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Toyota Tundra

The Tundra now offers a smaller, more fuel-efficient 12



We look at where all the hardcore 4x4s have gone 35

The Porsche Cayenne Turbo gets lighter and 28

Rolling Dead

Detroit Auto Show

Which trucks or SUVs will meet their demise in 2012? 44

Also Inside

Fresh Tracks--------------------------------- 4 New Wheels: Subaru Forester----------- 18 New Wheels: Nissan Titan---------------- 21 New Wheels: Mercedes Sprinter--------- 24 Feature: Original Cute Utes--------------- 32 Feature: The Cure for Cancer ------------ 39

We’ve got all the truck and SUV news from the 2012 Detroit Auto 50

Feature: Fuel Consumption Numbers--- 42 Feature: Edge and Explorer EcoBoost--- 54 The Truck Guy ----------------------------- 56 Gearing Up -------------------------------- 58 Stuck Trucks------------------------------- 62


The second-gen Porsche Cayenne is a perfect combination of bark and 18


Next Pathfinder Going Way Of Explorer, Durango

Volume 5, Issue No. 1 February/March 2012 Publisher/Editor: Dean Washington

Associate Publisher: David Symons

Advertising Inquiries: Circulation: Brenda Washington Editorial Coordinator / Graphic Design: Jordan Allan Controller: B.M. Walker Copy Editor: Gerry Frechette Sales & Marketing Elaine Fontaine Contributing Writers/Photographers: Jordan Allan Howard J Elmer Ian Harwood Russell Purcell Budd Stanley

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t seems as though the SUV market is quickly being swallowed up by the ever-growing Crossover giant. For several years, sloppy-handling body-on-frame 4WDs have been handing in their frames and sacrificing their off-road abilities in the name of unibody efficiency. The Explorer, Durango and Grand Cherokee have all made the change, and as a result are reaping the rewards of increased sales. The Pathfinder is one of the last remaining SUVs yet to make the change, but it looks as though the next generation Pathfinder will sport the telltale low-slung stance of a body void of a truck frame. We have no idea of the exact origin of the new Pathfinder’s platform, but it could share many of its bits with the recently revealed Infiniti JX. Nissan is keeping its cards close, but comments that it will have a refined V6 engine and next-generation Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) to make it one of the most fuel-efficient seven-passenger vehicles on the market. It is projected to deliver an expected 25 percent increase in combined City/Highway fuel economy and will also have a towing capacity competitive with the leaders in the segment.

Jeep Pays Homage to the Arctic

Building on the success of several recent special-edition Jeep vehicles, the Jeep brand is introducing its latest models: the 2012 Jeep Wrangler Arctic and Jeep Liberty Arctic. Based on the Jeep Wrangler Sahara model, the Arctic features Winter Chill, Bright Silver, or Bright White paint. Exterior features include body-coloured top and fender flares, “Arctic” badges on the front fenders, a “Yeti Footprint” decal over part of the driver’s side fender and hood, black hood decal and Mopar black fuel filler door and taillamp guards with a Rubicon tire and wheel package. Inside, Polar White accents and Arctic Orange piping and accent stitching cover the seats, steering wheel and armrest. The Liberty Arctic shares many of the same trim and graphic features as the Wrangler Arctic equipped with 16-inch aluminum wheels wrapped in P235/70R16 OWL all terrain tires.

Ford 6.8L V10 to Tow World’s Largest Float

The Rose Bowl is one of America’s biggest sporting events, and as such, the pre-game parade is a big part of the pageantry of the event. Last year, Natural Balance, a pet food company, broke the world record for the largest parade float, measuring in at a whopping 38,230 kg. Well they have even bigger plans this year, planning to display a 45,349 kg, 35.4-metre (116 feet) long monstrosity, which will feature a 20-metre-long wave pool. The pool has been specifically designed to accommodate Tillman the Dog, a surfing English Bulldog. To tow the whole works, the folks at Natural Balance are counting on power from the triedand-true Ford 6.8-litre V10, pulled directly from an F-650. The 362-horsepower mill, which boasts 457 pound-feet of torque, is completely stock. The same can be said for the six-speed automatic transmission, except for a custom gear reduction setup behind the output shaft to get the float moving.

FRESH TRACKS The IIHS Announces Its Latest Jeep Underestimating Market For “TOP SAFETY PICKS” Wrangler Pickup The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety has recently come out with its latest round of “TOP SAFETY PICKS,” with the addition of 18 new vehicles joining the 97 models that have already qualified for the list, of which six were SUVs and trucks. The big shaker this year was Honda, improving the Ridgeline, CR-V, Pilot and Acura MDX into the IIHS’s top spot. The other two winners include the BMW X3 and Mercedes M-Class. In all, 69 cars, 38 SUVs, five minivans, and a rather concerning three pickups earn TOP SAFETY PICK. The award recognizes vehicles that do the best job of protecting occupants in front, side, rollover, and rear crashes based on ratings in Institute evaluations. The ratings, which cover all four of the most common kinds of crashes, help shoppers pick vehicles that offer the highest levels of crash protection. Because the federal government now requires all 2012 and later passenger vehicles to have electronic stability control to help drivers avoid loss-of-control crashes, ESC no longer is a requirement to win as it was in prior years.

Yeah, we’ve been hitting you over the head with this one for quite a while now, but in all reality, for good reason. We, and likely you, would love to see Jeep build a pickup truck version of the Wrangler, and with all the concept hints that Jeep and Mopar have been putting

out, we thought that this was their intent. However, as we recently learned, no production pickup is on its way, but Mopar is producing a kit that Wrangler owners can purchase that will give their 4WD SUV a short bed in the back. Well it seems that Mopar has severely underestimated the popularity of this concept, thinking that there would be a market for 200 to 300 kits. However, Wards Auto is reporting that Mopar has already received over 400 dealer orders. Mopar is reportedly stepping up to meet the demand, as President Pietro Gorlier tells Wards that more kits are on the way. Gorlier adds that Mopar continues to be cautious about sales expectations in part because the kits are so large and difficult for dealers to store in any real numbers. Somehow, we think the kit will be as popular as the dealers are leading on, and we’d also bet that Jeep will be considering a pickup version when the Wrangler gets its next major update.


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Is Smart Planning a Sub-Compact Pickup?

With the compact pickup dead and gone, and the mid-sized pickup segment being propped up by the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier, is there a market for a sub-compact pickup? Well, Smart seems to think so, as it launched the For-us concept at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The For-us measures a minuscule 3,547mm long, 1,506mm wide and 1,701mm high; in contrast, that’s over 1.3 metres shorter than the smallest pickup currently available. Powering the little hauler will be a state-of-the-art electric drive with a 55 kW (or 73 hp) magneto-electric motor making the For-us a full zero-emission vehicle. The bed is designed to be large enough to hold two bicycles with the tailgate down, as long as you can remove the front tires from the bike’s front forks. Whether or not Smart builds the For-us for the real world is yet to be seen, but the electric drivetrain will find its way into current Smart products beginning this spring.


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Last Ranger Leaves Twin Cities Assembly Plant

It has been a long slow death for Ford’s mid-sized pickup. We’ve spent much time reporting on the inevitable, and now Ford has officially pulled the plug on the Ranger, with the last example rolling off the Twin Cities Assembly Plant last December. The “last of the line� has already been claimed by Orkin Pest Control, which will put the truck to work in its fleet of home service trucks. For what it’s worth, the Ranger name will live on in the all-new international Ranger that has already gone on sale in most other



800-338-3800  Trucks Plus

FEB / MAR 2012

regions of the world. Ford plans to begin dismantling the plant by moving out any equipment that can be used in other Ford facilities and conducting environmental testing on the 125-acre site. As for the workers, about two-thirds of the employees will have an opportunity to transfer to another Ford location, most likely assembly plants in Chicago or Louisville, Ky., which are adding thousands of jobs.

Ram Sends Ten PHEV 1500 Pickups To DTE Energy For Testing

Chrysler Group, working in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), has delivered the latest round of ten demonstration-fleet Ram 1500 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles to DTE Energy of Detroit, as part of a national demonstration fleet of 140 vehicles that will be used during


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FRESH TRACKS the next three years to evaluate customer usage, drive cycles, charging, thermal management, fuel economy, emissions and impact on the region’s electric grid. The Ram 1500 PHEV includes a liquid-cooled 12.9kWhr lithium ion battery pack and a 6.6 kW on-board charger. Additional features include directional charging, reverse power flow and full regenerative braking used to capture more energy. For fuel economy improvements, the front axle of the four wheel-drive automatic transmission can be disconnected when not needed. The battery pack is located under the second-row seat of the pickup and is liquid cooled to help maintain a consistent battery temperature. For on-the-job electrical power tools, a 240-volt/30-amp four-prong outlet and 120-volt/20-amp duplex outlet power strip is located in the rear box. Strictly a demonstration program, there are no plans for a production version of the PHEV Ram 1500 trucks at this time.

Mopar V10 Takes Baja Class WIn

Just two-and-a-half weeks after Mopar introduced the new 800-horsepower V10 Competition Race Engine for drag racing at the 2011 SEMA show in Las Vegas, the off-road racing derivative of the crate engine made its debut in the 44th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, powering Kent Kroeker and Alan Roach to the Class 8 win. The pair covered the distance of nearly 700 miles through the rugged desert of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula in just over 20 hours to record the Class 8 victory. Kroeker began the race and drove through the San Felipe loop, with Roach then taking the wheel for the remainder of the distance. The 2011 Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 drew a total of 278 starters from 34 states and 16 different countries, in more than 30 different classes. The Class 8 division that Kroeker and Roach competed in is comprised of full-size, two-wheel-drive trucks. The Mopar V10 is

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hand-assembled by race engine builders and features aluminum block and cylinder heads. The engine is designed for the rigours of off-road racing and pulls 695 lb-ft of torque with an operating range of up to 7,000 rpm, with a forged steel crankshaft, forged steel connecting rods and forged aluminum pistons with a compression ratio of 12.5:1.

Hennessey Feels The Cherokee SRT8 Is A Little Underpowered

We loved Jeep’s Grand Cherokee when it was released back in 2009, as the power of Chrysler’s Pentastar 3.5L V6 was most adequate for motivating the firm new body structure down the road, or off-road, what ever is your poison. The 5.7L HEMI gives it a mean streak, capable of withstanding just about any attack from foreign machinery, while the SRT8, with its 6.4L, is out-and-out ridiculously fast. Well, it seems ridiculously fast isn’t good enough, so Hennessey turned the knob up to “ludicrous speed.” Dubbed the HPE800, Hennessey has mounted a twin-turbo forced induction system to the factory 6.4L V8 and increased displacement to 7.0L, and the resulting 805 bhp and 823 lb-ft of torque will be enough to propel the HPE800 from 0-60 mph in 3.1 seconds. Additional modifications include an upgraded drivetrain, 15.1-inch Brembo brakes, lowered sport suspension system, lighter alloy wheels, carbon fibre front splitter and a custom leather interior with Alcantara steering wheel. HPE will limit production at just 24 examples, with pricing starting at $235,000 USD, and while it won’t be making use of the Cherokee’s off-road abilities, it’s sure to be one mean street fighter.


