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World Debut

The 2015 Ford F-150 has been completely redesigned 12





The Toyota Highlander is all-new and looks to stay fresh for 2014 20

More and more diesel vehicles are hitting the market 34

The 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid warrants a long look ... pg 24


Truck Tech

Fresh Tracks---------------------------------------- 4 New Wheels: Chevrolet Traverse---------------28 Feature: CMS Jeeps -----------------------------48

The installation of an Eaton ELocker Differential 36


A look at the 4x4ing opportunities found at the Oregon Sand Dunes 44

Our first look at the revived GMC Canyon 32

Truck Tech: On-Board Air------------------------ 54 Gearing Up----------------------------------------58 Stuck Trucks--------------------------------------62

Feb / mar 2014

Trucks Plus 

FRESH TRACKS Volume 7, Issue No. 1 February/March 2014 Publisher/Editor: Dean Washington

Chevrolet Silverado Named North American Truck of the Year

Associate Publisher: David Symons

Circulation: Brenda Washington Managing Editor Jordan Allan Copy Editor: Gerry Frechette Sales & Marketing Elaine Fontaine Contributing Writers/Photographers: Jordan Allan Howard J Elmer Gerry Frechette Russell Purcell Bruce Spierenburg

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fter a seven year hiatus, the Chevrolet Silverado has once again been named the 2014 North American Truck of the Year. This award is considered to be especially prestigious because, unlike some other car or truck of the year awards given by a single media outlet, this award was decided by a jury of 49 automotive journalists from the United States and Canada who represent all types of media outlets from magazines and newspapers to television, websites and radio. To be eligible for this award, a vehicle must be all new or substantially changed, which is exactly what the Silverado is. The all-new Ecotec3 engines that include a 4.3L V6, 5.3L V8, and 6.2L V8 feature three integrated systems: direct injection, cylinder deactivation and continuously variable valve timing, all of which help the Silverado achieve the title of being the most fuel-efficient V8 pickup.

All-New Porsche Macan to get Diesel Version As we told you last issue, Porsche has added a fifth model to its lineup with the all-new Macan compact SUV, which will be immediately available in two models, Macan S and Macan Turbo that feature a 3.0L twin turbo V6 and 3.6L twin turbo V6 respectively. There had been a few rumours floating around that a pair of four-cylinder models were on their way, a 2.0L turbo and a turbo diesel engine of the same capacity. Now, a report from Car & Driver is saying that while other markets not including North America may get the 4-cylinder versions, Porsche will be bringing the Macan S Diesel to our shores in early 2015, nearly one year after the gas versions arrive. Under the hood of the diesel version will be a 3.0L turbo diesel V6 that makes 248 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque.


FRESH TRACKS Mitsubishi Canada Sets All-Time Sales Record in 2013

2013 has proven to be a good year for Mitsubishi, as it has enjoyed its best-ever sales year, delivering a total of 21,104 vehicles, which is up 7.3 percent from 2012’s 19,671. The sales leader was the RVR compact crossover which sold 7,653 units followed by the Lancer compact sedans which saw 7,404 vehicles bought. 2013 was a big year in other ways for Mitsubishi, as it released the all-new 2014 Mirage subcompact hatchback as well as the completely redesigned 2014 Outlander compact sport utility. Rounding out Mitsubishi’s lineup is the all electric i-MiEV and the now discontinued Eclipse.

high-strength aluminum alloy body, 11 new class-exclusive features, and the addition of a new engine option. The frame is now stronger and lighter thanks to the addition of more high-strength steel than ever before and the use of military-grade aluminum alloy in the body has helped shave up to 700 lbs off of the previous generation. The F-150 will feature many new (and some class-exclusive) productivity features such as a 360-degree camera view much like Nissan’s Around View Monitor system, BoxLink which is a system of metal brackets and cleats in the bed that can secure accessories like ramps or bed dividers, and a new remote tailgate that allows it to be locked, unlocked, and released using the key fob. The new engine option will be a 2.7L EcoBoost V6 engine with Auto Start-Stop that is designed to deliver the same power numbers as some mid-range V8s.

AJAC Canadian Car and Truck of the Year Category Winners Announced

The AJAC (Automobile Journalists Association of Canada) Canadian Car and Truck of the Year category winners were announced recently and saw the brand-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee take home an award, as well as the completely re-designed 2014 GMC Sierra. The 2014

Ford F-150 Reveal Shows New Look and a New Engine Option

Ford has introduced the next generation of Canada’s best-selling pickup line by showing the 2015 Ford F-150 at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. Highlights of the unveiling included an all-new high-strength steel frame and

2015 Ford F-150  Trucks Plus

FEB / MAR 2014



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FRESH TRACKS Cherokee was named the Best New SUV/CUV Under $35,000, beating out some impressive foes in the Buick Encore, new Mitsubishi Outlander, the redesigned Toyota RAV4, and the Subaru Forester. In the Best New Pickup category, the GMC Sierra was proud to receive the prize, winning over its GM brother the Chevrolet Silverado as well as the always popular Ram 1500. The other winners in the Truck/SUV/CUV categories were the Kia Sorento receiving the prize for the Best New SUV/CUV from $35,000 - $60,000 and the Acura MDX gaining top honours in the Best New SUV/CUV Over $60,000 category. All four winners now have a chance to win the overall Canadian Truck of the Year which gets announced on February 13th at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto.

GMC Unveils All-New 2015 Canyon at North American International Auto Show in Detroit

GMC fans will be pleased to know that General Motors has unveiled the all-new 2015 Chevrolet Colorado’s counterpart at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, the GMC Canyon. The all-new midsize pickup will go on sale this year and is an efficiently-sized pickup that’s a great option for someone wanting the cargo-hauling and diversity of a truck without the large size of a full-size pickup. Two engine options will be offered with the Canyon when it is released - a 2.5L I-4 that delivers an estimated 193 horsepower and a 3.6L V6 engine that should put out an estimated 302 horsepower. Inside, an available 8-inch colour touchscreen controls the entertainment and offers many great features like OnStar 4G LTE with built in Wi-Fi hot spot and Siri Eyes Free Mode for iPhone users. Notable exterior features include a CornerStep rear bumper design based on the 2014 Sierra, an available EZ Lift-and-Lower locking tailgate, and standard bed rail and tailgate protectors. The truck will come in both 2WD and 4WD models as well as extended and crew cab options.

key components of what make Android a part of millions of people’s lives daily. This news comes as a bit of a surprise as Honda, GM and Hyundai are all partners in Apples Siri Eyes Free program that is trying to bring the interactive Siri platform into vehicles as well.

New, Smaller Ram ProMaster City Coming to North America Last issue, we showed you the all-new Fiat Ducato-based Ram ProMaster commercial van that is seen as Chrysler’s re-entry into the commercial vehicle market. Now, another Fiat-based van has been confirmed as coming to North American shores, the Ram ProMaster City, which is based on the Fiat Doblo. The Doblo has twice been named International Van of the Year and has sold over 1.3 million examples worldwide. Overseas, the Doblo is available in a large number of setups such as the Cargo version, the larger Cargo Maxi The Fiat Doblo on which the ProMaster City will be based.

Open Automotive Alliance Aims to Bring Android Platform to Cars

Car manufacturers Audi, General Motors, Hyundai and Honda have teamed up with Google and chip maker NVIDIA to form the Open Automotive Alliance whose goal is to bring the Android platform to vehicles starting in 2014. The purpose of forming the OAA is to accelerate auto innovation into a common platform that will make the car safer and more intuitive for everyone. The goal is to offer a platform that offers openness, customization and scale which are

2015 GMC Canyon  Trucks Plus

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Van, and a high-roof version just to name a few, but while there is no official word on what iterations will be making the jump across the Atlantic, it’s a safe bet that at least a few will. Arriving for the 2015 model year, the ProMaster City will compete in a growing small commercial vehicle segment that features Ford’s Transit Connect, the Nissan NV200 and the upcoming Chevrolet City Express.

