hasn't changed much. As with last year, it's offered with a standard 4.0L V-6 with 210 hp and 254 lb-ft of torque. The 4.6L Triton V-8 is the Explorer's optional engine. The suspension consists of independent dual A-arms and coilover shocks front and rear. The Explorer Sport is the two-door model of this popular SUV. It's available in three trim levels, XLS, XLT and XLT Premium. Ford hasn't changed the Sport much, simply adding accoutrements such as a 12-volt power point and coat hooks to the cargo area. The Explorer Sport comes standard with a 4.0L V-6 mated to a five-speed manual transmission. Its suspension utilizes independent dual A-arms, gas shocks and an antiroll bar at the fore and a solid axle with leaf springs, gas-filled shocks and an antiroll bar at the rear.

GMC
The Envoy and Envoy XL are GMC's versions of the TrailBlazer. They come standard with a Vortec 4200 4.2L 24-valve DOHC inline-six, now with a claimed peak horsepower of 275, an increase of five ponies, and 275 lb-ft of torque. The XL offers third-row seating and is 16 inches longer than the regular Envoy. Also, the XL gets more low-end torque with its 5.3L V-8 and a 3.73:1 axle ratio, giving the 4WD XL a trailering capacity of 7,000 pounds.

Another nice addition is a 25-gallon fuel tank for the Envoy XL.

Infiniti
For '03 the QX4 comes standard with a 240hp V-6 mated to a four-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with overdrive. Four-wheel-drive models feature Infiniti's All-Mode 4WD system, which instantly delivers torque to the front wheels when slippage occurs, and a limited-slip rear differential. This year's model will come standard with features that were only available on the premium trim level last year, including 17-inch wheels, wood and leather-engrained steering wheel, driver's-seat memory and steering-wheel-embedded audio controls. QX4s ride on MacPherson struts with an antiroll bar up front and a solid rear axle with five-link coil-spring system that includes an antiroll bar.

Isuzu Ascender

Isuzu
The all-new Isuzu Ascender is a seven-passenger fullsize SUV that's being positioned as the company's flagship SUV. It replaces the much loved and very capable Trooper. The Ascender is based on the same platform as the Chevy TrailBlazer EXT and GMC Envoy XL, and it will be offered in three trim levels: S, LS and Limited. All models are equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, a roof-mounted luggage rack and body side moldings. A power moonroof will be found on all LS and Limited models. The Limited also features leather-trimmed bucket seats and a standard Bose audio system. Available with a standard 4.2L I-6 or an optional all-aluminum 5.3L V-8 mated to a four-speed electronically controlled transmission, the Ascender is offered with four-wheel ABS. It features independent double A-arm suspension with Bilstein shocks and an antiroll bar up front and a five-link solid axle with coil springs, Bilstein shocks and an antiroll bar at the rear. The Ascender has a trailering capacity of 5,500 pounds with the I-6 and 7,200 pounds with the V-8.

The Isuzu Axiom, first introduced as an '02 model, comes standard with a 3.5L V-6. It employs IFS and a solid rear axle with coil springs and an antiroll bar. There's nothing new to report for '03 on the Axiom, except this: The radio antenna was moved to the rear. Isuzu's other midsize SUV is the four-door Rodeo, which is delivered with the 3.2L V-6. The Rodeo shares suspension systems with the Axiom.

Jeep
For '03, the Grand Cherokee comes in three models: the Laredo, Limited or Overland editions. Both the Laredo and Limited come standard with a 4.0L Power Tech I-6, with the 4.7L Power Tech V-8 and 545RFE five-speed transmission optional. The Overland features the High Output 4.7L Power Tech V-8, which offers a 15 percent increase in horsepower over the standard 4.7L V-8. Also, Jeep engineers have teased out a 12 percent increase in torque. A Dana 30 front axle is standard on all 4WD models, while at the rear, a Dana 35 can be found on vehicles powered by 4.0L engines and a Dana 44 under those powered by the 4.7L V-8.

