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CONTENTS

A True Off-Roader The 10th Anniversary edition of the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon ...pg 12

Sierra

Tire Guide

Specialists

Forester

RVing

History

The Chevrolet Silverado’s twin is all-new as well ...pg 20

Our 2013 Trucks Plus Winter Tire Guide ...pg 26

The Forester is a very competent and comfortable compact CUV ... pg 16

ALSO INSIDE

We pit the Rubicon 10th Anniversary against FJ Cruiser Trail Teams ...pg 44

The 2014 Winnebago ERA ...pg 55

Fresh Tracks---------------------------------------- 4 New Wheels: Hyundai Santa Fe XL-------------34 The Truck Guy ------------------------------------36 Feature: Cummins and Ram---------------------38

The Dodge Caravan celebrates its 30th year ...pg 48

Feature: Trailer Brakes--------------------------- 41 Feature: Building the Beast---------------------- 53 Gearing Up ---------------------------------------58 Stuck Trucks--------------------------------------62

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FRESH TRACKS Volume 6, Issue No. 5 October/November 2013 Publisher/Editor: Dean Washington dean@rpmcanada.ca

Associate Publisher: David Symons david@rpmcanada.ca

Circulation: Brenda Washington brendaw@rpmcanada.ca Managing Editor / Graphic Design: Jordan Allan jordan@rpmcanada.ca Copy Editor: Gerry Frechette gerryf@rpmcanada.ca Sales & Marketing Elaine Fontaine elaine@rpmcanada.ca Contributing Writers/Photographers: Jordan Allan Howard J Elmer Gerry Frechette Ian Harwood Arch Linsao Budd Stanley

Ram Reveals Ram 1500 Rumble Bee Concept C

hrysler has decided to revive the Ram Rumble Bee 1500 performance pickups that were very popular in the past and were inspired by the Super Bee muscle cars of the late 1960s. Rumble Bee 1500s were first available back in the 2004 and 2005 model years, and Ram will celebrate the ten-year anniversary by bringing it back. The concept starts off as a 2013 Ram 1500 R/T, two-door regular cab, in the 2WD configuration, and then adds some Drone Yellow paint with a matte finish to the entirety of the truck including the Mopar ground effects kit. A set of gloss black 24-inch Vellano VRH custom wheels and a two-inch drop provided by King Suspension are added to improve looks and improve handling performance. Under the hood, you’ll find the 5.7L Hemi engine that pushes 395 horsepower paired to a TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic transmission.

Cummins Turbo Diesel Engine Available in Next-Gen Nissan Titan

The next-generation Nissan Titan pickup truck will have a brand new 5.0L Cummins Turbo Diesel V8 engine available when it hits the market. Nissan unveiled the news at the Nissan 360 event and also made mention that Cummins is developing a version of this engine for Nissan commercial vehicles. The engine will have a torque rating in the mid-500s with more than 300 horsepower, providing customers with a combination of fuel economy, performance, and towing capacity not yet seen in a Nissan truck. Nissan had previously announced the new Titan will add powertrain and cab and box configurations to broaden its appeal when it hits the market. Nissan has not released or even hinted at potential launch dates.

MAILING ADDRESS: #1-1921 Broadway Street, Port Coquitlam, BC Canada V3C 2N2 TELEPHONE: (604) 629-9669 FAX: (778) 285-2449 TOLL FREE TEL: 1-888-500-4591 EMAIL: info@rpmcanada.ca WEBSITE: www.rpmcanada.ca Trucks Plus is published six times per year by RPM Media Inc. Second Class Mailing Agreement #40050183

 Trucks Plus

OCT / NOV 2013

2014 F-150 to Offer Ability to Run on CNG/LPG

When the 2014 Ford F-150 comes out, it will be the only half-ton pickup with the ability to run on compressed natural gas. Ford will offer its 3.7L V6 engine equipped with a gaseousfuel prep package that features hardened valves, valve seats, pistons and rings which makes it able to operate on either natural gas or regular gasoline through separate systems. With the CNG/LPG (compressed natural


FRESH TRACKS gas/liquefied petroleum gas) package, the 3.7L V6-equipped F-150 is able to go more than 1,200 km on one tank of gas, depending on what tank size is selected. A CNG/LPG engine package can run you anywhere from $7,500-9,500 depending on fuel tank capacity. Over the next year, Ford will be offering eight commercial vehicles with the gaseous-prep options - the Transit Connect van and wagon, Transit Van, E-Series van and variants, F-Series Super Duty pick up and chassis cab, F-450 and F-550 chassis cabs, and the F-650 medium-duty truck, among others.

BMW Going Electric with X5 eDrive Concept

BMW will use the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show to present its latest concept vehicle, the X5 eDrive. This new concept takes the driving pleasure of the xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive system and pairs it with a plug-in hybrid concept. The concept eDrive system pairs a 4-cylinder combustion engine that features BMW TwinTurbo technology with an electric motor that makes 70 kW/95 horsepower. The electric motor sources energy from a high-voltage lithium ion battery that can be charged from any domestic power socket and allows the car to travel up to 30 km solely on electric power, with the ability to reach speeds up to 120 km/h. The battery which charges the motor is mounted in a crash-safe position underneath the cargo area and three driving modes will be featured: pure electric, intelligent hybrid drive, and save battery mode.

Nissan Begins Production of NV200 “Taxi of Tomorrow”

The “Taxi of Tomorrow” took another step closer to being the “Taxi of Today” when Nissan began production of the NV200 Taxi at its assembly plant in Cuernavaca, Mexico. The taxi, which is obviously based on the new NV200 compact cargo vehicle, has been specifically designed to suit the needs of the over 600,000 people who ride BMW X5 eDrive Concept

 Trucks Plus

OCT / NOV 2013

New York taxis every day. The Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) of New York City selected the NV200 as the exclusive taxi for the city back in 2011. Designed using input from NYC taxi drivers, medallion holders, fleets and passengers, the NV200 taxi has many unique features tailored for use in the streets of New York. The passenger and cargo room is much bigger than that of a car, the roof is transparent so you can get outstanding views of the city, there is independently-controlled rear air conditioning, and it will feature a mobile charging station for passengers including a 12-volt plug and two USB ports, just to name a few.


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FRESH TRACKS

2014 Mitsubishi Outlander IIHS Top Safety Pick+ Award Winner

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has named the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander a 2013 Top Safety Pick+ award winner. The Top Safety Pick+ award is the IIHS’ highest honour for vehicles that provide superior crash protection and it indicates that the Outlander meets the tougher crash safety standards that are now required to receive this accolade. During testing, vehicles are rated as good, acceptable, marginal, or poor based on their performance in the IIHS’ five crash simulations. In earning a Top Safety Pick+ award, the Outlander scored a ‘good’ rating in four of the five tests, and no less than acceptable in the fifth test. The outstanding ratings achieved by the Outlander can be attributed to numerous high-tech features such as the use of high-tensile steel and Mitsubishi’s patented Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution (RISE) safety body construction. The RISE technology uses energy absorbing crumple zones and engineered reinforcements strategically placed within the body/chassis to absorb the impact or disperse most of the energy from the cabin.