Audi Adds Third SUV to its Lineup with Q3

Audi proudly introduced a third SUV to its lineup at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, called the Q3. The Q3 will be a compact SUV that has some coupe-like looks but with the functionality and utility of an SUV. The Q3 slots in below the Q5 and Q7 in Audi’s lineup and features a balanced chassis that allows it to achieve great handling, safety and on-road comfort. Powered by a 2.0L TFSI four-cylinder engine paired to a standard six-speed Tiptronic transmission, the Q3 will produce 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft. and comes available in either front-wheel drive or Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive. Many of the Q3’s design cues are reminiscent of one of their sporty coupes but with more functionality. A spacious cargo area is featured behind the second row of seats, and an available power tailgate will allow you to access that area with the push of a button on the key fob. Audi expects the Q3 to hit showrooms by the fall of this year.

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Yet another unveiling has come out of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit; this time, though, it’s Porsche stepping to the forefront. Based on the base Cayenne and Cayenne Diesel models, the all-new Platinum Edition Cayenne will offer enhanced standard equipment. Everything from an 8-speed Tiptronic S transmission and Power Steering Plus, to a Bose audio package and front and rear park assists now comes standard in the Platinum Edition. Additionally the Convenience Package is also standard and has many great features itself like the Porsche Communication Management (PCM) that has a 7-inch touchscreen, BiXenon headlights, and the Driver Memory Package. On the outside this special edition showcases accents painted in Platinum Silver Metallic and come with 19-inch Cayenne Design II wheels with a coloured Porsche crest. Under the hood, the Platinum Edition will have a 3.6L V6 engine that delivers 300 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, while the Diesel Platinum Edition is powered by a 3.0L V6 turbo diesel engine with 240 horsepower.


Is Ford Leading or Following?

Our first look at the 2015 Ford F-150 Story and photos by Howard J Elmer, additional photos courtesy of Ford Canada


he newest Ford F-150, shown recently in Detroit, won’t arrive till late this year, but its new design, materials and technical improvements are already being discussed and evaluated in the media. And, frankly, there is a lot to talk about. For 2015, Ford’s best-selling truck will feature an aluminum body. Yes, above the steel frame, almost every single panel and body component is made of aluminum. At the same time, under the hood, Ford pushes its EcoBoost engine to a new low – displacement that is – with a 2.7-litre engine. This, at least, reveals Ford’s engine strategy which, unlike its competitors, does not include diesel in its half-ton pickups any time soon. So, in light of these two very different evolutionary leaps in truck building, the question has to be asked; is Ford leading or following? The aluminum body is a first and the obvious benefit is weight – around 700 pounds less than the current steel version – but what else does this change? Ding and dent resistance improves as does corrosion protection. Peter Reyes, chief engineer on the F-150, also said “aluminum is stronger, pound for pound, than steel, even though it ends up being lighter overall. This is the same aluminum that is already used in the military and in aerospace.” 12 Trucks Plus

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This weight loss should also translate to fuel savings with the current crop of engines; however, with a new smaller EcoBoost under the hood, the fuel consumption improvement should be multiplied. One other fuel-related initiative will be the addition of standard stop/start technology. Historically, this single feature has been shown to decrease average fuel consumption by up to six percent annually. While we don’t have any official numbers from Ford yet, we can look at the current 3.5-litre EcoBoost with an average of

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12.0L/100km consumption and extrapolate downwards to come up with a possible average for the new 2.7. That number could be 9.0L/100 km – and that does not factor in the weight savings or the stop/start function.

other question that currently has no answer other than to state the known fact that EcoBoost is more expensive to build than a naturally-aspirated engine. But then, diesel is more expensive to build than gas engines, so it may all end up being a wash.

That number is in diesel territory and may well explain why Ford is leading with its EcoBoost technology. Of course, cost is an-

The next question that arises among buyers with any new engine may well be more important, though. How good is it going to be?

Feb / mar 2014

Trucks Plus 15

NEW WHEELS Ford has set out to answer that question too, almost before it’s asked. This past November, a disguised 2015 F-150 was raced in the Baja 1000 desert classic. It used the new frame, underpinnings and the 2.7-litre EcoBoost engine. It completed the race, while many hand-built trucks did not. Between the newest small EcoBoost truck engine and the allaluminum body, I’d say yes, the 2015 F-150 is (and in future will be seen as) a great leap forward in the highly-competitive pickup market. And from a leadership perspective, Ford has to be seen as taking its own road; that alone is the first requirement of being the lead dog. At this point though, I also want to point out a number of other changes and improvements that on their own are significant, but are in danger of being overshadowed by the other new key features.

The all-new 2.7L EcoBoost engine

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NEW WHEELS truck from this system? This is great. On the business end of the truck, Ford introduces a new system called BoxLink. This is a combination of brackets and cleats that will secure items like loading ramps, a cargo box, storage bins and bed dividers in the bed, as well as new (and much better) tie-downs. Also out back, the Ford signature tailgate step has been modified to swallow all the moving parts into the gate. The fold-up handle-bar is no longer exposed on the tailgate; it now slides inside. This now makes the gate smooth – once again, a preferred state for pushing and pulling heavy cargo across it.

First, for me, is the 360-degree camera view. Using several exterior cameras, a bird’s eye view of the truck is shown on the centre console screen with real-time images of what is around the truck. All – around – the – truck! This is wonderful for parking, backing up, hooking trailers and navigating into loading ramps. This technology has been in upmarket sedans for awhile, but frankly, is there any other vehicle that could benefit more than a

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As the year passes, no doubt Ford will continue to drop background data and testing results on us before the new truck is released, probably in the third quarter. But the last great improvement I want to leave you with is the new location of the four- and seven-pin electrical trailer connections. They are now above the rear bumper! It only took me eight years of complaining in print to get it moved, although, strangely, when I pointed this out, the Ford guys pretended it was their idea.


Keeping it Fresh

The completely redesigned 2014 Toyota Highlander Story and photos by Jordan Allan


hen the Toyota Highlander was first introduced back in 2001, it essentially created a new segment of passenger car-like SUVs that featured a unibody design. It was meant to create a vehicle that was to be found somewhere between a minivan and a more rugged SUV like the Toyota 4Runner, in that it would still be more versatile (and stylish) than a van, but it would also provide owners with more comfort and efficiency than a 4Runner would. Now entering its third generation, the Highlander finds itself with more competition than ever, and thus has been completely redesigned for the 2014 model year with Toyota intent on keeping ahead of the pack. During my trip to Carmel Valley, California for the media unveiling, I was able to make a number of observations that suggested the Highlander would be able to do just that. The Highlander’s exterior is definitely sleeker and more aggressive than its predecessor thanks in part to a lower, wider, and longer body. This, in spite of the wheelbase remaining the same

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as previous generations. The result is more interior space, as well as more seating room on the inside, but we’ll get to that later. Other notable exterior features include the power rear liftgate with height adjustment that is featured on some models, and the flip-up rear hatch window which is ideal if you just need to grab something small out of your cargo area. Inside the Highlander is where I was most impressed. The allnew steering wheel and gauge cluster look cleaner and are more practical than before, and the sheer simplicity of the climate and entertainment controls are exactly what I am looking for: easy to use, and without the mad clutter of buttons some vehicles have. A new technology called Easy Speak is also included, which is controlled from the centre-mounted touchscreen, and allows the driver to be heard from the rear speakers thanks to a roof mounted microphone in the headliner. The highlight of the interior, though, is a shelf that runs under the dash in a spot which is almost never utilized, and makes you wonder why nobody has done this before. It’s the perfect size to throw


down iPods or cell phones and even features a hole for wires to be run through to be plugged in to the inputs on the centre console. The Limited model gets second-row captain’s chairs instead of the usual bench, but all models that do include the second-row bench become one of the very few mid-size SUVs with an eight-person seating capacity. The same 3.5-litre 24-valve DOHC V6 engine returns from the previous generation and still makes the same 270

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horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque, but this time it is paired to a new six-speed automatic transmission. We Canadians see the deletion of the four-cylinder option from our market this year, but are still able to purchase the Highlander Hybrid. The Hybrid version uses the same 3.5-litre V6 engine but adds three electric motors (two in the front, one in the rear), which will bring combined fuel economy numbers down to 6.9L/100km as compared to the 9.6L/100km found in the petroleum-powered Highlander. During the media preview, we were able to test drive the Highlander in a number of different situations to see how it would handle our real-life challenges. We had some long highway drives where I found that the cabin was incredibly quiet,





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NEW WHEELS eliminating almost all road and wind noise, and found there to be enough power (in both gasoline and hybrid models) to make an uphill pass without having to mat the throttle. During some drives through a busier city setting, the steering was amazingly smooth when having to manoeuvre around in a tight parking lot, and with a backup camera now being standard on all models, one wonders when the rest of the automotive world will follow suit.