Heavy Hauler

Story by Russell Purcell. Photos courtesy Toyota Canada.


hey like things big in the state of Texas, so it makes perfect sense for Toyota to build its full-size pickup truck there. Sales surged initially, as the Tundra offered big rig looks and prodigious power from its 5.7-litre V8. However, much like its rival the Nissan Titan, demand cooled for the truck as the price of gasoline began to rise to unheard-of levels. Unlike Nissan, Toyota was quick to react, and in short order it was able to introduce a smaller and more fuel-efficient 4.6-litre V8 to the build sheet to help reinvigorate sales. I have always liked the look of the Toyota Tundra as its huge grille and swollen body make it look like a giant, ready to conquer

whatever may get in its path. However, I am not as smitten with the side profile of the Titan in Double Cab form. The odd 3/4 rearside window detracts from the truck’s fluid lines and seems very awkward and out of place. It does however make the truck look less heavy than the CrewMax model, but judging by which model I see most often on the road, the typical truck buyer seems to prefer the larger cabin afforded by the CrewMax. Once I clambered up into the driver’s seat, I was surprised by how simple the layout was. A very compact instrument cluster comprised of five circular gauges is joined by limited switchgear and four glove-friendly dials (HVAC and transfer case controls). The look is uncluttered and precise, in a manner perfected by Toyota’s efficiency experts, and fit-and-finish is exceptional for a vehicle in this category. The front seats seem to sit higher than those in most trucks, but this helps the driver get a better look over the huge hood that sprouts forward in intimidating fashion. Visibility isn’t great, and I am relatively tall (6’2”), but the truck’s side mirrors are excellent. The odd design of the rear side windows allows for an extra-wide pillar at the rear of the cabin, and the blindspot it creates is hard to overcome. As roomy as I found the front seating area, it did feel a bit more snug than that of other full-size offerings in this category. The seats, however, were well-bolstered and proved comfortable enough for extended travel. Shorter individuals may find some of the controls hard to reach, but this is a large vehicle, after all. The rear passenger compartment seats three individuals, but due to the short width of the side doors and reduced space for

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both legs and feet, it is best reserved for children, teenagers, and smaller adults. The seats can be folded up against the back wall of the cab to allow you to carry larger items in this compartment. Unfortunately, there is a shallow, lidded, floor-mounted cargo compartment residing under the seat cushions which robs the user of the opportunity to create a flat floor for cargo. There is no need for clutter in a Tundra as you will find two glove boxes and a plethora of storage bins and recesses distributed throughout the cabin. Not to mention, an abundance of extra-large cup-holders. There are three different cab configurations available including Regular Cab, Double Cab, or the CrewMax model. There are also three bed lengths available ranging from the standard (6’5”), long (8’1”) and short (5’5”). A 4.6-litre V8 is available in Double Cab configuration, while a 5.7-litre V8 is available in Regular, Double Cab and CrewMax configuration. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, and both can be ordered with two- or four-wheel drive drivetrains. My Double Cab unit was fitted with the standard 6.5-ft bed, but a long bed option is available if you upgrade to the 5.7-litre engine. My test vehicle featured the smaller of Toyota’s V8 offerings under the hood, that being the 4.6-litre i-FORCE V8. This engine was introduced to help attract more buyers to the Toyota fold, as the thirst of the big 5.7-litre engine that was initially the sole source of motivation for the Tundra was turning some customers away. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, Toyota’s product planners have chosen to only offer this engine to buyers of the two Double Cab offerings. I found the power plant to be a smooth operator during my time with the truck, and I must admit I was quite surprised to see the relatively low power rating of this engine (310 hp / 327 lb-ft) after spending some time behind the wheel. Mind you, I didn’t have an opportunity to load the truck up with either cargo or a full compliment of passengers, but as a daily driver

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I found it to offer spritely performance and brisk acceleration. The six-speed transmission was the perfect match to this engine, whether shuttling away from an intersection or cruising on the highway. I also came away impressed with how well the truck’s cabin seemed to be insulated from both engine and road noise. Handling proved very predictable and precise, with only the hint of a slight tail wag under acceleration one slippery morning. This is to be expected in most pick-up trucks when operating without a load in the cargo box, but I was surprised that the brand new winter tires on my test truck were that willing to break free. Other than this rare flap, the Tundra Double Cab delivered a driving and ride experience so refined, that at times, it was easy to forget that I was driving such a large truck. That is, of course, until I needed to navigate this monster through Vancouver traffic or find a suitable place to park. Surprisingly, while searching for parking, I discovered that the turning radius of the Tundra Double Cab proved tight enough to make it a livable option for those urban dwellers seeking the kind of utility one only finds in a full-size pickup truck. As much as I enjoyed my time with this truck, the reality is that if you plan to do any serious hauling, you will want the longer cargo box and the extra grunt offered by the larger power plant. If you plan to haul items like bags full of damp hockey gear, a pile of downhill mountain bikes, or the occasional load from the landscape supply store, then the 4.6-litre will more than suffice, and you will save a few hard-earned bucks at the gas station.

SPECIFICATIONS: Base price (MSRP): ........................................................$36,235 Price as tested: ...............................................................$45,815 Type: ................................... Full-size, 5 passenger pickup truck. Layout: ......Front-engine, RWD with One-Touch 4WD capability. Engine: . .............................................4.6L V8, DOHC, 32 valves Horsepower: . ...................................................310 @ 5,600 rpm Torque (lb-ft): . ..................................................327 @ 3,400 rpm Transmission: . ........................................................6-speed auto Curb weight: . ............................................... 2,443 kg (5,385 lbs) Payload: .......................................................... 565 kg (1,255 lbs) Towing capacity: .......................................... 3,580 kg (7,900 lbs) Fuel economy (L/100 km): ..........................City: 14.8, Hwy: 10.3 16 Trucks Plus

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Keep It Simple Subaru Forester still an uncomplicated workhorse Review by Budd Stanley, photos courtesy of Subaru Canada


atellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, adaptive radarcontrolled cruise control and multi-parameter trip and vehicle statistical readouts; these are high-end technologies you would expect to find in something like a military combat aircraft. However, today, these technologies are beginning to fill the interiors of our vehicles, making it easier to find your way around the streets of Manhattan than it is to find out how to change the radio station.

ally for people that don’t want a crossover, but feel they need to have one because everyone else has one. The Forester on the other hand, works as a crossover, for those who know they want a crossover. The spacious cargo area with seats folded flat made for one of the best in-car sleeps I’ve experienced in quite a while.

Whatever happened to three dials for the HVAC and two knobs and a couple of preset buttons for the radio? As I mentioned in my Porsche Cayenne review, I almost went into a seizure every time I tried to navigate the sea of buttons that layered the dash of that vehicle. What a nice surprise I had when I picked up the Subaru Forester soon afterwards. In an age when manufacturers are falling over themselves trying to shove vehicles with the latest and greatest gadgets that steal concentration from the road, the Forester was a refreshing break. That’s not to say you can’t get most of that stuff in better-equipped trim levels, but I was quite happy in the base model. As the original crossover, the Forester still keeps to its basic principles of driving like a car, yet having the storage capacity of an SUV. Yet, with all the new “cute utes” out there all clamouring to offer great fuel efficiency in a versatile SUV body, it’s the Forester that still completes that task the best. Some will dislike its boxy shape and conservative looks, but in the world of Jukes, Countrymen and CX-7s, cargo space is wasted in the name of performance and style. These vehicles are re18 Trucks Plus

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The Forester really does meet the criteria for the crossover, being both a great driving vehicle with good fuel efficiency while offering the utility of an SUV.

NEW WHEELS Yes, the Forester is a realist in the crossover community, but that doesn’t mean it’s a pushover when it comes to the new niche punks in town. The 2.5L Boxer four-cylinder makes a healthy 170 horsepower, which really pushes it down the road quite nicely, and if you still need your turbo-boosted G-forces, then Subaru will happily plop in the 224-horsepower turbocharged version of the engine, and some nice interior appointments for $35K. And it’s no slouch in the fuel efficiency department either as I recorded a rating of 9.2L/100km on the highway and 9.6L in the city, not too shabby for a CUV that doesn’t have a fancy CVT transmission, direct injection or hybrid drivetrain. However, Subaru has just added a CVT to its Impreza model, so you can expect that the next generation Forester will be sporting the gearless wonder, improving fuel efficiency even further. On the road, the Forester had a spirited feel to it; handling was nowhere near what you would get in, say, the MINI Countryman, but it was admirable for a CUV. There was significant tire roll, which did make it lean a bit in the corners, but the resulting grip on loose surfaces and snow helps justify the added roll. With the AWD system lifted from the Impreza and Legacy, the Forester excels on gravel and snowy roads, although it’s not a system that will be doing any rock crawling. The Forester’s ground clearance is capable of dealing with any light off-road duties with ease. Unfortunately, the Forester may be a bit of an unsung hero in the crossover segment. Its excellent versatility, practicality and build quality often go unnoticed compared to larger brands with bigger marketing budgets. And while it may not have as many bells and whistles as other newer vehicles, I really enjoyed my time in the Forester. The lack of computer systems, controls and interfaced connectivity was refreshing, and allowed me to enjoy the drive once again.

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Despite driving like a car, the ample interior space was enough for me to get a comfortable night’s sleep while doing a bit of winter camping.

SPECIFICATIONS: MSRP: . ...........................................................................$25,995 Price as tested: ...............................................................$29,095 Layout: ..........................................................Front Engine, AWD Engine: . ...................................................................2.5L flat-four Power: . ..............................................................170 hp, 174 lb-ft Transmission: . ............................................... 4-speed automatic Curb weight: . ................................................................. 1,497 kg Fuel Efficiency (city, hwy):.................... 9.9L/100km, 7.5L/100km


Big, bold and dated

Story by Russell Purcell. Images courtesy Nissan Canada.


he Nissan Titan has always come across as a beast of a pickup truck. Its V8 engine and throaty exhaust produce a raucous rumble that makes heads turn and people take notice. Its bold design is distinctive enough to stand out from the crowd, and there is enough power under the hood to meet the needs of the average consumer. Unfortunately, it hasn’t evolved much since it was introduced to the Canadian marketplace in 2004. As a result, it is a bit of a dinosaur when compared to rivals from Toyota, Ford, GM and Ram. Having said that, it does bode well for the buyer who is simply looking for a powerful rig to perform occasional light towing duties, haul small loads, or engage in outdoor adventures, as many dealers are offering deep discounts on Titans.

