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4 Wheeling News - Drivelines

The Latest News From The Automotive Industry

Diesel ZR2 Concept
Remember the ZR2 versions of Chevy S-10 pickups and S-series Blazers? Chevrolet has brought the designation back for this concept Colorado pickup that was unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

The actual ZR2. We like the drawing better.

Describing it as “a vision of how Chevrolet could take the all-new midsize truck’s off-road capability to the next level,” the ZR2 is 4 inches wider and sits 2 inches higher than the production model. There are King monotube remote-reservoir coilovers at all four corners, the front control arms are all new, and both pumpkins are filled with electronically-controlled lockers. The truck’s front and rear fasciae have been revised to improve approach and departure angles and have flip-out aluminum tow hooks. A winch is integrated into the front fascia. The truck rolls on 275/65R18 Goodyear Wranglers mounted to 18-inch “bead-lock-style” aluminum wheels.

Taking Colorado’s off-road capability to the next level

Whether GM is gutsy enough to adopt the wider/taller, Raptor-like approach for the Colorado is up for debate. What’s more interesting about the concept is its engine, a 2.8L Duramax four-cylinder diesel that industry insiders say will be offered in the production Colorado. Chevy reports that the engine makes about 181 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 rpm, a lot of twist for a compact truck. Given the truck’s size and aerodynamics, and the efficiency of the diesel engine, Colorado could be the first pickup to offer 30 mpg fuel economy, a number that was expected—but not fulfilled—by Ford’s 2.7L EcoBoost F-150 engine.

GM’s artist’s rendering of the ZR2 Colorado concept prior to its reveal in Los Angeles.

“Dream Team” Wins Baja
Several of the biggest names in off-road racing—Rob MacCachren, Andy McMillin, and Jason Voss—joined forces to win the latest Baja 1000 in MacCachren’s Rockstar-sponsored F-150 Trophy Truck. This was a point-to-point running of the race, starting in Ensenada and ending 1,275 miles later in La Paz, and the team finished in just over 221⁄2 hours, averaging 56.64 mph and beating the next finisher by a commanding 29 minutes. It was the seventh class win and second overall for MacCachren, the fourth overall and fourth class win for McMillin, and a first for Voss. It also marked the 26th overall Baja 1000 title for BFGoodrich (MacCachren’s truck ran Baja T/A KR2s) and the tire maker’s 81st overall win in Baja.

Titan Truckumentary
Nissan will unveil the next-generation Titan pickup truck at the upcoming North American International Auto Show in Detroit, but you can get a sneak peek at the truck (of sorts) on YouTube. Nissan is producing a number of videos under the “Nissan Titan Truckumentary” banner that will be available on the website. We watched a teaser episode and saw camouflaged test mules towing trailers and undergoing other tests, while Nissan engineers discuss their motivation for improving the truck.

The new Titan has had a long gestation period, due in part to a partnership with Chrysler that failed when that company went into bankruptcy and the Japanese maker had to essentially start the design process from scratch. This new truck should be a clean-sheet rethinking of the Titan, with innovative features that will include the option of a 5.0L Cummins V-8 turbodiesel. (For you in the Twitterverse, there’s a #CumminsSoon tag at the end of the video.) Nissan is also hinting that it will broaden the truck’s model mix to include low-priced and work-truck versions, possibly with a six-cylinder base engine.

This Just In
• Watch for the next generation of Tacoma pickup to be introduced at the Detroit auto show. Toyota pretty much owns the compact truck market right now, with sales representing about two-thirds of that segment, according to data from Automotive News. The new Colorado/Canyon pickups could eat into Toyota’s share, so the timing for a new Taco is right.

• You can also expect improvements to Chrysler’s Pentastar V-6 engines in the next couple of years, says Automotive News. Turbocharging, direct injection, and other tech advancements are aimed at improving the engine’s fuel economy. The first such upgrade should appear later this year in a freshened Grand Cherokee, the trade paper reports.

• Our sister publication Motor Trend has named the Colorado its 2015 Truck of the Year. Contenders also included the Silverado 3500 HD; the Ford F-150 (two trucks with both versions of the EcoBoost engines), F-450, and Transit; and the GMC Canyon and Sierra Denali 2500 HD. The Colorado won by a rare unanimous vote among the editors. “It was the truck that best met our award’s key criteria,” said Edward Loh, Editor-in-Chief. “We look at engineering excellence, fantastic vehicle from top to bottom in terms of its capabilities. Can tow up to 7,000 pounds. Great handling truck. Strong value statement as well, particularly the work truck. If you look at the base, entry-level work truck you’re talking low $20,000 range. So on and on again, against each one of our criteria, Colorado came out ahead.”

