2010 HD Rams Revealed
At the Chicago Auto Show, Dodge unveiled the latest arrows in its truck quiver: revised versions of the 2500 and 3500 Ram Heavy Duty pickups. The new HD trucks share some of the styling changes first seen on the light-duties-including the addition of a Crew Cab model to replace the Mega Cab/shortbed-but the HD's bigger grilles and taller hoods set them apart from the half-tons.
Suspensions have been tuned to improve the trucks' handling when fully loaded, and working capacities have increased for several models. The GVWR for the 2500 4x4 Crew Cab diesel goes up from 9,000 pounds to 9,600; the GCWR for 3500 dualies with diesel, automatic transmission, and 4.10 gears goes from 24,000 pounds to 25,400; and an increased front gross axle weight rating of 5,500 pounds for diesel 4x4s allows for more front-weight carrying capacities. (Snowplow, anyone?)
HD powertrain choices continue to be the 6.7L High-Output Cummins turbodiesel (350 hp, 650 lb-ft) and the 5.7L Hemi V-8 (383 hp, 400 lb-ft). The diesel is available with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. The Hemi comes with a five-speed automatic only.
The new model year also sees the return of the Power Wagon, with electric-locking front and rear diffs, 4.56 gears, a disconnecting sway bar, 32-inch BFG tires, and a 12,000-pound Warn winch.
Look for the '10 Ram HDs this fall.
Rubi-Crawler On The Way
Advanced Adaptors has "run into a few little setbacks" while designing its Rubi-Crawler reduction housing for Jeeps, but the unit should be available by the time you read this. The Rubi-Crawler is a six-pinion planetary assembly with a 2.72:1 low-range that's built in a housing that mimics the empty tailhousing of the production 42RLE transmission. This would give Jeep owners the option of multiple low-range gearing without having to make any driveshaft modifications.
Said the folks at AA: "From the get-go, one of our main objectives was the whole theory of 'bolt in with no driveshaft mods,' which is why a few things had to change when, late in the project, we found out that the 42RLE had multiple tailhousings with different lengths. We knew that a change at this point would definitely put this product behind schedule but ultimately knew it had to be done. So now instead of having one design for the Rubi-Crawler we have two, one for the TJs and one for the JKs."
Raptor Keeps Racing
Fresh from a Third-in-Class finish at the Baja 1000, Ford's SVT Raptor R will continue its high-intensity R&D by competing in all five points races in the .09 Best in the Desert race series. The truck will be driven by veteran racers and former Rough Riders Rob MacCachren and Steve Olliges.
The Raptor R, of course, is a modified version of Ford's production F-150 SVT Raptor, a high-performance off-roader that will go on sale this summer. Initially powered by a 320hp 5.4L V-8, the Raptor will be available early next year with a 6.2L V-8 that has power targets of 400 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque, says Ford.
"This is a great opportunity for everyone involved in the Raptor program to get more real-time data on how the truck performs in the most extreme conditions," said Cliff Irey, manager of truck motorsports for Ford Racing Technology. "We need to push the truck harder than we'd ever expect our customers would to ensure that the production Raptor is the ultimate factory-available high-speed off-road truck."
VW Goes 1-2 In Dakar, Gordon Third
Volkswagen achieved a number of First Place wins at this year's running of the Dakar Rally. Not only did its Touareg race trucks finish First and Second overall in this event's new South American venue, VW was also the first automobile manufacturer to win the Dakar Rally overall with diesel-powered vehicles. The winning Touaregs were powered by five-cylinder turbodiesels producing about 280 hp and 440 lb-ft of torque, a touch more than U.S. buyers will get in their clean-diesel Touaregs this year.
Volkswagen's Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz won the rally, which traveled some 6,000 kilometers (more than 3,700 miles) through 14 stages in Argentina and Chile. VW pilots Mark Miller and Ralph Pitchford finished in Second.
In Third Place overall was Robby Gordon and his Hummer race truck. Gordon's H3 was the highest-placing 2WD vehicle in the event. A blog of his adventure, produced by Toyo Tires' Ramses Perez, is available on Toyo's website (toyo.com). Hopefully the video of Gordon's rollover is still on the site by the time you log on. It's cool.
2010 Ranger Safer, Fuel-Efficient
Ford has announced that the latest version of its Ranger pickup will include a new electronic stability control system-AdvanceTrac with RSC-plus new head-and-chest combination side air bags. The new stability system has a gyroscopic roll sensor that determines both the vehicle's body roll angle and roll rate. If it detects an imminent rollover, the system automatically reduces engine power, applies the brakes, or both to one or more wheels to resist the accident. Ford also reminded us that the Ranger's 2.3L I-4 engine is EPA rated at 21 mpg city, 26 highway, making it among the most fuel-efficient trucks on the market. Keep in mind, though, that the four-banger isn't available in 4x4 models. The 4.0L V-6 in those trucks is rated 15 city, 19 highway.
Short-Course Racing News
There were quite a few announcements made by various short-course racing bodies over the off-season. We will publish the race dates for all these sanctioning bodies in the Drivelines calendar. Here are some highlights.
* The Off-Road Grand Prix series, owned by Supercross champ Ricky Johnson, has changed its name to TORC, The Off-Road Championship Series. TORC combines Midwest racing at tracks like Crandon and Bark River with West Coast venues that include Las Vegas and Perris, California. TORC's '09 series will include eight points-race weekends and two sportsman weekends.
* The National Off Road Racing Series (NORRS) will hold a short-course racing series in Southern California. Plans call for seven race weekends starting May 16-17 at a track NORRS developed in northern San Diego.
* The Lucas Oil American Off-Road Series kicked off its '09 season in April and will put on a total of six racing weekends in Nevada, Arizona, and California.