The Jeep Liberty, which was new for '02, has some cool new features for '03. Standard four-wheel disc brakes, a new programmable overhead console and new sliding visors are among the new amenities to be found on the Liberty. The Liberty is currently available in three trim levels-Sport, Renegade and Limited Edition. The Renegade comes with the new 3.7L Power Tech V-6 mated to an NV3550 five-speed manual transmission, while the Limited Edition features that engine mated to an automatic four-speed.

Kia
Traditionally a manufacturer of compact and sub-compact automobiles, Kia enters the midsize SUV market for the first time in '03 with the all-new five-passenger Sorento, which will be available in two trim levels. The Sorento comes with a 192hp 3.5L V-6 mated to an electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive. Four-wheel-drive models feature a Torque-on-Demand full-time 4x4 system. The Sorento utilizes a body-on-frame construction and features independent front suspension and a five-link solid-axle in the rear. The upscale EX model features standard alloy wheels, power sunroof, foglights and other safety and convenience features.

Specification Comparison Chart
  BASE MSRP ENGINES HP/TORQUE (LB-FT) FUEL ECONOMY MAX PAYLOAD MAX TOWING CAPACITY (LBS.) TRANSMISSIONS
CHEVY
Blazer $23,080 4.3L V-6 190/250 15/20 6 5,400 4A, 5M
TrailBlazer $28,175 4.2L I-6 275/275 15/21 5 6,200 4A
TrailBlazer EXT $32,885 4.2L I-6 275/275 15/21 5 5,800 4A
5.3L V-8 290/325 15/20 7 7,000 4A
DODGE
Durango $28,250 4.7L V-8 235/295 13/18 7 5,700 5A
5.9L V-8 345/335 12//17 7 7,{{{300}}} 4A
FORD
Explorer $29,095 4.0L V-6 210/254 15/20 7 5,400 5A, 5M
  4.6L V-8 239/282 14/19 7 7,000 5A, 5M
Explorer Sport $25,775 4.0L V-6 203/237 15/20 5 4,840 5A, 5M
GMC
Envoy $30,100 4.2L I-6 275/275 15/21 5 6,200 4A
Envoy XL $32,495 4.2L I-6 275/275 15/21 7 5,800 4A
5.3L V-8 290/325 15/20 7 7,000 4A
INFINITI
QX4 $36,095 3.5L V-6 {{{240}}}/265 15/18 5 5,000 4A
ISUZU
Ascender n/a 4.2L I-6 275/275 n/a 7 7,200 4A
5.3L V-8 285/325 n/a 7 7,200 4A
Axiom n/a 3.5L V-6 230/230 16/20 5 4,500 4A
Rodeo n/a 3.2L V-6 205/214 17/20 5 4,500 4A, 5M
JEEP
Liberty $18,745 2.4L I-4 150/165 20/24 5 2,000  
3.7L V-6 210/235 16/20 5 5,000
{{{Grand Cherokee}}} $28,015 4.0L I-6 195/230 16/20 5 6,500 4A, 5M
4.7L V-8 235/295 14/19 5 6,500 4A, 5M
KIA
Sorento n/a 3.5L V-6 192/217 15/18 5 3,500 4A

Abbreviations:
4A = four-speed automatic
5A = five-speed automatic
5M = five-speed manual
6M = six-speed manual

MIDSIZE SUVS (cont...)

Land Rover
For '03 the Land Rover Discovery, previewed in the November issue of Four Wheeler, comes standard with the 4.6L V-8 previously used in the Range Rover. A redesigned exterior, based on that of the Range Rover, features distinctive new headlamps, a new grille and round foglamps. Improved clearance should aid in off-road driving. The new HSE model comes with standard 18-inch wheels, rear park distance control and a self-leveling rear suspension. The Discovery rides on coil springs and solid axles front and rear.

The all-new-for-'03 Range Rover, previewed in the May '03 edition of Four Wheeler, features the 282hp 4.4L BMW-built DOHC V-8. Fit with a Torsen center differential, 4-wheel Electronic Traction Control (4ETC) and a 2.70:1 low range, chances are you'll be the best looking 'wheeler out there. The Range Rover features IFS with MacPherson air struts and independent rear suspension with dual A-arms. It can tow up to 7,700 pounds.

