On the Road With...
Is it maximum performance, cleaner running fuels, more space, innovative technology, or just plain can-you-dig-it style that makes people ooh and ahh over concept vehicles? This month's installment of On the Road With... looks at the year's most off-road savvy dream 4x4s. Whether it's in the form of composite body materials or underhood aluminum, each concept has at least one cool feature that launches it into the realm of cool. Some concepts-like GM's H2-are pulled from dreamland to being Joe Citizen's daily driver. Let the drooling begin.
Reflective of the market's demand for more, more, more, GMC's Terra4 is a high-tech transformer truck. The Terra4 is a four-wheel-drive, four-wheel-steer truck with four doors and four ways to access the cargo area. The design is a totally integrated, closed body with a short, deep cargo area, which permits greater functionality and utility than a regular pickup truck. Doors on the rear quarter-panels allow easy access to the closed cargo area. The passenger cab, together with the cargo area, can be transformed to carry various combinations of passengers and cargo. Also, the rear seats can be folded flat into the floor at the same level as the box, making one continuous load floor to accommodate long items.
Terra4's powertrain is a 285hp, 5.3L Vortec V-8 and a not-so-conventional electric motor/generator. A 4.8-kilowatt motor/generator is integrated into the drivetrain between the gasoline engine and the transmission. This provides starting power and the ability to generate electricity during deceleration. It also saves weight and parts because a conventional starter and alternator are no longer needed. As an added benefit of the larger electrical system, the parallel hybrid also features a pair of 110-volt, 20-amp electrical outlets for powering anything with a standard three-prong household plug.
The Terra4 also features Quadrasteer (four-wheel steer) that provides carlike maneuverability in a fullsize truck. Quadrasteer is an electro-mechanical rear-steer system that turns the rear wheels to produce four-wheel steering. The rear wheels turn as a percentage of the front wheels up to a maximum 12-degree angle. The angle is based on vehicle speed and steering wheel turn. At high speeds, the four wheels turn in parallel to provide better control of the vehicle through lane changes and sharp curves. At low speeds the wheels turn in opposition to shorten turning radiuses and make towing and parking simpler.
The Dodge M80 is a small, affordable truck. Stand-out design elements include the satin-stainless-steel-look, signature Dodge crosshair grille and headlamp surrounds, classic round lamps, and the metallic slate-gray, molded-in-color PET-plastic fenders and bumpers with integrated towhooks.
The back of the cab features a full-width flipper glass. The center console doubles as a portable cooler, while the lightweight seats can be removed and used outdoors. Behind the fold-flat seats is a vehicle-wide bin for wet goods such as shoes, umbrellas, and a snowboard, or for driving through rivers. True? Everything but the river part.
The Ford EX's two-seat concept vehicle features high- quality, detailed composite body sections on a chrome-moly steel frame. The transfer case and dual-fanned aluminum radiator are moved rearward to achieve a 50/50 weight distribution, aiding in optimal traction in the rough stuff. The exo-skeletal design allows the components to be visible, and removable side body panels are secured to the frame by lightweight aluminum fasteners. The windshield folds down and clips to the top of the hood, giving the occupants the feeling of freedom that comes from open-air driving with the safety of a full rollcage. Four-point safety belts and dual airbags are located in the center of the wheel and the instrument panel.
Most concept vehicles never make it into the hands of the masses. In fact some never even make a worldwide debut. The Nissan Crossbow is a concept that was only introduced to our European and Japanese counterparts, and while it's definitely not the All-American SUV, it has some off-road personality. It's fair to start with the high ground clearance, which gives the axles and the three-link front and five-link rear suspension components the ability to clear rocks and other obstacles. For passenger convenience, the sill section drops down and retracts automatically to form a step. The front bumper holds two towhooks and has a removable panel in the center which, when removed, reveals a built-in winch. The exhaust exits flush with the rear bumper, thus maximizing departure angle. The wheel arches are large to allow maximum articulation. And the tires use Michelin's new PAX system which, after a puncture, allows the vehicle to be driven safely at 60 mph for about 300 miles. It's all about the details.
With an indisputable offroad reputation, the Jeep name continues to outdo itself with new ideas, while continuing to hold onto Jeep's rich heritage. The Willys2 concept features approach and departure angles and ample ground clearance and incorporates cutting-edge plastic technology and a lightweight aluminum frame. The vehicle's ultramodern interpretations of injection-molded plastic bodies save up to 50 percent in manufacturing costs and weight and is nearly 100 percent recyclable. This carbon-fiber material adds up to huge weight savings that can only happen with injection-molded plastics. The Willys2 weighs approximately 3,000 pounds, is powered by a 1.6L, supercharged in-line four-cylinder engine (160 hp,155 lb-ft), and has a longer-than-Wrangler wheelbase of 95 inches.
*Honda America, manufacturer of passenger cars, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, and engines, has decided to produce a light truck based on Honda's innovative Model X concept vehicle. Production will begin in late 2002 at the company's Liberty, Ohio, plant.
*Pep Boys will purchase pretty much all of the tires manufactured by Cooper Tire & Rubber Company.
*GM will produce approximately 20,000 units of its newly introduced Hummer H2 next year.
*The Ford F-Series trucks will celebrate record sales again this year. January sales reports and Ford Motor Company call it America's Best Selling Truck.
