Where's the Chevys?
Reader: I was reading the 2009 4x4 of the Year test and wondering why there were no Chevys or Toyotas in the test. Chevy is the only thing my family drives, and we are feeling a little left out. Thank you for your time.
Editor: We can only test what the manufacturers are willing to let us test. We asked GM, but it declined to participate. GM did, however, supply us with a Hummer H3T. It's not a Chevy, but it is made by GM. Close enough?
Reader: Mr. Pw, you have once again proven to be the jerk I've always thought of you. Only you could sign off on publishing the Suzuki Equator as 4x4 of the Year. Your criteria are seriously convoluted, and your opinion is bought and paid for. Let's see how they sell, or will they go the route of Isuzu?
Editor: Sorry you feel that way, Bob. However, the majority of readers could figure out that the Suzuki won on its own accord.
Reader: I agree with the win, but can Nissan and Toyota get back to making small trucks again like the '70s and '80s? My '04 Chevy Silverado 4.3L V-6 five-speed 4x4 gets 15 mpg city and 20 highway. But 14 mpg city and 19 highway for the Suzuki? That's crazy!
Coos Bay, OR
Editor: We'll never get the '70s and '80s trucks back. They were smaller, leaner, cheaper, but, according to our government, dangerous. Half the crap tacked onto a truck nowadays is to make it safer for occupants and pedestrians. Those laws came about by people whining to their legislators. Whiners, blame yourselves.
More No on Suzuki
Reader: I just wanted to let you know how disappointed I am in the Nissan Equator being the 4x4 of the Year. First off, Suzuki should have enough balls to build its own truck to be able to compete in the challenge. After reading the Dodge truck article, I flipped the pages to see who won. I couldn't believe my eyes. So I had to flip to the Equator to see why this thing drives so well. Maybe it rides like a magic carpet! All I could find is that the judges say it makes them feel young. It was peppy, zippy, and rarely fell behind when wheeling with other trucks. They also said it needed lower gears and more power, and the judges couldn't agree on how it handles in the sand. Maybe Suzuki added nitrous to the A/C vents and you guys where driving with the windows closed, because I can't see how that truck was fun to drive. The Dodge was clearly the winner-it has more power to weight and better on- and off-road handling. Maybe Dodge lost 6 points in the interior category because they didn't install the nitrous package.
Editor: It was darn close, as we explained, but the Equator could go where the rocker panels on the Dodge got hung up. We like to get where we are going, period.
Reader: I was just wondering why you do not include any mud testing in the 4x4 of the Year.
Editor: There are a few reasons. First off, mud that is always the same, constantly rejuvenating (so each truck has equal slop) isn't easy to find where we test. Second, the tires on all-new 4x4s are so street-oriented (even the Hummer's tires are only ATs) that we could get all the rigs stuck in the mud and not learn anything. Third, mud tests on such a vehicle lineup wouldn't reveal much other than the fact that clearance is king, power to weight rules, and tire spin is a must. You already know that, as do we. Good question, and thanks for writing.
Question of the Month
Subscribe or newsstand?
Editor: Sadly, we ran our question of "Do you like to buy our mag on the newsstand or subscribe and why?" for two issues, and only got one reply. Wayne answered the question (see his response below), so we're sending him a license plate and sticker. This month's Question of the Month will surely entice a spirited discussion. We hope to see many more responses this time so send us your answer by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by snail mail to Editor, 4-Wheel & Off-Road, 6420 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048-5515, fax 323.782.2704.
Reader: I subscribe-for many years. Rack availability is unreliable and I don't want to wait to see the (maybe) 20 percent of each issue that is relevant to me (Drivelines, road/tire tests primarily). I don't hard-core off-road, and I'm no use turning wrenches. I think Hummers are for people with more money than brains (and that goes for other iron like Range Rovers and Lexi as well). I often disagree with your choices and opinions, but I respect them. For example, I would likely have picked the Ram or F-150 since the Suzi is mostly a rebadged Frontier, not something new. But I'm not going to beat you up over it. Mainly, we drive 4x4s (my '07 Yukon) or AWDs (the wife's '05 Pilot) because we want to go when (no matter the weather) and where (even muddy two-track roads) we want to go, and I don't want to get stuck!
Wayne Middleton, Bartlesville, OK
Q. Is an automatic or manual transmission better for 4-wheeling and why?