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4x4 and Auto News and Rumors

Automotive and 4x4 news from around the world


Photography: GM

That’s Interesting

•Road de-icing, a necessary evil. The resulting $3 billion in vehicle rust repairs annually over the past five years, according to AAA? Less necessary or necessary evil?
•J.D. Power likes to do nerdy data things, like create vehicle rankings based on data retrieved. So, the 2017 Vehicle Dependability Study—the 28th year of the study, FYI—sorted out reliability based on problems reported by owners of 3-year-old vehicles. Lexus brand came out on top, followed by Porsche and Toyota. Also making the top 10 were Mercedes-Benz and Chevy. At the complete opposite end—we mean bottom, for clarity—was Jeep. Also in the bottom six were Ram and Ford.
•If you’ve been saving up for the all-new Class 4/5 commercial truck from Chevy, know that it’s been confirmed to have a Duramax mill and Allison trans. And will arrive in 2018.
•Duramax, deux: Chevy announced that the 2 millionth engine for its HD trucks has been built (a 6.6L V-8, as you’d likely expect).
•Audi has been named the sponsor of the D.C. United soccer stadium, and with that comes the name Audi Field. Audi still seems to believe in soccer in the U.S.; it’s been the automotive sponsor of Major League Soccer since 2015.
•Shelby Hall is an off-road racer and took Third Place in the ’17 Mint 400, her first driver-of-record race. She’s third-gen: her grandpop is Rod Hall, and you also know of her father and uncle, Josh and Chad, respectively.
•It appears to be a big deal that the ’17 Ram Laramie Longhorn has a new color: RV Match Walnut Brown. The new two-toner kicked the current two-toner White Gold to the curb. If you’re thinking the “RV Match” part probably means it matches the accent color of fifth wheels and such, then you’re thinking.
•Omnicraft is a new brand from Ford Customer Service Division that’ll offer replacement parts for non-Ford vehicles, allowing dealerships to service all vehicle makes.
•Consumer Reports ranked luxury brands and the big news isn’t that Audi came in first for the second year. It’s that Kia came in sixth.
•Thanks for the perky news, National Safety Council, with your fatality estimates from 2016. That would be 40,200 fatalities, up 6 percent from 2015. Plus, it’s been since 2007 that annual fatalities were more than 40,000.
•Vincentric sorted out the 2017 Best Values in America so that you don’t have to. This list was narrowed down by cost of ownership, i.e. depreciation, insurance, fuel, and so on. For the brand awards, Toyota took the win for the SUV category, while Ford scored the truck title. When it came to the SUVs, the best were the Toyota 4Runner and Land Cruiser (for intermediate and large SUV categories), while winners in pickups were the Tacoma and Tundra for small and fullsize 1/2-ton, the Chevy Silverado 2500 for ¾-ton, and the Ford F-350 for 1-ton.
•This item is not about that particular Ford. Nope, it’s regarding the ’18 Expedition. It’ll be able to stream live TV, movies, music, and other streamy things.


Is It True?

•Ford has filed a patent for a bed design that utilizes a sliding floor on the F-150? And we mean the hybrid version?
•Mercedes-Benz is going bring its X-Class pickup to the U.S.?
•GM is going to buy Jeep?
•$2.9 billion is how much Volkswagen has spent to date on buying back diesel vehicles in the U.S.?
•Jeep has delayed its pickup until 2019?
•The Volkswagen Atlas SUV will be priced around $30,000?
•An luxo SUV is coming from Lincoln in 2019—in China?
•An SUV/truck is coming soon from Bollinger Motors (and is that photo a cardboard version?)? With an all-electric powertrain, aluminum chassis, and off-road skills?
•Autonomous taxis in Dubai that function like drones?
•More than $3.5 million in Jaguar Land Rover engines were stolen stolen?
•A smart, self-serve kiosk is being tested by Ford that could allow for easier service appointments, including being able to deal with your vehicle when the dealership is closed?