There is no question that this new Highlander is a dynamic vehicle, as it seems to be able to handle pretty much any task you throw at it. Whether it be towing something up to 5,000 pounds, or driving your kids to school every day, the Highlander is ready for anything. Add that to the fact that it is full of some of the latest, greatest technology and safety features available in the class‌ and you’ve got a formula for getting this Highlander to the top of the mid-size SUV segment.

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Trucks Plus 23


Warranting a Look

The 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid Story and photos by Russell Purcell


he Nissan Pathfinder has been a common sight on Canadian roads for almost three decades, and during this time it has proved to be one of the most rugged and reliable all-terrain passenger vehicles in the marketplace. Unfortunately, times have changed, and the current trend in the utility segment is a move towards more carlike handling and a comfortable, very refined ride. The folks at Nissan have been down this road before. In fact, the Pathfinder has bounced back and forth between the more truck-like body-on-frame SUV design and the more civilized unibody CUV design in an effort to gain market share twice. The first generation Pathfinder (1985) was a hit with outdoorsmen as it was hungry for the rough stuff, but back on the street it tended to be somewhat stiff. The second generation Pathfinder (1996) emerged with a unibody design and slightly larger dimensions. It placated the ride issues for city folk, but struggled when the pavement came to an end. This was good news for the new Nissan Xterra, which picked up the off-road banner and ran with it, but for many buyers, the Xterra was too small. As a result, when the third generation Pathfinder arrived in 2005 it featured a more robust, body-on-frame design. Dwindling sales sparked the development of the fourth generation Pathfinder, which Nissan introduced in 2013, scrapping the rugged body-on-frame SUV platform once more, in favour of a more ridefriendly unibody CUV design. It is unfortunate to see another trail-ready vehicle get neutered, but the decision makers at Nissan have to react to the demands of the marketplace in an effort to remain profitable and move more automobiles. Pathfinders have never been class leaders when it comes to fuel economy, so with the arrival of the latest iteration, the product 24 Trucks Plus

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planners at Nissan sought to find ways to improve the Pathfinder’s efficiency. The first step was to fit the new model with a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). Nissan has fully embraced this technology, so the company’s engineers have tremendous knowledge and experience when it comes to using these very flexible transmissions. As a result, Nissan’s CVTs are well-sorted, very reliable, and operate seamlessly. The second step towards better fuel economy was the reduction of weight. Nissan designers have incorporated a host of lightweight materials and components into the construction of the latest Pathfinder. There is no doubt that the combination of the efficiency of the Xtronic CVT and the strict weight loss program will help the situation, but the design team was quick to recognize that in order to appeal to a broader audience, a hybrid offering would have to be considered.

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The 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid represents the company’s first such offering in its utility vehicle catalog, but the move was needed. Nissan brass have selected the Pathfinder as the platform upon which they will introduce their latest hybrid system, as part of the company’s Pure Drive advanced technology protocol.

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Nissan Pure Drive is a mild-hybrid system similar in operation to that employed by many of its competitors. The system features a 2.5-litre four-cylinder gasoline engine mated to a small electric motor powered by lithium-ion cells. Interestingly, a small supercharger has been incorporated to further boost the engine output which stands at 250 horsepower and 243 lb-ft of torque.

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While these numbers may seem low for a seven-passenger vehicle that weighs in at more than 4,500 pounds, I found power delivery more than sufficient for everyday needs during my week-long test period. On the other hand, the Pathfinder Hybrid has a 3,500-pound towing capacity, which would probably be a test for this rig if it also had to contend with a full complement of passengers and gear. During vehicle operation, Nissan’s Intelligent Dual Clutch System has been engineered to manage the flow of power from both the engine and the 15kW electric motor as efficiently as possible. In an effort to conserve fuel, the gasoline engine will only kick in when it needs to, so the system will favour the electric motor during initial start-up, when coasting, or when you come to a complete stop at intersections and traffic lights. Acceleration is impressive, as the electric motor engages to supply the Pathfinder with instantaneous torque when you step hard on the accelerator. The electric motor will also step in and out of the action to provide an additional boost of power whenever load on the engine increases such as when the vehicle is climbing a hill or the driver requires an extra surge of power to execute a passing manoeuvre. Nissan’s hybrid system has been designed to recharge the lithium-ion battery pack through regenerative braking, and the user can monitor


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NEW WHEELS the status of the system by utilizing the Energy Flow feature integrated into the driver information system. As much as Nissan flaunts its corporate preference for the CVT, I for one, have never been a fan due to the fact that they tend to cause the engine to run at high rpms for sustained periods of time during acceleration. This can cause stress to various components, but it also generates a lot of excess noise which intrudes on passenger comfort. I will admit, however, that the CVT in the Pathfinder Hybrid was somewhat of a revelation. The Xtronic transmission reacted quickly to my inputs, and it seemed to find its optimal operating zone with far less drama and noise than that I have experienced in other Nissan products. As a result, the cabin environment remained tranquil enough that I could carry on a conversation with my passengers and better enjoy the outstanding Bose-engineered sound system. In this age of extraordinarily high fuel prices, Pathfinder Hybrid owners will appreciate the ability to choose to run the vehicle in two-wheel drive at the twist of a dial. However, when the going gets slippery, the All-Mode 4x4-i intuitive 4WD system can be engaged and locked to handle rough terrain. I chose to set it to Auto Mode which will automatically select where power is directed in an effort to keep the vehicle moving forward as efficiently as possible. My test vehicle was the top-of-the-line Pathfinder Hybrid Platinum, so it was loaded with luxurious appointments. Notable features included

SPECIFICATIONS: Base price (MSRP): ......................................................$39,248 Price as tested: .............................................................$49,198 Vehicle Layout: ......................4WD, front-engine, full-size CUV Engine: . ..2.5L supercharged 4-cylinder w/15kW electric motor Transmission: . ....... Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) Power: ........................230 hp @ 5,000 rpm (250 hp combined) Torque: ....................................................243 lb-ft @ 3,600 rpm Brakes: ..................................Four-wheel vented disc with ABS Cargo capacity: .............................................................. 2,260 L Fuel Consumption (L/100 km, city/hwy): . .......................7.8/7.1

heated and chilled leather seats, an advanced navigation system, a trailering package, twin head restraint-mounted LCD monitors, and a dual panoramic moonroof. Nissan’s clever Around View Monitor camera system was also on board to make navigating this rather large vehicle in tight spaces such as parking garages a breeze. In short, the passenger cabin is very comfortable and a pleasant place to be. There is seating for seven, and I found that all positions feature sufficient leg- and headroom for all but the tallest individuals. In short order, the rear seats can be folded to create a virtually flat space capable of fitting up to 2,260 L (79.8 cu. ft.) of cargo. A poweroperated rear hatch swings up and out of the way at the touch of a button, and a large hidden storage area can be found beneath the rearmost cargo floor. Pricing for the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid begins at $39,248, which is a relative bargain for a seven-passenger four-wheel drive vehicle, let alone one sporting hybrid technology. In fact, this price beats main rival Toyota’s Highlander Hybrid by several thousand dollars at all trim levels. For this fact alone, the Pathfinder Hybrid warrants a long look.

