Tag: Off-Road

By on March 24, 2017

2017 Ford Raptor, Image: © 2017 Garrett Martin

In the coming years, we will begin driving riding around in the quiet electric embrace of autonomous convenience. We will look back on the 20-teens as a golden age when the last ounces of performance were wrung out of the internal combustion engine and automakers created cars for every conceivable market niche. New and presently unknown products will one day surprise and delight. But let’s stick with the present, which is a special time for auto enthusiasts.

Consider that the 5,600-pound 2017 Raptor is as fast to 60 miles per hour as the 2007 Mustang GT. Forced induction or not, the Raptor labors under a one-ton weight disadvantage, an unknown coefficient of drag penalty, and a 30-percent displacement deficiency versus the original pony car. A decade ago there was not a single stock vehicle available at any price capable of bounding through the desert at freeway speed that was also able to head back to civilization to pick up the kids from school.

Not convinced? In November, Ford raced a Raptor in the Baja 1000 Stock Full class. It got a roll cage, fuel cell, and a few other tweaks. Of almost 250 entries, the Raptor was among 142 rigs that finished the race. And after taking the checkered flag, it returned under its own power to Ford’s Arizona Proving Grounds 400 miles to the north.

The superlatives associated with Raptor are legion. What’s not to like?

(Read More…)

By on March 14, 2017

2017 Land Rover Discovery, Image: © 2017 Matthew Guy

The Land Rover Discovery has, up until now, always been so veddy, veddy British. Since 1989, Land Rover mixed the Discovery’s bolt-upright styling with mountain goat off-road capability — not to mention a few features only people from the UK or its former colonies would understand.

For 2017, the curry hook and other British quirks remain, but the purveyor of British SUVs has finally straightened the Disco’s teeth in search of wider appeal.

(Read More…)

By on February 9, 2017

2017 Ram 2500 Power Wagon

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has been on a bit of a mental streak lately.

Rip the seats out of a Hellcat to create the Demon? Sure!

Drop a V8 engine the size of a grand piano into a Durango and perform all-wheel drive burnouts? Why not?

The level of brash, automotive lunacy on offer from Auburn Hills is appalling. I think it’s great.

It’s no surprise, then, Ram chose to amp up the capability and in-your-face style of its Power Wagon when it came time for a refresh. Big tires, bold grilles, and billboard-sized badges; customers in the market for a Power Wagon are not generally a bunch of wallflowers.

(Read More…)

By on February 8, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2

Chevrolet gave many truck lovers what they wanted when it previewed the 2017 Colorado ZR2 last year. Sporting a cutaway front bumper, towering suspension travel and all the right components to turn a basic midsize pickup into a mini Ford Raptor, the ZR2 was General Motors’ way of saying, “Look, we’re listening!”

After releasing pricing for the ultimate Colorado today, GM really wants you to know that the $40,995 ZR2 is way cheaper than a model it won’t mention. (Read More…)

By on February 6, 2017

1972 Dodge D200 Pickup in Colorado Junkyard, CUSTOM emblem - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

What type of extra-curricular activity do you enjoy taking on with your car or truck? No, not that type of extra-curricular activity, gutter brain. I’m talking about what we can do with our vehicles other than the mundane commute to work five days a week. Towing. Drag racing. Off-roading. Y’know, more than the basics. The fun stuff.

(Read More…)

By on January 12, 2017

Ford Bronco Concept, Image: Ford

Bronco.

While the name isn’t as intertwined in Ford history as much as Mustang or F-Series, the Bronco nameplate is something Ford can’t affix to just anything.

And according to rumors we’re hearing, we don’t need to worry about Ford refreshing an Everest for North American consumption and relying on a nostalgic nameplate to carry it off the lot.

(Read More…)

By on November 15, 2016

2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2

Fans of trim packages from the ‘90s take note: Chevy is reintroducing its ZR2 package, this time for their mid-sized Colorado pickup.

Chevrolet revealed a Colorado ZR2 concept two years ago at the L.A. Auto Show and the rumour mill has been awash with recent reports of a reprise. Now, Chevy has officially announced its butch off-road variant … this time with a diesel.

(Read More…)

By on October 13, 2016

2017 GMC Sierra 2500HD All Terrain X, Image: General Motors

Do you want heavy-duty work truck wrapped in black sheetmetal fit for a henchman? You’re in luck, my productive and sinister friend.

GMC has expanded its All Terrain X series to include the Sierra 2500HD. It joins the midsize Canyon and full-size Sierra 1500 in offering the X trim, but it’s squarely aimed at its offroad-ready, crosstown rival — the Ram Power Wagon. (Read More…)

By on September 29, 2016

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor

Ford Motor Company has issued specifications for its 2017 F-150 Raptor off-road performance pickup, and you can thank the company’s engineers for the attractive numbers.

The next-generation Raptor makes serious gains not just in horsepower and torque, but also in fuel economy. The mileage boost should make those dirt-flinging romps through the countryside just a little bit greener. (Read More…)

By on May 23, 2016

2013 Jeep Trailhawk II Front

Don’t do it for us. Do it for yourself.

Jeep is not a purveyor of transportation appliances. It creates and markets lifestyle products built on its off-road reputation. And the brand is not well positioned to compete in the increasingly crowded SUV/CUV space based purely on quality and everyday performance. But that’s okay, because Jeep can drive growth by playing to the strengths that brought it 865,000 customers last year, the essence of which is extreme off-road capability.

Jeep sales grew a dizzying 25 percent in the United States last year. Through the first third of 2016, the brand is tracking for two-percent growth. Blowing past the elusive one million sales mark in the U.S., and staying there, will not be easy. The Wrangler will continue to anchor the emotional identity of the brand, but Jeep would benefit from diversification as the top. To continue its impressive seven consecutive years of growth, Jeep should offer two distinct, yet equally capable products that speak to enthusiasts and mainstream consumers alike.