There is nothing significantly wrong with the truck, but it is hampered by the fact that it can only be ordered with a relatively inefficient, gasoline-fed, 5.6-litre V8 engine and a five-speed transmission. This powerplant generates 317 horsepower and 385 lb-ft of torque, but without the benefit of either a six-speed transmission or cylinder deactivation capabilities, it gulps down an awful lot of fuel. While these numbers were impressive when the Titan first hit the market, they are considered pretty anemic in 2012. The big “Endurance” 5.6-litre engine is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission that proved to be a very smooth operator, and this combination delivers impressive acceleration for such a big truck. The rumble of the exhaust is addictive, especially when you accelerate hard, but again, this will increase your pain at the pump. Handling is impressive for such a large truck, and steering and pedal feel remained communicative at all times. The truck’s suspension and brakes inspired confidence whenever I was behind the wheel. My test rig was a well-equipped, Crew Cab, 4X4 model outfitted more for passenger comfort than work duty. Don’t get me wrong, as the Nissan Titan is capable of towing up to 4,128 kilograms (9,100lb.) in this configuration, but true work trucks tend to be 3/4 or 1-ton models powered by diesel engines. If you plan to use this truck to pull a small camper, toy trailer or boat, it will perform this function with ease. The Nissan Titan is still a beast. Its bold front end looks like a chisel, and with its wide, threepiece grille, enormous headlights, and bulging hood it looks more aggressive than its rivals. A wide stance and prominent fender flares exaggerate its dimensions to make it appear even larger than it really is. My tester’s big 20-inch wheels gave the truck the aggressive, go-anywhere look favoured by younger buyFEB / MAR 2012

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NEW WHEELS ers, and most of the comments it elicited during my seven-day test period seemed to be from young men in their early twenties. While the Titan’s interior looks a bit dated and chunky, I have to admit it wins big points in the comfort department. This truck is spacious. I found the front passenger compartment to be much more roomy than that in the Toyota Tundra test truck I had the week prior. The rear seating area was much bigger as well, but this would not be a fair comparison to make as my Toyota test vehicle was a Double Cab unit, not a Quad Cab. The SL trim features a full compliment of power and comfort accessories including dual-zone automatic climate control, heated leather seats, power-operated front seats, a premium Rockford Fosgate audio system, Bluetooth capabilities, wood accents, and power-adjustable pedals. The aforementioned 20-inch wheels are chrome-clad, as are the mirrors and accessory step rails. The truck also features automatic headlamps and very effective fog lamps. There is plenty of useful storage space scattered throughout the passenger compartment including a huge, wide storage bin in the centre console that is large enough for most laptops and tablets. Another neat feature is the power-operated rear window. At the touch of a button, it retracts into the back wall. If I had one major complaint about the passenger compartment, it would be the poor placement of the window and mirror controls. They sit atop the door panel where they are exposed to the elements whenever the door is opened or you lower the window. The side windows on the Titan sit almost vertical and suffer from the lack of a rain gutter system, so on rainy days the water flows directly onto the controls which can’t be a good thing in the long run. The Titan is available with your choice of either the venerable King Cab design, which employs two small, rear-hinged doors that open 168 degrees, or a Crew Cab offering that comes fitted with four proper, full-sized doors. The Titan King Cab and Crew Cab models can be ordered in your choice of four trim levels – S, SV in short- or long-wheelbase, the off-road-ready PRO-4X, and SL trim. However, only the King Cab S and SV can be had in two-wheel-drive form. The Crew Cab model comes equipped with a 7.3-foot cargo box (the longest in the class) which, in the case of my tester, was fitted with a bed-liner and a very clever Utili-track cargo carrying system. Other cool features include a soft-drop tailgate, and a lockable storage compartment just aft of the rear wheel on the driver’s side. The Nissan Titan has proven to be a reliable and rugged truck best suited for the recreational buyer, but its design and powertrain are well past their prime. As a result, it would be tough to recommend the purchase of a new Titan unless you find an exceptional deal.

SPECIFICATIONS: Base price (MSRP):........................................................ $39,898 Price as tested:............................................................... $54,493 Type:................................... Full-size, 5-passenger pickup truck. Layout: .......................................................... Front-engine, 4WD Engine:............................................... 5.6L V8, DOHC, 32 valves Horsepower:..................................................... 317 @ 5,200 rpm Torque (lb-ft):.................................................... 385 @ 3,400 rpm Transmission: . ........................................................5-speed auto Curb weight: . ............................................... 2,418 kg (5,336 lbs) Towing capacity: .......................................... 4,128 kg (9,100 lbs) Payload: .......................................................... 774 kg (1,706 lbs) Fuel consumption (L/100km): ........................ City 17.7 (16 mpg) Hwy: 12.1 (23 mpg)

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NEW WHEELS of using seatbelts, that there are still far too many people using cell-phones while behind the wheel, and my visual survey revealed that two out of three transit bus drivers like to text while driving. While making my way through the streets of downtown Vancouver picking up fares for my temporary scenic tour business (yes, it did cross my mind), I was impressed with how easy it was to navigate through traffic in the Sprinter. Despite its enormous dimensions, it’s narrow enough to keep to a standard lane, and with excellent sightlines all round (except when backing up), and fantastic mirrors, I felt more than comfortable operating my German charge in this crowded, urban setting. On the highway, the Sprinter proved to be a luxurious cruiser, as its long wheelbase, heavy-duty suspension, and dedicated vibration damper isolated my precious cargo from the bumps and dips common on B.C. roadways.

Spacious, economical, and a breeze to drive! Story and photos by Russell Purcell


elieve it or not, there are still some people out there besides airport shuttle drivers who need a vehicle large enough to transport more than seven people. Unfortunately, there are very few options available to Canadian consumers when it comes to finding such a vehicle. Recently, I had the chance to spend a week piloting a passenger version of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, and to my surprise, it proved to be a pleasure to drive. My test vehicle was equipped with the turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 BlueTEC diesel engine with AdBlue. This ultra-clean power plant generates 188 horsepower at a relatively low 3,800 rpm, and 325 lb-ft of torque @ 1,400 to 2,400 rpm. Unlike diesel engines of the past, this smooth operator proved exceptionally quiet, even when asked to tackle long climbs like those on B.C.’s scenic Coquihalla Pass on the way to the Okanagan Valley. I was certain that this enormous vehicle would struggle for breath as we made our way through this mountainous region, but it never missed a beat. In fact, the Sprinter proved most happy traveling at the posted 100 km/h speed limit. The five-speed automatic never seemed to be on the hunt for a suitable gear, but instead kept the Sprinter rolling along with almost effortless precision. Sitting up high perched in my comfortable captain’s chair, I had unobstructed views of the road ahead, as well as down into every vehicle I encountered along my travels. I must admit I saw some strange things occurring in passing vehicles, some I wish I could erase from my memory banks. I was really surprised to see how few people seem to understand the importance 24 Trucks Plus

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Ingress and egress is a simple affair due to the enormous sliding door on the passenger side of the vehicle. There is an ultra-wide, illuminated step that extends the full width of the opening, and plenty of grab handles. I found all 12 seating positions to be comfortable. The bench seats incorporate adjustable head restraints for each passenger, while the outboard position closest to the side door in the first two rows also includes a flip-up armrest. All seats come complete with shoulder belts and are roomy enough to put many airlines to shame. If I had one gripe here, it would be the lack of a swing-out foot rest of some type, as short-legged individuals might feel a little fatigue on long trips if their legs are left to dangle. Should handling cargo be on the agenda, the rear seats can be removed using a simple lever system. They are solidly built and quite heavy, so removing them is a two-person job. Once removed, you will immediately notice that the floor is almost perfectly flat and features integrated recessed tie-down anchors, as well as a stain-resistant floor covering. When the seats are left in place, there is still a substantial cargo area situated behind the rearmost seats that is accessed by two swing doors which open a full 270°. The driver and passenger will find a seemingly endless array of storage bins, recesses and cubbies scattered throughout the cab.


The Sprinter Passenger Wagon is available in standard and longwheelbase forms; the latter more than doubles the cargo area behind the rearmost bench, and increases available payload by over 200 kilograms. You can also order the vehicle with extended roof height which would make your human cargo more comfortable, and allow you to carry taller cargo. My test rig featured the standard wheelbase and roofline, and at 6’2” tall, I found it very comfortable to move in and around the seats. There is also a wide pass-through between the two front seats to allow you to interact with your passengers and collect tips (kidding). The heated driver’s seat seemed infinitely adjustable, and the combination of deep side bolsters and an adjustable armrest kept me comfortably planted during my four-hour journey to Kelowna. The steering wheel is a four-spoke design complete with secondary controls for audio and Bluetooth functions, and it provided positive feedback similar to that felt in a Mercedes-Benz sedan, rather than the vague feel one would expect from a commercial vehicle. It is also fitted to a tilt-and-telescoping steering column. Controls are simple, with a short gear lever mounted on the lower portion of the dash by the driver’s right knee. The transmission seemed to do an excellent job of using the engine’s power efficiently, but there were a few occasions when I chose to make my own gear selections using the manual mode function. Instrumentation and switchgear are well-placed and highly visible, and the heating and ventilation system was strong enough to warm the entire passenger compartment in very short order. The driver and passenger will find a seemingly endless array of storage bins, recesses and cubbies scattered throughout the cab. I found a stash of Mercedes-Benz marketing materials in a storage bin while taking a closer look at the vehicle’s many features. The brochures were designed to hit the competition hard, claiming a Sprinter operator could see up to a 45-percent savings in fuel costs when compared to main rivals like the Ford E-Series, and GMC Savanna and Chevrolet Express. They also stressed that the Sprinter operator will “spend more time on the road and less on a hoist,” due to the Sprinter’s enviable 15,000-kilometre maintenance interval (whereas the competition suggest 10,000 kilometre intervals for their products). The literature also points out that the Mercedes-Benz benefits from a lower rate of depreciation than its rivals, a significant factor that will no doubt attract some buyers. 26 Trucks Plus

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The professional driver is already aware of the legendary MercedesBenz nameplate, as the company is the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles. As a result, Sprinters can be configured in a number of ways to best suit the work application they are to perform. There are two wheelbases and three body lengths to choose from, as well as three load compartment heights. My truck was a three-quarter ton (2500) passenger unit equipped with two seats in the front cab, and ten seats in the rear compartment in a three bench configuration (3-3-4). Every Mercedes-Benz Sprinter comes standard with electronic stability and traction control systems, hill-start assist, tire pressure monitors, parking sensors and front airbags. Advanced side and curtain airbags are available as an option. There is also an emergency exit hatch side window on the driver’s side of the passenger compartment should the vehicle be involved in a crash or roll-over and the sliding door become inoperable. Sure, you pay a little more for the Mercedes-Benz nameplate, but when you weigh factors like its superior build quality, impressive fuel economy, environmentally-conscious BlueTEC exhaust-scrubbing technology, and class-leading cargo/passenger space, the Sprinter starts to look like a sure winner. If it proves as reliable as I would expect a Mercedes to be, and if it can in fact operate for longer periods than its competitors, then the cost margin is significantly reduced. The presence of a strong resale value basically extinguishes any real concerns you should have for paying a little more up front for a quality product like the Sprinter.