New Chevy/GMC Silverado/Sierra Score a Safety First for Trucks The all-new 2014 Chevrolet/GMC Silverado/Sierra 1500 are the first pickup trucks to receive the highest possible five-star Overall Vehicle Score for safety since the United States NHTSA (National Highway

 Trucks Plus

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Traffic Safety Administration) changed its rating system back in 2011. Only the crew cab models of the Silverado and Sierra were tested, but GM expects about 60-percent of their light duty full-size truck sales to be crew cab models. Both the Silverado and Sierra offer fully boxed frames, use high strength steel, and have many segment-exclusive safety features available. The Safety Alert Seat warns the driver of potential danger by using vibration pulses from the seat cushion, forward collision alert technology alerts the driver when the truck is closing in on a vehicle too quickly giving them more time to react, lane departure warning warns the driver when the vehicle drifts over a lane line, and the Rear Vision Camera with Dynamic Guidelines allow the driver to view objects directly behind them while in reverse.

2014 Jeep Wrangler Receives New Trim Levels

The 2014 version of the Jeep Wrangler will feature two new trim levels, the Rubicon X and Wrangler Freedom Edition. The Freedom edition is based on the Wrangler’s Sport model and is available in either two- or four-door configurations with six colours being made available. On the outside, the Freedom features sparkle silver painted 17-inch rims, a mineral grey painted grille, front and rear bumper inserts, and body-colour wheel arches just to name a few. The new Rubicon X edition of the Wrangler will be Jeep’s most capable vehicle in the entire Wrangler lineup. It will come equipped with Wrangler’s


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FRESH TRACKS part-time four-wheel drive system that feature electronic locking front and rear Dana 44 axles that are connected to a Rock-Trac transfer case. Other features include a 6-speed manual transmission, black front and rear steel bumpers with a winch-capable design, Mopar rock rails, and a premium Electronic Vehicle Information Centre with added read outs such as oil pressure, transmission and coolant temperatures, and individual tire pressures.

General Motors Pickups Look to Shed Curb Weight

Although General Motors just released the completely redesigned 2014 Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra, there is no time for rest as,

according to an article in Reuters, it is already making plans for both vehicles to shed some curb weight over the next few years. This, of course, is GM trying to keep pace with Ford, as it’s been reported that the new generation of F-150 that is scheduled to debut at the end of next year, has shed around 318 kg (700 lb) off the previous generation. GM may not be able to achieve those kinds of numbers until the Silverado/Sierra are ready for another complete redesign around 2019, but the Reuters article states they are looking to do some smaller updates to shed weight in the meantime. A couple of ways they are looking to do this is by using lightweight materials

10 Trucks Plus

OCT / NOV 2013

such as aluminum and composites in place of conventional steel, and they will look to make several underbody components such as springs, axles and driveshafts lighter.

Jaguar Introduces First Ever Crossover Concept at Frankfurt

Jaguar has unveiled the C-X17 Crossover Concept vehicle at the Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany. The sporty crossover concept was created as a way to introduce Jaguar’s all-new advanced aluminum unibody architecture on which a wide range of future Jaguar vehicles will be built, with the goal of enhancing the brand’s appeal to a wider global audience. The C-X17 is a way to show the diversity of vehicles that can be built using Jaguar’s new aluminum-intensive architecture. The C-X17’s exterior features include a low sitting stance on 23-inch wheels to give it a sporty and aggressive appearance, LED headlights, J-shaped running lights and a Cesium Blue paint finish to top it off. Inside the concept, you’ll find four individual bucket seats and a distinctive elliptical panoramic view out of the vehicle’s unique roof design. A centre tunnel runs the length of the vehicle from the instrument panel to the rear seats, and it incorporates the Interactive Surface Console which is a multi-passenger entertainment hub that features numerous touchscreens under a panel of transparent acrylic glass.


NEW WHEELS

Mountain Climber An off-road edition of an off-road icon

Story and photos by Budd Stanley

T

echnically speaking, by celebrating a 10th anniversary, you are saying, much like Mitsubishi with its Lancer, that its been an entire decade before someone realized that a vehicle needed a redesign. Not something to be proud of in a day when redesigns are coming out every three years in some cases. However, this 10th Anniversary Edition Wrangler is not based on the age of the JK body style, rather honouring one of the most dedicated vehicles to ever be built – the Rubicon. Make no issues about it - if you are not into off-roading your vehicle every other weekend, the 10th Anniversary Rubicon is likely not for you. It may look rugged and cool, but it is one of the most dedicated vehicles made to do one thing, and that is crawl over anything that isn’t a road. Therefore, the tires are loud, the handling is wobbly, the engine sucks a ridiculous amount of fuel and the tall stance with solid front and rear axles means the Rubicon will get unstable at high speeds. Want to rip to work on the freeway at 130 km/h and occasionally nip into the forest? Get a Grand Cherokee. Thinking of selling your house and building a cabin in the mountains to get away from the daily grind? The 10th Anniversary is your vehicle. So now that we know who is going to want to own a Rubicon 10th Anniversary, let’s get down to what this four-wheel drive really is. The Rubicon really doesn’t need any introduction. Quite simply, Jeep has taken the already-capable Wrangler and made it the best out-of-the-box 4WD available on the market, with the addition of taller suspension, solid front and rear Dana 44 axles both equipped with lockers, Rock-Trac transfer case with a Low-Range ratio of 4:1, electronic disconnecting front swaybar, and meaty 32-inch BFG Mud Terrain tires. It’s a recipe that is difficult to improve upon, but the 10th Anniversary edition takes that thinking another step further. The first thing to go on most Rubicons was the flimsy plastic bumper. Jeep noticed this and gave the 10th Anniversary a very nice all steel winch-ready unit with detachable ends for increased approach angles, which can be ordered with a custom-designed Warn winch should you desire. The same can be said out back with an all-steel bumper with the 12 Trucks Plus

OCT / NOV 2013

capability to be outfitted with an aftermarket American Expedition Vehicles tire carrier that can hold rubber up to 40 inches in diameter. It also has mounts for accessories such as a spare fuel tank, Hi-Lift jack, Pull-Pal, large reverse lamp, shovel, or radio antenna. Mopar rock rails provide protection to the rockers while the new engine is covered in a very cool American Expedition Vehicles vented hood, which helps expel hot air from the now tighter quarters of the engine compartment. Looks and versatility aside, the Rubicon’s performance is where the rubber meats the rock, and in this case that is a set of extremely aggressive BF Goodrich KM2 265/70R17 tires that are chomping at the bit to crawl over something big. Capability is further aided by a one-half inch increase in ride height and an impressive crawl ratio of 73.1:1. Exterior trim is finished off nicely with “10th Anniversary” badges on the front fenders and several little Easter eggs; little images of Willys Jeeps to pay homage to the pedigree. Unique paint colours include Billet Silver, White, and Anvil Grey, which was actually based on the colour of a trash can in the Jeep design shop. This is a particularly pleasing shade as it really does work with the Jeep’s shape, giving it a combat-ready military feel. The Rubicon’s stance has even this long wheelbase Unlimited ready for just about anything Mother Earth can throw at it.


