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Drivelines - January 2015

The Latest News Form The Industry

Heavy-duty Slugfest, Part 1
The battle for best-in-class tow capacity is heating up. Last month we talked about the new SAE J2807 standards to establish tow ratings, followed by Ram’s assertion that not only was it the only maker to subject all of its truck segments—1500, 2500, and 3500—to the new standard, but that four of its pickups achieved best-in-class tow ratings. Not long after, Ford said that the ’15 Ford F-450 Super Duty scored the highest rating of any pickup in the U.S., 31,200 pounds, measured using the SAE J2807 standard.

Ram countered with this: “Ram Truck stands firm on our claims within the 350/3500 segment with best-in-class 30,000 pounds of towing capacity…”

They’re both right. The F-450 is essentially an upgraded F-350, modified to achieve that high tow rating. Step down to the F-350 and things change. The F-350 Tow Boss (a special model that is basically last year’s F-450 rebadged as a 350) earned a 26,700-pound rating, while the standard F-350 was rated at 24,700 pounds. Both are below the Ram’s 30,000-pound rating, but that number is for a 2WD model. Does the rating for a Ram 3500 4x4 still stand up to the best-in-class claim? It does. A Ram 3500 Tradesman dualie 4x4 with the Cummins earned a 29,530-pound rating.

Ram Truck stands firm on our claims

Heavy-Duty Slugfest, Part 2
The Ram folks are also bent out of shape at Ford over the aerodynamic claims for the new F-150. The exchange was sparked by a lengthy press release from Ford touting its new truck as the “most aerodynamically efficient F-150 ever,” thanks to efforts by the truck’s stylists to create a body that looks tough but slips through the air cleanly. Nowhere in the release, though, does Ford quote a value for the truck’s drag coefficient (Cd), a measure of its aerodynamic efficiency. The lower the number, the more cleanly it will slip through the air, which helps the truck’s fuel economy.

Ram’s handlers were quick to point out that when the Ram was redesigned for 2013, a lot of effort was put into aerodynamic efficiency, too. That press release included a Cd of 0.360 for a 2WD Ram 1500 regular cab.

We asked Ford for a Cd for the F-150 and were told it would be released when Ford completes EPA fuel economy testing later this year. Then we asked the same question of Chevrolet, Toyota, and Nissan. Chevy said it didn’t release numbers (though our friends at Truck Trend quoted a figure of 0.41 for the ’14 Silverado in a recent story), Nissan was still looking for a number at press time, and Toyota said all its Tundra 4x4 models earned a Cd of 0.380. (By comparison, the Prius has a Cd of 0.250.) For now, at least, Ram can claim best-in-class pickup aero.

Jeepspeed Debuts Wrangler Class
Jeepspeed has created three classes to bring Wrangler owners into its desert racing series. Class 1700 is for nearly stock six-cylinder Wranglers, with modifications limited to 33-inch tires, 10 inches of front travel and 12 in back, and one shock per wheel. Class 3700 allows a longer wheelbase (up to 117 inches), a Jeep or Mopar V-8 or six-cylinder up to 6 liters (no SRT versions; forced induction is allowed on the sixes), 35-inch tires, and more travel—12 inches in front, 14 in back. Class 3750 is the open class, allowing any production-based engine, 37-inch tires, 15 inches of front travel, no limits to the rear travel, and no limits to the size and number of shocks.

The Wranglers will race three times in 2015: at the Mint 400 near Las Vegas in March, the Silver State 300 in northern Nevada in May, and the Bluewater Challenge near Parker, Arizona, in October. For more information on the vehicle specs, visit jeepspeed.com; go to Best in the Desert’s website, bitd.com, for info on safety requirements for the races.

This Just In
• Jim Ryan, who worked for more than three decades on a number of off-roading and dirt sports publications (including this one back in our Petersen Publishing days), has taken a position with SCORE International as marketing and sales director. “This is a truly remarkable opportunity for SCORE to have an individual with the impeccable reputation and remarkable résumé of Jim Ryan be available at the same time as we confirmed our need for this key management position in the development of the new generation of SCORE International,” said SCORE’s CEO and president, Roger Norman.

• Polaris Industries has gotten into the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in a big way. The maker of ATVs, side-by-sides, snowmobiles, and other powersports vehicles donated $10,000 to ALS after more than 100 dealers accepted an invitation from Scott Wine, Polaris chairman and CEO, to join him in taking the challenge. Not only did the dealers rise to the occasion, but many made personal donations to the cause as well.