Your Government at Work

•The Arizona Department of Transportation has installed sensors on parts of the I-40, west of Flagstaff, to help predict where ice could form and therefore alert crews to de-ice the zone.
•Does this auto accident make me look fat? Humanetics Designs has created new crash-test dummies, including an elderly version and an obese model. It helps with developing a better understanding of the unique internal injuries for those groups. Said Humanetics in a statement: “As the demographics of the driving population continues to evolve, our crash test dummies and the test equipment that we design and manufacture must continue to evolve at the same rate,” said Christopher J. O’Connor, president and CEO of Humanetics. “Let’s not forget the more vulnerable drivers on the road and provide a product that the car manufacturers, government agencies, and research groups around the world can use to design and test a safer car for people of all sizes and ages.”


What’s Happening in the Industry

•Back with Team Lucas in 2017 is K&N Filters and its sponsorship. Team Lucas also nabbed the Toyota Tundra as Official Truck, while Lund will be the sponsor of the Lund Safety Trucks at the events. Polaris is also partnering with Team Lucas, including giving away a new RZR XP Turbo at the end of the season. Info to win it will be available at Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series events as well as the Regional Off Road Racing Series.
•Dick Cepek Fun Country All-Terrain rubber has bumped its tread-wear warranty to be 45,000 miles. OG purchasers of the tire will get a pro-rated credit toward a new Cepek, if the tread has worn down to the indicators before 45,000 miles. There’s fine print to this warranty, but that’s the gist.
•AEV has the limited-edition Ram Prospector XL, an ode to the company’s 20th anniversary. The Ram includes a 3-inch suspension lift, 40-inch Toyo tires, and outdoor-themed accessories, such as an AEV bumper and Warn winch. Learn more at aev-conversions.com.
•Accessories-maker Dee Zee has turned 40 years old.
Stage8.com is all-new.
•So’s westinautomotive.com.
Summitracing.com is carrying UMC ReTech transfer cases.
•Lund has acquired Roll-N-Lock Corp and RoadWorks.
•Castrol has extended its sponsorship with the National Football League, earning the title of Official Motor Oil Sponsor.
•Hennessey has the VelociRaptor 600 upgrade available for the ’17 Ford Raptor. It gives the 3.5L EcoBoost more oomph—450 horses and 510 lb-ft of torque becomes 605 hp and 622 lb-ft of twist.
•The official navigation partner of the Jeep Jamboree USA is Magellan. Again.
•The last GZ-20 blimp from Goodyear has been retired. The Spirit of Innovation is moving over so that Goodyear can bring on more high-tech blimps, starting with Wingfoot Two in late 2017.
•Also Goodyear: Its Eagle 360 Urban concept tire is driven by artificial intelligence. As in, it can…well, let Goodyear tell you: “sense, decide, transform, and interact.” Yeah, the “decide” part kind of gives us the willies, too.


Four Wheeler App

There’s an app for everything these days, including Four Wheeler. But if you look at things historically, we were an app way before “application” was shortened to “app.” Just like we were an “off-road magazine” way before there were “off-road magazines.” So, really, we’re the definition of all things groundbreaking, which is the type of tech, trucks, products, features, travel, and other content you’ll find on our app.


New ’17 Jeep and Mopar Concept Vehicles

Let’s begin by making you feel like an Old for a moment: The Jeep Grand Cherokee turns 25 in 2017. Bringing up the ZJ has a point—it was the ode, the inspiration, the imitation-is-flattery reason for the Jeep Grand One concept that Mopar unveiled at the Easter Jeep Safari in Moab this year. Specs include an extended wheelbase, 33s, 2-inch suspension lift, locking diffs front and rear, and 5.2L V-8 hooked to a, wow, four-speed auto. The makers are first to admit the interior is throwback Monday-through-Friday—‘90s materials, a bedliner, and a phone make an appearance. You know, the kind of phone you had to mount. Here are other concept gems that might be hints of future production Jeeps as well as incorporating some concept and current Jeep Performance Parts:

Jeep Safari

“Windoors” is your real takeaway here (windows + doors, if you need assistance). Sure, it has the usual beef, like Dana 44s, lockers, and lift. But we’ll focus on the oddities, such as the rotated-outboard rear buckets, the clear roof panel, and the two-level cargo rack with a drone. The wheelbase has been shortened.