SPECIFICATIONS: Base price (MSRP):.......................................... $47,900-$54,400 Type: ............................................................... 12-passenger van Layout: ..........................................................Front-engine, RWD Engine: . ......................... Turbocharged 3.0L BlueTEC diesel V6 Horsepower: . ..............................................188 hp @ 3,800 rpm Torque (lb-ft): . ........................................325 @ 1,400-2,400 rpm Transmission: . ............................................... 5-speed automatic Brakes (Front/rear): .......................................Disc/disc with ABS Wheelbase: .......... 3,665 mm (144.3 in.) or 4,325 mm (170.3 in.) Length: ................... 5,910 mm (232.5 in.) / 6,945 mm (273.4 in.) Height: . .................... 2,445 mm (96.3 in.) / 2,730 mm (107.5 in.) Cargo capacity: .............1.9 cu.m (67 cu.ft) / 5.5 cu.m (194 cu.ft) Turning circle: ................... 14.5 m (570.9 in.) /16.7 m (657.5 in.) Towing capacity: ............................................2,268 kg (5,000 lb) Fuel tank: ............................................................................ 100 L

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Shad’s Chairman John Vanstone and board member Ray Osika accepting the first Annual Fred Shaddick Community Service Award.

Your continued support of SHAD’s and the almost $4M in donations has had a profound impact on MDC. So much so that MDC has recognized our efforts by creating the Annual Fred Shaddick Community Service Award. Awarded annually, the Fred Shaddick Community Service Award will recognize outstanding contribution in the community.

Won’t you consider joining us in pushing SHAD’s over the $4M mark this year ? Since 1954, Muscular Dystrophy Canada has been committed to improving the quality of life, mainly through donations, for the tens of thousands of Canadians with neuromuscular disorders and leading research for the discovery of therapies and cures. Shad’s R&R has continually supported these efforts since 1973 by donating over $3.8M to Muscular Dystrophy Canada. Now entering its’ 39th year, the automotive aftermarket continues to fulfill founder Fred Shaddick’s original mission of “For the Kids”.

Mark your calendars for the 39th Annual Shad’s R&R Golf Tournament on June 14th with all proceeds to Muscular Dystrophy Canada. Station Creek Golf & Country Club – Stouffville, ON If you would like to become a sponsor or make a donation to SHAD’s R&R “For the Kids”, please contact one of our board members directly.

Shad’s Board of Directors: John Vanstone, Chairman Luc Champagne Ken Coulter Mike Fazackerley Steve Gushie Mike Holland Ray Osika Brad Shaddick Scott Stone Cameron Young This ad space generously donated by Rousseau Automotive Communication.


The Beast Inside

A lighter, nimbler performance maniac Review by Budd Stanley, photos courtesy of Porsche Canada


’m already driving too fast down a straight lined with Douglas firs, with a series of well-known bends soon to overtake my senses. However, I know my vehicle’s braking limits, and waiting just to the point of discomfort, I mash the wide pedal with all my might, forcing my whole body into the seatbelt, which in this case is acting like a rigging harness, keeping me from puncturing the front windshield. Carving through the corner, the tires start to emanate a scrubbing noise and the G-forces pull at my cheeks as the corner exit nears my peripheral vision. Like the brakes, I know that the power that lurks under the hood is even more ferocious, and with adrenaline running strong, I roll ever so gently onto the throttle, hoping that I’m smooth enough with my inputs not to upset the delicate balance a high-performance vehicle has at such limits.

When Porsche first came out with the Cayenne, keeping with the company’s performance heritage, they wanted it to be on par with the 911 when it came to track duties, while the Cayenne Turbo would have to match the 911 Turbo’s legendary capabilities. The first generation of the Cayenne Turbo lived up to the numbers on paper. However, the big heavy brute was no match for the 911’s nimble and surgical handling, wallowing around up high and gobbling up massive amounts of resources in the act of being the only SUV capable of keeping up to the supercar. Today, though, the Cayenne Turbo has some competition. The BMW X5 M sports 55 extra ponies out of an engine that is 400 ccs down on the Cayenne’s big 4.8L turbocharged V8 and is nearly $22,000 less. Waiting in the wings are the equally impressive Mercedes ML63 AMG and Range Rover Sport Supercharged.

With most of today’s high-powered performance cars, the frightening realism of the consequences of just simply mashing the throttle coming out of a corner is a given, and never would I have thought I’d feel that same The new design goes a long way further to excitement in an making the Cayenne Turbo like a 911 Turbo SUV. with a proper rear seat and big boot. 28 Trucks Plus

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A fantastic design that almost put me into a seizure every time I tried to find a suitable radio station. A great design, but too complicated. Seats and seating position are as you would expect with Porsche’s purest sports cars. Both sport big V8s with slightly more power than the Cayenne Turbo’s 500 hp. The AMG can be had for $101K and the bargain of the lot is the Landy at an impressive $89K. So, why so much for the pride of Zuffenhausen? Well, when Porsche redesigned the Cayenne last year, they knew where its weaknesses lay. The out-going Cayenne was big, heavy and burnt enough fuel to make an F-350 King Ranch pulling a fifth-wheel blush. Thanks to the combination of lightweight materials, changes in the structural design and the new, active and extra-light all-wheel drive system, the overall weight of the Cayenne is down by a substantial 180 kg, while improving the standard of safety. Porsche also introduced a new eight-speed Tiptronic S transmission with Auto Start-Stop, which along with other improvements, net the Cayenne a 23 percent gain in fuel efficiency. And it’s noticeable; I was surprised how kind the Turbo was to me on fuel, that is, until I planted the throttle, and then all deals are out the window.

sive $19,000 ahead of the closest competitor, not to mention Porsche’s knack for dragging customers through the ringer when it comes time to tick off some added options. However, when you drive a Cayenne Turbo, you start to see where the money is going. Its performance is only matched by a vehicle that is more race car than SUV, the new look is much more Porsche than the somewhat hokey first generation monstrosity, and the interior is fantastically juvenile. Sitting in the driver’s seat, I thought I was eight-years old again, imagining I was piloting a star fighter, with a cockpit full of complicated switches, dials and screens. As fantastic as the interior design and layout is, it really is a bit too complicated. The number of features all shoehorned into the dash was more than I could deal with over a week, and I barely had time to play with half of them.

Another added benefit of the weight savings is improved handling and ride characteristics. While the BMW shares top performance stats with the Turbo, this is what separates the two. The X5 M is a magnificent handling vehicle, but it’s only at its best on the track. Roads with anything more than a frost crack will send you off to the dentist pronto - not so good for what’s supposed to be a utility vehicle. The Porsche is equally at home tearing up the track or running errands and picking up groceries and easily has the most refined ride. While Porsche has worked on all the characteristics that hurt the Cayenne, the fly in the ointment for the Turbo is its price. With more than $64,000 between the base Cayenne and the topof-the-line Turbo, the difference alone is ten grand more than the cheapest Cayenne. In terms of the competition, the Turbo is a masFEB / MAR 2012

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I really enjoy the Cayenne’s new look, and the resulting diet and 8-speed gearbox means it’s much more fun and economical to drive.

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Does the Cayenne Turbo give me that special, unknown Porsche feeling when I get inside now? No, it doesn’t, but it does something almost as special, and that is create a sense of excitement that no other SUV could ever match. Its classy looks are seductive, its wild interior brings out the kid in me and the sheer devastating performance turns me into a red-eyed monster wanting to go to war with any winding bit of tarmac that catches my eye. Yeah, it may be overpriced, it may be complicated, it may suck fuel like a container ship when the turbos light up, but damn, is it ever a great experience.


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MSRP: . .........................................................................$120,000 Price as tested: .............................................................$136,715 Layout: ..........................................................Front Engine, AWD Engine: . ...........................................4.8L Twin-Turbocharged V8 Power: . ..............................................................500 hp, 516 lb-ft Transmission: . .......................... 8-speed manual-shift automatic Curb weight: . ................................................................. 2,170 kg Fuel Efficiency (city, hwy, comb.): 16.2L/100km, 8.8L/100km 11.5L/100km


The Original Cute Utes Before the pretty Countryman, Tiguan and RVR came the ugly ducklings Story by Budd Stanley, photos courtesy of Chrysler, VW and Lada


he Crossover is by far the largest growing segment in the auto industry today, and for good reason. They are vehicles that have come closer than any other to offering the best of all worlds to their owners. They offer seating for a small family and storage space for a weekend trip, and they have nimble on-road handling with all-season all-wheel drive systems that can handle winter conditions and a light jaunt into the wilderness. They are compact enough to move about in the urban jungle and get the fuel efficiency of a mid-sized sedan. While not the master of one trade, the Crossover is most definitely a jack of all. However, before the VW Tiguan, the Dodge Journey, the Mitsubishi RVR, MINI Counrtyman and Nissan Juke, there were three lone vehicles that originally blurred the lines between four-wheel drive and car. And so we remember three vehicles that sparked the Crossover revolution. AMC Eagle By far the ugliest of the bunch, American Motors introduced the innovative Eagle for the 1980 model year, calling it the world’s first complete line (sedan, coupe, and station wagon) full-time automatic allwheel drive vehicle. The Eagle would combine an AMC car body onto a Jeep drivetrain system that used a viscous centre differential that provided a quiet and smooth transfer of power to the axle with the greatest traction. It was a drive system devoid of a low-range transfer case, but the smoother diff coupled with high-level appointments was designed to give the car a more luxurious feel along with the capabilities of a 4WD system, setting itself apart from the brutish trucks and 4x4s of the day. The drive system was so good at that time that the automobile press described it as far superior to 32 Trucks Plus

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Subaru’s and that it could beat many so-called off-road vehicles. Four Wheeler Magazine went so far as to say the AMC Eagle was “the beginning of a new generation of cars.” Little did they know, however, that the Eagle would never live to see its full potential as its fate would be directly tied to the fate of AMC. Despite the failings of other AMC products, the Eagle would become quite popular, offering a cheaper and more fuel-efficient addition to the Jeep products and bridging the cost gap to the 4WD car competition of the day, the Subaru. Two additional models were added in 1981, the sub-compact SX/4 and Kammback. A manual transmission and a front axle-disconnect feature were also made available for greater fuel economy. During 1981 and 1982, a unique Much like a BMW X6, AMC considered the Eagle to be an all-terrain sedan/ station wagon/coupe.