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Combat ready wouldn’t be the way I A fun characteristic the would describe the interior, however. designers applied to the Jeep went and fancied up the dash Rubicon are these Easand interior design to modernize and ter Eggs, several little up the quality factor after the company images relating back to was taken over by Fiat. It’s worked the heritage of Jeep. well with many other vehicles that carry the Jeep logo, but the Wrangler is a rough-and-tumble off-roader. Many owners decide to leave the roof and doors in the garage when they leave home, and the interior just doesn’t portray that. You should be able to go out into the woods for a weekend, empty out all the camping gear then wash the interior down with a hose, ready for your trip to work the next morning. So, soft touch materials and the 10th Anniversary-exclusive red leather seats are nice, but they just don’t really belong. I won’t get started on button placement; let’s just say the ergonomics are, well, just all wrong.

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As mentioned, on the road, the 10th Anniversary Rubicon is not in its element, but the feel and character of this vehicle has both driver and machine salivating for a heavily washed-out mountain trail. Off-road, the Rubicon is like a Ferrari FXX on the Fiorano test track; it’s almost unfair. It walks over obstacles that other 4WDs couldn’t even dream of, while

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Removable metal bumper ends come off to give the Rubicon increased approach angles on aggressive terrain. the Low-Range was so slow, spotters walking alongside had to stop and wait for me to catch up. In this Unlimited guise, the 10th Anniversary is the perfect mix between a Rock Crawler and Expedition Vehicle; it would only take a couple of small modifications to turn it into either, and an ideal specimen at that. I leave the 10th Anniversary in awe of what this vehicle is. It is to off-roading what Subaru is to rally; what Porsche is to racing. My only real disappointment was its build quality, as the drivetrain really does move around a lot and it didn’t take much corrugated gravel road to start shaking one of the front fenders off. But when you have this rig out in its element, my god, what an off-roader.

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Base Price (MSRP): . ......................................................$33,045 Price as Tested: ..............................................................$49,985 Type: ................................................... 5-passenger, 4-door SUV Layout: .......................................................... Front-engine, 4WD Engine: . ..........................................................................3.6L V-6 Power: . .......................................................285 hp @ 6,400 rpm Torque: ......................................................383 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm Transmission: . ................... 6-speed manual, 5-speed automatic Curb Weight: .................................................................. 1,957 kg Fuel Efficiency (L/100km): ..............................City 13.4, Hwy 9.6


NEW WHEELS

Building on Success Story and photos by Gerry Frechette, additonal photos courtesy of Subaru

S

ince it emerged from its homely cocoon several years ago and became a full-fledged compact CUV, the Subaru Forester has been a roaring sales success here in Canada, with dealers reporting they are not sitting around long on their lots. There is much to like about the Forester, so we are not surprised. The new 2014 model builds on that success. The new Forester is an evolution in design, so it makes no major visual breakthroughs from the previous generation, nor has Subaru done any tinkering to the tried-and-true engine and drivetrain formula (which would be sacrilege), but there are many significant changes and improvements throughout the car. Our tester was the 2.5i Limited model with CVT continuously variable automatic transmission, the top-of-the-line non-turbo model. We had the chance to drive it in just about every condition one would encounter, other than snow – city, freeway, twisty mountain road, and rutted gravel/dirt trails. We drove the last generation in deep snow a few years ago, and it was great, so we had high expectations for summer conditions. As the model name implies, the engine was the normally-aspirated 2.5-litre flat four with 170 horsepower. Everywhere but the twisty mountain roads, where we wouldn’t have minded having the turbo version in places, the engine proved to be a smooth and powerful performer, with many of the famous Subaru sounds and harmonics diverted from the occupants’ ears. Subaru claims an improvement in fuel efficiency, as low as 6.3L/100 km on the highway, which the onboard computer occasionally confirmed. At the end of our week with the Forester, it displayed an 8.4L average, and that is admirable considering all the non-freeway driving we did. 16 Trucks Plus

OCT / NOV 2013

The redesigned Lineartronic CVT worked very well in all conditions, and we are beginning to think these gearless contraptions are not such a bad thing. Oddly, not unlike other manufacturers, Subaru has equipped the Limited with paddle shifters, which, of course, don’t shift gears, but just change the engine speed. But the effect is the same, and the “shifts” are executed quickly. Also new in the drivetrain is X-Mode, and its description is as mysterious as its name. To put it simply, the electronics exert control over the engine, drivetrain and brakes to add more control in off-road conditions. Hill Descent Control, long-travel suspension and the higher-than-most-CUVs (220 mm) ground clearance contribute to very capable soft-road performance. The 2.5i proved to be a very nimble handler, both in city driving and on those mountain roads. Obviously, the full-time all-wheel drive, combined with the Vehicle Dynamics Control and double-wishbone independent rear suspension, go a long way towards achieving this capability, and we were pleasantly surprised at how it carved through tight corners with its new Electric Power Assisted Steering, and transitioned from throttle to braking, and back, given its “everyday” tires and brakes. Inside, the Forester is styled traditionally compared to some of its market rivals. Other than some aluminum trim, the look was monochromatic black, and the dashboard and door panels have more straight lines and flat surfaces than seems to be the rage these days, and that is okay. The Limited model gets heated leather seating surfaces, while all the others get cloth. The seats themselves proved to be supportive and comfortable for trips of a few hours, and the driver’s seat was multi-adjustable electrically to achieve the optimal positioning of it. The front passenger wasn’t as lucky, as that seat had reach-and-recline only; on a top-of-the-line model, we would have expected at least a height adjuster. A large cushion under the thighs was needed for comfort on extended trips. The rear seats (there is no third row available) recline, and have plenty of room for taller or larger people to sit comfortably, although perhaps not so much in the middle position. Those seats fold down nearly flat (there is a slight rise from the cargo compartment) and horizontal (a few degrees up from level), leaving a very useful and roomy space. To open or close the rear hatch, just press one of the buttons on the key fob, dashboard or the hatch itself, and let it do its thing electrically.


