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Drivelines - February 2015

The Latest Off-Road & Industry News

Special Editions From GM
I’s that time of year—between the model-year changeover and the upcoming SEMA Show, several automakers are releasing special and/or limited editions of their pickups and SUVs. General Motors has been especially active lately, as you’ll see from the roundup here.

Sierra Elevation Edition
GMC sees the Elevation Edition as a “new entry for the sport pickup market,” with both exterior and interior upgrades. Based on standard 1500 double-cab models (in either 2WD or 4WD), the Elevation models have a monochrome look thanks to the use of body color on the grille surround, bumpers, door handles, mirror caps, and side moldings. Optional LED headlamps are here, as is an LED cargo-box lighting. Inside, buyers will find a 4.2-inch IntelliLink color touchscreen audio system and Bluetooth phone connectivity.

Sierra Carbon Editions
GMC is offering three different versions of the Carbon Edition, each fitted with carbon-fiber graphics; a black-painted grille; and body-color door handles, mirror caps, and other trim pieces. The standard Carbon Edition is based on the standard Sierra 1500 double-cab. The Carbon 20 Edition applies to the SLE double-cab and features 20-inch alloy wheels. The Carbon 22 edition, available on either double- or crew-cab SLE models, gets 22-inch alloy rims plus tubular sidesteps and foglamps. All Carbon models are available on two- and four-wheel-drive Sierras.

Colorado Sport Concept
Revealed at the State Fair of Texas, this Colorado is upfitted with Chevrolet’s GearOn accessory system, which allows owners to mount big items, such as bikes and kayaks, over the bed, leaving the bed open for smaller gear. The truck’s assist steps, wheel-lip moldings, cargo divider, and other accessories are also available through Chevrolet, and as such are covered by the truck’s warranty. The wheels, however, are prototypes that are “being evaluated for future production,” says Chevy.

Lingenfelter Reaper
Chevrolet worked with Lingenfelter Performance Engineering and Southern Comfort Automotive to produce a Raptor fighter that’s available in select Chevy dealerships now. The Reaper is a Silverado pickup modified with a 3-inch lift, long-travel suspension, Fox racing shocks, and a Lingenfelter performance exhaust system. A custom hood and grille, wide-body fender flares, and rock guards with removable steps are the external tip-offs that this is no average Silverado. An optional 17-inch beadlock wheel/General Tire package is available, as are supercharged 5.3 or 6.2 V-8 engines.

Chevy Texas Editions
Chevrolet sells more fullsize SUVs in Texas than in any other state, so the automaker has come out with special editions of the Tahoe and Suburban just for Lone Star buyers. These trucks, available in LT and LTZ trim levels, are equipped with a max trailering package, 20-inch wheels on LT models (22s on LTZs), and special badging. Chevy also made navigation radio standard on LT versions (it’s already part of the LTZ trim level) and added nine months to the buyer’s satellite radio subscription.

Bass Pro Shops Tundra
General Motors isn’t the only truck maker offering special edition pickups these days. Toyota’s Gulf States Region teamed with outdoors retailer Bass Pro Shops to create a Tundra 4x4 CrewMax SR5 with an upgraded suspension, 20-inch wheels, fender flares, spray-in bedliner, step tubes, and Bass Pro Shop graphics. The truck will be available only in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas, with pricing starting just under $44,000.

Changes for Next NORRA 1000
As the NORRA Mexican 1000 rally has grown in popularity, organizers have felt the need to make some changes to the event “to stay true to NORRA’s ‘Honoring the Past. Forging the Future’ event theme.” So next year’s rally will separate the Vintage four-wheel classes from the more modern Evolution and Rally categories. Beginning in 2015, the unlimited-style Vintage class vehicles must represent vehicles (and some technology) that were built by 1992 or earlier. More modern historic unlimited off-road vehicles built after 1992 will run with the Evolution and Rally-Raid-based vehicles in a newly named Historic Trophy category. NORRA will also offer separate routes used on each of the four rally days to better suit both types of four-wheel vehicles.

The sanctioning body will also institute new tire size rules. Next year all Vintage four-wheel classes will be limited to 35-inch-tall tires, while all Evolution, Rally, and Historic Trophy vehicles cannot use any tire larger than 37 inches tall. This year’s event will take place April 25-29 and run the length of the Baja peninsula from Ensenada to San Jose del Cabo.

This Just In
Aluminum Wranglers? According to Automotive News, Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, said at the recent Paris Auto Show that the company is considering a total redo of the Wrangler when it is redesigned for 2017. Changes could include the use of unibody construction, aluminum body pieces, and small-displacement turbocharged engines, all in the name of helping Wrangler meet stricter fuel economy mandates. Should it come to pass, it would likely spell the end of Wrangler production in Toledo, as refitting the plant to switch from body-on-frame to unibody assembly would be cost-prohibitive, said Marchionne.

Mike Anson, a longtime fixture in Southern California automotive media who also served as the first editor of this magazine, has passed away. Anson started his auto journalism career at Road & Track and moved to Four Wheeler before joining Petersen Publishing and acting as 4-Wheel & Off-Road’s first editor. After leaving Petersen he worked in automotive public relations and cohosted a radio show, America on the Road , with fellow Petersen alumnus Jack Nerad.