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Meeting the Needs

The 2014 Chevrolet Traverse Story and photos by Gerry Frechette


he traditional minivan does what it does very well – haul people, mostly families. But its sales numbers, and hence the number of manufacturers who continue to make them, have dropped a lot in recent years. We doubt that the number of North American families has declined much, so they must be buying some other kind of vehicle to meet their needs. Vehicles like this – the Chevrolet Traverse. The Traverse would be classified as a large crossover utility vehicle, to distinguish it from the full-size truck-based body-on-frame models that GM still makes (the Tahoe). It has unibody construction, transverse V6 engine, all-wheel drive, better fuel efficiency than the old-style trucks, and almost as much interior space as a minivan – and, maybe the most important attribute to many fathers, a more truck-like image than a minivan. Where these vehicles fall slightly behind a minivan is space, mostly due to the higher floor made necessary by there being a rear drivetrain to accommodate. But of course, many think that the added traction and safety of AWD in the Canadian climate is worth the trade-off. There is certainly no fall-off in utility as defined by how the interior can be configured. For maximum passenger capacity (which is seven with the second-row bench seat, six with captain’s chairs), deploy the middle and rear rows of seats, and still maintain 691 litres of space for luggage, as much as most compact cars. Or, with the flick of a few levers, fold all the seats down, totally flat and horizontal, and you get 3,293 litres. Or, pick and choose which combination of seats you want up or down, based on the people and 28 Trucks Plus

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cargo you need to get on board. The power rear liftgate eases access to the cargo area. Our tester had no rear cargo compartment cover, which we consider an absolute “must” in the Big City, and we couldn’t see any notches in the side panels where one would be attached. As always, we mention that the third row is not somewhere the average adult would want to spend a lot of time, due to seat comfort and space constraints, but to be fair, it is roomier than most we have seen outside of a minivan. But the front and middle seats are very pleasant places to be on a long ride, as our deluxe LT tester (2LT in GM-speak) was one level down from the top-end LTZ, and thus very nicely equipped without going overboard. The front seats (in optional leather for $1,870) are very comfortable, except that the head restraints, adjustable horizontally as well as vertically, don’t slide back far enough and can dig into the upper back of taller drivers like me. This is one of the best looking interiors in any mainstream vehicle, with its attractive tone-on-tone treatment, faux woodgrain trim on the centre stack, and lots of soft-touch surfaces. Much nicer than vast swaths of black plastic. The top section of the centre armrest slides back and forth; with the rear HVAC controls on the trailing edge of it, sliding it back puts the controls much closer to the rear passenger. There are cupholders all over the place, including the two on the console, one in each door, and one for each passenger in the third row. Our tester came with the optional (for $2,255) rear-seat entertainment system with single screen. Should you want the upgraded MyLink audio system with Bluetooth and voice recognition, along with the Bose ten-speaker 5.1 surround sound audio (and who wouldn’t), you must get the rear seat system whether you want it or not. At least the audio gear is included in the price of it. But you can’t get just the audio gear. If Dad wants the hightech toys, the kids must be entertained. Safety is well taken care-of in the Traverse, with the expected StabiliTrak system and a full complement of airbags, including an industryfirst balloon that inflates between the two front seats to prevent their occupants from hitting each other. The latest radar-based warning technology is available, with Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning on our tester (for $415), but to get Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Side Blind Zone Alert as well, you must move up to the LTZ model, where they are all standard. The electronic all-wheel drive system will not likely have you going too far off-road, not that we tried, as it has

NEW WHEELS The Traverse is rated at 13.0L/100 km city and 8.6 on the highway. We didn’t get it onto a highway, as it turns out (hard to do in downtown Vancouver), but in the city, driving as economically as we could, including shutting off the engine at long traffic lights, the best that the onboard computer indicated as an average was 18.1, or about 15 miles per gallon. Interestingly, we have since driven the GMC version of this same vehicle (Acadia) and it showed easy 16L readings right off the bat. The Traverse was still very new, so maybe that was the reason. But in either case, the city rating seems a touch optimistic. The Traverse is like a tall heavy car to drive, in that it handles better than expected with its independent rear suspension, has direct-feeling steering, soaks up the bumps and delivers a smooth ride, and is very quiet, in the sense of both road noise and aero management. Nothing much there you could say about a truck-based SUV. On the other hand, the V6 is not a powerhouse for a heavy vehicle like this, and the competitive V8s will beat it on acceleration and towing.

no locking or low-range like the truck-based systems, and is meant for safety and control in soft-road situations like snow and gravel.

So, while you give up a bit of space versus a minivan, you gain so much more in a big crossover SUV like the Traverse, and it’s no wonder active families are moving into these vehicles in great numbers.

Mechanically, the Traverse has the same combination it had when it was first introduced for the 2009 model year – a 3.6-litre 281-horsepower DOHC V6 with Variable Valve Timing and Direct Injection, driving through a six-speed automatic. The latter is controlled by a lever moving through a shift gate labelled “PRNDL”, and I thought at first I must be in my grandfather’s ‘65 Chev and this was a two-speed Powerglide. But “L” stands for manual shift, and with the lever there, you can use the little rocker switch on the side of the shifter knob to select gears yourself. There is also a Tow-Haul mode, like that found on the big pickups, because the Traverse has a trailer towing package available (for $550) that allows pulling up to 2,359 kilograms.

SPECIFICATIONS: Base Price (MSRP): . ....................................................$33,295 Price as tested: .............................................................$49,860 Vehicle Layout: ...................... Front engine, AWD, 4-door SUV Engine: . .............................................................3.6L DOHC V6 Transmission: . ..........................................................6-spd auto Power: . ...........................................................................281 hp Torque: ....................................................266 lb-ft @ 3,400 rpm Brakes: . ........................................................4-wheel disc, ABS Curb Weight: ................................................................ 2,216 kg Towing capacity: .......................................................... 2,359 kg Fuel Consumption (L/100 km, city/hwy): . .....................13.0/8.6

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Looking to Score

The 2015 GMC Canyon is all-new

Story and photos by Howard J Elmer, additional photos courtesy of GMC Canada


he single most lucrative segment in the automotive world is trucks. That statement spells out the simple truth about pecking orders when it comes to auto shows. Even when you have a caged beast like the Corvette Z06 to drop on hundreds of auto scribes, the truck comes first, and in this case its GM’s new mid-size truck, the GMC Canyon.

much like Detroit itself; recently granted bankruptcy protection from its creditors, the city that put the world on wheels is also stretching to become new once again. So, whether the contrast was purposely created or to be found only in my head, the fact remains that GM needs the new mid-size Canyon to capture new customers.

So, on Sunday night, the night before the official opening of media day at the North American International Auto Show, I find myself in the Russell Industrial Complex in mid-town Detroit. This behemoth multi-story industrial building saw its best days a hundred years ago; yet, for the brand-new Canyon, it was the site of its Day One. Canyon is all-new, yet it’s old as well, having been around for more than a decade. However, this time it is leading a charge back into a segment that is virtually dead. The mix of old factory and new truck is a contrast The GMC Canyon is the twin to the Chevy Colorado that was shown at the L.A. Auto Show back in November, and while much of what is under the skin is identical, GM works hard at creating a separation between the brands – and if you talk to its customers, many will tell you there is a distinct difference. Certainly, the look of the Canyon is different with emphasis on the nose and over-the-wheel haunches of the truck. The grille and pronounced hood are a more masculine vision as well, versus the Chevy Colorado’s slicker lines. It’s these distinctions that create individual followings and in many ways can double the sales. If you’re wondering – yes, it works, otherwise they wouldn’t do it. Both trucks are meant to reinvigorate the mid-size truck segment that over the last decade has virtually collapsed, and by extension 32 Trucks Plus

FEB / MAR 2014

NEW WHEELS of just 2,000. The 3.6, though, ups the ante with 302 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. In a surprise move, GM also announced an innovation that is more than one model year down the road – a small diesel engine option. In the 2016 Canyon/ Colorado, a Duramax 2.8-litre I4 turbo diesel will be available. Another first for the North American midsize market. This is a proven motor already working in global markets. So as the first reveal of the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, this Canyon pickup is setting the mood. New technology wrapped in traditional Detroit heavy industrial marketing. But most importantly, being the first mid-size back to this party, GM may well score big – all the more important as the launch of its full-size line of trucks is currently losing steam. capture new sales for GM. To this end, there will be a nice mix of options offered. Canyon will come in three configurations – an extended cab with 6-foot box and a crew cab with either a 5-foot or 6-foot box. There will not be a standard cab. In two of these combinations, with the tailgate down, owners get the magic 8-foot length most look for. That’s a nice feature in a “mid-size.” At the rear, look for the grown-up GMC Sierra’s new corner bumper step design, EZ-lift/fall tailgate and 13 standard tie-down locations. Spray-in bed liner is also available as a factory option. Standard engines in the Canyon will be a base 2.5-litre I4 and a 3.6-litre V6. Both will be matched with a six-speed automatic transmission. That V6 (with the towing package) will pull 3,039 kg (6,700 lb), which is not a small truck load by any means. Even the base I4 promises to deliver lots of jam with an estimated 193 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque – most of which (90 percent) is available at a low rpm

