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Drivelines - April 2014

The latest industry news

Chevrolet is reentering the midsize truck market with an all-new Colorado pickup truck, available for sale this fall as a ’15 model. When we saw it unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show, it looked like a scaled-down Silverado, although Chevy uses words like sporty, aggressive, and confident to describe the truck’s looks. The Colorado will be available in extended and crew cab body styles. Extended cab trucks will be fitted with a 6-foot bed, crews with either a 5- or 6-foot bed. Trim levels include WT, LT, and Z71, the latter “the brawniest of the bunch,” says Chevy, with a gunmetal grille surround, projector headlamps, and 17-inch aluminum wheels.

The Colorado is nearly identical in size to the competition (see chart). But Chevy expects to offer class-leading work capability thanks in part to an optional 3.6L V-6 that will make an estimated 302 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. The standard engine will be a 193hp 2.5L four-banger. Both engines will be hooked to six-speed automatic transmissions, though a six-speed manual will be available behind the four-cylinder in WT models.

"Colorado Z71 is the brawniest of the bunch"

Things get even more interesting when Chevy brings out a turbodiesel Colorado next year. No power figures were cited for the U.S. version, but elsewhere in the world the 2.8L Duramax four-cylinder going into the truck produces 180 hp and nearly 350 lb-ft of torque.

Underpinning the Colorado is a fully boxed ladder frame. Front suspension is independent with coilover shocks; rear is a standard Hotchkiss type with leaf springs. The G80 limited slip will be standard in the rear diff of Z71 models, optional on WT and LT. Four-wheel disc brakes will be standard too, as will electric power steering.

We will bring you more on the Colorado -- and whether there will be a companion GMC Canyon model -- in future issues.

Tale of the Tape: How the Midsize 4x4 Trucks Measure Up
Vehicle Colorado Ext. Cab Tacoma Access Cab Frontier King Cab
Overall length (in) 208.2 208.1 205.5
Wheelbase (in) 127.9 127.4 125.9
Largest engine(type/hp) 3.6L V-6/302* 4.0L V-6/236 4.0L V-6/261
Tow capacity (lbs) 6,700* 6,500** 6,300
Payload capacity (lbs) N/A 1,395 1,379
* Preliminary specs **w/ optional tow prep pkg

Baldwin Wins Baja -- Again
B.J. Baldwin won his second consecutive Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 last November, and in doing so notched his second consecutive overall points championship in SCORE’s desert race series. He completed the 883.1-mile loop course in 18 hours 36 minutes 10 seconds, averaging 47.47 mph in his Monster/Toyo-sponsored Silverado Trophy Truck.

“This race course is tight and technical and not something I’m particularly good at,” Baldwin said after his victory. “I’m better at fast roads and backing it into corners between 85 and 110 miles per hour. The tight, technical stuff isn’t nearly as much fun as rotating the truck at very high speed. I just ground it out, and I’m surprised that we are here. We had a good day.”

This year’s 1000 was marred by a rare fatality: KTM motorcycle racer Kurt Caselli was killed when he lost control of his motorcycle while leading the race just short of mile 800. We haven’t heard a definitive reason for the accident, but reports say he may have collided with a coyote at high speed.

This Just In
• Looking for a new off-roading challenge? Dakar veterans Darren Skilton and Scott Whitney are plotting the Rally Diabolico, a four-day (April 2-5) test of 4-wheeling and navigation skills to be held in the Sonoran desert of Mexico. The rally, open to bikes, cars, quads, UTVs, and trucks, will make its way over untracked, open terrain to a series of waypoints. Each competitor will have a GPS unit, but it will show no roads or course, just distance and compass headings. “There will be a central bivouac or pit area for support so multiple chase vehicles will not be needed,” said Skilton. “The location is isolated, yet only a half hour or so south of the U.S.–Mexico border. Competitors will get the ultimate challenge without the risk or huge expense of competing on a different continent.” Learn more at rallydiabolico.com.

• Production has begun of Ford’s CNG-capable F-150. The gaseous-fuel prep option enables 3.7L V-6–equipped pickups to run on compressed natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas.

Rover Goes Long
While certain members of the Range Rover team are out setting speed records in the Arabian Desert and on Pikes Peak, the British company hasn’t forgotten the luxury side of its business. Debuting at the Los Angeles Auto Show was a long-wheelbase version of the Range Rover and the range-topping Autobiography Black Edition. The LWB Rover adds 51⁄2 inches of rear seat room by lengthening the floor in front of the rear wheels. Order the individual rear seats (with center console) and those seats will recline 17 degrees, 8 degrees more than the rear seats in the standard wheelbase versions.