NEW WHEELS On the luxury and convenience side, the Limited obviously has no shortage of features, including an upgraded 440-watt Harman Kardon audio system with XM satellite radio, Bluetooth and full connectivity, and a large, power-sliding sunroof. Add to that dual-zone air conditioning and the usual power windows/locks/mirrors, and you have a well-equipped little crossover. That goes on the safety side, as well, as we have come to expect from Subaru. The engineers start with the body structure and work their way out. On the passive side, there are several airbags plus rollover sensor and other features, while the VDC encompasses a number of electronic saviours in the event of a calamity requiring emergency reaction, or the driver running out of skill. After spending quite a lot of time in our Forester, there were a few things we noticed that we especially liked. On that twisty mountain road at night, the bright Xenon HID headlights (on Limiteds only) really proved their worth. One of the screens on the multi-function

SPECIFICATIONS: MSRP (base): .................................................................$25,995 Price as tested: ...............................................................$33,295 Vehicle Layout: ............................................. Front-engine, AWD Engine: . ...................................................................2.5L boxer 4 Transmission: . ..............................................................CVT auto Power: . .......................................................170 hp @ 5,800 rpm Torque: ......................................................174 lb-ft @ 4,100 rpm Brakes: . ................................................ 4-wheel disc, ABS, EBD Fuel Efficiency: (L/100 km, city/hwy) ................................8.3/6.3 Cargo Volume: ..................................................................... 892L Towing Capacity: . ............................................................. 680 kg dashboard display had a unique drum-style fuel consumption readout that compared your present efficiency with the overall average, making it easy to monitor at a glance how you were doing in that regard. And, we were impressed with how quiet the car ran on the highway. There was always a bit of engine and tire hum, but the aero management has been very well done, as there is hardly any wind noise to speak of. So, after over 1,000 kilometres in just about every summer driving condition possible, we are confident in saying that the new Forester is a very competent, useful and comfortable compact CUV that should be on the radar of anyone looking at such a vehicle to buy.

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NEW WHEELS

The Better Half

Living large in the 2014 GMC Sierra Story by Budd Stanley, photos courtesy GMC Canada

A

s many know, the latest incarnation of the Chevrolet Silverado was launched recently. The ground-up redesign has seen the Silverado take great strides to meet the increased competition put forth by Ford and Ram. However, with the new Silverado, there must inevitably be a new GMC Sierra as the Silverado’s twin, or, as I like to deem, its better half. Technically, the two trucks are identical, except for some brand segregating front fascia work, badge engineering and some strategic trim and option package upgrades and pricing. If you read last issue’s review of the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado, you really have all the information you need for GMC’s clone. However, for those who missed it, the main talking points were obviously the new design, which I didn’t much like. The new, more powerful and efficient line of EcoTec3 engines in 4.3-litre V6, 5.3-litre V8 and 6.2-litre V8 guises, which I did like. And the new interior layout and design with a rash of new connectivity and charging jacks, which I absolutely loved.

So, the same applies to the GMC Sierra, save for the fact I view the GMC’s exterior design to be much more appealing compared to the Chevy. Review done? Ah, I wish it were that easy. With my review of the Silverado, I hit on all the main points of the new redesign, but there just wasn’t enough room to explain all the little details that go into such a large project such as this. According to GM, six out of ten full-size pickup owners use their trucks for trailering, and as a result, a massive amount of development has gone into not only allowing the Sierra and Silverado to tow more weight, but to also make the job of towing much easier and safer for you, the driver. So, let’s get to know the towing characteristics of the Sierra, which I drove for a few days with a 3,400 kg (7,500 lb), eight-metre (26 ft)-long camping trailer hitched to the back. The 2014 Sierra I was driving was equipped with a 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque 5.3-litre V8 that delivers an increase of 40 hp and 48 lb-ft compared to the 2013 model, offering up a towing capacity of up to 5,220 kg (11,500 lb). Choose the 6.2 V8 and that number rises to 5,443 kg (12,000 lb). The 5.3 wasn’t the most surprising aspect once the load was taken up on the large trailer, struggling a little more than I had hoped to get all that weight moving. However, once we got up to speed, the stability and confidence the truck had under load did raise my eyebrows. It all starts with the Hill Start Assist that automatically engages the Sierra’s brakes for 1.5 seconds or until the gas pedal is pressed on any grade of five percent or higher. This keeps the truck from rolling rearward and helps in trailering situations like climbing a boat launch.

While both the Silverado and Sierra are technically the same truck, I do rather prefer the GMC’s styling to the Chevy’s. 20 Trucks Plus

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Like much of its competition, the Sierra has dash-mounted trailerbraking controls allowing owners to fine-tune a trailer’s braking performance. The Integrated Trailer Brake Controller allows drivers to adjust gain (the level of output to the electric trailer brakes)


NEW WHEELS much like an exhaust brake. In addition to slowing the vehicle more efficiently, Auto Grade Braking can reduce brake rotor temperatures by 100 degrees Celsius during long braking events.

GM has put a lot of time into making one of the best towing vehicles available, allowing novice owners to tow with confidence and be safer on the road. via buttons to the left of the steering wheel. System information is displayed in the Driver Information Centre on the instrument cluster while an emergency trailer brake lever is also a handy option if the trailer all-of-a-sudden feels like overtaking the tow vehicle. A slight squeeze, and heavy braking is sent just to the trailer, aligning both trailer and truck.

One of the more impressive tow features is the Trailer Sway Control that works with the Sierra’s standard StabiliTrak to provide the driver with additional assistance when towing a trailer. When it senses trailer sway, it intervenes with braking and/or reduced engine power to bring the trailer under control and keep it on its intended path. It also uses the electric trailer brakes when a trailer is plugged into the standard wiring harness of the truck. With a clear highway, I put this system to full effect, making an emergency lane change manoeuvre at a speed of 100 km/h. While the trailer snapped initially, I could feel the system working underneath me as the StabiliTrak brought the trailer under control and inline, also straightening out the truck as well. All this happens with the simple touch of a single button, which has made the exercise of towing a much less intimidating affair for the novice.

With a load on, GM’s Tow/Haul mode is activated by a button on the shift lever, which completely changes the character of the truck to account for added mass, manipulating the transmission, brakes and driver aids to ensure that the trailer is always in control and safe, even if the environment around is not. First, the six-speed transmission computer mapping is modified to move shift points higher under acceleration, while downshifts are initiated earlier to promote engine braking, reducing wear on the Sierra’s disc brakes. The Sierra’s Trailer Grade Braking is also activated when the driver uses light brake pressure. This feature initiates downshifts to assist with braking on long downgrades working

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It might be a small detail, but the sheer amount of thought put into the interior’s layout and usefulness makes the Sierra and Silverado cabs the best in the segment, in my opinion.


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While the electronics are impressive, GMC has backed them up with real-world hardware as well. The Sierra’s frame is fully boxed for added strength and rigidity while Duralife brake rotors are used. These are brake discs that have been put through a corrosion protection process that super heats the rotors at 560degrees Celsius for 24 hours. Inside the nitrogen-rich atmosphere of the oven, nitrogen atoms bond to the surface of the steel rotor, hardening and strengthening it, making them more durable and with a lifespan twice as long as untreated steel discs.

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OCT / NOV 2013


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TIRE GUIDE give it to you in a way that relates each feature to tires specifically, and that’s how it’ll help you decide what tire you think will be best for you. Let’s start with one of the most common features you’ll hear when referring to winter tires, and that’s “silica.” Silica is a compound added to the rubber used in tires, and it’s added for various reasons, depending on the tire. In most cases, it’s added to increase wet weather performance. In the case of winter tires, though, it’s done to not only enhance wet weather traction, but it mainly allows the rubber in the tire to resist getting hard in the cold. With standard tires, as the temperature drops, the rubber becomes hard. Similar to the way a hockey puck is frozen before a game, to reduce friction. So your all-season tires without silica in them basically act like hockey pucks in the cold and on ice. The silica basically keeps the rubber in your tire flexible, and that flexibility is what gives you traction in the snow, ice and in the cold.