FEATURE mounted to the rear bumper, special raised suspension, all-terrain tires, underbody skid plates and VW’s own Syncro 4-Wheel Drive system. Providing the motivation was the legendary 1.8L SOHC 8-valve with 114 hp, and in smaller numbers, the 75 hp 1.6 GTD turbo diesel. The Country was particularly popular in Alpine regions in central Europe for obvious reasons. While these cars have the look of home-built alterations someone has made for a joke, this rare breed of Golf truly is a factory-built collectible. Potential owners may have been better off making the modifications themselves, though, as the Country was prohibitively expensive when it was launched in 1989. Ridiculed back then, the slow-selling model was killed off shortly after its induction and is now a highly sought-after collector’s item, much like many Syncro-powered VWs.

convertible was added to the line. The Eagle’s monocoque body was reinforced for the conversion and had a steel targa bar with a removable fibreglass roof section. However, it all came to an end in 1988, and the Eagle became one of many victims of AMC’s financial woes when the company went out of business. Volkswagen Golf Country The rarest of the three is the VW. Yes, in a world full of millions upon millions of VW Golfs, there was one that was special and extremely unique for its time, yet there is still precious little information about this odd branch on the Golf family tree. VW only built about 8,000 examples of this MK2 Golf, which featured a bull bar to protect the front fascia, external full-size spare tire

Despite millions of VW Golfs being built, the high cost of building a Syncro-driven Golf made the vehicle a rather rare sight. As with many such cars, they are highly sought-after today. FEB / MAR 2012

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FEATURE Lada Niva While AMC and VW brought 4WD utility to the car and hatchback, it was the ugly little Lada Niva that truly pioneered the Crossover segment that now dominates the showrooms. The Russian company had for many years simply bought Fiat products and badge engineered them into their own. The problem was, other than the metropolises in the west, most of Russia is agricultural land and its road infrastructure was poorly maintained. The little Fiats designed for Italian lanes just weren’t cutting it. So in 1977, the Niva was Lada’s first in-house designed and built vehicle, compact enough to be economical in the socialist state, while also being rugged enough to handle the vast wilderness. Niva is the Russian word for Despite being imported from behind the Iron Curtain, the Lada Niva “crop field,” and it was particularly popular was as useful and popular here in Canada as it was in Russia. Built in rural Russia. Ironically, its rugged frontier with extremely thick metal, the Niva was prime excellent for trips design also made it quite popular here in down the Road of Bones, or entering the Paris-Dakar Rally. Canada as well, and believe it or not, sold here up until 1998. The Russian Niva is still being sold to this day The extreme practicality and efficiency of the Niva meant it became a workhorse in Eastern Europe. The useful little off-roader was back in mother Russia. used as an ambulance, a military vehicle, and by various police When the Niva was released back in ‘77, Lada called it a Renault forces and utility companies. A fleet of Nivas was even used in the 5 on a Land Rover chassis. Lada built all its vehicles with heavy- building of the English Channel Tunnel, clocking up 70,000 km of gauge steel bodywork to cope with extreme Siberian climates, poor off-road duty on each car during the construction. roads, and few service facilities in many parts of Russia, which made high mileage, such as 500,000 km, possible under less- The Crossover has come a long way since the Eagle, Golf Country extreme operating conditions. Much like modern day Crossovers, and Niva, and while these old pioneers may not have looked as the Niva was one of the first unibodied 4WDs, featuring a full-time pretty as their modern day successors, it’s plain to see that they All-Wheel Drive system that made use of a locking centre differential were much harder working, useful vehicles than today’s Cute Utes, with a high- and low-range selection transfer case. Together with a if not as highway-friendly and comfortable. Regardless, these are carbureted 1.6-litre overhead cam four-cylinder engine producing 72 the vehicles that started what is now the largest growing market in hp and 93 lb-ft and either a four- or five-speed manual transmission, the auto industry and yet, they seem to have fallen into obscurity, the original Niva had a maximum speed of around 130 km/h, and a lost in time to modern innovations. So we pay tribute to the little ugly ducklings, the first and most rugged of their kind. fuel efficiency rating of 8.25 L/100 km. Sound familiar?

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Generation Soft

Where have the hard-core 4x4s gone? Story and photos by Budd Stanley, additional photos courtesy of Land Rover and Toyota

experience will be coming home to the manicured designer rock driveways of the mansions that only their owners could own.


Case in point, Land Rover recently showed off its thoughts of what the next-generation Defender might look like last year at the Frankfurt Auto Show. And they are not alone as Smart and Toyota are also showing very stylish, urban-oriented trucks. Now, the Defender is the last real Land Rover left that stays true to the company’s heritage. As a replacement for a tractor, the Land Rover was built rugged and strong, equipped with Power Take Off, and could easily be fixed with a couple of tools, with parts easily found; modern Defenders still use some of the same equipment found on the originals, nearly 60 years ago. That’s right, other than some trim and engine options, it is a vehicle that hasn’t much changed in almost 60 years, and for good reason – it got the job done.

ust what has happened to the utilitarian 4WD? Don’t be fooled by manufacturers calling their soft-roaders true hard-core utilitarian conquerors of all terrains, because let’s face it, 4x4s are getting pretty soft-core these days. Much like the way society today has become lazy and soft, so has the 4x4. Back in the ‘70s, actors like Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, Clint Eastwood, Sean Connery and Sam Elliott ruled the screen, forced in their old age to give way to pretty boys like Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Tom Cruise and the freshly-shaved chest of Matthew McConaughey. Canadian industry, once dominated by farming, mining, logging, fishing and trapping, has now been taken over by IT, tourism and the service-retail sector. Today, the dedicated off-road vehicle has become obese and gimmicky, sporting unibody structures, plastic bumpers, interiors of leisure, and relying on electronic driving aids to get cross country. It used to be that the market was full of economical dedicated 4x4s; those who lived on property or worked out in the wilderness had a proper choice of vehicle that was more utility than style. The Toyota Land Cruiser, Land Rover Defender, Ford Bronco, International Scout, Suzuki Samurai, Isuzu Trooper and Dodge Raider are all great examples of great off-road utility vehicles that have either unspeakably evolved into “West Vancouver Tractors,” or been taken behind the barn for that final execution shot. What we’re left with is a small selection of disposable full-sized pickups, and a select few luxury utes that require obscene sums of money to own and whose only bit of off-roading

Despite the Defender not even being available here in Canada due to ridiculous government legislation, I was looking forward to what Land Rover would do to revive what I consider its most important vehicle. This pretty new concept looks very cool; however, it doesn’t look like something I would want to risk in a narrow gorge. It doesn’t look like it shares any parts from any of its Land Rover brethren, it doesn’t look like replacing a bumper and quarter panel will be a cheap and painless affair and finally, it doesn’t look like the British SAS are going to cut off the roof, mount some sand rails and three 7.62 mm NATO heavy machine guns and go to war with it. I want my new dedicated 4WD to be combat-ready, equipped with a handbook that explains how to plug a punctured sump tank with a large piece of sharpened FEB / MAR 2012

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FEATURE they are getting soft, the same answer always comes back. “Our vehicles are hardcore off-roaders, and they now offer the customer increased comfort and conveniences in a multi-discipline vehicle.” Well, if these guys got out from behind their desks and actually took their vehicles out into the wilderness, they would see that the off-road enthusiast, for the most part, spends hundreds of hours per year keeping up an old dedicated 4x4 from decades past. They chose the old workhorses because either they can’t afford to drag a new vehicle through the woods, or recognize that the old-school rigs are built tougher, are lighter and more manoeuvrable, have better vision and are downright more fun to drive. wood while taking fire. I just don’t see that in this concept. I don’t see that in any modern dedicated 4WD. Like the Defender, Toyota’s Land Cruiser has also grown soft, moving on to a life of leisure, along with Mercedes G-Wagen, Ford Explorer, Toyota 4Runner, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Nissan Pathfinder. Don’t get me wrong, they are all still good off-roaders, but they are not great “go anywhere” vehicles like they once were, and any little slip on the trail would cost more than a couple of mortgage payments to fix. Yet, when I talk to the heads of manufacturers about these vehicles, and why

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So why is this trend happening? Well, it’s not just the manufacturers’ fault, as those pesky government regulations that keep the Defender from coming to our shores are a big part of the problem. Regulations on Canadian cars mandate that all vehicles sold here must have airbags and electronic driving aids, which are not ideal in an off-roader. Bumpers must be a certain height from the road, doors must provide a certain spec of impact resistance, bodies must be heavily reinforced with thick A, B, C and D pillars, and the window line is raised up in order to protect the occupants in the event of an accident, which destroys visibility and kills the fun-to-drive nature of a vehicle.

FEATURE Secondly, manufacturers pay very close attention to what the majority of the population look for in a new vehicle, and two major requisites are fuel efficiency and safety. Along with emissions standards, manufacturers are forced to build efficient unibodied off-roaders that feature a weaker full-time AWD system rather than a proper 4WD two-speed transfer case system in the name of aerodynamics and fuel efficiency. It all works together to take the fun out of the 4x4. So in essence, what made the old 4x4s so great was their lack of safety; however, in a nanny state such as ours, we’re not allowed to buy dangerous cars anymore. So, gone a r e t h e D e f e n d e r, t h e Samurai, the Bronco and the 40- and 70-series Land Cruiser. As a result, here in B.C., the woods are full of ‘70s and ‘80s era Toyotas, Samurais, Broncos, Scouts, and Defenders. That is except for one vehicle, the original 4x4, the venerable Jeep. The Wrangler is the only new vehicle that has stayed true to the old school 4x4 traditions. They may not be well-built, but they are

the last true great out-of-the-box off-road vehicle left, and Jeep has still abided by all the rules. Yes, many will complain that the FJ Cruiser, Ford Raptor and Ram Power Wagon are all true off-roaders as well, but in my experience, the FJ is one of the worst vehicles to try and see out of, is not very manoeuvrable, has electronic aids that do more bad than good and has ridiculously stupid rear doors. The Raptor is great if you want to burn across an open desert floor at 150 km/h, but not much good when it comes to climbing up a muddy slope, while t h e P o w e r Wa g o n i s a massive cumbersome beast that would be lost forever if it ever entered a forest. No, the Wrangler, particularly the Rubicon edition with solid front and rear differentials, locking diffs, disconnecting sway bars and a proper manuallyshifted transfer case, is the last of the true off-roaders, and if you doubt me, just go out into the wilderness and see for yourself. I only hope that with the growing popularity of off-roading, other manufacturers begin to take this segment of vehicle a little more seriously. Don’t build it pretty, build it to work.

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FEATURE that makes saving a 40 a simple process that even the most amateur backyard mechanic can’t screw up. Initially building aluminum-hulled fish and sport boats, company founder Todd Gronsdahl took the company in a new direction when the rollcage in his FJ40 fell through the rusting floor boards and onto the rear tire. He then took his aluminum fabrication skills, and put them to use building a complete aluminum tub for his Toyota. Before he knew it, other Land Cruiser owners and shops saw the value in such a product and asked him to put the replacement body into production. Since then, he has perfecting the replacement aluminum tub, growing to offer Land Cruiser owners not only replacement bodies, but unique bespoke products that include stretched bodies and even quad cab versions of their 40-series.