Feb / mar 2014

Trucks Plus 33


Loving Diesel

Story by Howard J Elmer, photos courtesy of the manufacturers


t’s time to love diesel. Yes, the fuel and the engine. Why? Because it’s not just for truckers anymore. More and more diesel-powered passenger cars are coming onto the market and what they are truly about is fuel efficiency. So if you’re “green,” frugal, hybrid-obsessed or simply cheap, diesel engines will save you money - lots of it. The how of all this is all about chemistry – which thanks to the TV series Breaking Bad is now considered cool. Strings of molecules called hydrocarbons form the typical components of gasoline and diesel fuel, but the groupings in each are very different and so is the power they produce. But, when you are at the fuel pump, you don’t buy power, you buy litres of liquid fuel at a set price per litre. This is what everyone knows, but what most consumers don’t know is that there is 20-to-40 percent more power in a litre of diesel fuel. Put another way, if a litre of gasoline will propel your car a distance of 10 kilometres, a litre of diesel fuel will push the same vehicle an additional two to four kilometres further down the road. Currently, gasoline and diesel fuel sell for almost the same price per litre, but considering the “power” output, you can see which one is really cheaper. This is where the savings comes from. Is this a secret, then? Why doesn’t the average driver know about this? Two reasons, really. The first has to do with the engines and the diesel fuel itself. Up until about 10-15 years ago, the emissions from diesel were really dirty and the engines were also hard to run at low temperatures. That’s why only heavy trucks ran them. Both these conditions have been corrected. Diesels start as easily as gas motors now, and the fuel has been cleaned up by government mandates. The other reason, though, is a bit murkier. It has to do with pop culture and misinformation. 34 Trucks Plus

FEB / MAR 2014

The 2014 Ram 1500 now offers an EcoDiesel engine option.

When talking about gasoline - thanks to the movies and television - the word “Octane” is understood to mean the power in gasoline. But it’s also used in non-automotive similes and adspeak for non-fuel products. In a word it implies powerful, and of course, the gas companies chirp about their clean-burning, detergent-washing, and gummy deposit-removing Hi-Octane gasoline all the time. So? This perception has kept a generation or more of car buyers buying gas motors thinking they were simply more powerful. Wrong. Octane ratings are not indicators of the energy in fuel. Octane is a family of hydrocarbons found in gasoline. They are colourless liquids that boil at 125 degrees C. One of these Octanes is Isooctane, a compound that is used as a benchmark for measuring the fuel’s resistance to self-ignition. See, in a

Mercedes’ BlueTec Diesel Technology

42 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 53 range) indicates a cleaner, quicker burn during whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s called the power stroke of the piston. This is where the chemistry comes into play again. The Cetane family of hydrocarbons is much more complex than the Octane family found in gasoline. In this regard, â&#x20AC;&#x153;complexâ&#x20AC;? means a bigger bang. A bigger bang means more pressure in the cylinder (called compression) and compression is what equals power. This means that a smaller displacement diesel engine can outperform a larger gasoline engine. It costs less to run and because it has no ignition system, it can be cheaper to service over its lifetime, which is also typically twice as long as a comparable gasoline motors. A diesel is more expensive to buy initially because of its build quality, but that more than evens out over its service life. Oh, and resale on diesels is higher than that of average gas-powered vehicles.

Chevrolet Cruze Diesel

gasoline engine, the last thing you want is ignition before the piston completes its up stroke and the spark plug fires. If it does, then your engine is said to be â&#x20AC;&#x153;knockingâ&#x20AC;? and damage is sure to follow. So, the true measure of Octane is the resistance to early ignition. The higher the number (found on every gas pump) the higher the resistance. Diesel, on the other hand, uses a compound called Cetane to describe how easily the fuel will combust in a compression setting (such as a diesel engine). Diesel engines donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have spark plugs; instead, the fuel ignites as the upward stroke of the piston compresses the sprayed fuel and heats it. So, in this case, a higher Cetane number (typical values are in the

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Trucks Plus 35

TRUCK TECH not, well, having them takes any vehicle to a whole different level and confidence off-road, but full-time lockers can have significant detrimental road manners. Selectable lockers offer a choice of an “open” setting allowing the maximum amount of rotation between left and right wheels for the best road manners and a “locked” position where both wheels on the same axle are positively engaged with each other providing maximum traction.

ELocker Differential Install Story and photos by Bruce Spierenburg


hen Jeep brought out the Rubicon model in 2003, it was ground breaking. A factory vehicle with selectable locking differentials and a super low-range transfer case, all the parts those who venture off road were installing via the aftermarket. Since that time, Toyota, GM and Ford have all produced vehicles with their own versions of selectable locking differentials. For those of you reading this who have four-wheeled at all, you know the benefits of locking differentials. For those of you that have

The ELocker is replacing an Eaton Detroit mechanical locker in the Dana 60 front differential. The goal is to ease steering in tight trail situations while providing 100-percent traction when it’s needed. 36 Trucks Plus

FEB / MAR 2014

Eaton has been in the differential game a very long time and its products are found all over the world from sports cars to off-road competition trucks and rock crawlers. The product selection for light trucks includes the Detroit Locker, a fully mechanical locking differential; the Truetrac, a gear-driven limited-slip differential; and the ELocker, an electrically-locking selectable locker, along with other positraction units covering off highway equipment to street cars. The ELocker uses an electromagnet activated via a dash switch to engage a locking ring inside the differential for true full axle traction. When not engaged, it gives the driver a fully “open” differential for the best road manners. Unlike some other selectable lockers on the market, there is no need for a manual lever and cable to the differential, or the use of an air compressor to provide pressure to a locking mechanism. A simple dash switch is all that is needed. The ELocker is available for a wide array of axle brands and provides on-demand traction at the flick of a switch. This install is taking place in a Dynatrac Pro Rock 60 custom axle, along with a gearing upgrade using a Quality Gear gear set and a bearing kit from Gears & Rears in Surrey, B.C. Thanks to: Eaton Performance differentials Gears & Rears

The Eaton ELocker Performance Differential utilizes an electromagnet on the end of the carrier which engages a locking ring. This locking ring ties the left and right axle solidly together for 100 percent traction. When not engaged, the ELocker is a free-spinning “open” design which allows each axle to rotate at different speeds when cornering for the best possible steering feel and excellent road manners.

While the carrier is a machined piece, it’s best to run a file over all the gear mounting surfaces to make sure no burrs are sticking up.




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The crown gear bolts take a shot of thread lock before being torqued to factory specs.

The install is using a Quality Gear 5.13 ratio crownand-pinion set and a Quality Gear bearing kit sourced from Gears & Rears in Surrey.

The bearing kit features Timken bearings and Spicer parts along with extra shims needed for adjusting the pattern on the gear set.

Like the carrier, it only takes a few moments to run a flat file over the crown gear before assembly. 38 Trucks Plus

FEB / MAR 2014

The old bearings were pulled from the carrier and with a sanding drum on a cordless drill, honed out slightly on the large side so they would slide on and off the carrier easily. This process turns them into â&#x20AC;&#x153;set-upâ&#x20AC;? bearings and allows the shims to be easily adjusted during the set up procedure. Always remember, though, to never use them for final assembly.


The assembly parts ready to go with an array of extra shims on hand. We had Gears & Rears press the pinion bearing on, along with the large “slinger” shim, as all the shimming for the pinion gear is done under the bearing races on a Dana 60 so it won’t need to come back off.

A hole needs to be drilled into the axle housing for access of the electrical wires to engage the ELocker. Final hole size was 1/2-inch for the rubber grommet on the wires.

Shims of different thickness are required to set the carrier in proper orientation to the pinion gear. 40 Trucks Plus

FEB / MAR 2014

TRUCK TECH The original shims were measured and replaced as they were damaged slightly when the old bearings were removed from the Detroit Locker. Using the same amount of shim on each side is a good starting point for the new gear set-up.

A nice centred gear pattern was achieved on the coast side with a slight heal configuration on the drive side – a pretty good pattern for an aggressive gear set.

Using the old nut for set up also saves the new stover nut for final installation.

After setting what’s called preload on the bearings (typically 15-20 inch-pounds), the new nut is driven down onto the yoke along with some thread lock. Preload is a slight load on the bearings so they stay tight. Typically, an inch-pound torque wrench is used. As I don’t have one, I use a “by feel” method, but I’ve assembled a lot of diffs so I’m comfortable with this method.

A dial gauge and magnet base are essential tools for gear set up. It allows you to measure backlash on the gear set. Backlash is a small amount of gap between forward and backward rotation of the gears and allows for heat expansion of the gear set. Typically 8-12 thousandths is required for proper gear set-up.