Lexus
For '03 Lexus is bringing its all-new midsize GX470 to market. This vehicle will share its powertrain, including Toyota's 4.7L V-8, with the LX470, which gets its powertrain from the current Toyota Land Cruiser. Based on an all-new platform, the GX features a full-time four-wheel-drive system and a two-speed transfer case, a new Downhill Assist Control (DAC) system to provide extra control for off-road driving on steep descents (at least for unskilled drivers), Active TRAC traction control, Vehicle Skid Control and Adaptive Height Control. This Lexus features IFS and a solid rear axle with air suspension with self-leveling abilities. The height control allows you extra clearance when you're off-road. The two-speed transfer case offers a locking center differential for off-road conditions.

Mercedes Benz G500

Mercedes
In 2002, Mercedes added its venerable G500, known as the Gelandewagen in Europe, to its list of SUVs available here. The boxy wagon is about 4 inches longer than the M-Class and features the same 292hp 5.0L V-8 that powers the Mercedes-Benz S-class sedans. Interestingly, the G500, unchanged for '03, really is capable of attacking the trail. It features two solid axles as well as five-link suspension with coil springs and gas shocks at each corner. It relies upon full-time four-wheel drive with on-the-fly low range that can be selected at speeds of up to 15 mph. Further evidence of the G500's four-wheeling prowess can be found in its three locking differentials. Of course, this being a Mercedes, the G500 also offers occupants several upscale accoutrements, including standard GPS, full leather interior, front and rear heated seats and automatic climate control. For a base price of $73,165 we wouldn't mind if it did the dishes too.

Mercedes-Benz's other SUVs include the ML320 and ML500. For '03, these vehicles remain, for the most part, unchanged. The ML500 is powered by a 288hp 5.0L V-8. The ML320 is powered by a 3.2L V-6.

Mitsubishi
For '03 the Montero has been improved upon with more power and better looks. Available in two trim levels, the XLS and the Limited, it now relies on a larger 3.8L V-6 engine that delivers 215 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque. The engine is mated to a five-speed Sportronic automatic transmission. Mitsubishi also replaced the optional limited-slip differentials with the Mitsubishi Active Stability and Traction Control system, now standard on all models. The '03 Montero also features a subtly redesigned grille, front fascia, new headlights and running boards that are illuminated on the Limited model. The Montero rides on IFS and IRS, with coils all around.

The Montero Sport, slightly smaller than its counterpart, is practically the same as it was in '02, with the addition of a higher roof, allowing for a little more headroom. The Sport features independent front suspension and a three-link coil-sprung solid axle at the rear.

Nissan
Nissan follows last year's addition of the Supercharged V-6 to its Xterra line by adding another 10hp to the naturally aspirated engine, bringing the total number up to 180hp. In addition, Vehicle Dynamic Control with the Traction Control System will be made available on the Xterra for the first time. Xterras are available in two trim levels, the SE and the XE, and each is available in either a standard 3.3L V-6 or a Supercharged version. The entry-level Xterra is offered with the 2.4L I-4.

The '03 Pathfinder, Nissan's premiere SUV and the 2001 Four Wheeler of the Year, is available in SE or LE models, with the 3.5L V-6 standard in both. Both models can now be ordered with the same Dynamic Control Package as the Xterra. A limited-slip rear differential is standard on the manual 4x4 SE, but can be ordered on the LE with certain other packages. The Pathfinder uses IFS and a five-link coil-spring suspension with a beam axle. Pathfinders equipped with automatic transmissions are rated with a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds.

Porsche Cayenne

Porsche
Porsche has entered the midsize SUV category with a bang. The name of that bang is the Cayenne. Available in two versions, Cayenne S or Cayenne Turbo, this SUV has several innovative features including Porsche Stability Management (PSM), pneumatic height adjustment (standard on the Turbo), a 2.7:1 low-range ratio, and an available Advanced Offroad Package. Cayennes feature a switch that, when engaged, activates a center differential lock and automatically raises the vehicle to an off-pavement height of 10.75 inches off the ground. The approach/departure angles are 32 degrees at the front and 27 degrees at the rear when in this mode. With the Offroad Package, the Cayenne features a steel plate beneath its radiator and includes a differential lock on the rear axle. Like any Porsche, these SUVs have plenty of motor. The Cayenne S features an all-new Porsche-designed V-8 engine, while the Turbo features a turbocharged 4.5L V-8 said to produce 450 hp. Suspension is handled by double-A-arms in the front and rear.

