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Drivelines - December 2014

The Latest News Form The Automotive Industry

Pricing Announced for Colorado, Canyon
When they go on sale this fall, new midsize Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups will have base prices in the low $20,000 range—and that’s for 2WD, four-cylinder models. GM hasn’t yet revealed pricing for 4WD versions except at the high end: A Colorado Z71 crew cab short box 4x4 will start at $34,990, while a 4WD Canyon SLT crew cab short box model will start at $37,875. Now, that truck will be equipped with the optional 3.6L, 305hp V-6, leather, automatic climate control, 18-inch polished wheels, remote start, and an automatic locking rear differential, says GMC. But still…Nearly 40-grand for a midsize pickup?

TRD Pro Series Launches
This summer, Toyota will release TRD Pro versions of the Tacoma and 4Runner, to be followed in the fall by a like model of the Tundra. All TRD Pro Toyotas are available off the showroom floor with upgrades that include TRD Bilstein shocks (with remote reservoirs in back); TRD-tuned front springs that provide an inch or two of lift for the front, depending on the model; black alloy wheels; and TRD badging.

The “Macho Taco” TRD Pro Tacoma will be fitted with 16-inch black beadlock-style TRD alloy wheels with LT265/70R16 BFGoodrich All Terrain KO tires and a TRD cat-back exhaust. The 4Runner will roll on 17-inch matte black TRD alloy wheels with P265/70R17 Nitto Terra Grappler A/T rubber, and it gets premium interior features like Entune audio and nav systems, heated and powered front seats, and automatic headlights. The Tundra will receive 18-inch alloy wheels, Michelin ORP tires, and a stainless-steel dual-exhaust system.

Pricing for the TRD Pro Tacoma starts at $35,525; $41,110 for the 4Runner. Tundra prices have not been announced.

This Just In
• It’s hard to imagine, but 2015 will mark the 40th year since Bob Chandler opened his Midwest Four Wheel Drive store in Missouri and built the very first Bigfoot monster truck. To mark the anniversary, Bigfoot 4x4 is holding a contest to design the 40th anniversary logo. The logo will be used on every Bigfoot 4x4 during the anniversary year, on all 40th anniversary merchandise, and in Bigfoot social media. The winning artist receives travel expenses for a two-night stay at the 2015 4-Wheel Jamboree in Indianapolis, lunch with a Bigfoot driver during the Jamboree, and a sample of every piece of merch with the logo on it. Entries are being accepted through October 31; visit bigfoot4x4.com for more info.

• GM will offer the eight-speed Hydra-Matic 8L90 automatic transmission in ’15 Chevrolet and GMC pickups and SUVs equipped with the 6.2L EcoTec3 V-8 engines. The eight-speed is about the same size and weighs about as much as the 6L80 six-speed automatic but offers a numerically higher First gear, says GM. We’ll have to wait until closer to the truck’s launch to learn what that gear ratio is.

Tundra to Race Baja
Speaking of the TRD Pro Toyota Tundra, Toyota Truck Chief Engineer Mike Sweers plans to enter a lightly modified version of the truck in the Fullsize Stock class at this year’s Baja 1000 (which runs more than 1,100 miles from Ensenada to La Paz). The CrewMax Tundra will be upfitted with all the required safety equipment (rollcage, racing seats and harnesses, fuel cell, and so on) plus Eibach front coil springs, Deaver rear leaves, and Bilstein Blackhawk bypass shocks at each corner. Seventeen-inch forged TRD wheels mount 37-inch BFG Baja T/A KR2 tires. According to the info Toyota gave us, the 5.7L V-8 gets intake and exhaust mods only.

Sweers will navigate during the race; driving will be Baja vets Ted Moncure (who is also a Toyota engineer), Andy Bell, and Ryan Millen (son of Rod Millen), plus X-Games BMX athlete Jamie Bestwick. Their coach? None other than the Ironman himself, Ivan Stewart.

Ford’s 325hp Four-Banger
Ford F-150 pickups get a new arrow in their engine quiver for the ’15 model year in the form of a 2.7L, twin-turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder engine. Well, actually there are two new arrows in the quiver, as a twin-cam 3.5L V-6 replaces the old 3.7 six-cylinder as the truck’s standard powerplant.

But it’s the new turbo four that’s grabbing all the attention, what with 325hp/375 lb-ft power ratings, an auto start-stop feature to improve fuel economy (which is turned off in tow and 4WD modes), and an 8,500-pound tow rating for 2WD models (4x4 ratings haven’t been released).

Ford has already tested the new little ’banger at last year’s Baja 1000, where it ran in a stock class F-150 and finished the 883-mile event using no additional radiators or oil coolers and only needed an occasional air filter.

But the question remains: Will buyers go for a fullsize half-ton with only a four-cylinder engine?

James Garner (1928-2014)
You older readers, who was your favorite Jim Garner character? Jim Rockford? Bret Maverick? Hendley “the scrounger” in The Great Escape? The dashing Pete Aron in Grand Prix? You younger readers, James Garner was a Hollywood action actor from the ’60s and ’70s responsible for, among other things, the driving maneuver known as the Rockford, where you drive in reverse at speed, crank the wheel, and then grab a forward gear and peel out, a move often shown on his TV show The Rockford Files. Garner’s work in Grand Prix, a 1966 racing film, led him to a very active role in motorsports, including quite a bit of off-road racing. This photo from the Petersen Archive shows him in a Stroppe-prepped Bronco before the start of the 1968 NORRA Mexican 1000. A year later his American International Racers team fielded a fleet of AMC SC/Ramblers in the Mexican race (though he himself did not drive that year due to filming commitments elsewhere). In the early ’70s he raced several hot-rodded Oldsmobiles in the desert north and south of the border, including the wild, tube-framed Banshee built by Vic Hickey. Garner was among the first inductees to the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1978.