*Ford is building a state-of-the-art business center on the Dagenham Estate in East London. The plan is to create a world-class, high-tech diesel engineering and manufacturing center.
*Hyundai has selected Montgomery, Alabama, as the site for its first U.S. assembly plant. The Korean automaker will employ 2,000 workers and production will begin in 2005.
*Another Alabama plant, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, has begun its $220 million investment by making V-8 engines. The first phase of motors will power Toyota's Tundra.
*Mercury showrooms will see a version of the Ford Escape to boost brand sales.
*Delphi-made Quadrasteer will be available as an option on the '03 31/44-ton Chevy Suburban, GMC Yukon XL, 1500HD Silverado, and Sierra with crew cabs and short boxes.
*According to a story in Automotive News, Chevrolet and Ford are more competitive than ever. This year's sales figures mark the ending of an era. After 15 years, Chevrolet took the sales lead. The automotive reporter questioned whether Chevy could hold it for the year.
Are you an aspiring cookie cutter automobile designer? FutureTruck is a unique four-year program that brings together the resources of industry, government, and academia in a cooperative effort to address important environmental and energy-related issues posed by the growing demand for SUVs. The FutureTruck 2002 competition challenges teams of students from 15 top North American universities to reengineer a conventional, midsize Ford Explorer into a low-emissions vehicle with at least 25 percent higher fuel economy-without sacrificing the performance, utility, safety, and affordability consumers want. To meet these challenges, students employ cutting-edge automotive technologies, including fuel cells and other advanced propulsion systems, space-age materials, and alternative fuels, such as ethanol and hydrogen.
This year's FutureTruck will be held at Ford's Arizona Proving Ground in Yucca, Arizona; the California Air Resources Board in El Monte, California; and the California Motor Speedway in Fontana, California. The teams will then travel to Los Angeles for a vehicle display and awards ceremony. More information on next year's competition can be found at www.futuretruck.org
Calendar Of Events
Want us to come to your event? Send event info and an invitation including who's putting it together and contact phone number to email@example.com, or mail to 4-Wheel & Off-Road-Calendar, 6420 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048. Remember that we do need the details like where is going to be, when it's going to happen, what kind of event it is (trail ride, mud run, show, or anything else involving fun and four wheeling) and the name and number of a person that can give us more info.
June 27-29 The American Jeepster Club's Jeepster Jam 2002, Oak Ridge, TN. Information: 704/578-1180, www.dem.com/ajcec/
June 28-30 All Truck Nationals Swap Meet, Carlisle, PA. Information: 717/243-7855, www.carsatcarlisle.com
June 28-30 Arkansas State Rockcrawling Championship, Cass, AR. Information: 800/556-2801, www.sportsintherough.com
June 28-30 Jeep Jamboree USA Poconos Event, Mount Pocono, PA. Information: 530/333-4777, www.jeepjamboreeusa.com
June 28-30 Skyjacker Rocks West Virginia, Summersville, WV. Information: 800/556-2801, www.sportsintherough.com
July 5 Fallon Nevada Mud Bog & Demolition Derby, Fallon, NV. Information: 775/867-5110
July 5-7 NorCal Truck Rally with Sled Pulls and Mud Bogs: Napa Valley Expo, Napa, CA. Information: 707/585-8233, www.norcalrally.com
July 11-13 American Rock Crawlers Association (ARCA) Rock Crawling Championship Series, Cedar City, UT. Information: 801/288-2574, www.rockcrawler.org
July 11-13 NAXJA Cherokee Crawl at Tellico: Upper Tellico OHV Area, Murphy, NC. Information: www.naxja.org
July 12-14 Carlisle All Chrysler Nationals Swap Meet, Carlisle, PA. Information: 717/243-7855, www.carsatcarlisle.com
July 12-14 Coal Mine Cruiser Classic hosted by the Gotham City Land Cruisers: Paragon Adventure Park: Hazelton, PA. Information: 845/227-4768, www.gclcny.com
July 12-14 15th Annual Summer 4-Wheel Jamboree Nationals: Bloomsburg Fairgrounds, Bloomsburg, PA. Information: 317/236-6515, www.familyevents.com
July 12-14 Jeep Jamboree USA Lost Coast Event, Fort Bragg, CA. Information: 530/333-4777, www.jeepjamboreeusa.com
July 12-15 5th Annual Rubicon Scramble, Rubicon Trail, Loon Lake, CA. Information: 925/833-2426, www.junkyarddawgs.org
July 13 Extreme Offroaders 4 Wheel Drive Club, Ltd. 7th Annual Mud Drags: Full Throttle Acres, Borth, WI. Information: 920/361-9783, www.extremeoffroaders.com
July 13-14 CORR Exxon Superflo Series Race, Bark River, MI. Information: 317/2720-2827, www.corracing.com
July 13-14 ProROCK Arkansas State Rock Crawling Championship, Cass, AR. Information: 800/556-2801, www.sportsintherough.com
July 14-15 All GM Nationals Swap Meet, Carlisle, PA. Information: 717/243-7855, www.carsatcarlisle.com
July 19-20 Diablo 4 Wheelers Run-A-Muck: Tahoe National Forest, 18 miles from Truckee, CA. Information: 800/4X4-FUNN, www.cal4wheel/d4w/