The Nitty Gritty Story by Arch Linsao, photos courtesy of manufacturers got a confession to make. After rambling on and on for years trying to Iand’ve convince you all to buy winter tires, I think I’ve finally ran out of reasons ways to list them. And it wasn’t for lack of trying, but to be honest I think I’ve pretty much said all there is to say about why you should buy them.

This year, I’m going to do things a bit differently. I’m going to take a slightly different, and less pushy, approach. I’m going to give you all the benefit of the doubt and assume you’ve finally decided to take my advice, and now you’re ready to buy some winter tires. So you’ve sat down at your computer, coffee and a snack to your left (at least that’s how I roll), and now you’re ready to go. We all know that nowadays, the first place we look is online to try to do our homework and narrow down all the choices. Wait, scrap that... online is the second place we look because we all know that the first place we look is in this magazine and at this article in particular, right? Right! Carrying on. Okay, so you start searching for tires and start reading through pages and pages of reviews, ratings, charts and photos. Then you get to the technical specifications and you are all of a sudden overwhelmed with technical tire jargon that makes absolutely no sense. Well, that’s what I’m going to do, I’m going to try to make sense of it all for you. Well most of it, at least. While all the tire manufacturers out there try to keep an edge on their competition by developing different and unique attributes for their tires to perform better than others, a lot of this development and innovation all revolves around some key elements that all of the winter tires out there feature. Basically, because they’re proven to work. All tires have them, it’s just that each manufacturer will develop and feature them a bit differently than the next. Just like shoes, for example. They all have the same components and materials, just laid out a bit differently. My regular readers will see what I did there. Now I could sit here and go through every single variation of every single feature of every single tire, but really I’d take up the whole issue of the magazine and I’m sure the editor wouldn’t be overly impressed. So I’m going to break it down and keep with the common denominators, the core features that make winter tires actually winter tires. And from there, you’ll be able to have more of an understanding of how each tire company is trying to innovate and make each feature their own. Thus, helping you understand a bit more what you’re buying, as well as why you’re buying it. So here it is, let’s get down to the “nitty gritty.” You’ll easily be able to look up the following features and find dictionary definitions for them....sure. But will that really help you in figuring out why it makes a winter tire do what it does? It may or may not. What I’ll do is 26 Trucks Plus

OCT / NOV 2013

Next up is siping, or sipes. There are so many variations of sipes on tires nowadays. We’ve got 3D sipes, zigzag sipes, multi-angle sipes, swing sipes, canyon sipes, etc. Basically, every tire company has a different way of applying sipe technology into their tires. A sipe in a tire is actually the thin grooves that are carved into the tread blocks of a tire. In winter tires, they’re usually curvy and look like squiggly lines running across each tread block. And basically, what they do is help pull water away from the face of the tread, thus giving the tread face that contacts the ground more grip. As your tire tread contacts the wet surface, the tread blocks will flex and as they do that, the sipes in the tread block open and the water on the surface gets sucked into the sipe. Then as it closes, the water evacuates out the side of the sipes into the larger tread grooves or voids, which channel all the water away from the contact patch of the tire. The sipes increase the number of biting edges that come into contact with the road surface and provide traction for your tires. That sets us up for our next feature, tread voids or tread grooves. You’ll hear this also referred to as a void-to-tread ratio. This just refers to the larger grooves in the tread of the tire which actually just channel water away from the part of the tire that contacts the ground. Depending on how and where they are carved into the tire, they’ll either evacuate the water out the side of the tires (lateral grooves), or behind the tire as it’s rolling (longitudinal grooves). At first glance, it really just dictates what the tire looks like, but it’s not that simple. These grooves are usually computerdesigned and engineered to evacuate water a certain way in order to help the tire perform at its best when wet. Still on the topic of tread design, many winter tires will also feature a distinct centre rib. This is the tread block that runs continuously around the centre of the tire. The reason this is done on many winter tires is to enhance stability. Generally speaking, winter tires are thought to be much “softer” than regular tires due to the flexibility in the tread that the silica compound provides. With more flexibility in the tread, there’s more tread squirm, which is movement in the tread blocks. Without a design feature such as a centre rib to add lateral stability and enhance the handling characteristics of many winter tires, you’d find the tires would wander and squirm at higher speeds or when cornering due to the movement in the tread blocks. So the centre rib is there to counteract the side effects of a softer and more flexible silica compound based tread. Another feature that serves a similar purpose is a reinforced shoulder tread block (the outer-most tread block on the outer side of the tire that meets the sidewall) or a reinforced sidewall. So that’s just a few of the many different features that make winter tires, winter tires. As mentioned, there are so many more specific features that each tire company brings to the table, and so many more variations of each feature that they use to make their tire stand out amongst the rest. I’d love to list them all but really, as long as you understand some of the more commonly used features, you’ll be able to decipher the rest of the tire jargon that comes your way on your quest to find your winter tires. And as always, talk to your tire expert if you’re still having trouble choosing between tire A and tire B. They’ll be able to help you decide based on what features of each tire will be best suited to you, your driving and your vehicle.


TIRE GUIDE Featured: Winter Slalom KSi

Features & Benefits: State-of-the-art looks and the ability to take you where you want to go throughout the winter make the BFGoodrich® Winter Slalom® KSI Key Snow & Ice the RIGHT tire for all types of cold weather adventures. The KSI features winter regenerating compounds, which are micro-pores that provide grip mechanism for continued traction on snow and ice. The optimized sipe configuration offers better block stability for improved handling and wear, plus enhanced cornering and braking on snow, ice, slush, wet and dry roads. More hydroplaning resistance and deep snow traction comes from full lateral grooves and increased tread voids. BFG’s Etec System, or equal tension containment system, is available on most sizes, which basically provides a consistent footprint and maximum tread contact under any speed, giving you better control on the road no matter what the weather. Featured: Blizzak DM-V1

Features & Benefits: The Blizzak DM-V1 stands out from other winter tires due to its versatility. The new Tube Multi-Cell and NanoPro-Tech rubber compound help improve snow, ice, wet and dry performance by making the tire more flexible to changes in conditions. The centre multi-z tread pattern and 3D sipes improve water drainage, thus increasing biting edges and enhancing snow, ice and wet traction. Continuous lugs also enhance snow traction and water evacuation.

Featured: ExtremeWinterContact

Features & Benefits: Performing superbly on dry and wet pavement in cold temperatures, the ExtremeWinterContact is built to conquer the road with confidence - even in the coldest winter weather. Its compact outside tread with elevated lateral grooves and inclined longitudinal grooves provides improved dry handling and the high sipe density and highly flexible compound allow for swift removal of water in wet conditions and reduced braking distances in snow and ice. Maximum void and grip edges in the centre contact patch with traction ridges within the grooves allow for excellent traction and braking in the snow.