The Cure For Cancer Saving old classics with aluminum

As a consequence of Todd’s initial idea being so popular, several calls came in from owners of other classic rusting 4WDs for similar aluminum replacement bodies. Noticing a business opportunity has meant that Aqualu has done away with the boats and is now creating both Jeep and Suzuki Samurai bodies as well. Todd comments that all of Aqualu’s body designs are built off an original steel body, with the aid of CAD software to have the exact same dimensions as the originals, and are designed to accept all the OEM components. This gives customers an extremely useful product that easily replaces the old rotten body on their existing or new frames, and with the bonus of being fabricated out of aluminum, the new bodies are corrosion-proof if done right.

Story and photos by Budd Stanley


he Toyota Land Cruiser BJ and FJ40 is a legend in the off-road world. Built like a tank on a short-wheelbase frame, not only is the Cruiser as reliable as the day is long, it’s a vehicle that’s so capable and robust that several NATO countries used the vehicle as their General Purpose Vehicle in several conflicts. However, as useful and bulletproof as the 40 is, it has a rather large Achilles Heel – the red cancerous death that is rust. Like every Toyota built in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, cheap thin steel used to build the bodies would start to bubble with tumours the moment the hood felt its first rain drop. Its contrast in strengths is so great that the 40 is one of the most popular 4WDs to be restored, despite the first models now turning 52. However, it is near impossible to find one with a body that isn’t rotted to the point where everything south of the window line is about to turn to dust. But the character of the Land Cruiser is so strong, there is still a huge market of dedicated enthusiasts who still spend great sums of time and finances to bring these great vehicles back from the brink. In most cases, this means spending hundreds of hours in the shop, cutting out the cancer, and welding on patches, or maybe even replacing entire panels. Either way, it’s a test of patience, and if you don’t do it absolutely perfectly, the cancer will return with even greater vengeance. Aqualu Industries has been a Land Cruiser owner’s best friend for the last twenty years, producing an incredible line of products FEB / MAR 2012

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However, not completely corrosion-proof, as just about any old Land Rover owner will tell you. Whenever you mix aluminum bodies and steel frames, the electrolysis reaction between the two metals will make the aluminum corrode. Todd comments that this issue is easily overcome if the body is painted before installation and rubber spacers are used on mounting surfaces. In extreme cases, customers can create rubber washers out of bicycle tire tubing for all the mounting hardware to ensure their corrosion-proof bodies stay that way.

While corrosion resistance will be the primary factor for a Land Cruiser, Jeep and Samurai owners turn to Aqualu to save their classics, and an additional benefit of an Aqualu body is structural rigidity. Todd comments that these bodies are built tough for the real world and some have even survived severe head-on accidents. All bodies made by Aqualu are overbuilt with .156-inch thick aluminum. This means each body is significantly stronger than OEM steel, while being roughly the same weight. There are even stories of extreme off-roaders rolling their bodies up to 30 times and not having to replace the body. Todd notes that the aluminum can take a much heavier beating than standard steel bodies, and when repairs need to be made, simple hammering and straightening like with steel will bring back the original shape. The downside comes with patching, as welding with aluminum is much more difficult, and reputable shops should be making such repairs if they are incurred. For you Bronco and Scout owners aching for one of these kits, Aqualu would love to accommodate you, however the more complex curves to those bodies means they don’t lend themselves well to aluminum fabrication. In total, Aqualu offers eight different body styles for the Land Cruiser line, along with a complete front cowl and five different bed length options for the 45-series pickup. Jeep products include eleven different bodies for 2A/3A, 3B, CJ5, CJ6, CJ7, YJ, CJ8 bobbed, CJ8 Scrambler, CJ stock and quad cab along with several bed lengths to choose from. The Suzuki bodies are

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FEATURE still relatively new to Aqualu, and it currently builds a standard and long wheelbase version of the Samurai. However, Aqualu isn’t just about replacement bodies, as it has several other useful products such as storage boxes built-in under seats, benches and rear tailgates as well as dashes, fenders and grilles. It has also just announced the production of an all-new frame lineup that will encompass the regular 40 series in both pre- and post-1978, along with a 120-inch wheelbase version for the quad-cab body and a 130-inch wheelbase for a stretched quad-cab, 45-series pickup and Troop carrier bodies. What’s nice with Aqualu is that you don’t need to just order the kit that it has available. If you require a Land Cruiser body with a ten-inch stretch for Overlanding, or maybe a CJ that is six inches narrower for rock crawling, Aqualu can handle all custom dimensions so that you aren’t cutting up your brand new body in hopes that you might get it the way you want it. Aqualu has the expertise, equipment and software to ensure you get just what you were dreaming of. And it isn’’t done working on new products as several big advances are in the works, and should see the light of day in the near future, such as independent suspension systems and offering a JK four-door body for your old Jeep frame. As restorers ourselves, the whole premise behind what Aqualu does is quite intriguing, and refreshing to see. The ease of putting a corrosion-resistant, highly durable new body on an old truck has us searching the classifieds for an old FJ. More importantly, thanks to these great products, countless rusty old Land Cruisers, Jeeps and Suzukis have survived the red cancer, allowed to live long and healthy lives well into the future.


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How is fuel consumption calculated by the government? Story by Howard J Elmer, photo courtesy of Chevrolet Canada


nderstanding fuel consumption on our cars and trucks is important for every Canadian with a budget - in other words, all of us. To that end, auto manufacturers are quick to offer fuel stats on every piece of marketing literature they produce. But do you know how that reported fuel consumption on new cars is calculated? Well, prior to the Canadian government getting involved, pretty much however the manufacturers wanted, so that was not a reliable system. That all changed in 1980 when the first of the stark black and white EnerGuide stickers found their way onto every new car. Embossed with the Government of Canada logo, these fuel consumption guides have become an expected sight stuck to that side window. In fact, along with an MSRP build sheet, for the past thirty years, these two bits of paper make wandering a closed car lot a lot more informative than in the days of painted windshields, clowns, balloons and lurking car salesmen. In general, you can reasonably acquaint yourself with the particulars of your vehicle of interest before ever having to darken the dealership’s showroom. Price and mileage – two key pieces of information. Still, most everyone knows that MSRP is the starting point in price negotiations on a new car. You know the ploy – the high price is cut down with rebates, sales incentives, seasonal deals and the goodwill of the manager. But what about that other bit of paper, the EnerGuide sticker; how accurate is it? Is it the high number or the low? Can you take it at face value? Well, can you? First off, for RVers who tow, it’s important to know that vehicles with a curb weight of over 6,000 lb (2,722 kg) are not listed in the EnerGuide. At that number (the weight cut-off), some half-tons and SUVs are listed, but not all, and certainly none of the HD trucks. However, I am willing to make a leap of faith in that I figure the manufacturers would likely use very similar test criteria themselves for vehicles not covered by the guide. So the numbers they release for new vehicles are likely similarly arrived at. Still just a guess, though. In the EnerGuide introduction, it’s stated that determining fuel consumption on all new light-duty vehicles is a cooperative effort between the vehicle manufacturer, Natural Resources Canada and Transport Canada. So, how do they do it? Well, for starters, each vehicle is tested in a laboratory setting, not on the road. Here, fuel economy is calculated using standardized methodology, most of which makes absolute sense yet with some strange twists as we’ll see. Vehicle Preparation: Selected prototypes of each new vehicle are delivered new, but they have been run up to 6,000 km before testing begins. This assures a consistent “broken-in” result. Computer Calculations: At the test laboratory, the vehicle is mounted on a two-wheel chassis dynamometer which will simulate on-road driving. The computer that 42 Trucks Plus

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controls the test is pre-programmed to take into account the particular characteristics of the test vehicle. These include aerodynamic efficiency, overall weight and rolling resistance of the vehicle (stats all supplied by the manufacturer, no doubt). Standardized testing: All vehicles are tested in two-wheel drive mode, which means 4WDs are also tested in two-wheel drive only (so fuel calculations for 4WD mode are not taken) and AWD systems have another calculation added to the dynamometer’s computer brain to reflect the added weight and engine load of a full-time AWD powertrain (because AWD can’t be disconnected, of course). At first blush, all this seems fine; it’s logical and it really is the only way to compare apples to apples – using an unchanging laboratory setup. However, have a look at the actual simulated road courses. Course descriptions: Each test starts with “The City Course.” This is a simulated 12-km trip during which the average speed is 32 km/h. During the trip, the vehicle is halted 18 times to represent traffic lights, and the test takes 23 minutes to complete. During the test, the vehicle is at idle for four minutes and the highest speed it reaches on a stretch is a few moments at 81 km/h. A measurement device on the fuel line records the amount of fuel consumed. Once the trip is complete, it is repeated after the vehicle has been shut-off for eight minutes and both results are recorded. The second part of each test is the “Highway Course.” This highway fuel consumption calculation is arrived at using a simulated 16-km trip with an average speed of 77 km/h. The top speed during this test hits just 97 km/h during the 13 minutes it runs. There are no stops included and the vehicle is tested from a hot start. That’s it. So, while the City test seems reasonable, is the Highway test really representative of how Canadians drive? And, while there is no way to quantify an answer to my rhetorical question, the best response is found on the EnerGuide sticker itself. In small print below the huge solid-looking black fuel numbers is the disclaimer that reads: The fuel consumption you achieve with your vehicle may differ from published ratings, depending on how, where and when you drive and the optional equipment installed. In the guide, it goes on to say that fuel consumption is affected by driving style and behaviour, vehicle acceleration, braking and driving speed. Also, overall vehicle age, operating condition, ambient temperature, elevation, terrain, weather, traffic, road conditions, drive systems and powered accessories (such as air conditioning) installed on the vehicle. That’s a lot of variables. So, while those huge black numbers on the window stickers suggest a much more solid bit of research than what has been outlined here, perhaps the most truthful admission is found in its name – “Fuel Consumption Guide.”




BEDRUG, INC. n 635 Old Hickory Blvd. Old Hickory, TN 37138 n 1-800-462-8435 n


The Rolling Dead

Ranger and B-Series are not the only trucks or SUVs to meet their demise in 2012 Story by Budd Stanley, photos courtesy of BMW, Chrysler, Ford, Honda and Mitsubishi

the X5 diesel. Not to mention that the ActiveHybrid cost nearly $20K more than the same vehicle without the hybrid tech.