Ram Truck has announced a partnership with the Texas Rangers, aiding the preservation of the history of the renowned law-enforcement organization. The announcement was made at the State Fair of Texas, where Ram Truck Brand President and CEO Bob Hegbloom presented the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum with a check for $100,000.

Full Metal Spokesman
R. Lee Ermey, best known as the Marine drill sergeant in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, has signed on as the celebrity spokesman for Jeep parts maker Omix-ADA. Ermey will represent the company in promotions and at events across the country.

“Being a longtime Jeep enthusiast myself, I am thrilled to be working with a company that not only produces quality products for the Jeep enthusiast, but also has taken the steps to preserve the Jeep history with their collection,” said Ermey.

Ermey’s persona, The Gunny, comes not only from his acting roles. He is a Vietnam vet who served in the Marine Corps as a staff sergeant and drill instructor. Following his retirement, Ermey received an honorary promotion to gunnery sergeant because of his longstanding contributions to the Corps.

Record Donation From Land Rover eBay Auction
Land Rover North America recently auctioned on eBay a restored Range Rover Great Divide Expedition replica to help raise both awareness of the Expedition’s 25th anniversary and also funds for land use advocacy group Tread Lightly! When the auction ended, the sale of the Rover brought in $55,000, the largest single donation in Tread Lightly! history. The successful bidders were Shannon and Angie Davis, longtime Land Rover enthusiasts who took part in the recent 25th anniversary running of the Great Divide Expedition.

Coolest Reading Places
Anonymous Outhouse Edition
The reader wasn’t identified in the message. The photographer’s name wasn’t, either. Just this photo, with the message: “He froze his butt off so I could get this picture. LOL.” Considering the sacrifice, we had to run the photo.

in the Afghan Air Force
This picture was taken while I was working in Shindand, Afghanistan, helping to train the Afghan Air Force to work on the MI-17 aircraft in the background. This is the work I do so I can improve my truck when I do get home. Thanks for the great magazine. I have enjoyed every issue, and the Afghan soldiers get my old copies. They help them learn English.
Jim DeVasure

This picture was taken while deployed on the USS San Juan (SSN 751). The magazines kept me entertained and brought some nice conversations. Thanks.
PO3 Alex McNair
Petty Officer Third Class
For those of you who don’t speak Navy, the San Juan is a Los Angeles–class (nuclear-powered, fast-attack) submarine.

Greek Edition
My wife and I were in Europe last month and I was told to bring reading material in case lines were long. Well, I couldn’t think of any books that offered me the same pleasure as reading your magazine, so I brought a few! The picture is taken in front of the Temple of Zeus in Athens, Greece.
Timothy C. Bouslaugh

Earth Watch
Thousands of Jeepers gathered at Daytona Beach for the MidFlorida Jeep Club’s Jeep Beach event last fall. Those in attendance donated some $150,000 to various charities, including $30,000 to the BlueRibbon Coalition. Del Albright, BRC director of operations, said, “BRC depends on supporting clubs and individuals—and wow, Jeep Beach just plain knocked our socks off! We thank each and every member of the MidFlorida Jeep Club, all their supporters and partners, and all the attendees who made this such a huge, record-breaking success. You have made a tremendous impact to our efforts.”

Turtle Expedition on the Road Again
Those of you who have followed Gary and Monika Wescott (aka the Turtle Expedition) over the years might be wondering where they are these days. In April 2013 they shipped Turtle V to Europe and toured through several countries, winding up at Cabo da Roca in Portugal, the westernmost point of the Eurasian land mass. At that point they began their Trans-Eurasian Odyssey, following the legendary Silk Road. The route will take them back into Europe, then the Middle East, and into China, where they’ll begin a 33-day route to the Yellow Sea just east of Beijing. From there it’s up into Mongolia and Russia in the winter and then, frankly, they’re not sure where. On the expedition’s website (turtleexpedition.com) you can sign up to receive their latest blogs.

More Ram EcoDiesels
Citing “overwhelming response” to its half-ton diesel truck, Ram has increased the production volume of EcoDiesel models to fully 20 percent of the Ram 1500 lineup. That’s double the automaker’s initial expectation. The 3.0L V-6 EcoDiesel engine, mated to a TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission, delivers 240 hp, 420 lb-ft of peak torque, and 9,200 pounds of (max) tow capacity (9,030 in 4x4 models) while achieving 28-mpg highway fuel economy.

EcoBoost Goof
When we make a mistake we don’t mess around. In the Dec. ’14 Drivelines column we talked about Ford adding a new 2.7L EcoBoost engine to the ’15 F-150 and wondered how buyers would react to a four-cylinder engine in the F-150. Turns out the question was moot, as the turbocharged 2.7 is a V-6, not a four.

Ford’s aim with the new engine is to provide the performance of a midrange V-8 but with improved efficiency—efficiency that comes from high-tech features ranging from variable valve timing to an Auto Stop-Start system that shuts off the engine when the truck is stopped. (It is disabled when towing or in four-wheel drive.)

The result is a small-displacement V-6 that puts out 325 hp and 375 lb-ft of peak torque and has a tow rating of 8,400 pounds in the ’15 F-150 4x4.