Built JK As Cheap Truck Challenger?
It all depends on how you read the rules. For a $3 raffle ticket you could win this built ’12 JK Unlimited from the California Association of 4WD Clubs (Cal4Wheel). It has been fortified with bombproof parts like Poison Spyder Customs tube fenders and rock sliders, an Advance Adapters Atlas II transfer case, Metal Cloak suspension, Yukon Grizzly lockers, and more. The Jeep will be raffled at the annual Cal4Wheel convention in Rancho Cordova on February 16. You don’t need to be present to win, and tickets can be purchased online at cal4wheel.com/win-a-jeep-tickets. If a reader wins, you really should bring it to our next Cheap Truck Challenge.
Pathfinder Goes Mainstream
Years ago, Nissan’s Pathfinder was a truck-based SUV rugged enough to win our 4x4 of the Year award—twice. Times have changed, though, and except for us four-wheeling diehards, very few buyers want a truck-based SUV anymore. So Nissan has completely redesigned the Pathfinder, turning it into a car-based crossover that will have tremendous appeal to families. Four-wheelers? Not so much.
If you’re looking for a pavement-based people mover, the Pathfinder is among the best. Not only are all three seating rows spacious, but Nissan has developed a new sliding second-row system, called Latch and Glide, that makes plenty of room to climb into the third row, even with a baby seat strapped in a second-row seat. (See what we mean about families?) The new 3.5L V-6 has lots of pep, and it will return 25 mpg on the highway if you watch your speed—pretty good for a 4,290-pound vehicle.
What the Pathfinder can’t do is wheel very well. The All-Mode 4x4-i AWD system is a front-wheel–biased powertrain with a single-speed transfer case that can be used fulltime or locked to provide a 50/50 torque split between the front and rear wheels. On graded roads it works just fine, but it doesn’t take much (a rutted hillclimb, for example) to overwhelm the drive system and the pavement-oriented tires. We also found that the suspension system, which provides a very supple ride on-road, is just too soft off-road, dragging the front air dam through even the mildest whoop-de-dos.
The Pathfinder does have a 5,000-pound tow capacity, though, so put it on your short list when it’s time for a new toy hauler.
Jeeps & More at Chrysler Museum
If you find yourself in the Detroit area, be sure to stop in at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum, housed at Chrysler’s headquarters in Auburn Hills. It is not the biggest museum in the area (the Henry Ford is hard to beat in that regard), but truly significant, interesting, and offbeat stuff is on display there. We liked the WWII diorama built to display this MB, and across from it was an enormous Sherman tank engine. Apparently Chrysler built the engine by bundling five six-cylinder engines so it could use existing tooling. The massive powerplant (1,250 ci) put out 445 hp.
New Tundra, FJ Models
There’s no huge news from Toyota for 2013; instead, the maker is refining its existing truck lineup. For instance, the Platinum package that was available as an options bundle for the Tundra CrewMax Limited is now a standalone trim level. Platinum-level trucks feature heated and ventilated front seats, a DVD/navigation system, a powered moonroof, and woodgrain-style interior trim.
The FJ Cruiser continues essentially unchanged, except the Trail Teams special edition is finished in Cement Gray this year. The 4Runner is also a carryover model, though SR5 versions now have a switch to actuate the transfer case, not a lever.
• Nov. 30–Dec. 2: Transwest Ford Henderson 250 by Best in the Desert, Henderson, NV. Info: www.bitd.com
• Dec. 1: Advanced Beginner Off-Road Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, El Paso Mountains near Mojave, CA. Info: 310.374.8047, www.4x4training.com
• Dec. 1: Holiday 200 desert race, Barstow, CA. Info: www.moreracing.net
• Dec. 2: Getting Started Off-Road Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Hungry Valley SVRA, Gorman, CA. Info: 310.374.8047, www.4x4training.com
• Dec. 7-9: Rage at the River desert race, Laughlin, NV. Info: www.snoreracing.net
• Dec. 8: Wheelin’ 4 Toys by the Brush Beater Jeep Club, Kansas Rocks Recreation Park near Mapleton, KS. Info: www.brushbeaters.com
• Dec. 8: Sand Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Oceano Dunes near Pismo, CA. Info: 310.374.8047, www.4x4training.com
• Dec. 9: Winch & Recovery Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, El Paso Mountains near Mojave, CA. Info: 310.374.8047, www.4x4training.com
• Dec. 27-31: New Year’s Eve Fire and Ice Run and Bonfire, Superlift ORV Park, Hot Springs, AR. Info: 501.625.3600, www.orvpark.com
• Note: If you have a 4WD event you want us to publicize, please send the date, location, a description of the event, and contact info—phone numbers and/or email/website address—to Calendar, 4-Wheel & Off-Road magazine, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245; fax 310.531.9368; email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please submit your info at least four months in advance of the event due to our press lead times.