Jeep needs to build a hardcore, off-road version of the Grand Cherokee.

(Read More…)

By on April 28, 2016

Upfitted Ford F-250 at Honolulu Ford, Image: Honolulu Ford

The time is ticking ever closer to the day an OEM slaps a $100,000 MSRP on a truck. It will happen, and it won’t be long before it does.

In 1997, $27,000 bought a lavishly equipped F-150 Lariat SuperCab with a 5.4-liter V8. Adjusted for inflation, that’s about $40,000 in today’s money. Adjusted for reality, that truck now carries a $45,000 MSRP. The $100,000 barrier will be crossed in perhaps a decade based on inflation alone, but inflation will not deliver the first $100,000 truck. Trim escalation and new equipment will cross the finish line first.

Regardless, OEMs won’t be the first to push MSRPs into the stratosphere. That distinction goes to the aftermarket, in conjunction with dealers. And, unsurprisingly, together they’ve already made a $100,000 pickup a reality.

(Read More…)

By on August 21, 2015

Raptor Prototype Testing

Ford released photos and video Friday of its newest Raptor off-road testing in Northern Michigan.

The truck, which will go on sale next fall, has better ground clearance than the outgoing Raptor, although Ford isn’t giving us official specs yet. We know the last generation’s fording depth was officially 30 inches up to 4 mph and that capability likely won’t decrease — but we don’t know if it’ll go up.

“The all-new Ford Raptor will be more capable than the previous Raptor, including improved wheel travel and ground clearance,” Ford spokesman Mike Levine told us.

(Read More…)

By on August 14, 2015

2015_Ram_Rebel_(2_of_18)

2015 Ram 1500 Rebel Crew Cab 4×4

5.7-liter, variable valve timing, multi-displacement system Hemi V-8 (395 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm; 410 pounds-feet @ 3,950 rpm)

8-speed 8HP70 automatic

15 city/21 highway/17 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

15.1 mpg, 60 percent highway/30 percent off-road/10 percent at a lousy, never-ending stoplight (Observed, MPG)

Tested Options: Rebel Package; Dual rear exhaust with bright tips; Luxury group, $560 (Heated mirrors, auto-dimming mirrors); Protection group, $150 (Transfer case and front suspension skid plating); Monotone paint; Rear Camera and Park Assist, $595 (Backup camera, ParkSense rear park assistant); ZF 8-speed automatic, $500; Anti-spin differential rear axle, $325; 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, $1,150; Rebel instrument cluster, $175; Four corner air suspension; Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen w/nav, $1,005; RamBox cargo management system, $1,295; Trailer brake control, $230; Spray-in bedliner, $475.

Base Price (Ram 1500 Rebel 4×4):
$45,195*
As Tested Price:
$52,375*

* All prices include $1,195 destination fee.

Any debate about Jeep inevitably ends on a common, agreeable topic for all parties involved:

“Jeep really needs to make a pickup already.”

The idea that stuffed shirts at Auburn Hills, who make more in a day than we do in a year, have somehow missed the point is entirely possible (remember the center-mounted exhausts in the Grand Cherokee SRT8, effectively prohibiting any sort of towing?) but highly unlikely.

In fact: Jeep now has a pickup. It’s called the Ram Rebel.

Obligatory disclosure: I have no skin in the pickup game. None. My father owned exactly one of the following: A white Ford F-150, a black Chevrolet Silverado and a green Dodge Ram (when they were called as such). They were all new when he bought them, of 1990s-era vintage and equally pampered. No, we were not a wealthy family, and no, I still couldn’t back up a trailer with a gun pointed to my head.

To be even clearer: The only pickup I fondly remember is a dingy 1996 Toyota Pickup (pre-Tacoma years) that my brother took to college. It was five in speeds and six in cylinders; gutless and indestructible. It couldn’t run up a hill and run the A/C at the same time, but it felt like it could run over anything.

Put simply, in the domestic pickup war for dominance, I am Switzerland.

Now that you know where my allegiances fall, let’s get on to the important stuff.

(Read More…)

By on July 27, 2015

2015 Ford Edge Exterior Front-002

The large two-row crossover is a rare breed. With compact crossovers getting less compact and folks defecting to supersized three rows, Toyota and Honda chose to kill the Venza and Accord Crosstour while Ford pressed on with a redesign of the Edge. You can think of the Edge as a “tweener” crossover slotting between the Escape and the Explorer while at the same time being the spiritual successor (in modern form) to the Bronco and two-row Explorers of yesteryear. Although Ford says the Edge is a complete redesign, you could be forgiven for thinking this is more of a refresh, and that’s not a bad thing since the Edge was already one the most appealing options in this phone-booth-sized segment.
(Read More…)

By on June 9, 2015

2015 Jeep Cherokee Moab

Jeeping in Moab isn’t only a neologism — it’s also a tradition. Like most traditions (anniversaries, birthdays, etc.) it’s hard to pin when the rites began, why they started, or – most importantly – why they continue. For people who live in and around Moab, Jeeping is a mostly tolerable exercise that pours money into the small, southern Utah town that welcomes more its hikers, bikers and frequent hitchhikers to its two spectacular national parks than any rolling convoy of rock-crawling muscle.

I’m guessing very few people in the town can remember why the first person took a motorized vehicle up a beautiful geological formation and into the sand behind it.

Jeeping is also mildly entertaining for locals, up until the moment someone rolls up the hill in a car that looks like it has very little business being there. Then it becomes wonderfully fascinating for everyone.

(Read More…)

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