• Recreational vehicle manufacturer Thor Livin Lite will offer a number of Ford-branded products for the 2015 F-150. Up first is a camper, to be followed by tent campers, travel trailers, and fifth wheels, all sold through Thor Livin Lite dealers.

Side-by-Side Safety Under Review
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has long had recreational vehicles in its sights (remember the three-wheeled ATV ban years ago?) and is now looking to mandate safety standards for recreational off-highway vehicles, otherwise known as ROVs or side-by-sides. The government agency is calling for a rule that would reduce steering response and ground clearance, and add more restrictive driver and passenger restraint and seatbelt systems. This despite the fact that the agency has “insufficient data to estimate whether the rule would actually improve safety over current industry standard designs,” says SEMA. Those current standards were issued by the American National Standards Institute in cooperation with the Recreation Off-Highway Vehicle Association following several years of discussions with the CPSC staff. In SEMA’s view, the current standards are adequate, and “the CPSC proposal will stifle future design innovation and does not properly address a number of technical issues.” SEMA and ROV manufacturers urge off-road enthusiasts to reach out to their elected representatives to express their opposition to this new mandate.

Earth Watch
• The Board of Directors of the Off-Road Business Association (ORBA) has pledged to expand the Association’s efforts to protect threatened roads and trails around Moab. Nearly 1.4 million acres of southern Utah land surrounding Canyonlands National Park could be designated a National Monument by the President. About 1,050 miles of OHV routes would be closed and another 1,450 placed at risk. ORBA member companies Daystar Products and 4Wheel Parts Wholesalers joined to make a $20,000 contribution to help fund ORBA’s advocacy efforts. ORBA is supporting an effort by the Utah delegation led by Rep. Rob Bishop to bring the public, stakeholders, and other interested parties together to reach consensus on how public lands in southern and eastern Utah should be managed. The “Public Lands Initiative” has included numerous open meetings, forums and hearings in Utah and Washington, D.C. At issue is an effort to collaborate and resolve longstanding disputes on how to balance conservation, economic development and land access.

Toyota Wins in Baja, Too
A lightly modified Tundra TRD Pro pickup driven by Andy Bell, Ryan Millen, and several Toyota engineers and athletes also crossed the Baja 1000 finish line in La Paz in first place, winning the Stock Full class. Their time was a little slower than the MacCachren Trophy Truck—35 hours and change for an average speed of 36 mph—but that truck then turned around and drove another 1,000 miles back up Baja to Ensenada. Talk about your long weekend! The team was coached by legendary Toyota off-road racer Ivan “Ironman” Stewart, a 22-time winner of the Baja 1000 and 500 races.

• Mar. 28–Apr. 5: Easter Jeep Safari by the Red Rock 4-Wheelers, Moab, UT.
Info: rr4w.com

• Mar. 30–Apr. 3: Easter Jeep Safari for First Timers by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Moab, UT.
Info: 310.374.8047, 4x4training.com

• Apr. 4: 4x4 Easter Egg Hunt, Hot Springs ORV Park, Hot Springs, AR.
Info: orvpark.com

• Apr. 4-6: Wisconsin OHV Association Workshops, Mole Lake Lodge & Conference Center, Crandon, WI.
Info: wohva.com

• Apr. 10-11: Speed Energy Formula Off-Road Series Stadium Super Trucks race, San Diego, CA.
Info: stadiumsupertrucks.com

• Apr. 11: Getting Started Off-Road Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Hungry Valley SVRA, Gorman, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047, 4x4training.com

• Apr. 12: Getting Started Off-Road Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Mojave, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047, 4x4training.com

• Apr. 16-19: SCORE Baja Sur 500 off-road race, Cabo San Lucas to Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico.
Info: score-international.com

• Apr. 17-19: Speed Energy Formula Off-Road Series Stadium Super Trucks race, Long Beach, CA.
Info: stadiumsupertrucks.com

• Apr. 17-20: Death Valley Adventure by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Ridgecrest, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047, 4x4training.com

• Apr. 22-25: Tennessee Mountains Jeep Jamboree, Oak Ridge, TN.
Info: jeepjamboreeusa.com

• Apr. 25: Spring Off-Road 101 Course, Kansas Rocks Recreation Park, Mapleton, KS.
Info: ksrockspark.com

• Apr. 25-26: Getting Started Off-Road Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Borrego Springs, CA. Info: 310.374.8047, 4x4training.com

• Apr. 26-29: NORRA Mexican 1000 Rally, Baja California, Mexico.
Info: norra.com

• Apr. 30–May 2: Cajun Jeep Jamboree, St. Francisville, LA.
Info: jeepjamboreeusa.com

• Apr. 30–May 2: Top of the Ozarks Jeep Jamboree, Seymour, MO.
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 4wheeloffroad@enthusiastnetwork.com. Please submit your info at least four months in advance of the event due to our press lead times.