Featured: Grandtrek WT M3

Features & Benefits: Dunlop winter tires feature specialized tread compounds and advanced tread designs that help provide superior traction on ice, slush and snow. The Grandtrek WT M3 is a winter tire for luxury SUVs. High-performance winter traction helps provide powerful grip in all weather conditions. Directional tread pattern with high density sipes helps enhance handling in winter conditions. Lateral zigzag sipes and independent tread blocks help bite through ice and snow. An increased contact patch helps enhance the tire’s ice grip and promote long tread life.

Featured: Winterforce UV

Features & Benefits: The Firestone Winterforce UV is “siped and studdable” for good winter performance. Its directional, computer-modelled tread design helps to deliver confident snow, wet and ice traction. The Firestone Winterforce is designed to deliver a quiet and comfortable ride to get you to your destination regardless of the weather conditions. Its directional tread pattern optimizes wet and dry performance and its high-sipe density three-dimensional tread pattern makes for confident snow, ice and wet traction. Also, being pinned for standard studs provides additional traction potential for severe conditions. The Firestone Winterforce UV is designed for light trucks, SUVs and CUVs to deliver a quiet and comfortable ride to get you to your destination - regardless of the weather conditions. 28 Trucks Plus

OCT / NOV 2013


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TIRE GUIDE Featured: Altimax Arctic

Features & Benefits: The Altimax Arctic has unique grooves and sipes, combined with a modern compound, offering high performance at low temperatures. Its innovative Quad-Tech Smart Tire Technology provides improved handling and exceptional traction on snow and ice. It also features a multi-angle sipe system with 270 degrees of sipes and biting edges that maximizes traction in any direction of travel. The directional tread pattern with its centre stability rib provides enhanced straight line stability and water evacuation, while the Reactive Contour Technology reacts to different road conditions to maintain optimum contact with the road surfaces. And of course, its silica tread composite allows for cold-weather flexibility for increased snow and ice performance. Featured: Ultra Grip Ice WRT LT / SUV

Features & Benefits: Goodyear improves on its already impressive winter lineup of the Ultra Grip SUV with the Ultra Grip Ice WRT (Winter Reactive Technology) SUV and WRT LT. The WRT Series is available from commuter cars to light trucks and SUVs and crossovers, featuring two-dimensional blades in the centre zone which offer enhanced stopping and starting power on snow and ice. WRT has three-dimensional tread lock technology blades in the shoulder zone which offer enhanced wet and winter traction as they lock together for confident grip in turns. The directional tread pattern helps channel water and slush away from the tire for enhanced winter traction and handling. Featured: I*Pike RW11

Features & Benefits: Hankook continues to be a strong force in the winter tire market, offering a great lineup of tires that are comparable with many premium manufacturers but at a fraction of the cost. The i*Pike RW11 is a premium studdable winter SUV/Light Truck tire designed for excellent traction on snow and ice. i*pike Rw11 takes the lead in stronger braking power and superior traction in snow condition. More powerful driving and braking forces will give you confidence on wet or frozen roads. The winter stud tire for light trucks and SUV vehicles that provides the best traction and braking performance on snowy and icy roads, maximized snow traction implemented with the Edge Block at centre, and enhanced ice performance with the pin arrangement optimized through computer simulation.

Featured: I’Zen RV Stud KC16

Features & Benefits: Weather or not, here you come in the I’Zen RV Stud KC16. This tire features crosslinked sipes to maximize traction and steering precision, five wide channel grooves to improve water evacuation for wet roads, and saw blade sipes to maximize snow and ice performance.

Featured: LTX Winter

Features & Benefits: The Michelin LTX Winter commercial light truck tire provides excellent winter traction and grip through snow, ice, slush, plus dry and wet weather conditions, for safe driving winter after winter. Outstanding and long lasting snow traction is achieved through new 3D Active Sipes that include over 1,000 biting edges. The optimized contact patch and MaxTouch Construction combine to deliver long-lasting and reliable snow mobility. A state-of-the-art cold weather rubber tread compound called W/Max delivers optimized starting tractive grip and exceptional braking on ice, and steel belts to provide puncture resistance and strength and to handle large cargo loads in slush, snow and ice. 30 Trucks Plus

OCT / NOV 2013


TIRE GUIDE Featured: Scorpion Winter

Features & Benefits: Scorpion Winter has been designed to fit modern SUVs and CUVs, with a special focus on the high-end segment, and provides an important contribution to the driver’s safety, as it guarantees maximum stability and control in snow, wet and dry conditions. 
Featuring best-in-class on snow (braking, handling and traction), excellent braking and handling (in wet and dry conditions at low temperatures) and lower noise and rolling resistance, the Scorpion Winter was rated highest overall in terms of braking, handling, and traction in snow conditions, compared with its main competitors. A directional and symmetrical tread pattern, modular block geometry, enhanced sipe layout and circumferential grooves allow this tire to achieve such a high rating.

Featured: Observe GSi-5

Features & Benefits: The Toyo Observe GSi5 winter passenger tire is the right tire for drivers looking for a safe and dependable winter drive. With a complete size range for passenger, light truck, SUV, CUV or van applications, the GSi5 offers exceptional traction and safety during our tough Canadian winters. Whether it’s snow, slush, ice or just simply slippery roads, the Observe GSi5 has the technology to handle all our winter conditions. Its unidirectional tread pattern, large tread blocks with saw-toothed edges, wide lateral grooves and arrow lift technologies, the GSi5 offers unparalleled snow, ice and wet-weather traction. Its advanced siping and increased levels of silica and improved silica dispersion in the compound along with its continuous centre rib with swing sipe aid in providing maximum grip whether cornering, accelerating or braking.

Featured: Laredo HD/T

Features & Benefits: The Laredo HD/T gives you serious on- and off-road traction in the winter for long-lasting durability with an aggressive tread design. Improved traction on ice is achieved through heavy-duty DuraShield construction. Studdable shoulder design (size #16 studs, where permitted by law) gives you extra traction in extreme conditions. The Uniroyal Laredo HD/T tire has been designed specifically for use in cold weather and severe snow conditions, certified by the marking of the pictograph of a mountain with a snowflake on it.

Featured: iceGUARD iG51v

Features & Benefits: The new iG51v is the latest addition to Yokohama’s iceGUARD family line. Designed with the latest developments in winter tire technology such as micro diagonal slush and lightning grooves, 3D sipes and a high-density reinforced compound, this tire has an aggressive performance-oriented tread pattern, making it ideal for Canadian winter driving conditions. The tire’s unique compound and construction delivers not only great handling but also unexpected long term durability, more even tire wear and improved fuel consumption. 32 Trucks Plus

OCT / NOV 2013


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NEW WHEELS people and cargo, or even to tow up to 2,268 kilograms (5,000 pounds). We did just that for a short distance, and had no problem hauling a powerboat, with good off-the-line torque and easy manoeuvrability. That goes for nontrailering situations, too, as the XL is claimed to be at least 100 kilograms lighter than its nearest Asian-branded competitors (Highlander/ Pathfinder/Pilot), leading to the best power-toweight ratio between them, by far.