We never like to see a performance-minded vehicle hauled off to the chopping block, but despite the ActiveHybrid’s impressive performance capabilities, abnormalities in throttle actuation, drivetrain communication with the driver and that odd shape, means there will be no tears shed here for the loss of the ActiveHybrid. However, if you are one of those who like the X6 lineup, you can breathe a sigh of relief, as the ActiveHybrid is the only trim getting the axe.

s we’ve been ever diligently, yet depressingly, reporting the demise of the midsized truck segment, it’s not just the Ford Ranger and Mazda B-Series that have seen their demise with the ringing in of 2012. No, 2011 was a hard year for some manufacturers, as they have been changing the direction of their product lines to make the best of the financial woes that have encompassed the world today. The result has been the killing off of several pickup trucks, SUVs and even a crossover or two. And so, we look back at those that will not be making it to the 2012 model year. It is a list that has a couple of surprising additions, a couple of vehicles that never should have made it to 2011, let alone 2012, and a couple that were quite predictable. Here is what will be joining the Ranger and B-Series in that big parking lot in the sky. BMW ActiveHybrid X6 BMW mystified us as to why it would even build the normal X6, as its target market seemed vague and niche at best. However, the ActiveHybrid version that came out soon after seemed to make a little more sense, at least in theory. The aerodynamic SUV with an eco-conscious hybrid drivetrain would seem to be a good match in terms of upping the fuel efficiency of a gas guzzling twin-turbo V8-powered SUV. However, despite huge power ratings, the heavy ActiveHybrid only provided marginal efficiency improvements over its six-cylinder brother, and was completely outclassed by 44 Trucks Plus

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FEATURE offer great amounts of outside-of-the-box versatility, that die off due to peoples’ lack of imagination. The first of the square cube cars that would soon invade our shores, the Element made the most of its controversial shape. The box design offered huge amounts of cargo area for a vehicle of its size, while the use of pillarless rear suicide doors created a huge side opening that made placing kids in child seats a breeze. However, what made the Element truly great was the thought that went into the rear seats. With the ability to fold flat against the sides, it resulted in a cavernous cargo area, while all four seats could be folded flat to turn the entire interior into a large bed. The Element was likely the greatest road trip vehicle ever conceived, with features only thought of by the aftermarket. It may not have been pretty, but the Element was useful, and for that, I will most definitely miss this niche classic. Chevrolet HHR Yeah, I know, it’s more car than SUV, but Chevy calls it a crossover. Regardless, I had to put this one in just because it was so bad. Taking the short spike in popularity created by the PT Cruiser (an equally terrible vehicle), GM made a weak attempt to grab hold of that vehicle’s popularity by hiring the PT Cruiser’s designer to make the same vehicle for Chevrolet. The result was the HHR, standing for Heritage High Roof. This ugly duckling’s build, driving feel and ergonomics were so bad that I chose to walk to my destinations, rather than endure the HHR when I was testing it. Like the ActiveHybrid, good riddance, bring on the Sonic. Honda Element While I’m not so sad to see the first two vehicles on the list of doom go the way of the Dodo, the canceling of the Element does hurt me a little bit. It may not have been the sexiest of automobiles, but the Element joins a long line of oddly-designed niche vehicles that

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FEATURE friendliness. As such, the Endeavor’s days are numbered. A project meant to appease American customers and to ease the financial burdens of importing the much more successful Pajero into North

Mazda Tribute The Tribute was nothing more than a Ford Escape, badge engineered into a Mazda with nothing more than a couple of logo replacements and a little bit of front grille and headlight treatment. However, while Ford is replacing the Escape with a new unibodied crossover platform based on the European Kuga, Mazda is not going to take the same direction with the now-ancient Tribute. With Mazda introducing the CX-7 several years ago, essentially a competitor to the Tribute, dressed in much more modern and useful clothing for today’s soccer moms, the writing was on the wall for the Tribute, with Mazda choosing to open up another segment with the CX-5, rather than have the domestic family issues with the Tribute. Mitsubishi Endeavor Along with the Eclipse and soon-to-be-dead Lancer Evolution, Mitsubishi is cleaning house of anything that doesn’t get the absolute best in fuel efficiency. Mitsubishi has turned a new leaf, so to speak, and is shifting its global image from performance to environmental

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America, the all-American designed-and-built Endeavor failed to live up to expectation when it was released back in 2003, with sales slumping consistently ever since. With Mitsubishi’s new environmental direction, the biggest gas-guzzler with the three diamonds on the grille has got to go. Ram Dakota Much like the Ford Ranger and Mazda B-Series, the Ram Dakota has succumbed to the thinning of the midsized truck herd. The writing has been on the wall for some time now as Chrysler gave the Dakota a full redesign in 2005 and a healthy facelift in 2007, with several new features and increased capabilities, yet the truck continued to fall short in sales. During 2011, its big brother, the Ram, outsold the Dakota by a rate of 37-to-1. With numbers like that, there really isn’t much choice, as mid-sized truck buyers continue to pick Toyota and Nissan over the stumbling domestic competition. And so, the Dakota not only failed to make it to 2012, it had its production canceled way back in August. However, while the Dakota is dead, Chrysler says that its name may live on, possibly in 2013 with a truck based on a unibodied platform.

NEW WHEELS a Tundra or Tacoma, production is finally being ramped up at the San Antonio plant after hard-to-source parts have now been found in the wake of the Japanese Tsunami. We are also closely following a story about a new Korean (mid-size) pickup that through its majority shareholder (Mahindra of India) might make it here. And the new small GM pickup built in Thailand – well, we are waiting to see how that will play out, and when. In the meantime, here are the SUV highlights from Detroit.

Truck and SUV News from the 2012 Detroit Auto Show By Howard J Elmer


he winner of North American Truck of the Year in Detroit recently set the tone for what we’ll see in “truck news” this year. That winner was the Land Rover – Range Rover Evoque. The Evoque beat out the BMW X3 and the Honda CR-V for this honour. Not to suggest that this accomplishment is somehow lacking – it’s just its “Truck of the Year” – yet there were no trucks in the competition, just as there were no new trucks on the show floor at the Detroit Auto Show. In fact, I’d say this is the year of the car, because even the SUV offerings were light. That made for a boring show for me, yet interestingly, just days after the International preview in Detroit, news began to circulate about a number of truck-related stories. First, the word that the Dodge Dakota will return, probably next year. But wait, that’s not all – it might be offered (possibly) with a diesel engine. If this is true, we’d expect the 3.0L burner from the Jeep Grand Cherokee to accept this duty. GM’s full-size pickups are due for a generational update late next year; however, we might see a preview in New York in late March. If you’ve been waiting on 50 Trucks Plus

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2013 NISSAN PATHFINDER (CONCEPT) Nissan’s best-known nameplate, the Pathfinder, takes its first bow here at Detroit, with the introduction of the fourth generation of this well-known SUV to North America. Though it’s still being called a concept, the all-new look and style of the sweeping Pathfinder body lines must be production-bound; in fact, it’s probably the interior (which we can’t see at the moment) which resigns it to concept status, because it isn’t done. However, the Pathfinder is slated to go on sale at Canadian dealers this fall, so Nissan will just have to be ready with the interior appointments. What we do know about the inside is that it will continue to offer three rows of seating, cargo/people flexibility and room for seven passengers. Also new in the Pathfinder will be a next-gen CVT and V6 engine that together are expected to increase combined City/Highway fuel economy by 25 percent. A new 4WD system is being called “intuitive” and Nissan says that Pathfinder’s towing capacity will be competitive within its segment. 2013 NISSAN e-NV200 (CONCEPT) Also debuting from Nissan is the e-NV200 Concept. Based on the popular Nissan NV200 multi-usage vehicle, which is available in Japan, Europe and China (it certainly looks to be the little brother of the NV commercial van), the e-NV200 Concept is a full-electric vehicle. Unlike the larger NV, Nissan is suggesting that this smaller electric van may well be of equal use to businesses or families. Certainly, it will offer the typical flexible, roomy interior of a van, while also being clean and green. The e-NV200 Concept shares

NEW WHEELS its major drivetrain components with the Nissan Leaf. Its power is supplied is by a lithium-ion battery composed of 48 compact modules and a high-response 80kW AC synchronous motor that generates 207 lb-ft (280 N-m/rpm) of torque. Its practical use and application are being explored now, and it would take little to bring this van to market. 2013 ACURA RDX SUV PROTOTYPE Another small SUV prototype shown at Detroit is the second generation of the Acura RDX. This five-passenger crossover SUV is looking to not only bring an updated fascia to market, but also a new engine,

transmission and all-wheel drive system. Scheduled to launch this spring, the new engine will be a 3.5L V6 engine that produces 273 horsepower, 33 more than the outgoing model. RDX also gets a sixspeed automatic transmission with a new lock-up torque converter and a new, lighter all-wheel drive system. The RDX exterior gets a longer sculpted hood with lines that draw the design out on (no surprise) a longer frame and wider track. This feature also translates to larger door openings, increased passenger room and more cargo space. Also new will be Amplitude Reactive Dampers, power rear tailgate and a new motion-adaptive electronic power steering system. On the tech side, look for a new three-view rear camera, advanced navigation system and up to 15 gigs of music storage.

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2013 INFINITI JX35 This all-new Infiniti JX35 has been unleashed here with a very specific mission – to do battle in the seven-passenger, luxury SUV segment. To that end, it’s been well armed, firstly with a classic crossover look and interior appointments that feature premium materials and smart innovations. Infiniti claims that JX’s design offers extra legroom in all three rows while still leaving ample cargo space behind the third. Innovative features include a multi-mode middle seat that opens to the third row without having to remove a child seat from the second row. New technical innovations include an industry-first Backup Collision Intervention system which also works with the Blind Spot Intervention protocol. This system not only warns but can also engage the brakes to avoid a collision. Offered in both front-wheel drive and with Intelligent All-Wheel Drive, the JX is driven by a 3.5L DOHC V6 mated to a sport-tuned CVT. The engine is rated at 265 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque. 2013 LEXUS LX570 Large and luxurious, the Lexus LX570 has debuted an updated outside look along with new interior features like Mahogany wood trim. Showing a new front spindle grille, new 20-inch alloy wheel

NEW WHEELS automatically retract when shut off. Front seats get improved cooling ability, and a series of cameras in the front grille and under the passenger outside mirror let the driver check hard-to-view areas. By pressing a button on the dash, the driver will get multiple views on the navigation screen. In addition, off-road, the system remains active at under 12 km/h in a simultaneous split-screen mode.

design and upgraded interior, this eight-passenger SUV is meant to deliver luxury driving, on-road and off. For 2013, what we’ve seen are new LED daytime running lights, new headlamp design and new larger fog lamp bezels. Tail lamps are also updated, while the rear licence plate surround gets a revised look and the tow hitch cover is more integrated. Both front and rear bumpers are refreshed and the side mirrors get turn signals integrated. Inside the eight-passenger cabin, the driver gets a new Easy Access seat (moves with you) while the wheel and driver’s seat now

2013 BUICK ENCORE Buick rolled out a new mini-SUV at Detroit, an all-new vehicle that the head of GM design, Ed Welburn, says is a cross between utility, luxury and practicality. So, who’s it aimed at? Young and old alike, it would seem. In the same way that first-time home buyers and empty nesters often both end up in the same condo building, this Encore taps into the young person’s need for luxury and the Boomer’s need for downsized practicality, says the company. Nicely styled, though small, it will have room for five and their cargo, but Encore will also strive for fuel efficiency with a standard Ecotec 1.4L turbo four-cylinder engine and sixspeed automatic transmission. Inside, the cabin is very Buick with a mix of dark and light tones accented with ice blue ambient lighting, and bright wood-grain trim. Heated front seats and a heated steering wheel will be available. Look to see more of the Encore throughout this year as it’s not due in showrooms till the first quarter of 2013.

