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Drivelines - August 2014

The Latest News From The Industry

Power Wagon Upgraded For 2014
Many of the same improvements Ram made to its new heavy-duty pickups—a more powerful Hemi and coil-spring rear suspension, to name just two—are on the new Power Wagon. But then Ram enhanced some of those components and added a few more to improve the truck’s 4-wheeling capability.

“New 33-inch tires contribute to 14 1⁄2 inches of ground clearance”

For example, throttle response for the 6.4L Hemi, which puts out 410 hp and 429 lb-ft of torque, softens when the transfer case is in low range. The coil-spring suspension is damped by Bilstein shocks at each corner, and the solid axles feature electronic lockers at both ends (and a disconnecting sway bar in front). Two inches of lift bring up the truck’s approach and departure angles, while new 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires contribute to 141⁄2 inches of ground clearance. As with previous Power Wagons, the ’14 is equipped with a front-mounted winch, in this case a 12,000-pound Warn winch tucked behind the front bumper.

This year’s Power Wagon is based on the 2500 Crew Cab and is available in Tradesman, SLT and Laramie trim levels. They should be on sale as you read this; prices start at $45,690 for Tradesman models and run to $56,015 for the high-end Laramie (including destination charges).

Past Power Wagons
When Ram delivered the news about the latest Power Wagon, it also included a few archival photos of historic Power Wagon models. We thought they were cool.

Weapons carrier from the WWII era.

Six Special Jeeps Headed to Moab
Jeep and Mopar have put together six new modified Jeeps for the Easter Jeep Safari in Moab. Three are Wranglers, two are Cherokees, and one is a Grand Cherokee, each outfitted with a number of Mopar and Jeep Performance Parts. We thought we’d share details of two of the Wranglers; once the guys get back from Moab they’ll have more info on the others.

The black Wrangler is the Level Red edition, named for “the highest level of difficulty an off-road trail can be designated,” says Jeep. It rides on Dana 44 axles front and rear with 4.10 gears; between them is the Rock-Trac transfer case with 4:1 gearing. A Jeep Performance Parts 2-inch lift makes room for 35-inch BFG Mud Terrains wrapped around prototype 17-inch beadlock-capable wheels. The half-door kit is from Mopar, and the tire carrier is a prototype Jeep Performance Parts piece.

The blue Wrangler is called Maximum Performance, and it brings to the party a pair of Dana 60 axles with electric lockers and 4.88 gears. This one is shod with 37-inch Mud Terrains and has 4 inches of Jeep Performance Parts lift. The rear tire carrier is a Jeep prototype part, as are the flattop fenders.

Land Rover’s Transparent Hood
Or should we say “bonnet,” as the British call it? Either way, Land Rover’s idea takes the concept of the forward-facing camera to an entirely new level. Under-vehicle cameras feed data to a head-up display that stretches across the bottom of the windshield. When the system is switched on, it looks like the hood has disappeared and you’re seeing the terrain below instead. This transparent hood, says Dr. Wolfgang Epple, Director of Research and Technology for Jaguar Land Rover, will “give drivers an augmented view of reality to help them tackle anything from the toughest off-road route to the tight confines of urban parking.”

The system makes its U.S. debut at the New York Auto Show on board a futuristic Land Rover design exercise called the Discovery Vision Concept car. More than just a platform for futuristic electronics, the Vision Concept should provide some clues to the upcoming design direction of the Discovery.

This Just In
• One of our favorite people, Rod Hall, has been named Grand Marshal for the 2014 NORRA Mexican 1000 rally. For most of you Hall needs no introduction; for those new to off-road racing, he is one of the sport’s pioneers, having run in every single Baja 1000 race since the inaugural event in 1967. His stats are amazing: He is the 10-time winner of the Mint 400, a 10-time winner of the Parker 400, the 12-time winner of the Fireworks 250, 12-time winner of the Baja 500, and the only 17-time winner of the Baja 1000. “Going back to Baja without the pressures of racing but with the excitement of seeing all these guys and their unique machines will be great,” said Hall. “You get to an age where pulling on the old driving suit isn’t as important as it once was. I am just tickled to go down there with NORRA and hang out for a week just being Rod Hall.”

• For the seventh South American running of the Dakar rally, organizers are planning to return to a loop route, rather than a point-to-point course. Start/Finish will be in Buenos Aires, and the rally will run through Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia. The race begins January 4, 2015.

