Chevy Readies Silverado
Trying to beat the spy photographers at their own game, Chevrolet sent out this shot of a prototype Silverado undergoing water testing at the Yuma, Arizona, proving grounds. Chevy wasn’t forthcoming with any other details, other than to say the truck will go into production in 2013, which means it most likely will be called a ’14 model. Trade publication Automotive News said the truck will be several hundred pounds lighter than the current version, thanks to extensive use of aluminum body panels instead of steel. The truck will also get a new iteration of Chevy’s venerable small-block V-8, this one with direct injection to improve both power delivery and fuel economy.
AN expects Tahoe and Suburban SUVs, based on the pickup platform, to arrive at the same time as the Silverado. Heavy-duty 2500 and 3500 pickup models will likely launch a year later. Likewise, launch schedules for GMC’s Sierra pickups and Yukon/Yukon XL SUVs will mirror Chevy’s release timing.
Mahindra has brought an end to its plans to offer a compact, diesel-powered pickup in the U.S., according to Automotive News. The India-based manufacturer has been in an ongoing legal dispute with its American distributor, and a recent failure to certify the truck for U.S. sale seemed to drive the final nail in the truck’s coffin.
Ram Outdoorsman Returns
The engineers at Chrysler’s Ram truck division, themselves avid hunters, campers, and fishermen, have added the Outdoorsman model to the ’13 Ram lineup. The Outdoorsman package combines popular towing equipment—a standard Class IV receiver, lighted four- and seven-pin harness plugs, heavy-duty cooling, a limited-slip rear differential, and a 3.92 axle ratio—with the Hemi V-8, LT tires, a 32-gallon fuel tank, auxiliary lighting, and other accessories. Among the options available for the Outdoorsman are the bedside storage RamBoxes, which can be tailored to hold rifles or fishing rods. You can even order vinyl flooring to make the truck easy to hose out. The Outdoorsman model is available on Ram trucks with either the Quad Cab or Crew Cab body, and in a choice of two bed lengths.
Lighter Land Rovers
While we are still waiting to hear if Land Rover will turn the concept DC100 (shown here) into the next-generation Defender—and whether that Defender will be offered in the U.S.—we have learned via Automotive News that a new Range Rover will be unveiled at the Paris Auto Show and that it will lose some 600 pounds by replacing its steel with aluminum. Hmmm. Do we sense a trend here?
The Last Liberty
Jeep Liberty production ended in August, after some 11 years and two Liberty generations. The Toledo plant where Liberty was built will be closed for retooling, as it will build a new Jeep crossover based on a Fiat platform. We were never really in love with the Lib, but at least it had some off-roading chops. Not sure we’ll be able to say the same about this new one.
This Just In
• The ’13 Jeep Wrangler lineup will include a model that we’re already thinking of as Rubicon Lite. The new Moab edition will have a rear locker, the Rubicon’s 17-inch wheels, 245/75R17 Goodyear Silent Armor off-road tires, rock rails, and front and rear off-road bumpers. Jeep is also freshening the Wrangler’s interior with new seats, new lighting, and optional Alpine speakers.
• In announcing its 2013 off-road race schedule, SCORE says it will no longer put on events in the U.S. “We have thoroughly enjoyed nearly 20 years of racing in Nevada, but for a variety of significant reasons, these races are no longer viable events for SCORE,” said Sal Fish, the sanctioning body’s CEO. Instead, there will be three SCORE races in Baja: the San Felipe 250 March 8-10, the Baja 500 May 31–June 2, and the Baja 1000 November 14-17. This year marks the 45th 1000, and to celebrate the course will run down the Baja peninsula from Ensenada to La Paz.
• We had a chance to tour Ford’s Rouge plant in Dearborn this summer and watch F-150s being built. Interesting factoids from the visit: All trucks coming out of that factory have already been ordered by dealers, and even that late in the year they were still called ’12 models. (In fact, a guide told us they were making ’11s up until November 2011.) When we were there the plant was running multiple shifts seven days a week, and each shift can produce about 600 trucks. And did you know the instrument panel in an F-150 can weigh as much as 150 pounds? Workers need a special robotic lift to help them position it.
• Speaking of the F-150’s weight, the Wall Street Journal says Ford, like Chevy and Land Rover, wants to build its next new half-ton trucks using a lot of aluminum instead of steel. That could cut some 700 pounds out of the truck, due in 2014, which would help it hit the tougher fuel economy regulations on the horizon.
• It’s time for the annual eBay charity auction to benefit Tread Lightly! Some 50 companies have donated more than100 4x4, powersports, and outdoor accessories and gear to the nonprofit organization, ranging from a John Deere UTV to a Biffy Bag disposable toilet. All of the money raised goes toward keeping trails and other recreational sites open to the public. The auction will be held November 1-11.
• The BlueRibbon Coalition tells us legislation has been introduced in California that would designate the Clear Creek Management Area as a National Recreation Area. That would reopen the popular OHV site to motorized and non-motorized recreational use, after it was closed by the BLM due to concerns over naturally occurring asbestos. According to the BRC, there is no documented case of injury caused by the asbestos, “despite decades of inhalation of the soils in question by humans in every conceivable activity.”