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2012 Edge and Explorer get the 4-cylinder EcoBoost By Howard J Elmer The word that you don’t hear much from Ford these days is “hybrid.” Not that they don’t mention it, but not that often and it’s most noticeable by its absence from most of their product releases. This subtle non-event signals a shift in thinking at Ford towards an item we do hear lots about: “EcoBoost”. EcoBoost is Ford’s answer to its customers’ need for fuel economy, and their desire for power. Built as either the 2.0L I4 or 3.5L V6, the EcoBoost is spreading through Ford’s lineup as quickly as the flu moves through the office. In a way it’s the “anti–hybrid,” a new spin on the venerable ICE (Internal Combustion Engine). Today, the latest models to get the EcoBoost option (the 2.0L I4, that is) are the popular Edge and the Explorer. These were the two vehicles I drove at Ford’s Proving Grounds in Romeo, MI. Power-wise, the I4 EcoBoost doesn’t match the V6 option (which is still available in both) but it doesn’t lose as much as you might think. This direct-injected, turbocharged and intercooled engine delivers 240 hp and develops 270 lb-ft of torque, which moves both vehicles along smartly. Not too shabby for a little 2.0L motor. The why of this move hardly needs to be explained in Canada with gas prices well north of a dollar a litre. However, even in the powerhungry States, Ford reports that fuel economy is now the Number One new car purchase consideration for a significant slice of its customers; 35 percent they say. This desire for fuel economy is not limited to cars, though; amazingly, the F150 pickup truck is currently being ordered 41 percent of the time with an EcoBoost V6 engine in it. And this is just since 54 Trucks Plus

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it was first made available this past March. Now, while V8s are still available, these truck customers are proving that the combination of horsepower and promised fuel savings can turn around even a dedicated V8 crowd like F-series owners. Driving the Edge and Explorer at FPG at Romeo, brought out two truths for me. One, the 2.0L I4 EcoBoost is enough engine to do the job of moving both vehicles. Two, you have to want the fuel economy more than the snap a larger motor delivers when you kick it. Particularly uphill, on the test track, you can easily floor the EcoBoost and hold it there without feeling the need to lift. It pulls uphill – just. What does help is the six-speed transmission that is standard with this engine. It quickly downshifts when the call for power hits, even two gears, but then that’s it. Foot on the floor, it pulls – just. The other downside that sticks out (probably more for me than most) is the fact that towing is not recommended with the I4 EcoBoost. In the Explorer (in particular), I think this is a loss. If you have even occasional need to tow, Ford suggests you spec the V6 in its SUV. Still, EcoBoost is making inroads. In fact, Ford says by year end it will have built 180,000 of these engines. And in the Explorer, the shift from the naturally-aspirated V6 to the I4 EcoBoost is said to equal a 40 percent improvement in fuel economy; that’s the carrot, and if F-series sales are any barometer, the same shift can be expected in Explorer.

NEW WHEELS Explorer, which was all-new as of last year, marked a move away from the truck-framed tough Explorers of the past, anyway. This model, then, is probably the best suited for this engine upgrade as its focus has changed to urban off-roading (like bumping over curbs or rolling onto the soccer field by accident) rather than real boondocking. The Explorer promises 7.0L/100km highway and 10.4L/100km city, says Ford. So what makes the EcoBoost engines so special? Think high compression and fuel injection - in other words, diesel-like technology adapted to a less-expensive gasoline engine. Other features include twin turbos that spool up fast (a single one on the I4), an exhaust wastegate and throttle that work together, side-mounted solenoidactivated fuel injectors with seven-hole nozzles, twin-variable cam timing that is always changing based on power demand, and exhaust runners that are integrated into the cylinder head, doing away with a heavy exhaust manifold. Those are the highlights; however, in the case of the Edge (for 2012), Ford has also added aerodynamic enhancements and other technologies such as side door rocker moldings and active grille shutters. These active grille shutters control vents that allow airflow through the grille when needed for the cooling system; they close when temperatures fall, making the car that much more aerodynamic. On the Edge, the EcoBoost will be available on the SE, SEL and Limited models. It promises a 10-percent improvement in fuel economy versus the V6 engine. The downside of the EcoBoost addition in the Edge is that the Class II Trailer Tow package is not available. As with most improved technology, it comes at a price, and in the case of the Edge, that will be an additional $1,000 to the SEL and Limited models, or $1,200 on the down-market SE. In the Explorer, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s $1,000 added to any trim level, but only in the FWD models. A 4WD Explorer still demands the juice of the V6. These 2012 upgraded models can be ordered at your dealer now.

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Accessories for Jeeps By Ian Harwood


eeps are very popular in Western Canada. They have been around in various forms since the ‘30s, when they had just the bare necessities such as seats, 4WD and an engine that put out about a mere 60 horsepower. Now you can outfit a Jeep with just about every luxury you could imagine. Let’s start with the interior. If you drive your Jeep off-road or maybe to the beach, think about protecting your seats with some covers. You will want rugged seat covers that can handle dirt, grime, and sweat. Rampage offers canvas or neoprene seat covers that are designed for Jeep seats and have compartments for such things as suntan lotion, bathing suit, or cell phones. Bushwacker TrailArmor

These seat covers come in sets including the back seat, steering wheel cover, and seat-belt covers. Cost for this set-up would be $99. See After you finish the interior, it’s time to dress up the outside. Start with a set of sidebars, available in black or stainless steel. They have a dual purpose: One, they can be used as an aid to get in and out; two, they prevent people from opening their door into the side of your Jeep. Bushwacker can dress up the exterior body with a set of Pocket fender flares, which are black plastic, but can be painted to match your Jeep. Bushwacker has also a product called TrailArmor, which translates to checker-plate designed plastic that molds to your Jeep’s corners to protect it from scratches and give a custom look. This cladding is installed quickly using 3M tape. TrailArmor is available for your front corners, hood and rocker panels. Look them up at So, now you have dressed up your exterior; how about lighting up the night sky with some auxiliary lights? KC HiLiTES can take care


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THE TRUCK GUY Kargo Master Congo Cage

of those needs. They offer a complete line of off-road lights that can be mounted in front, on the side of your windshield and on top with the use of a light bar. KC also offers screens to protect your headlights from stones. Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll find them at kchilites. com.

LED light bars have become extremely popular these days. Rigid is well known in the off-road racing community for its lighting. They offer everything from a 10-inch to a 40-inch bar that can be easily mounted to a grill guard or a roof. Now the only thing left would be storage. Kargo Master puts out a roof rack and cargo basket called Congo Cage. This rack fits around your hard or soft top and has a 230-kilogram rating. For more details go to Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have a soft top? Check out They have many styles of soft tops that are marine grade and are resis-

Smittybuilt Soft Tops tant to fading and stretching. Available in denim black, gray, diamond black, and denim spice. Price varies depending on the model. If you do not own a Jeep and this does not make much sense to you, do not worry, it is a Jeep Thing and you would not understand.

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GEARING UP New TrekStep Side-Mount introduced from Bestop Bestop has devised a way to conveniently access toolboxes or cargo in the back of your truck bed with the new TrekStep SideMount. The spring-loaded step extends and retracts with a push of your foot, and features aluminum alloy linkages, high-strength steel mounts and a slipresistant aluminum step pad. The TrekStep has a 400-pound load capacity and is available for either the driver or passenger side of full-size pickups. It is available on Duallies and has an easy, no-drill installation directly to the truck frame. For more information please go to

Cam Can portable fuel can from Daystar The new Cam Can from Daystar is a 2.5-gallon fuel can that attaches safely to any Jeep Wrangler or Toyota rear-mounted spare tire. It fits easily within the diameter of a 15-inch wheel and can quickly be taken off using built in handles. Additional mounts are available to store the Cam Can in a garage or trailer, plus the centre lockable shaft comes available in two sizes to accommodate two Cam Cans. The can is made from a durable material in order to withstand any rugged use. For more information please go to

Bolt Toolbox Handle Retrofit Kit Now Available Now available from Bolt is a Toolbox Handle Retrofit Kit which uses Boltâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s One-Key Lock Technology to prevent problems with lost keys on truck-mounted toolboxes. The One-Key Lock Technology works when the driver inserts the ignition key into the lock and turns it once, and then the lock will learn that key. The kit is made from stainless steel and works with DeeZee, Delta, and UWS brand toolboxes that feature a paddle-style handle. For more information please go to 58 Trucks Plus

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GEARING UP Aries releases Jeep JK Security Lid Aries Automotive has introduced its brand-new innovative Jeep JK Security Cargo Lid which allows an enclosed, secure, lockable storage area within the back of the Jeep. The lid fully encloses a large area in the rear of the Jeep and works in conjunction with the back door, but can still be opened or shut when the back door is locked and closed. The design allows for the lid to mount within both OE Hard and Soft tops and is constructed using a solid square-tubing frame and a 16-gauge steel plate. For more information please go to

New Gun Metal 7 Wheels from Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels is now offering its brand-new high-offset machined aluminum wheel, the Gun Metal 7. The wheel has a seven-spoke design for newer trucks and SUVs that need a higher offset, require additional brake caliper clearance and are able to use the factory Tire Pressure Monitoring Sensors. The Gun Metal 7 also has a satin clearcoat that will provide a layer of UV protection for excellent durability even in the harshest climates. For more information please go to

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GEARING UP Performance Accessories Premium Lift System for ‘09-’12 Dodge Ram The new Premium Lift System for 2009-2012 Dodge Rams from Performance Accessories is able to raise the vehicle’s height to allow for larger wheels and tires without the cost or modifications of a full suspension lift. The system combines a 3-inch body lift with a 2-inch leveling kit and will allow for up to 35-inch tires, and does not compromise factory ride or warranty. The Premium Lift System features reinforced nylon body mounts, billet front coil spring spacers, laser-cut bumper brackets, and a set of urethane Gap Guards. It is available for all of the Ram 1500 series including 2WD and 4WD. For more information please go to

Extang Launches The All-New EnCore Tonno New from Extang is its all-new EnCore Tonno that takes technology to the next level and features a tri-folding hard lid cover with a stylish and low-profile design. The EnCore Tonno is the first three-panel hard-folding tonneau cover that is able to open from either the front or the back. It features a user-friendly removal due to its lightweight design, and has a heavy-duty rear latch that locks the cover at the tailgate. Additionally, the cover features an advanced sealing system plus multi-purpose rails and hinges. For more information please go to

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Presented by:

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!

You’d think people would be jumping at the chance to help her out.

A different way of getting stuck than we’re accustomed to.

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What was this thing doing in the middle of the desert?

It’s going to take a big truck to pull this one out.