• Though he said conditions were the worst he’s ever competed in due to torrential rain and standing water on the track, Robby Gordon won the season-opening race in the Speed Energy Formula Off-Road series (formerly Stadium Super Trucks) held at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in Florida. The weather changed for the better on the event’s second day, and PJ Jones was able to hold Gordon off to win the second Florida race. From here the trucks move to another street course—the Long Beach Grand Prix in Southern California.

• Ford reports that 57 percent of F-150s sold in the first two months of 2014 were V-6 powered. The EcoBoost accounted for most, at 46 percent of total sales, while the conventionally aspirated 3.7L accounted for 11 percent. The V-6 model mix could grow next year when the ’15 F-150 arrives, as it will be offered with three V-6 engines.

• If you’d like to run on the same race-spec Toyo tires that the Trophy Truck and Class 1 trucks use, contact Toyo Racing Tires in Anaheim, California (which also happens to be Robby Gordon’s off-road shop). It has the 39- and 37-inch racing tires the Trophy Trucks use, plus 35- and 33-inch sides for Class 1 trucks. The shop also sells wheels, from racing beadlocks to street rims. Log on to www.toyoracingtires.com for more info.

Coolest Reading Place, End of the World Edition
I just finished reading about the Alaska Treasure Trek, and saw the picture of someone holding up your magazine at Deadhorse. It made me remember this picture my boyfriend Scott took of me in 2012. As I am waiting for the next 12 inches of snow to fall tonight and over the next few days and we will be lucky to hit a high of zero, I am reminded of warmer weather elsewhere in the world.

It was the end of January and we went to the ancient Mayan city of Tulum in Mexico. It was hard to find a place to take this picture because there were literally thousands of people there. According to our tour guide, this is the place where they think the Mayans discovered that the end of the world would be in December 2012. So this was a hot spot for tourists around the world. At the time who knew the world would still be here today? Also, I would like to thank my dad (Karl) for all his help with my truck.
Mary Price

F-150 Mr. Plow Edition
OK, maybe the Simpsons tie-in is a bit of a stretch. But we thought this looked a lot like the Mr. Plow rig Homer used to clear driveways (and charm Marge) back in that ’90s episode of the show. So here’s the real news: Ford will offer a snow plow prep option across all cab styles of the ’15 F-150 when that model arrives in showrooms this year. The option package requires the truck be equipped with a 5.0L V-8 engine and 4WD, and it’s designed to shut off nonessential functions to direct maximum power to the plow. (Plow hardware will have to be installed by an upfitter.) The maximum light-duty plow weight will be more than 450 pounds.

Earth Watch
• According to SEMA, a bill has been introduced in the U.S. Congress to include National within the name of the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area. Last year, congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act, which designated nearly 100,000 acres of Johnson Valley, California, as a federal OHV recreation area. Under the new law, about 79,000 acres of the same area was transferred to the U.S. Marine Corps for military training needs. Although the State of California had set aside most of Johnson Valley in 1980 for OHV recreation, last year was the first time the federal government had specifically dedicated land for this type of motorized activity. “This might seem like a small change, but it’s important,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Paul Cook (R-CA). “It will show that Johnson Valley is of national significance, raising its profile for economic purposes and within the federal government, which owns the land.”

• SEMA also reports the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1459, the “Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments Act.” Introduced by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) and supported by SEMA, the bill would require a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) study for any national monument designations of more than 5,000 acres. Currently, the president of the United States has the authority to declare a parcel of public land with “historic or scientific interest” to be a national monument. Such a designation can lead to road closures for motorized recreation, among other impacts. H.R. 1459 would place limits on that authority. The president could declare a monument of less than 5,000 acres, but that declaration would need congressional approval within three years. A larger parcel of land would require a NEPA environmental study along with a congressional study estimating long-term costs to manage the land. The president would also be limited to one declaration per state during any presidential term unless there was congressional approval. H.R. 1459 will now be considered by the United States Senate.

High Country Heavy Duty
High Country is Chevrolet’s premium pickup trim level, introduced with the all-new ’14 Silverado 1500 trucks last year. Now Chevy has applied the same thinking to its heavy-duty line by producing the Silverado High Country HD. Available for 2500 and 3500 crew cab models, the High Country trucks are recognizable by their chrome grilles, body-color bumpers, chrome tubular steps, and chrome wheels (except for the dualies, which receive polished aluminum wheels). Inside is saddle brown upholstery; the front seats are heated and cooled; and occupants are treated to premium Bose audio and Chevy’s MyLink connectivity. Options include a sunroof, navigation, a rear-seat Blu-Ray/DVD entertainment system, and powered trailering mirrors with heat and turn signals in the glass.

