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  • MAX Payload: News, Rumors, Trends, Stuff

MAX Payload: News, Rumors, Trends, Stuff

September/October 2007 Edition

G.R. Whale
Sep 14, 2007
Spied!! Toyota's Biggest SUV Gets Bigger
(pick up the Sept/Oct Issue to see the photos!)
Caught on the city streets with a Toyota Tundra chase vehicle, this heavily clad full-size SUV is no doubt the next Sequoia. With the new Tundra fully developed and the Princeton, Indiana, plant ready for the changeover to the new pickup trucks, the new Sequoia will bump up in size to more readily compete with the likes of the Chevy Tahoe and Ford Expedition. We'd expect the 4.7- and 5.7-liter V-8s to be offered as well as the possibility of some new fuel-saving technology. (We're hearing that it's more than cylinder deactivation and much less complicated.) Look for new Land Cruiser and Lexus siblings to be out by the beginning of next year--the Sequoia will follow later, in summer or fall 2008. We may even see something from Toyota at next year's Chicago auto show.
Photo 2/9   |   2008 Dodge Durango exterior View
Hemi Hybrids
The 2008 Dodge Durango/Chrysler Aspen will be offered with a drivetrain that might be viewed as oxymoronic: a hybrid Hemi.They'll employ the two-mode hybrid system put together in conjunction with GM and BMW at the Joint Development Center in Troy, Michigan. It combines electric motors (for power and regeneration) and a fixed-gear transmission in the same housing, joined to the 5.7 Hemi with MDS cylinder cutoff. The SUVs can be powered by electric motor, gas engine, or both, to deliver more than a 25-percent increase in fuel economy overall, 40 percent in the city. With new fuel-economy standards used on 2008 models, don't expect window stickers to show a huge increase over 2007 models.
Nissan Diesel in the Works?
Although Nissan's plan to have a heavy-duty Titan in the next year or two has been put on the shelf indefinitely, it's been reported by a trade paper in Japan that Nissan recently signed a deal with Navistar (the makers of the Power Stroke turbodiesel for the current Super Duty) to produce a small (presumably V-6) turbodiesel for an upcoming Titan half-ton. Nissan is sticking to the story it's just investigating the feasibility of a diesel in the half-ton segment, but it's our guess this could happen as soon as 2010, the same year the company announced the production of a Nissan Altima diesel.
Photo 3/9   |   2008 Frontlinter Cascadia exterior View
If Six Wheels Aren't Enough
Freightliner's Cascadia is the newest "full-size" truck around. Highlights include a three-percent increase in fuel efficiency brought about by 2500 hours of wind-tunnel development and other tweaks (which could easily translate to more than $1500 per year in fuel savings), the cooling stack mounted to the engine, hydraulic clutch actuation, three engine choices (14.0-liter Detroit Diesel Series 60: 515 horsepower/1650 pound-feet; 12.8-liter Mercedes-Benz MBE4000: 450/1650; 15.2-liter Caterpillar C15: 550/1850), available rack-and-pinion steering with 50-degree wheel cut, a multifunction steering wheel right out of a Benz, roll stability control, side airbags, and a seat that fires downward (for more headroom) if the Cascadia gets knocked over.
Feds Watching Lights and Limitations
After an investigation showed some conversions produced more than eight times the prescribed illumination intensity and that excessive glare could be a risk to public safety, NHTSA ruled it's not possible to make an HID conversion kit that's compliant with the federal lighting standard. Essentially, any replaceable light source must match the original design connector and filament size and placement, among other details. Seeking more enforcement, NHTSA also determined the "for off-road use only" disclaimer found on many such products has no legal meaning and isn't recognized by NHTSA, since neither the builder nor anyone in the sales chain is in a position to control the product once it reaches the end user.
Congressional Closures
SEMA reports that U.S. Congress Democrats have introduced legislation called "America's Red Rock Wilderness Act" to limit access to more than nine million acres of BLM land in Canyonlands National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and other areas. Legislative intent is wide-ranging, but passage could close 700 miles of legally designated off-road trails. Utah's representatives are against it--New York and Illinois legislators introduced it. For Washington state, the House of Representatives has approved a bill to create a 100,000-plus-acre wilderness area in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that would close existing roads and byways.
Pennsylvania's Rock Run
The Rock Run Recreation Area has opened outside Patton, Pennsylvania, east of Pittsburgh and south of groundhog Punxsutawney Phil's home. With 6000 acres and more than 50 miles of trails, the park caters to ATVs, snowmobiles, dirt bikes, mountain bikes, and horses. Currently, 4WD trucks aren't allowed, but may be included in future phases as the park expands.
Photo 4/9   |   docudent
Product Spotlight DocuDent
Being in an accident stinks. But what can make it even worse is when peoples' stories don't jibe afterward. DocuDent, a kit stored in your glovebox, can help prevent fraud. It includes a camera, tape measure, flashlight, battery, pen, and an accident-report template. $14.99. DocuDent; 888/221-1340

