This Just In
•Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is calling the new Grand Cherokee "the best vehicle we've made in the history of Chrysler," according to Automotive News. There are probably some Hemi 'Cuda lovers who will take issue with that statement, but it's encouraging to hear the boss speak so highly of the new Jeep. AN says dealer orders for 70,000 Grands have come in, necessitating a second shift at the Jefferson assembly plant in Detroit. Among those orders, 40 percent are for the high-end Overland and Limited models, much higher than the mix for the previous generation.
•Look for a redesigned Range Rover in 2013, says Automotive News, one that will use a platform designed by the marque's current owner, Tata, rather than the current BMW platform. An LR4 redo will follow in 2015 or 2016.
•Last month we told you about eBay's new Peoples Picks online survey. We've heard from the auction site that since its launch, some 200,000 votes have been cast. Among the preliminary results: F-150 is leading the "toughest truck" voting by a comfortable margin over Silverado; Power Stroke is best diesel engine, followed by Cummins; Jeep leads Land Rover by a big margin in best 4x4 brand voting; the Rubicon Trail is winning as most challenging off-road course; and extra water is beating sat phone in "what you'd like to have during your next desert run."
•The SEMA Action Network (SAN) recently sent out a bulletin about pending wilderness legislation in Congress and the impact these bills could have on off-roading. Once an area is designated as wilderness, it is closed to vehicular travel. SAN points out that wilderness does serve an important environmental purpose in protecting plants and animals and America's natural heritage. The question is the amount of land that needs such a restrictive designation and whether it is possible to permit some motorized activities on portions of the land. Right now there are dozens of wilderness bills under consideration in Congress, all of which could potentially be combined into one sweeping bill that could close millions of acres of land to motorized travel. Among them is the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (H.R. 980), which invents the term "Northern Rockies Bioregion" and then uses it as the reason to outlaw any motorized activity on nearly 24 million acres of land in five states (Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Wyoming) by using the wilderness designation. There's also the America's Red Rock Wilderness Act of 2009 (H.R. 1925), which would make more than one-sixth of Utah off-limits to any form of motorized recreation. Most of the 168 cosponsors of the legislation represent areas east of the Rockies. There are lots more, but we don't have room for them all here. The best way to find out about these bills, and how to fight them, is to join the SAN. Drop by www.semasan.com to find out more.
3.5L Eco-Boost V-6
Four Engines for F-150
Ford is truly running the gamut with its engine options for the latest F-150. We've told you about the 6.2L V-8: Producing 411 hp and 434 lb-ft of torque, it's found in the Raptor and Harley-Davidson editions (as well as the Super Duty, though it's tuned for the half-tons with a different cam profile). At the other end of the scale is the new 3.5L EcoBoost V-6, which will offer V-8-like power while improving fuel economy up to 20 percent over the previous 5.4L V-8.
5.0L DOHC V-8
Ford hasn't released power figures for this engine yet, and the EcoBoost won't be available until later in the model year. The two engines that will power the F-150 at model launch are a 3.7L V-6 with 300 hp (estimated) and 275 lb-ft of torque, and a 5.0L, dual-overhead-cam V-8 that produces 360 hp and 380 lb-ft. Both will offer "class leading" fuel economy, says Ford (though no numbers have been released), and both are E85 flex-fuel capable. All of these engines will be backed by standard six-speed automatic transmissions.
Fast-Aid Raises Money for Race Victims
In August a competitor lost control of his truck during the California 200 desert race in Lucerne Valley and rolled his truck into a crowd of spectators, killing eight and injuring many. Since then, the desert race community has stepped up to help the survivors and the families of those killed with donations and fundraising events. Fast-Aid, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping injured racers, support teams, and their families, has so far raised more than $130,000 from 1,000 donors in multiple states, with celebrities and racers making appearances and speaking out in support of Fast-Aid and its efforts to help the community members.
Jared Tetzlaff, president of Fast-Aid, said the group's website (www.fast-aid.org) is trying to keep up with the overwhelming response to hold fundraisers. The events page has the list of the events that have been approved." If you or someone you know wants to hold a fundraiser for this good cause, paperwork is downloadable from the site. You can also make donations on the site and earmark them specifically for California 200 relief.