Suzuki
The Suzuki XL-7 now shows off a redesigned interior highlighted by a new dashboard and console design, plus an overhead console with reading lamps. The XL-7 is available in four trim levels. The entry-level XL-7 is a five-passenger model that replaces the "Standard" model. Then there's the XL-7 with a third row of seating. This seats seven passengers and replaces last year's "Plus" model. The Limited trim level is a fully loaded XL-7 that's only available with the automatic transmission. The other model, also only available with an automatic transmission, is the Limited with the third-row option, which features rear A/C, climate control and running boards. Power is generated by an all-aluminum 2.7L V-6 mated to either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic. The XL-7 features IFS and a solid rear axle that uses coil springs.

Toyota 4Runner

Toyota
The 4Runner has been among the most popular SUVs in America ever since it was introduced in 1985. For '03, an all-new fourth generation 4Runner, previewed in the November issue of Four Wheeler, offers three trim levels; the SR5, Sport and Limited editions. They're offered with a standard 4.0L V-6, which has enough towing ability to bring along a 5,000-pound trailer. The other engine choice is the familiar 4.7L V-8, the same i-Force unit found on the Land Cruiser, Sequoia and Tundra. Two transfer cases have been developed to work with these engines, including the VF4AM, which features a two-speed planetary gear with 2.566 low-range. The VF4BM transfer case offers the same low-range ratio, along with full-time four-wheel drive. It's the one you get when you opt for the V-8 engine.

The 4Runner also utilizes an electronic traction-control system very much like that of the Sequoia, and something called X-REAS, designed by Yamaha. This application is a diagonal-linked shock absorber system, offering a sport-enhanced suspension that's supposed to dampen overall suspension compression, diagonal roll and body pitch.

Specification Comparison Chart
  BASE MSRP ENGINES HP/TORQUE (LB-FT) FUEL ECONOMY MAX PAYLOAD MAX TOWING CAPACITY (LBS.) TRANSMISSIONS
LAND ROVER
Discovery 4.6 n/a 4.6L V-8 217/{{{300}}} 12//16 5 5,500 4A
Range Rover n/a 4.4L V8 282/325 12//17 5 7,700 5A
LEXUS
GX470 n/a 4.7L V-8 235/320 15/18 8 6500 5A
MERCEDES BENZ
G500 $73,165 5.0L V-8 292/336 12//14 5 7,000 5A
ML320 $37,265 3.2L V-6 215/229 15/19 5 5,000 5A
ML500 $46,015 5.0L V-8 288/325 14/17 5 5,000 5A
MITSUBISHI
Montero n/a 3.8L V-6 215/248 n/a 7 5,000 5A
Montero Sport n/a 3.0L V6 165/186 17/21 5 5,000 4A
3.5L V-6 197/223 16/20 5 5,000 4A
NISSAN
Pathfinder $26,799 3.5L V-6 {{{240}}}/265 15/19 5 5,000 4A
Xterra $21,199 3.3L V-6 180/202 17/19 5 5,000 4A, 5M
3.3L SC V-6 210/246 16/18 5 5,000 4A, 5M
PORSCHE
Cayenne $55,{{{900}}} 4.5L V-8 340/310 n/a 5 7,700 6A
4.5L V-8 450/460 n/a 5 7,700
SUZUKI
XL-7 $20,899 2.7L V-6 183/180 17/20 7 3,000 4A, 5M
TOYOTA
4Runner n/a 4.0L V-6 245/283 17/20 5 5,000 4A
4.7L V-8 235/320 16/19 5 5,000 5A

Abbreviations:
4A = four-speed automatic
5A = five-speed automatic
5M = five-speed manual
6M = six-speed manual