All three HD powertrains are available in High Country trim—6.0L gas, 6.0L bi-fuel (gas and CNG), and the 6.6L Duramax turbodiesel. Look for them on dealer lots this summer.

Done the Rubicon? Try the Grizzlycon
Don Alexander’s Backcountry 4x4 business produces trail maps of Southern California’s Big Bear Lake area and recently opened a 4WD driving school there. Now Alexander has come up with a way to provide Rubicon Trail-like 4-wheeling in his neck of the woods—the Grizzlycon. This is not a new trail; locals have been running in these areas for years. But Alexander’s spin is to link Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead’s various Black Diamond-rated trails, like the John Bull, Gold Mountain Jeep Trail, Holcomb Creek Jeep Trail, and others, into a 57-mile-long adventure trip that includes 27 miles of seriously challenging ’wheeling.

We’ve run many of these trails and agree with Alexander that you can definitely approximate the Rubicon experience in this forest. What’s nice, too, is that there are lots of hotels and restaurants in the area, plenty of campsites for those who want to sleep near the trail, and easy access from anywhere in SoCal. Check out Don’s website for more info: backcountry4x4.com/grizzlycontrail.html.

• July 11-13: 4 Wheel Jamboree
Bloomsburg Fairgrounds, Bloomsburg, PA. Info: www.4wheeljamboree.com

• July 12: Night Run
Kansas Rocks Recreation Park, Mapleton, KS. Info: www.ksrockspark.com

• July 12: Advanced Black Diamond class by Backcountry 4x4
Big Bear Lake, CA. Info: jeep4x4school.com

• July 12: Getting Started Off-Road Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures
Hungry Valley SVRA, Gorman, CA. Info: 310.374.8047, www.4x4training.com

• July 13: Getting Unstuck Vehicle Recovery Class by Backcountry 4x4
Big Bear Lake, CA. Info: jeep4x4school.com

• July 13: Winch Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures
Mojave, CA. Info: 310.374.8047, www.4x4training.com

• July 17-19: Killington Jeep Jamboree
Killington, VT. Info: jeepjamboreeusa.com

• July 17-19: Northwoods-Mole Lake Jeep Jamboree
Crandon, WI. Info: jeepjamboreeusa.com

• July 17-19: Crawl for the Cure
Iron Range Offroad near Minneapolis/St. Paul. MN. Info: www.crawl4cure.org

• July 17-19: East Coast Xterra Challenge by the North East Xterra Club
Rausch Creek Off Road Park, Tremont, PA. Info: www.ecxc.com

• July 18-20: Grizzlycon Trail Adventure by Backcountry 4x4
Big Bear Lake, CA. Info: jeep4x4school.com

• July 19: Grapevine Canyon, White Mountain Challenge by Backcountry 4x4
Big Bear Lake, CA. Info: jeep4x4school.com

• July 19: Rock Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures
Johnson Valley, CA. Info: 310.374.8047, www.4x4training.com

• July 19-20: Black Bear Backwards trail ride by the Wild Bunch 4WD Club
Telluride CO. Info: 970.209.1771, www.wb4x4.com

• July 19-20: Speed Energy Formula Off-Road series
Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Info: www.stadiumsupertrucks.com

• July 19-20: W.E. Rock Western Series
Goldendale, WA. Info: www.werocklive.com

• July 19-21: Total 4x4 Adventure Class by Backcountry 4x4
Big Bear Lake, CA. Info: jeep4x4school.com

• July 20: Cleghorn Ridge, Pilot Rock, Willow Creek Jeep Trail Alternate by Backcountry 4x4
Big Bear Lake, CA. Info: jeep4x4school.com

• July 20: Jeep Owner Orientation Class by Backcountry 4x4
Big Bear Lake, CA. Info: jeep4x4school.com

• July 23: Jeepers Jamboree Vendor Show and Outdoor Expo
Georgetown, CA. Info: 530.333.4771, jeepersjamboree.com

• July 24-27: Jeepers Jamboree, Rubicon Trail
between Georgetown and Lake Tahoe, Northern California. Info: 530.333.4771, jeepersjamboree.com

• July 24-27: SCORE Reno 500, Tahoe Reno Motorplex
Reno, NV. Info: SCORE, www.score-international.com

• July 31-Aug. 2: Coal Mountain Jeep Jamboree
Shamokin, PA. Info: jeepjamboreeusa.com

• July 31-Aug. 2: Roof of the Rockies Jeep Jamboree
Snowmass, Aspen, CO. Info: jeepjamboreeusa.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 4wheeloff road@sorc.com. Please submit your info at least four months in advance of the event due to our press lead times.