Variable Compression, Not Just Valves
At SAE's 2007 World Congress, FEV Engine Technology Inc. unveiled a developmental gasoline/E85 turbocharged direct injection (GTDI) engine with a variable compression ratio (VCR). The company noted that by mating the GTDI design with a variable compression ratio, it would allow the engine control to adjust for alternative fuels, like E85, that tolerate combustion without knocking at higher ratios.According to FEV, the engine is being developed in-house, alongside direct-injection engine work with various automakers. FEV says the engine can deliver V-8 power levels with V-6 economy based on a 20-25-percent reduction in fuel used.
Photo 5/9   |   FEV GTDI
Photo 6/9   |   FEV GTDI

Photo 7/9   |   chevy HHR
Art Panelists
Chevy displayed HHR Panel trucks as canvases at the New York auto show earlier this year. The panels covered a wide spectrum: one was painted in posies and peonies for floral delivery use; another, seen here, is the "Skull from Hell" by Jim McCammon, a student at Detroit's College for Creative Studies.

Photo 8/9   |   163 0710 Photos 08z It Figures
Move West, Lose Your RideAccording to the National Crime Insurance Bureau, western border regions are the most likely place to have your vehicle stolen. For 2006, the metro areas with the highest car theft rates were:
1. Las Vegas/Paradise, Nevada
2. Stockton, California
3. Visalia/Porterville, California
4. Phoenix/Mesa/Scottsdale, Arizona
5. Modesto, California
6. Seattle/Tacoma/Bellevue,Washington
7. Sacramento/Arden-Arcade/Roseville,California
8. Fresno, California
9. Yakima, Washington
10. Tucson, Arizona

Photo 9/9   |   ford Flex exterior
Ford Flex Gets Ready To Muscle In
Shown at this year's New York auto show (see our Web coverage at, the Ford Flex will likely not make its way to us until mid- to late next year. Based on the buzz from journalists and other attendees alike, we'd expect the New York concept's white roof and contrasting body color (similar to the Mini and Toyota FJ) to make it to production, plus a traditional monotone. Given the popularity of the glass-roof version in the Ford Edge, a similar option may be offered when the larger Flex makes its debut. The Flex will come standard as a front-drive SUV with available all-wheel drive. Power is expected to come from a 3.5-liter V-6 with a minimum of 260 horses. With a name like Flex, there should be a hybrid and/or FlexFuel version as well. Look for the Flex to arrive in dealerships during the first or second quarter of 2008.
• GM pickups win another: Readers and editors of Automotive Engineering International magazine ranked the Chevy Silverado/GMC Sierra second in their 2007 Best Engineered Vehicle awards. First place went to the Lexus LS 460 and third to the Porsche 997 turbo--not bad company.
• BMW plans to develop another crossover based on the 3 Series, this one more carlike than the X3 (think R-Class versus GL). Likely dimensions would put length close to a wagon, with height between a wagon and the X3.
• The end of Classic Silverado production also meant the end of the parallel hybrid. The next one will be a two-mode system like that employed on Tahoe first, then on other GMT900s.
• Ford passed the two-million mark on Expedition production earlier this year, just 10 years after it was introduced.
• Mercedes-Benz is expected to show a small crossover at the Frankfurt auto show in September, likely to include 175- and 210-horsepower 2.2-liter four-cylinder diesels.
• Hyundai announced a diesel for the U.S. market for 2009 or 2010; a 240-horse, 3.0-liter diesel Veracruz already is sold in Korea and Europe.
• Volkswagen's 220-horse, 3.0-liter diesel Touareg may come to the U.S. before it launches in Europe. A pair of Dakar-spec Touaregs with 2.5-liter diesel engines finished 18 minutes apart (in 10 hours) in June's Baja 500; they were the only racers that didn't refuel.
• Navistar has filed a lawsuit against Ford, to the tune of $2 million. In the legal documents, Navistar claims Ford is developing its own 4.4-liter diesel to be used in new F-150s in 2009 or 2010. Earlier this year, Navistar stopped shipping new Power Strokes to Ford for use in the new Super Duty due to a squabble over legacy costs to the previous Power Stroke.
• Rod Hall finished first in the Baja 500 in his lightly modified HUMMER H3, making this the 17th time he's won his designated class.
• Toyota dealers are reporting a small number of new Tundra 5.7-liter V-8s that have broken their camshafts. Toyota's traced the problem back to a specific lot number of cam casts and that the problem has been rectified. Toyota predicts 70 percent of Tundras will be optioned with the 5.7-liter V-8.
• Want to flat-tow the new Saturn Vue? GM Powertrain has a relatively simple solution without driveline disconnects or mechanical restrictions. Shift in neutral and the spinning gears in the transmission fill a pan that drains over the moving parts.



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