The Autobiography Black is a limited edition (just 100 will be made for the U.S.) based on the LWB chassis. It will receive styling refinements on the outside and interior amenities that include massaging rear seats, electrically deploying tables in the rear console (with USB ports and cup holders), and LED “mood lighting.”

What’ll all this luxury set you back? The “basic” LWB Autobiography Black model will carry a MSRP of $185,000 when it goes on sale early this year. The first 25 built will be finished in Valloire White pearlescent paint, which raises the price to $199,500.

Earth Watch
• Omix-ADA has launched the Rugged Ridge Trail Access Program, which will provide grants to nonprofit organizations as a way of keeping recreational trails open on public land and advancing and protecting the off-road hobby. The program was announced at the SEMA Show, where Omix-ADA pledged a $50,000 donation to the cause. Noprofit organizations are invited to apply online (www.ruggedridge.com/trail access) for grants of up to $5,000. Under the program, only one grant per year will be awarded to any given organization. Grants can be designated for use toward education, stewardship, litigation, or any other activity advocating the conservation of public land and access to recreational trails.

• Land-use advocate Del Albright has been named interim director of operations for the BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC). He will oversee the BRC’s daily affairs following the departure of Greg Mumm. Albright already has a longstanding relationship with the BRC, having served as its ambassador for more than a decade.

• The Off-Road Business Association (ORBA) held its first Lunch With the Legends event at the recent Off-Road Expo in Southern California, and it was deemed a huge success. A sellout group of more than 50 4-wheeling enthusiasts had the opportunity to join Walker Evans, Ivan Stewart, Casey Currie, Jeremy McGrath, and other off-roading celebrities for a private luncheon. Proceeds from the event will go to ORBA’s efforts to protect public lands for OHV use, and ORBA promises an even “bigger and better” lunch next year.

Willys Wheeler Wrangler
The Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler Edition, another L.A. Auto Show debut, is a “salute” to the CJ-2A and its “rugged and purely functional capability,” says Jeep. Based on the Wrangler Sport and available in both two- and four-door models, the Willys Wheeler sports a Dana 44 rear axle with Trac-Lok limited slip and 3.73 gears, LT255/75R17 BFGoodrich KM Mud-Terrain tires, rock rails, and a new Jeep Trail Rated Kit that includes a D-Ring, a towstrap, and gloves in a Jeep-branded bag. Willys hood decals, a gloss-black grille (to match the gloss-black 17-inch wheels), and other styling cues identify the new Willys -- er, Jeep. It will go on sale early in 2014 with a starting price of $25,795.

Range Rover Sets Record
How do you top winning our prestigious 4x4 of the Year trophy? By setting a record traversing the (in)famous “Empty Quarter” in the Arabic Peninsula. Spanish off-road racer and Dakar veteran Moi Torrallardona drove a supercharged Range Rover Sport 528 miles across the Rub’ al Khali (the second largest desert after the Sahara) in 10 hours 22 minutes, for an average) speed of 51.87 mph. An underbody skidplate was the only upgrade put on the vehicle.

Military-Grade Polaris ATV
What are those things on the corners of this new Polaris ATV? Say hello to non-pneumatic tire (NPT) technology, one of several components offered on the new extreme-duty Sportsman WV850 H.O. It is tempting to call these tires run-flats, but that would be wrong. Because they don’t hold air, they never do, or could, go flat.

Polaris offered the NPT technology on military-spec ATVs earlier this year, after subjecting the tires to tests that included running them for 350 miles after they sustained .50-caliber fire, and driving a 3-inch railroad spike through them and then driving for 1,000 miles. Also onboard the new Sportsman are a military-grade transmission, an upgraded shock package, increased cooling capacity, steel racks with a 600-pound load capacity, and a 2-inch receiver hitch that can handle up to 1,500 pounds. Polaris says the Sportsman WV850 H.O. will be available “in very limited quantities.”

The Polar Edition Wrangler, which was unveiled for the European market at the Frankfurt Auto Show, will also be sold in the U.S. Setting it apart from other Wranglers are the front grille (with black accents), body-colored hardtop, 18-inch gloss-black wheels, and Polar White interior trim. Special graphics on the body include lat/long coordinates that correspond to the location of Vostok in Antarctica, where the absolute severest temperature in the world was recorded at minus 128.56 degrees F.