Born James Scott Bumgarner in Norman, Oklahoma, the actor passed away in July at age 86.

Towing News From Detroit Three
Does it seem like you’re hearing a lot more about tow capacities for 2015? That’s because the Detroit Three truck makers are now adhering to a standardized methodology for establishing tow ratings for light-duty pickups. Proposed by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) back in 2008, the standard, called SAE J2807, puts trucks through a battery of real-world and repeatable tests to measure their towing capabilities. One benchmark is the ability to climb the notorious Davis Dam Grade in Arizona (which rises some 3,000 feet over 11 miles) while never dropping below 40 mph. Other tests measure acceleration times on flat ground and on a grade, understeer and trailer sway, and braking performance.

Until now there has been some resistance by the truck makers to measure tow ratings via the new standard, primarily out of fear that tow ratings would drop. Toyota was the first to adopt the standards back in 2011. Ford said it would test to the new standard when it redesigned the F-150, and the other Detroit makers followed Ford’s lead. That time is here.

Ram has announced that it is the only maker to adopt the new towing standards to all three weight classes of its trucks. Four of those trucks—1500s powered by the Pentastar V-6 and EcoDiesel, and 2500 and 3500 pickups with Cummins diesels—achieved best-in-class tow ratings, said Ram. GM was happy to report that the 1500 Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra will maintain their upper-end tow ratings in 6.2 V-8-powered trucks, though the ratings for 5.3 V-8–powered trucks will drop some 400 pounds. And Ford boasted that the new F-150 with the 2.7L EcoBoost four-cylinder “outperformed Ram 1500 3.0L V-6 EcoDiesel and Chevrolet Silverado 1500 5.3L V-8 while towing a 7,000-pound enclosed trailer up Davis Dam in Arizona.” We’re not sure what that means, exactly, since the Ford’s 8,500-pound rating for that engine is less than either of the trucks it “outperformed.”

Right now tow ratings are still being finalized, and most of the numbers we’ve seen are for 2WD models. In another month or two, when 4x4 tow ratings are available, we’ll publish the figures to see who really is “best in class” under SAE J2807.

Earth Watch
• SEMA reports that Congress is making (very slow) headway in reforming the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The House of Representatives passed a bill to reform aspects of the ESA that would require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to release data used to make listings of threatened or endangered animals and plants, require that state data be included in the calculations when making such determinations, report how much money is spent on ESA-related lawsuits, and place reasonable caps on attorney fees. The bill has been sent to the U.S. Senate for consideration. Despite agreeing that the current law is flawed, Republicans and Democrats are deadlocked on how to comprehensively update the 40-year-old ESA. Millions of acres of land have been set aside to protect threatened or endangered animals and plants, with few tangible results. Scores of OHV roads and trails have been unnecessarily closed as a consequence. SEMA supports an alternative approach that focuses on establishing and managing smaller recovery zones.

• Suspension and shock absorber manufacturer Rancho has become an official sponsor of Tread Lightly. “Tread Lightly aligns perfectly with the Rancho brand and the absolutely critical need to educate enthusiasts who are using recreational trails and areas throughout the United States,” said Chris Gauss, director of performance brands at Tenneco, Rancho’s parent company. “Tread Lightly provides materials, programs, and services within our industry that promise for a sustainable future for off-road driving. Their focus on education and stewardship is unmatched in the industry and by any other nonprofit organization.”

• Oct. 30–Nov. 1: Cullman Alabama Jeep Jamboree, Cullman, AL.
Info: jeepjamboreeusa.com

• Nov. 1: Getting Started Off-Road Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Hungry Valley SVRA, Gorman, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047, 4x4training.com

• Nov. 6-8: Greenbrier Valley Jeep Jamboree, White Sulphur Springs, WV.
Info: jeepjamboreeusa.com

• Nov. 7: Speed Energy Off-Road Series, Las Vegas, NV.
Info: stadiumsupertrucks.com

• Nov. 7-9: Panamint Valley Days by California Association of 4WD Clubs, near Trona, CA.
Info: cal4wheel.com

• Nov. 8-9: Veterans Appreciation Days (free entry for military personnel, active or veteran), Kansas Rocks Recreation Park, Mapleton, KS.
Info: ksrockspark.com

• Nov. 12-16: Tecate/SCORE Baja 1000, Ensenada, Baja California to La Paz, Baja California Sur.
Info: SCORE, score-international.com

• Nov. 13-15: Ozark Adventure Jeep Jamboree, Ozark, AR.
Info: jeepjamboreeusa.com

• Nov. 14-16: Total 4x4 Adventure Class by Backcountry 4x4 Adventure School, Big Bear Lake, CA.
Info: jeep4x4school.com

• Nov. 15: Getting Started Off-Road Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Borrego Springs, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047, 4x4training.com

• Nov. 15: Jeep Owner Orientation Class by Backcountry 4x4 Adventure School, Big Bear Lake, CA.
Info: jeep4x4school.com

• Nov. 16: Tire Repair & Hi Lift Jack Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Borrego Springs, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047, 4x4training.com

• Nov. 22: Rock Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Johnson Valley, Lucerne Valley, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047, 4x4training.com

• Nov. 22: Advanced Black Diamond Class by Backcountry 4x4 Adventure School, Big Bear Lake, CA.
Info: jeep4x4school.com

• Nov. 23: Getting Unstuck Vehicle Recovery Class by Backcountry 4x4 Adventure School, Big Bear Lake, CA.
Info: jeep4x4school.com

• Nov. 29-30: T&T Railroad Adventure by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Mojave Desert, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047, 4x4training.com

• Note: If you have an event you want publicized, please send the date, location, a description, 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; email 4wheeloffroad@sorc.com.