Setting the Standard

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe XL Review and photos by Gerry Frechette

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ime was, long ago, if you had several people to move on a regular basis, especially a family, you had a big station wagon. Only a few of those remain, sadly, most of them overseas. Then came the minivan, with much more room. Several of these are still for sale and might be the most viable solution if pure interior space is the primary consideration. Hyundai was a player in this segment, albeit briefly, with the well-received Entourage. But it came on the scene when minivan sales were declining precipitously, as there was a new player in town. The crossover SUV, in all its various sizes, is obviously the biggest automotive success story of this century so far, and Hyundai got into the mid-size segment with the Santa Fe and later, the Veracruz, a larger unit with what some customers were starting to ask for, three-row seating for seven or eight people. For whatever reason, it didn’t gain traction in the market, and went away a couple of years ago. Of course, there is still demand for three-row SUVs, especially from those who need near-minivan room but don’t want the “conservative” design of a minivan, and it was no surprise to see Hyundai introduce a “stretch” version of the two-row Santa Fe we first saw a year ago. The XL is in showrooms, and it is difficult to tell them apart, as the designers have not sacrificed the “Fluidic Sculpture” style for the stretched body. For the record, the XL’s unique touches include its own bodyside character lines from the B-pillar back, a unique grille design, new alloy wheels, dual chrome asymmetrical exhaust outlets integrated into the rear bumper, and a flush-mounted tow hitch design. Pop the hood, and you see another difference. While the short and lighter Santa Fe gets one of two four-cylinder engines, the heavier XL is equipped with the new 3.3-litre direct-injected V6, producing 290 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque, plenty for a full complement of 34 Trucks Plus

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The power output, which is more than all the above vehicles, is directed through a six-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC® manual mode to either the front wheels only, or to all four. We drove the latter configuration, as we would expect most Canadian XL customers to, and it is quite sophisticated in its technology. In normal driving, the system distributes power only to the front wheels, but automatically activates under any driving condition as needed, sending power to the wheels with the most traction. One interesting feature of the system is Active Cornering Control, a new element within the Vehicle Stability Management system, which helps the XL manage acceleration during a turn. To improve traction and cornering performance, braking force is applied to the inside rear wheel when accelerating around a bend. Our tester was certainly composed on the country roads and highways we traversed, but we imagine that the AWD technology also helped out on the forest trail we took on. In places, it was more than just gravel or a bit of mud, and the XL handled it well despite the absence of a low-range in the driveline. Hyundai says, “The system features a control unit that continuously analyzes data from the vehicle controller and actuates the system through a multi-plate clutch. The coupling is fully controllable via an electro-hydraulic actuation system with torque distribution.” If all this sounds a bit confusing, just push the “lock” button on the dash, and you simply get a more capable off-roader than just regular AWD can provide. Helping out off- and on-road is Hill Descent Control. Okay, so the Santa Fe XL has plenty of technology to get you where you want to go, more than any minivan ever has, but how about the interior? What is this SUV like to be in? It’s a very comfortable vehicle, one that will have you thinking you are in a luxury car like the similar (inside) Genesis sedan. Standard equipment includes heated front seats, power windows, driver’s seat power lumbar support, a six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth®, a tilt and telescoping steering wheel with audio controls,


NEW WHEELS passengers are small people, you can up those numbers by one in each case. Convenient features like rear under-floor storage (standard), power-operated liftgate and rear-passenger HVAC controls and vents (both on Premium model and above) make the rear area of the XL an accommodating place for both passengers and cargo. On the safety side, the XL is loaded. A Vehicle Stability Management system incorporates a Rollover Protection System and optimally manages the Electronic Stability Control and the Motor-Driven Power Steering to help the driver maintain control of the vehicle in slippery

cruise control, and more. All that comes in the basic front-wheel drive XL for $29,999, obviously priced to get your attention with that first number. Realistically, most people will be looking at the Premium model at least, the entry point for all-wheel drive and with some nicer trim items at $34,999. From there, the Luxury and Limited models get you into the low-$40,000 range, and with the comfort and convenience items they are equipped with, the XL is quite the value. Items such as a leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, leather seating surfaces, and a panoramic sunroof are said by Hyundai to be unavailable in competing crossovers. Not sure about those leather seats, but still, it is just the beginning of a long list that also includes such goodies as proximity keyless entry with push-button ignition, approach lighting, dual-zone fully automatic climate control, and power driver and passenger seats. There are three levels of audio systems available, all the way up to a 550-watt Infinity Logic 7 system with probably the most sophisticated navigation system you’ll find in such a vehicle. An XM® satellite radio interface is integrated into each head unit, as is a Bluetooth hands-free phone system with voice recognition, address book download, and audio streaming. Both LCD screen-equipped systems integrate rear-view camera output. One thing that is not available is a rear-seat DVD system; no doubt, the panoramic sunroof has something to do with that.

conditions or during fast cornering. All Santa Fe models feature seven airbags including driver’s knee, dual front-impact, seat-mounted frontside impact, and side curtains. The braking system is state-of-thetechnology. Fuel efficiency? The official NRCan rating is 11.7/8.0 (L/100 km) city/ highway, but you can expect to add another litre to those results in normal use. Still, anything under 10L is pretty impressive for a sevenpassenger SUV on the highway. And that is a good way to describe the Santa Fe XL. Impressive. And a good value. It might just set the standard for mainstream three-row crossover SUVs.

But all that stuff is of little use if the vehicle is not roomy and comfortable. The XL is, though, as all that extra body length (215 mm, or approximately 8 inches) is not completely applied to the rear areas of the interior. In fact, the XL increases second-row legroom by 50 millimetres and cargo capacity by 156 litres relative to its five-passenger sibling. Even with the third-row seat up, there is room behind it for several shopping bags, or a couple of small travel bags. Sitting in that third row is less of a gruelling experience than some similar vehicles I’ve been in But lower half or all of that third row, easily accomplished from the rear hatch by pulling on one strap per seat half, and you get a load floor that is not only flat-surfaced but truly horizontal all the way until you hit the second row of seats, and a very roomy cargo area. Repeat the process with the middle row seats, and you are approaching the most roomy minivan for space. Increasing the versatility of the XL, the buyer can opt for a 40:20:40 split-folding second row bench seat for seven-passenger versatility or a six-passenger layout with second row captain’s chairs. If the third-row

SPECIFICATIONS: MSRP (Base): ..................................................... $29,999 (FWD) Price as tested: ...................................... $43,199 (AWD Limited) Body Style: . ................................. Mid-size 6-/7-passenger CUV Vehicle layout: . ............................................. Front-engine, AWD Engine: . .......................................3.3L DOHC direct injection V6 Power: . .......................................................290 hp @ 6,400 rpm Torque: ......................................................252 lb-ft @ 5,200 rpm Cargo: ...................................................... 383L behind third row, 1,159L behind middle row, 2,265L max cargo room Towing Capacity: . .............. 2,268 kg (5,000 lb) with trailer brake Fuel Efficiency: (L/100 km) .................. 11.7/8.0 City/Hwy (AWD) OCT / NOV 2013

Trucks Plus 35


THE TRUCK GUY the AM band! Your CB radio would be lucky if it caught the person driving in front of you. Wheel articulation meant your leaf spring was broken in half. Air conditioning was driving with your windows down and trying to breathe in between dust clouds. GPS was your buddy screaming out, “I think it’s this road.”