COMPACT SUVS

SUVs In This Category Include:
Chevrolet Tracker
Isuzu Rodeo Sport
Jeep Wrangler
Suzuki Grand Vitara
Suzuki Vitara

Chevy Tracker

Chevrolet
The Tracker boasts a steel ladder-type frame and three models from which to choose. The base two-door convertible or four-door Tracker and convertible two-door ZR2 come standard with the 2.0L inline-four, while the four-door LT and ZR2 come with a 2.5L V-6. This engine drives through a four-speed automatic that's optional with the four-banger. The Tracker does well in off-road situations, thanks to its solid axle rear with five-link design. It uses independent MacPherson struts up front. Base-level Trackers are delivered with standard AM/FM/CD player, power rack-and-pinion steering, A/C and a shift-on-the-fly transfer case.

Isuzu
Once known as the Amigo, the Isuzu Rodeo Sport is a two-door compact SUV that's available with either a soft- or hardtop. It's powered by a 3.2L V-6 and gets its smooth ride from independent front suspension and a coil-sprung live rear axle. The Rodeo Sport has an optional limited-slip differential.

Jeep
The consummate off-road vehicle is the Jeep Wrangler and this year the company offers five different versions of its classic 4x4, including the SE, X, Sport, Sahara and Rubicon, with this latter version previewed in the August edition of Four Wheeler, and road-tested in this very issue. For '03, Jeep offers the all-new 42RLE four-speed automatic transmission on all models. The SE now features the 2.4L Power Tech I-4, which was brought over from the Liberty. The Jeep Wrangler X, Sport, Sahara and Rubicon each feature the standard 4.0L I-6 mated to a standard-equipment five-speed manual transmission. For '03, all Wranglers have available four-wheel disc brakes.

The Rubicon features front and rear Dana 44 axles, a 4:1 low range transfer case, locking differentials and heavy-duty driveshafts with 1330 universal joints. It also rides on Goodyear Wrangler MT/R tires on 16-inch wheels. The Rubicon is fit with a 190hp 4.0L Power Tech I-6 mated to a five-speed manual transmission. An automatic is optional. All Wranglers feature skidplates, solid axles front and rear with coil springs, shocks and an antiroll bar standard.

Suzuki
For '03 Suzuki's two compact SUVs, the Vitara and Grand Vitara, remain virtually unchanged. The Grand Vitara is now offered in a single trim level that replaces the JLS/JLX models. The Limited trim has been discontinued. The Grand Vitara is still powered by Suzuki's 165hp V-6. It does enjoy some upgrades, including a new dash and console design, aluminum wheels and a smaller rear headrest for improved rear visibility. The Grand Vitara rides on IFS and a coil-spring/solid-axle rear.

Suzuki's Vitara is sold as a two- or four-door compact SUV. Besides adding a canvas soft-top to the two-door model, nothing much has changed on the Vitara since last year. Identical to the Grand Vitara in construction, but a few inches shorter in length, the Vitara offers a choice of 1.6L or 2.0L inline-four engines. You may not move very quickly but at least you'll get good gas mileage.

Specification Comparison Chart
  BASE MSRP ENGINES HP/TORQUE (LB-FT) FUEL ECONOMY MAX PAYLOAD MAX TOWING CAPACITY (LBS.) TRANSMISSIONS
CHEVY
Tracker $17,340 2.0L I-4 127/134 23/26 4 1,000 5M, 4A
$19,{{{200}}} 2.5L V-6 165/162 19/21 5 1,500
ISUZU
{{{Rodeo Sport}}} n/a 3.2L V-6 205/214 16/19 5 4,500 5M,4
JEEP
Wrangler $15,665 2.4L I-4 147/165 19/20 4 2,000 5M, 4A
4.0L I-6 190/235 15/18 4 5M, 4A
SUZUKI
Vitara n/a 1.6L I-4 97/103 25/27 4 n/a 5M, 4A
2.0L I-4 127/134 23/25 4 1,500 5M, 4A
Grand Vitara n/a 2.5L V-6 165/162 18/20 5 1,500 5M, 4A

Abbreviations:
4A = four-speed automatic
5A = five-speed automatic
5M = five-speed manual
6M = six-speed manual

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