Before installing the locker for the final time, I prefilled the upper bearing area. The slinger and a large flat shim under the bearing race holds part of the oil in the upper bearing area so they don’t run dry. Adding engine assembly lube to the bearings is also a good idea so you don’t have a dry start up and possibly overheat the bearings. Feb / mar 2014

Trucks Plus 41

TRUCK TECH The new bearings and shims are pressed onto the ELocker before final assembly and the setup bearings are stored for future diff builds.

The wiring kit includes an activation switch, a good long length of wire and wiring loom to finish off the assembly.

The electric switch in the Jeep TJ fits perfectly into the switch panel in the lower part of the centre dash stack. I bought a second matching switch for my onboard air system and it still leaves one more space for a rear ELocker switch if I ever want to change the rear Detroit Locker for an ELocker.

With the ELocker installed, the electrical wire is fed through the housing and the grommet pressed into place.

All buttoned up and ready to be filled back up with gear oil. As there are no fibre plates in this locker, there is no need for special additive â&#x20AC;&#x201C; just standard 80/90 gear oil or a synthetic of your choice.

The plastic fitting needs to be assembled onto the locker wires. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s left off so the hole in the diff can be as small as possible when feeding the wires through the housing. Feb / mar 2014

Trucks Plus 43


The Sand Dunes of Oregon

Story and photos by Bruce Spierenburg


hat do most Canadians dream of in the Winter? Sand, surf and sun in Mexico come to mind. Hanging out on a nice beach watching the waves crash on the sand. If you’re a four wheeler, own a quad, a dirt bike or pretty much anything else with off road tires, add octane, big dunes, a 9 foot-tall flag and you will be just as happy on a beach in Oregon, a short trip down I-5 from the border – or happier! And it’s year round. If you have never visited the Oregon Dunes off-road recreation areas and fit into the second bracket above, you need to go. Heading out onto the sand dunes doesn’t require a big sand machine with a giant engine or a paddle tire-equipped quad; a decent 4x4 with 33-inch tires flattened out to a few pounds of air can take you almost everywhere, or your trail quad or SxS can be a ton of fun, too. I’ve been traveling to the sand dunes almost yearly for over 15 years and it never gets old. Even my wife, who has no interest in coming trail wheeling with me, will agree to come out to the dunes for a weekend of fun.

Sand Lake: The Sand Lake riding area is much further north than the other OHV riding areas and is also the smallest, but the dunes are also located close to the Tillamook National Forest which offers a wide array of 4x4 trails, and OHV beach access. Like all the dune areas, there is no speed limit on the interior dunes, but a speed limit of 25 mph is enforced on the oceanside beaches. I have visited these dunes twice, once for an event called SOB which was all about pre-’76 Ford Broncos (100s of them). This event no longer takes place but if you are into classic Broncos, put your search goggles on and look up the “Bronco Unevent” which takes place in Florence August 14-16, 2014, and you will find lots of action on the web. Unlike the dunes further south, there are no dune buggy rentals or sand tour companies operating here; it’s mostly locals and tends to not get as busy on long weekends. These dunes are accessible from Sand Lake Road off Hwy 101 just south of Tillamook. This area also includes the amazing Tillamook and Netarts Bays with hiking areas along long sandy beaches.

The Oregon sand dune rec sites include Sand Lake at the North end, to Coos Bay (Spinreel to Horsefall Dunes) in the south, with Winchester Bay, Umpqua Dunes near Reedsport and South Jetty near Florence in between the two. Each area offers unique topography, and the southern dunes also have quad, dune buggy rentals and sand tours available if you don’t have a machine of your own. The southern dunes (Florence to Coos Bay) are the most popular and offer the most amenities with each town offering hotels and campgrounds, with many of the latter having dune access (can be noisy in the areas that allow night riding), and full services, restaurants and parts stores – just in case something goes wrong…. US Forest service site: Bronco Unevent: 44 Trucks Plus

FEB / MAR 2014

On the Beach in Sand Lake. Keep in mind if you drive in the water – it is salt water!



TRAIL COUNTRY South Jetty: Located steps from Florence, the South Jetty entrance is right across the bridge from the town. This is my favourite place to camp with Honeyman State Park (no OHV access to the dunes) steps from South Jetty Road. There are also campgrounds with sand access, all along the dunes. Use the US Forest Service site to access information on the camp grounds. There is also limited camping space out on the sand dunes with reasonable access for RVs, but this is best left to those who are used to traveling on the sand with loaded vehicles. I’ve visited South Jetty the The Oregon dunes are not a desert and it can and does rain often, This beach access trail was flooded with fresh water and made for an interesting challenge we were not expecting.

most and the first big feature is what’s called “Show-off Hill.” This large parking/unloading area tends to get a lot of tourists hanging about in the summer and lots of sand drags up the large hill take place. There are also the most dune buggy and quad rentals close to Florence and companies with large sand tour vehicles that can take groups up to 20+. Some unique features of the South Jetty dunes are areas that get flooded in rainy seasons and can be headlight deep, a large “dry lake” that at times is a real lake, and what are called Tree Islands which are chunks of forest marooned in the sea of sand. There are lots of trails twisting through the trees here also so explore every inch.

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OFF-ROADING While you don’t need a lot of horsepower to get out and play in the sand, a small V8 can add to the experience!

area in the dunes. There is beach access here for OHV riding but only access to the interior dunes from each end. This riding area is large, with lots of dunes reaching to the 100 foot-tall range. There are OHV campgrounds with sand access as well as night riding opportunities (light on your flag mast). If you have horses, there are also horse-specific campsites with corrals here, with sand access a short ride from the campsites. What you need to know: Accommodation. In the summer months, the entire coastal area gets busy; book early or you will be disappointed. Long weekends tend to get busy on the sand.

Winchester Bay - Umpqua Dunes. This area features the tallest dunes in the area with some reaching several hundred feet tall. The dunes are accessed just a short distance from Reedsport which has several hotels, fuel etc. One of my favourite features here are what I call the Camel Humps, which are sand piles with narrow tracks and steep sides. The camel humps are topped with tall grass that looks like hair on a camel’s – well.... humps! Careful in here, a Jeep can surprise a smaller ride like a quad or a bike with the tight twists and narrow tracks; this is where you spend time watching for those 9-foot flags! There are a few harder-to-reach areas here with steep access best suited to bigger tires or paddle tires. There is no OHV access to the beach here and the tall dunes means this area is the most popular and can get busy on weekends. Coos Bay, Spinreel Dunes. Located just north of the town of Coos Bay, this is the largest riding

Sand flags and permits. You are required to have a flag 9 feet from the ground on your vehicle. The sports shops in any of the towns close to the dunes of your choice will sell them. An Oregon OHV Permit is required and sand dune day passes are also required. The OHV Permit was $10.00 for 2 years; day passes and three-day passes for OHV riding can be purchased from kiosks near the dunes.

While two wheels is not for me – stick a paddle tire on a bike and you can have easy air time!

If you can stick some good tires on it you can play on the dunes even in a 1968 Camaro. 46 Trucks Plus

FEB / MAR 2014

OFF-ROADING Rentals are available at the three major areas from Florence to Coos Bay: Florence area Sand Dunes Frontier Tours: Sandlands Adventures: See local area information for rental businesses (Florence) Reedsport/Winchester Bay area See local area information for rental businesses (Reedsport/Winchester Bay)

Oh yeah, when itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s windy and the sand is dry, this look is not a bad one. Bring goggles and a dust mask or have a bandana around your neck or you may be removing sand from cracks you didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know you had! If you are leaving a vehicle or trailer in the parking areas, you will be required to pay for parking as well. These are small prices to pay to have access to such an amazing riding area. Mufflers. There are decibel restrictions on the sand. Make sure you check the rules and have a proper sound suppressor muffler on your OHV.

Lakeside Area Sandtracks (Spinreel Dune Buggy Rentals): Camel humps are everywhere and lots of fun to play in. They tend to get low spots at the base in them from quads spinning tires and can lean you over pretty good. You can see many off into the distance.

Speed limits. Only the beach heads have a speed limit of 25 mph; all other areas are open. Some season closures do take place in some of the riding areas; check the Forestry site for updates. Tire pressure. Low tire pressure is critical to having fun in the sand in a 4x4; make sure you have an air compressor with you. On 33-inch tires and larger, tire pressures in the single digits is critical and makes all the difference from spending the day stuck to spending most of the day in 2WD drifting around having fun!

