The 2012 model year is proving to be fairly quiet in terms of new truck introductions, but really it’s the calm before the storm. Just about every automaker has fresh new 4x4s on the way for 2013 and 2014. Between what the factories have told us and what we’ve learned from industry insiders, here’s a look at what to expect over the next 24 months or so.
Ford: The Blue Oval has teamed with Harley-Davidson for more than 10 years now to produce
GM: The General is concentrating on fuel-efficient cars these days, so we don’t expect to
Ram: Say goodbye to the Dakota, which ceased production this summer. Like GM, Ram engineer
Jeep: The hot rod SRT8 version of the Grand Cherokee is Jeep’s big newsmaker for the ’12 m
Toyota: Despite pundits predicting its death, the FJ Cruiser lives on, at least for anothe
Mercedes-Benz: The M-Class SUV has undergone a complete redesign for 2012 and is available
This Just In
• Look for a redesigned Nissan Frontier pickup for the ’13 model year, followed a year later by a new Titan fullsize truck, says Automotive News. The Xterra will likely be phased out over the next year or so, as SUV buyer’s tastes move away from body-on-frame trucks to crossovers.
• A Land Rover just not posh enough for you? Word has it Bentley is considering adding an SUV to its line of premium automobiles. Bentley purists are probably tearing out what little hair they have left over the idea, but Porsche did the same thing not long ago, and the Cayenne now accounts for half of Porsche’s sales volume.
• Ford is having great success with the EcoBoost V-6 available in the F-150. According to the maker, it is outselling every other V-6 truck on the market combined. Ford actually has two V-6 options this year, the EcoBoost and a conventional 3.7L V-6. In combination, they’re outselling V-8s in the F-Series.
Return of the Scrambler?
Not quite. Mopar, Chrysler’s performance products division, has developed a kit that transforms a four-door Wrangler Unlimited into a two-door pickup. The $5,499 JK-8 kit includes a 44x50-inch steel bed, inner and outer bedsides constructed from stamped sheetmetal, sport bar extensions, a removable fiberglass hardtop with a sliding rear window, two fixed side windows, and a fiberglass bulkhead. The kit comes with a three-year/36,000-mile warranty and can be installed at a Chrysler Group dealership or by the “skilled do-it-yourselfer,” says Mopar.
Steele Gets First LOORRS Victory
Longtime Yokohama-sponsored racer Cameron Steele earned his first Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series (LOORRS) win of the season by taking the Pro Lite Class at the August race at Glen Helen Raceway in Southern California. Steele, a veteran Trophy Truck racer who has won championships in SCORE and SNORE, rolled to victory on off-the-shelf Yokohama Geolandar A/T-S tires.
Readers’ Rides, Afghanistan Edition
Staff Sgt. William Glendenning sent us these pictures of mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles he and his team outfitted for hazardous duty in Afghanistan. Glendenning is in the middle of the group photo flanked by Sgt. Kowalkowski and Spc. Hall. We’re proud to know that 4WOR license plates will be among the gear mounted to their MRAPs. When we asked the sergeant about the tubular racks and other mods on the trucks, we got the “I’d tell you but then I’d have to kill you” answer.
• The Obama administration has proposed a corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) target of 54.5 mpg for the ’25 model year, essentially doubling the fuel economy average today’s cars have to reach. Already CAFE figures are slated to rise to 35.5 mpg by 2016; this new plan calls for an annual 5 percent improvement in passenger car fuel economy from 2017 to 2025, but light trucks would have to improve just 3.5 percent per year from 2017 to 2021, then 5 percent after that. That’s a far higher rate of improvement than the automakers have hit to date, but they won a concession in the new bill that allows a midterm review of the goals, potentially to lower the target should it look to be unattainable. Also making the target easier to reach are federal incentives for fuel-efficient and low-emissions technologies, and for bringing those technologies to market as soon as possible, says Automotive News. The incentives would essentially lower the 2025 target from 54.5 to about 40 mpg, says AN.
• SEMA tells us a U.S. House Natural Resources Subcommittee held a hearing on the SEMA-supported Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act of 2011. The legislation would release 42 million acres of land from wilderness designations that have already been set aside as wilderness study areas (WSAs) or inventoried roadless areas. WSAs are lands that have been identified as having wilderness potential. The bill would also officially terminate the Wild Lands order, which the Interior Department recently abandoned, that directed the Bureau of Land Management to recommend lands for wilderness designations and manage them accordingly. At the hearing, supporters of the bill argued that it would immediately increase opportunities for multiple-use management—including motorized recreation, hunting, and fishing. Opponents claim the bill would limit the government’s ability to preserve wildlife and other recreational opportunities while creating new land-management disagreements. The bill will remain under consideration by the House Natural Resources Committee.