It wasn't the sexiest booth in the show, but one of the most important. Grad students from Clemson University's International Center for Automotive Research demonstrated a hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) computer simulation using a truck modified with Superlift suspension components. HIL technology allows computers to tie into a vehicle's electronic stability controls (ESC) and then "run" the truck through various tests to see how the ESC systems will work-or not-with the suspension mods. Why should we care? A new federal motor vehicle safety standard will require that all OE vehicles have ESC systems by 2011 and that by 2012 those ESC systems would not be compromised by vehicle modifications. Computer simulation is effective and less costly than the old-fashioned way of testing an actual truck at a proving ground, and HIL simulation allows testers to tie into the vehicle's actual ESC parameters.
•The Western Slope Coalition has put an interactive map on its website (www.westernslopenofee.org) listing Forest Service and BLM lands in the U.S. where access fees are charged for undeveloped backcountry, as well as where these fees are being proposed. The Coalition invites wheelers and other backcountry visitors to submit photos of signs documenting required fees for driving, hiking, parking, camping, and other areas.
•The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the 2004 Revised Superior National Forest Plan following a lawsuit brought by the Sierra Club and other preservation interests. Recreation advocacy groups, the All Terrain Vehicle Association of Minnesota, and the BlueRibbon Coalition intervened in the case on the side of the Forest Service. The suit contended that the Forest Service failed to sufficiently analyze potential impacts to the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area in Minnesota. Those claims were first rejected but then appealed in early 2010, and in October the Circuit Court affirmed the first decision.
Grand Cherokee Off-Road Edition
This lightly modified '11 Grand was in the Mopar booth. The subtle paint with red accents is nice, but we like the 33-inch BFGs and Mopar skidplates and rock rails even better.
One trend that seems to be growing is the use of flat paint (matte, suede, or like primer). The F-Series pickup in the Rolling Big Power booth was just one of many trucks sporting a nonglossy finish. We wonder if car polish companies will offer flat finish in a can next year?
There's still time to win the Jeep that's being raffled by the California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs. A $2 donation buys you a chance to bring home this '10 Rubicon complete with TeraFlex Suspension, BFGoodrich tires, ProComp wheels, and a Warn 9.5ti which with Master Pull line on a Body Armor bumper. The Rubicon also sports GenRight fenders, a Tuffy Security console, PIAA lights, a Hi-Lift Jack, ARB recovery gear, and Staun deflators. The winning ticket will be drawn February 26, 2011, at the Cal 4 Wheel convention, and you need not be present to win. Net proceeds go directly to the fight to keep our public lands open. Be part of the 2-Buck Jeep Rubicon Stimulus Package by visiting www.cal4wheel.com.
Topping them all in terms of sheer altitude was this Tundra-based hunting rig in the Toyota booth. To build the Sportsman, Toyota lifted the Tundra 3 inches and then mounted an 86-square-foot platform on the roof that can be used as sleeping quarters or as a hunting blind. Toyota calls the truck's bed "the ultimate sportsman's fantasy transport and base camp," with custom cabinets for firearm storage and hunting and camping gear.
On the driver side of the truck, the entire bed side swings out to provide access to equipment. Behind the tailgate is a mobile kitchen complete with sink and stove.
Max and Ryan Duncan turned a '10 Wrangler Unlimited Sport into a different kind of hunting rig with platform seats front and rear (complete with gun racks) and Mossy Oak camo just about everywhere. A 31/2-inch Rough Country lift makes room for the 33-inch Toyo Open Country tires.
This black-on-black JK stood out among the garish trucks on display. Smittybilt dressed it in XRC bumpers, fenders, and tube doors. The front XRC M.O.D. bumper houses a new X2O 10,000-pound winch. Underneath is a Pro Comp 6-inch long-arm suspension system and 37-inch Pro Comp Xtreme MT tires.