Your Go-to-Guys For Powertrain Parts & Service!



EDMONTON N. 1-800-661-8825

RED DEER 1-800-661-1629

LETHBRIDGE 1-800-483-8952

GRANDE PRAIRIE 1-800-661-8806

EDMONTON S. 1-800-661-8807

CALGARY 1-800-661-1378

MEDICINE HAT FORT McMURRAY 1-866-504-0635 1-866-714-3570


Trucks Plus 47


This may be the most capable vehicle on Earth

Story and photos by Russell Purcell


elowna native Geby Wager is a man on a mission. An avid adventurer, Geby has spent the better part of the last 25 years trying to create the perfect vehicle to meet his needs. These needs aren’t simple, as the successful businessman likes to take his vehicles into environments where few others would dare to venture. To make matters even more difficult, he prefers to satisfy his need for adventure during the cold winter months when the mountains in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley are capped with a thick blanket of snow, and the service roads are made impassable by fallen trees and huge stretches of sheet ice. Severe weather conditions, brutal terrain, and sub-zero temperatures are a test for any production vehicle, so Mr. Wager began to look at ways he could adapt an off-the-shelf Jeep YJ so that it would be able to get him anywhere he wanted to go, no matter how harsh and impossible the conditions appeared to be.

as a complete kit. CMS currently makes kits for the Jeep YJ and the Wrangler, but a TJ version is also being considered. “Our kit attaches to the frame and is then triangulated into the centre,” explained system designer Wager. “It’s a relatively simple bolt-in design that can be installed by a person with basic mechanical skills in about a week, and has been engineered to be trouble-free for many years of extreme use.” Mr. Wager’s demonstration unit is based on a four-door 2009 Jeep Wrangler Sahara which has seen regular off-road duty for over five years. Other than a few bumps and bruises to the extended fenders, this rolling test bed has proven ultra reliable. I should point out that the demo vehicle has had an engine swap, as the stock 3.8-litre V6 was replaced with a 6.4-litre Hemi V8 rated at 525 horsepower and 525 lb-ft of torque. Geby insists that the stock

He formed Creative Motor Sports, a Kelowna-based research and design business that builds all-terrain vehicles for clients who require dependable, go-anywhere transportation. And I do mean anywhere. With 24 inches of suspension travel (18 inches of ground clearance), four-wheel steering capabilities, and an infinitely adjustable air-operated suspension, a CMS-equipped Jeep YJ or JK (Wrangler) is capable of getting its passengers and cargo over, through, and up the most unmanageable terrain. Based around a proven and tested independent suspension system, the CMS set-up has been engineered to allow the operator to make a multitude of adjustments on-the-go, from the safety of the cockpit, using simple joystick controls. Most customers prefer to purchase turn-key vehicles from CMS, but for those looking to save a few dollars, the company offers the system 48 Trucks Plus

FEB / MAR 2014

CMS Founder Geby Wager

TECHNOLOGY The suspension has evolved over the last 25 years and is both lightweight and robust.

engine is more than sufficient to power a Jeep utilizing the CMS system, but he just prefers the extra grunt and growl that comes with a bigger engine. He even suggested that the stock unit may be preferred for running in the snow, as it is lighter, which helps keep the Jeep’s front end floating above the surface. Geby believes that adjustable suspension systems will become the norm as they offer far superior handling and safety. “With an independent suspension like ours,” offered Geby, “all four tires are effectively holding you in place. You also retain traction and the ability to steer, and the centre of gravity remains between the wheels.” The suspension is lighter than the stock Jeep equipment it replaces, but overall, the vehicle will weigh about the same as the standard Jeep model even with the enormous 46-inch Baja Claw tires and air tanks. If you choose to add a larger engine, there will be a weight penalty. While recounting tales of off-road adventures past, Geby admitted that while the CMS suspension is able to handle all types of terrain, it is the winter season that gets him excited. “Snow is our real love, so our products are designed to be as lightweight as possible, while still retaining the durability required for extreme off-road use. These vehicles ride up on the snow so they are far less harmful on the environment than much smaller vehicles like quads, motorcycles, and mountain bikes. In fact, they put less pressure (pounds per square inch) on the surface than does a horse, or even a man walking.“ This allows you to traverse terrain without destroying it. By adjusting the air pressure in the tires, and manipulating the suspension settings to suit the terrain, the driver can customize the system’s set-up to make travel more safe, comfortable and efficient than would be possible with a standard axle vehicle. This is especially the case when traversing side hills or off-camber situations where

50 Trucks Plus

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MUD READY 4-Door JK BedTred Kit Shown


PREMIUM LINERS FOR JEEP 速 Call for more information or a free sample: 800-462-8435


TECHNOLOGY The Jeeps designed by Kelowna based Creative Motor Sports excel in the snow, but do very little harm to the environment.

near Penticton, B.C. CMS had two of its Jeeps at the event acting as lead vehicles to help scout trails and get people out of trouble. It was here I witnessed how incredible these vehicles were as they managed to out-handle every other Jeep on site, and even get past obstacles and through narrow openings that appeared impossible for much smaller vehicles. This is largely due to the fact that all CMSequipped Jeeps feature an innovative rear steering system which greatly reduces the turning radius and allows you to “crab walk” up hills and around obstacles. “The rear-wheels only have to turn a little to have a huge effect,” Geby explained, “so you can lock the system out at higher speeds or for driving on the highway. I must admit, though, that I use it on the road quite a bit as it enables me to get the vehicle into tight spaces and through traffic.”

most vehicles become unsettled at about 30 degree angles. Even specialized off-road vehicles begin to topple over as you approach 40 to 45 degree angles. The CMS kit allows you to transfer weight from side to side, or front to back in an effort to keep the vehicle balanced over the tires. Another significant advantage of this system is that it allows you to keep the vehicle level whether climbing or descending a steep grade, which greatly enhances visibility and driver comfort. At its highest setting, the system offers almost 24 inches of travel. When dropped to its lowest setting, a CMS Jeep, 46-inch tires and all, rides low enough to drive under a standard seven foot garage door. My first encounter with CMS was a number of years ago when I was attending a Jeep Jamboree event at the Apex Mountain Resort

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The operator uses a custom joystick to manipulate the various suspension settings which are displayed on an integrated display screen.

TECHNOLOGY For those individuals seeking the ability to transport passengers, cargo or gear to a remote location, or just looking to maximize their off-road fun, the CMS Intelligent Off-Road Travel System will transform a stock Jeep into one of the most capable vehicles on Earth. CMS Jeeps offer up to 24-inches of travel from their adjustable suspension system.

Geby really wanted to stress how advanced his system is, as to the casual observer, it may just look like a Jeep on over-sized wheels. “Our vehicles are very technical, but the operation of the controls and interface is relatively simple to learn. Once you get dialed in, it adds to the enjoyment of traveling into the wilderness. We are not just a bunch of throttle jockeys pounding through the trees. With a little practice, the driver is able to change handling capabilities to best suit the changing terrain conditions and finesse the vehicle through treacherous conditions with ease.” For the customer looking to add the system to their own Jeep, the complete bolt-in package will cost $75,000. The company is presently looking at introducing a new sales model which will allow customers to purchase the system in phases, beginning with the coil-over suspension, in an effort to allow the build to better suit the household budget.

When dropped to its lowest suspension setting, the vehicle is still driveable and will easily fit under a standard garage door.


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Feb / mar 2014

Trucks Plus 53


On board air systems can be created out of junkyard parts such as air conditioning compressors. The larger York compressor is a staple for the off-road crowd but for tighter engine bays, the Sandon radialstyle compressor is a good alternative as a base to an underhood compressor system.