Jeep CJ66

What you’ve got here is basically a collision of various Jeeps: TJ frame, ’66 CJ Tuxedo Park body, parts of a JK, crate axles, concept two-way air system for the rubber, and cropped windshield in a narrow-body Jeep powered by a Mopar 345 crate Hemi’d 5.7L. You might recognize it from the ’16 SEMA Show.

Jeep Quicksand

If you like sand and hot rods, here you go. It has a Mopar 392 crate Hemi with eight-stack injection, gasser-type open headers, hood cutouts, longer-than-a-Wrangler wheelbase, and open top. Here’s the headliner: staggered tires. Never seen this on a Jeep concept before? That’s the intention. The front has 32s, the rear 37s. All ride on 18-inch rims.

Jeep Switchback

Bring your attention to the hood and half-doors; they’re concept parts. Ditto the hardtop and roof rack. The rest of the off-road components are pretty much what you’d expect as off-road upgrades.

Jeep Trailpass

It’s like a Compass Trailhawk with a second helping of Trailhawk. At least that’s what Mopar’s intention was. Sure, it may seem to be just a Compass with a 1.5-inch lift, 18-inch wheels, “a unique pocket accent” on the tires, rails, and a roof basket. But for a Compass, that’s probably extreme.

Jeep Luminator

The name is a bit of a spoiler alert—you can assume correctly that the theme is lighting. Underbody rock lights, spotlights, projector-style headlamp, foglamps, hood lightbar, rear tail/trail lamp with four-color LEDs, lighted drone with lighted landing pad, and probably some other lights we forgot to mention, but they’ll ensure you’re always wheeling in the equivalent of daylight.


“Because I was being stupid, those damn chicken nuggets.”—Allegedly said by a newly elected county commissioner in Michigan to police when arrested for drunk driving, according to fox59.com. The quote is said to be the reason he gave when police asked if he knew why he was being arrested


Bentley’s SUV, the Bentayga Mulliner

We’ve been telling you this hyper-luxo SUV from Bentley was coming, and now we have more info about it. It’ll feature a 600hp/664 lb-ft of torque 6.0L W-12 engine and eight-speed auto trans, for a top speed of 187 mph (which has allowed Bentley to call it the world’s fastest SUV) and 29 mpg. The Bentayga Mulliner has a GVWR of 7,165 lbs, 118-inch wheelbase, air suspension with four heights, hill descent control, and, you fancy now: a panoramic roof, massaging seats, picnic tables, crystal champagne flutes, bottle cooler, and your choice of 107 paint colors. This is the SUV that’s expected to start at around $230,000.


Own Your Own Off-Road Biz!

Want to own your own off-road business but don’t know how or where to begin? There’s help! Performance Off-Road (POR) is a company that has been in the off-road accessory business for over 20 years and it can help you open your own POR. You’ll be part of a national chain of dealers that is well established in the industry and you’ll be trained on many key topics that are critical to a new business. The knowledgeable and experienced POR staff will train you in a variety of areas that include market research in the area you wish to open a location, assistance on location, showroom design and product setup, product training, territory referrals, the importance of maintaining a low overhead, and much more. POR offers in-house financing on approved business plans, too.

Off-road enthusiast Darin was a lead welder/fabricator for a large company who quit his job of 21 years to open his own POR in Sussex, Wisconsin. Darin says, “It’s been a lot of work, but nothing I wasn’t used to and at the end of the day its mine! So if you’ve been thinking of doing something on your own, do it!”

Want more info? Visit performanceoffroadretailcenters.com or call 830/885-6910.
—Ken Brubaker, ken.brubaker@fourwheeler.com