Gordon Wins SST Championship
At a temporary course set up outside Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Robby Gordon won the championship of the inaugural Stadium Super Trucks season.

“I was excited to win the SST championship in Las Vegas,” he said. “Being able to build a vision such as this series, to construct these trucks, and then to piece the whole thing together and actually win the championship is pretty rad.”

Yes, it’s his race series. But there’s no way fellow racers like Rob MacCachren, PJ Jones, and Kyle LeDuc would have let the boss win, right? In fact, LeDuc won the first heat race of the event, and Jones won the final. But Gordon’s win in the second heat and his second place finish in the final netted him the points he needed to beat MacCachren for the title.

The SST racers are a throwback to the days when Mickey Thompson brought off-road racing to the masses by holding events in stadiums and outdoor short courses. The drivers compete in 600hp spec trucks with few variables to play with, just tire and shock absorber choice and a few suspension settings. Both Gordon and LeDuc ran Toyo Open Country tires this season; MacCachren ran BFGs.

Dirt Every Day
This month on Dirt Every Day you can watch Fred as he gives you a behind-the-scenes look at his old Toyota rockcrawler, Clampy. The ’86 pickup Fred moved himself to California with 11 years ago, has been transformed over the years from rusty old pickup to battered rusty rockcrawler on 40-inch tires. Just search for “dirt every day” on YouTube.

Feb. 27–Mar. 2: Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 desert race, San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico. Info: SCORE, www.score-international.com
Feb. 28–Mar. 2: Tierra Del Sol Desert Safari, Ocotillo Wells SVRA, near Borrego Springs, CA. Info: www.tds4x4.com
Mar. 2: Winch Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Borrego Springs, CA. Info: 310.374.8047, www.4x4training.com
• Mar. 8: Getting Started Off-Road Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Hungry Valley SVRA, Gorman, CA. Info: 310.374.8047, www.4x4training.com
Mar. 8-9: Dirt Riot 4x4 Rock Racing West & Southwest Series, Thompson’s Ranch, Congress, AZ. Info: www.werocklive.com
Mar. 9: Spanaway Moonshiners 4x4 Swap Meet, Washington Fair and Events Center, Puyallup, WA. Info: www.moonshinersjeepclub.com
Mar. 9: Advanced Beginner 4WD Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Mojave, CA. Info: 310.374.8047, www.4x4training.com
Mar. 10: Winch Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Mojave, CA. Info: 310.374.8047, www.4x4training.com
Mar. 14-16: General Tire Mint 400 desert race by Best in the Desert, Las Vegas, NV. Info: www.bitd.com
Mar. 15: Dirt Riot 4x4 Rock Racing Central Series, Texas. Info: www.werocklive.com
Mar. 15: Getting Started Off-Road Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Borrego Springs, CA. Info: 310.374.8047, www.4x4training.com
Mar. 15: Dog Party 2, Twisted Trails Off-Road Park, Copemish, MI. Info: www.twistedtrailsoffroadpark.com
Mar. 16: Rock Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Johnson Valley, Lucerne Valley, CA. Info: 310.374.8047, www.4x4training.com
Mar. 20-22: Texas Spur Jeep Jamboree, Llano, TX. Info: www.jeepjamboreeusa.com
Mar. 21-24: Death Valley Expedition by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Death Valley National Park, CA. Info: 310.374.8047, www.4x4training.com
Mar. 27-29: Pine Barrens Jeep Jamboree, Hammonton, NJ. Info: www.jeepjamboreeusa.com
Mar. 29: Dirt Riot 4x4 Rock Racing Southeast Series, Durhamtown Plantation, Union Point, GA. Info: www.werocklive.com
Mar. 29: Sand Off-Road Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Oceano Dunes, Pismo Beach, CA. Info: 310.374.8047, www.4x4training.com
Mar. 30: Tire Repair and Hi-Lift Jack Mini Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Pismo Beach, CA. Info: 310.374.8047, www.4x4training.com
Note: If you have a 4WD event you want us to publicize, please send the date, location, a description of the event, and contact info -- phone numbers and/or email/website address -- to Calendar, 4-Wheel & Off-Road magazine, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245; fax 818.566.8501; email 4wheel offroad@sorc.com. Please submit your info at least four months in advance of the event due to our press lead times.