On-Board Air Compressors

The Sandon compressor on the right is a Ford design and on the left, a GM design. While the Ford compressor was a direct fit onto the engine it was destined for, the head was not removable easily, so there was no way to plug the oiling hole in the crankcase. The GM head is bolted onto the back and was a simple retrofit. be a bracket or two from a 4x4 supplier like What you need, depending on engine style and space, is a used air conditioning compressor. There are two main styles. The York compressors are getting hard to find as they were mostly fitted to vehicles from the ‘70s and up

Story and photos by Bruce Spierenburg


t doesn’t take long for off-road adventurers to realize how effective lower tire pressure can be, not only for traction over big rocks and slick trails but for ride comfort when rumbling over tough trails. The concern lies in getting those same tires back up to street pressure when it’s time to head home. There are endless small electric compressors on the market and all but a few of the better brands are up to the task of filling truck tires at the end of every trail in a reasonable amount of time. Not only can a good air supply fill tires, but it can also run air tools, fill up that sleeping mattress when camping and, in the case of a damaged tire, get you back on the road with an easy tire fix. This shows the basic components to getting an OBA system up and running. An air tank of any size can maximize the system and give you the ability to air tires up faster or even operate air tools on the trail. A compressor switch, check valve, blow-off valve and hoses that will fit the style of compressor you chose is all that’s needed. 54 Trucks Plus

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Once you progress past an electric pump, there are two engine-driven choices that you can assemble mostly with junkyard parts and may-

The oiling hole was drilled larger and taped so it would fit an Allen head set screw; this sealed up the crankcase so it could have oil added, and it will stay in the crankcase rather than blow back out the lines and potentially dry out the bearings and fail.

The assembled pressure switch has a one-way check valve to stop the air from bleeding back through the compressor, a 155 psi safety blow-off valve, and fittings to run hoses.

TRUCK TECH to the early ‘80s. The York has a crankshaft in the bottom and two pistons. A great source for these is still the HD truck wreckers and parts suppliers. For this vehicle, a serpentine-style pulley was needed (V-groove styles are common in automotive applications) and this unit was found at Coldstream Truck Parts in Vernon, B.C. Coldstream also had rebuilt units for slightly more, but by holding the two parts of the pulley together and turning, it was supplying a good amount of pressure and the clutch engaged when hit with 12 volts.

A bracket needed to be fabricated to install the York on this particular engine. In many cases, cruising the wrecking yard for a vintage vehicle with the same engine size as yours can net you the stock air conditioning brackets you need.

Pretty simple, air in via a filter and air out to the pressure switch or the air tank if you chose to use one.

A bracket can be fabricated and an air compression fitting fed out the grill, into the trunk or other convenient spot so it’s easy to access the air system without opening the hood every time.

Using a York compressor is the same as the Sandon. Air in and air out and an electric clutch to turn it on. The advantage of the York is that it has a built-in sump and retains oil better. The York does provide a higher continuous CFM volume but is larger and doesn’t always fit as easily in modern vehicles with a lot of components under the hood. The other more common style found on most of today’s vehicles is the Sandon compressor. The one pictured here is a GM unit from an Astro van. Some of the Sandons are hard to disassemble and they do need to be opened up and a hole plugged inside so they will retain oil in the crankcase. The Sandon is a radial design with five smaller pistons inside. The GM design offers easy access to remove the head to plug the port to the crank case. Air conditioning systems cycle a good amount of oil within the compressor gas system and this is what lubricates the moving parts in the compressor and also compresses the gas to create the cold air we all like to have in our cars. But remove the gases, and the compressor still does its thing and provides 12-15 psi of continuous air flow. Add an air tank and a pressure switch and you can easily have 150 psi of on-demand air pressure from one of these compact units.

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GEARING UP Bushwacker 2014 GMC Sierra Pocket Style Fender Flares As the 2014 GMC Sierra was released this past year, so were plenty of aftermarket products to enhance the look, feel and performance of the Sierra. Added to that list is the Boss Pocket Style Fender Flares from Bushwacker. Designed to open the wheelwells enough to fit 33-inch mud-terrain tires on stock suspension, the flares are made with Dura-Flex 2000 ABS and will provide an additional two inches of tire coverage. Installation is a breeze with simple step-by-step instructions that use the pre-existing factory holes. For more information please go to

2007- 2014 Toyota Tundra Helper Springs from Hellwig

Pro Comp Alloy Series 5035 Wheels

Hellwig’s all-new 2007-2014 2500-lb Helper Springs are made to get rid of clearance issues by adding springs to the top of the OEM spring pack, retaining the factory bump stop. New axle U-bolts and centre bolts are provided for the springs, and once they are installed, they can easily be adjusted until you find your desired amount of load support. Tundras have been known to sag a bit in the back with a big load, but this product should take care of that. The springs are easily installed using only common hand tools as there is no drilling required.

New from Pro Comp are the Alloy Series 5035 wheels that feature great styling along with a lightweight design and a high offset break clearance in order to meet the demands of truck owners. The wheels - which are finished in a chrome, polished, or powdercoat finish - use state-of-the-art Counter Pressure Casting Technology that provides unbelievable wheel strength. Additionally, the wheels include the centre caps and come available in a variety of sizes.

For more information please go to

For more information please go to

All-New Rear Hitch Running Board from Romik

All-New Engo E Series 20-inch 120 Watt LED Light Bar

New from Romik is their universal Rear Hitch Running Board which is designed to make accessing your SUV or trucks rear cargo area that much easier. It features a one-piece design, and is five inches wide which will give you a wide area to step on to ensure there are no accidents. Made to fit all standard 2-inch vehicle hitch receivers, the Rear Hitch Running Boards are available in either polished stainless steel or black powder coated carbon steel and are meant to match other Romik Running Board side steps. For more information please go to

Whether you’re looking to provide better lighting while doing nighttime road driving, or if you’re lighting up your favourite off-road trail, there are a large number of LED lighting options available. A new offering in that category is the E Series 20-inch 120-watt LED light bar from Engo. The light bar is a durable product that includes a built-in heat-sink and is good for 30,000 hours of light. It features a polycarbonate lens and comes with mounting hardware to make installation a breeze. For more information please go to

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GEARING UP Titan Fuel Tanks Spare Tire Tank Titan Fuel Tanks have come up with a way to make use of the otherwise useless spare tire space for trucks that have larger than OEM tires by designing a fuel tank to fit in that very spot. The 30-gallon (114 litre) tank fits directly where your original spare tire sits under the truck bed and provides a great way to extend your fuel mileage. The first of its kind tank uses a pump controller to ensure safe fuel delivery and can be installed easily by one person. It will come available for most 1999-and-newer diesel pickup trucks.

HOOD PROTECTORS & SIDEWIND DEFLECTORS Easy Installation / Max Protection / Chrome or Smoke

For more information please go to

Westin’s HDX Winch Mount Grille Guard Available for 2014 Silverado Westin Automotive Products has announced that it is making its HDX Winch Mount Grille Guard Available for the new 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500. The Guard is designed for heavyduty capability and is available in either polished stainless steel or a black powdercoated mild steel. It features Westin’s Low Profile MAX Winch Tray that mounts to the vehicle’s frame, can accommodate most winches with up to 16,500 pounds of rated line pull, and comes pre-drilled for winch mounting. For more information please go to

Husky Liners WeatherBeater Floorliners Now Available for 2014 Silverado Husky Liners’ popular line of WeatherBeater Floor Liners are now available for the brand new 2014 Chevrolet Silverado. The liners are designed to prevent just about anything that could potentially harm your carpets by providing protection against mud, spills and mess. They feature a Custom Fit design that uses the latest in laser measurement technology to ensure an exact and precise fit in your pickup. Husky uses a tough and durable patented rubberized material that will be resistant to most chemicals and keeps your cargo from shifting.


2FIT At Stampede, form meets function. We create products that are not only aerodynamic, but provide an integrated style that compliments your vehicle. And, did we mention, our products FIT LIKE A GLOVE.


For more information please go to Feb / mar 2014

Trucks Plus 59

GEARING UP AEM Introduces Brute Force Air Intake System for 2013 Jeep Wrangler A new option when looking for more power out of your 2013 Jeep Wrangler is AEMâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Brute Force Air Intake System. These systems are designed specifically for large engines that are typically found in trucks and bigger vehicles. Intuitive dyno testing has allowed AEM to design the intake to allow the engine to develop even more torque and horsepower, all while providing proper air filtration thanks to an all-aluminum inlet pipe that helps carry more air into the intake valves. For more information please go to

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We’re sure that most of you have had the misfortune of getting stuck while out on a weekend adventure. So send us your photos of your adventure to and if we use your photos we’ll send you a cool Trucks Plus hat!

Not sure why’d they’d choose a roadside mud pit rather than the actual road.

Looks like getting our trucks stuck has been going on for decades.

This isn’t a truck but it still looks very stuck.

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Looks like a case of should’ve stayed on the paved road.









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