• How important is Texas to the new-truck market? Chevrolet just announced the availability of a University of Texas Longhorns package for the ’15 Silverado pickup, with Sunset Orange metallic paint and UT graphics on the bed walls and tailgate. According to Chevy, a Longhorn fan lives in one out of every three Texas households, and those fans are almost twice as likely as average consumers to buy a truck.

• In other Chevy news, the maker announced Z71 off-road packages for the new Tahoe and Suburban models. No details were offered, but expect the options to be similar to those offered on the Silverado: Rancho shocks, tow hooks, extra skidplating, and Z71 graphics inside and out.

Race Truck Sold to Benefit ORMHOF
The Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame (ORMHOF) recently put up for auction the ’76 Ford F-100 that was raced to Class 8 victories in the 1977 Baja 500 and Baja 1000 by Frank “Scoop” Vessels. The truck had been on display at the National Automobile Museum in Reno for eight years, but “now it’s time to share it with the next off-road enthusiast,” said a hall of fame rep. The truck was offered by Auctions America at a Burbank, California, sale over the summer, where it sold for $41,250. Proceeds for the sale will benefit the hall of fame.

Earth Watch
• SEMA reports that legislation to prohibit motor-vehicle repair facilities from modifying an exhaust system to “produce noise in excess of OE stock decibel levels” has been introduced in Michigan. Under the bill, a person who violates this prohibition would be forced to pay a fine of $10,000 for each violation. As you would expect, SEMA opposes the legislation for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that no decibel standard is set in the bill, making enforcement difficult and subjective.

• The BlueRibbon Coalition reports that more than a dozen U.S. Senators sent a letter to President Obama urging him to designate 1.8 million acres of red rock lands surrounding Canyonlands National Park in Utah as a national monument. None of these senators is from Utah, and only two are even from western states. This flies in the face of a collaborative effort being led by Congressman Rob Bishop of Utah to identify lands with unique character and resources and codify their uses in an Eastern Utah Lands bill. A number of land and resource users, including the BRC, have been diligently working over the past year toward a consensus land use plan that would defend existing access and access opportunities. BRC believes monument designation is inappropriate without the support of state and local governments. Americans for Responsible Recreational Access (arra-access.com) has created an easy-to-fill-out email blast you can send to your local senator to voice your opinion against this action.

Pricing Set for Tundra TRD Pro
The newest member of Toyota’s TRD Pro family, the Tundra TRD Pro, will hit dealerships about the time you read this, with MSRPs starting at $41,285 for Double Cab models and $43,900 for CrewMax versions. These trucks will be equipped with TRD Bilstein remote-reservoir shocks, TRD-tuned springs (with a 2-inch lift in front), 18-inch black alloy wheels, Michelin all-terrain tires, and a number of TRD Pro graphic elements inside and out.

New Discovery Sport
Here’s a first look at the redesigned Land Rover Discovery. The first model to market will be the Discovery Sport, which, says Land Rover, will offer 5+2 seating in a footprint smaller than traditional five-seat SUVs. Five- or seven-seat versions will be available, in SE, HSE, and HSE Luxury models. Tech highlights include a new multilink rear axle that helps to maximize interior space while increasing articulation. While other countries will get a choice of gas or diesel engines, the U.S. version comes with a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder making 240 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque and backed by a nine-speed automatic transmission. The new Discovery Sport goes on sale early in 2015, with prices starting just below $40,000.

• Dec. 5-6: Getting Started Off-Road Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Hungry Valley SVRA, Gorman, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047, 4x4training.com
• Dec. 5-7: Henderson 250 desert race by Best in the Desert, Henderson, NV.
Info: bitd.com
• Dec. 6: Advanced Black Diamond Class by Backcountry 4x4 Adventure School, Johnson Valley, CA.
Info: jeep4x4school.com
• Dec. 7: Getting Unstuck Vehicle Recovery Class by Backcountry 4x4 Adventure School, Johnson Valley, CA.
Info: jeep4x4school.com
• Dec. 12-13: Getting Started Off-Road Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Borrego Springs, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047, 4x4training.com
• Dec. 12-14: Total 4x4 Adventure Class by Backcountry 4x4 Adventure School, Big Bear Lake, CA.
Info: jeep4x4school.com
• Dec. 13: Wheeling 4 Toys, Kansas Rocks Recreation Park, Mapleton, KS.
Info: ksrockspark.com
• Dec. 13: Jeep Orientation Class by Backcountry 4x4 Adventure School, Big Bear Lake, CA.
Info: jeep4x4school.com
• Dec. 14: Kansas Rocks Recreation Park open to public.
Info: ksrockspark.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 4wheeloffroad@enthusiastnetwork.com. Please submit your info at least four months in advance of the event due to our press lead times.