The Good Old Days Story by Ian Harwood

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ith all the luxury of today’s 4x4s and the technology that goes along with it, I started thinking, what happened to the good old days? Four wheeling in a truck when the standard transmission shifter was so loose, you didn’t know you were in gear or neutral. Anti-lock brakes were when you lost your master cylinder to a stick, power steering was when you hit the corner of a rock so hard it ripped the steering wheel out of your hand and if you weren’t careful your thumb as well. Traction control meant you bought new tires. Automatic fourwheel drive was when you asked your passenger to step out and lock the front hubs. A parking brake was a log shoved under the rear tire. Soft suspension meant your shocks were blown. Off-road suspension meant you spent more time hitting the roof with your head and back than you actually spent on the seat, which if you were lucky had some remaining padding still in it. Your seat belts would tighten up on every bump and if you didn’t stop, you would be suffocated. The radio would be lucky to catch a few channels, on

36 Trucks Plus

OCT / NOV 2013

Most people used to sleep in the back of their trucks, but I remember one time after a long day of four wheeling pulling into an open area by a river, I found a nice sandy mound. With the aid of my flashlight, I quickly spread the sand out with my arms, making a flat area in which to put my tent. At 2:00 in the morning, you’re pretty anxious to get set up and go to sleep, and something may have gone un-noticed. It was about 5:30 am when I first noticed the red ants crawling all around my sleeping bag. I was tired, so killing them one at a time was not a big deal, until I saw many climbing the side of the tent. I quickly climbed out of my tent to discover the soft sandy mound I found was actually a giant ant hill. The vehicles of today have the capabilities of descending steep hills without even putting your foot on the brake and you can disconnect your sway bar end links to allow for more articulation. Ability to stop on a hill without rolling back is nice. Comfortable seats are really an improvement, especially on long trips. Although we can’t relive the past, it’s important to remember technology is there to help us. There is no replacement for common sense, so don’t let your truck drive you; drive it and be safe.


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FEATURE

Cummins and Ram How one brand makes another stronger

Story by Howard J Elmer, photos courtesy of Ram Canada

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his fall, the pickup world will be rocked with the introduction of a light-duty diesel engine in the Ram 1500 pickup. For Ram, this marketing move beats its competitors to the punch, so to speak (despite there being some small diesels in small trucks back in the ‘80s we’d rather forget about). Rest assured, the other Detroit builders will follow suit. So, while the new Ram’s 3.0-litre turbo-EcoDiesel will be sourced from Europe, the field that this engine will be planted in was plowed by Cummins. This coming year marks the 25th anniversary of a Cummins diesel engine first being dropped in a (then) Dodge truck. That’s so long ago that that truck was still the very square B-body pickup that predated the new Ram “big-rig” design that we all now associate with the Ram brand. However, over the past quarter-century, Cummins diesel and HD Rams have become synonymous. This is a great example of a supplier’s brand becoming as well-known as the product’s brand – and thereby making it stronger. Consider how well this relationship has worked for both companies. First, Cummins itself is now a nearly-hundred year-old American company that is still headquartered in Columbus, Indiana. For most of its life, its name was little-known outside of the heavy truck industry, but then along came Ram. This general consumer level product then started the building of a reputation in the lucrative (and huge) pickup truck market. As time passed and Cummins’ technical prowess and reliability was proven again and again, its brand grew into the coveted “household name” it is today. 38 Trucks Plus

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Cummins is named after its founder, Clessie Lyle Cummins, an auto mechanic who also owned a machine shop. In 1919, he founded the Cummins Engine Company. Cummins was different; he was one of the first to see the potential of the diesel engine, invented by Rudolph Diesel 20 years before. Cummins was convinced that this engine was the future –rather than gasoline. However it would be ten years of struggle before Cummins finally fit a diesel engine in an old Packard limousine and took W.G Irwin for a ride on Christmas Day, 1929. Irwin, a banker and investor, caught Cummins’ enthusiasm for diesel, and he got the financial backing he needed to start the company we all know today. The first thing Cummins did was stage a gruelling diesel endurance run at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1931 - 13,535 non-stop miles. This was followed by the release of the Model H, the first powerful Cummins engine built for transportation. It sold briskly. By


FEATURE as well. Today, they have over 5,000 service facilities in 197 countries around the world. Looking back, its easy to see that today’s Cummins brand has been built on its continuous improvements, often ahead of the legislation governing diesel emissions. Think of that first engine back in ’89. It was a 5.9-litre block that put out barely 190 hp and belched black smoke. Twenty-five years later, Ram has just showed off the newest 6.7litre Cummins diesel engine. This motor has been upgraded to 385 hp and best-in-class 850 lb-ft of torque. It’s quiet, clean-burning and meets (or exceeds) every EPA environmental regulation here and abroad. For 2014, it has also been dropped into a new, heavier frame (Ram 3500-series ) which is now capable of towing 30,000 lb. Another first. So, when we get the new 3.0-litre diesel in the Ram half-ton, remember that this end result started with a bet on diesel – and a relationship that has lasted longer than most marriages. 1940, the Model H was so popular (and reliable) that the company offered the industry’s first 100,000-mile warranty. But, it was the massive interstate highway building program in the 1950s that allowed the rise of truck transportation (just as freight by train was waning). Tens of thousands of new trucks started hitting the new highways each year and these trucks needed engines. These new trucking businesses demanded power, reliability but almost more importantly, economy. After all, they were in business to make money and fuel was the single largest expense they had. By the end of the 1950s, Cummins’ sales were over $100 million annually. They also grew the business outside the United States

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FEATURE

The Importance of Trailer Brakes

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

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railer brakes. Sure, most trailers have brakes. That’s about as far as most owners’ thoughts go when asked about them. But when were they serviced last? Most would say never; more importantly, if asked how often they should be serviced, most wouldn’t know. Trailers are often not used for months at a time - a good reason to keep brakes in good order, yet it’s also the reason that most owners forget to do it. The majority of trailer brakes are of the older style “drum” variety. The key difference between these and those found on most cars/trucks is that the actuator (the arm that presses the brake pads against the inside of the drum) is electrically rather than hydraulically activated. It’s this electric pulse that comes from the trailer brake controller found in the tow vehicle. This system does the obvious – syncs up the trailer and truck brakes, because you want those to work together. But it does so much more. In-cab readouts will show owners how much braking force is being applied to the trailer so they can change it to account for a loaded or empty condition; even weather can play into how much brake force the trailer should exert.

Apart from the obvious need to stop the trailer, these brakes also play a much larger role in the overall safe operation of a travelling combination. For instance, the use of Tow/Haul mode. Tow/Haul today is fully integrated with a truck’s computer, which modifies the transmission’s shift mapping on the fly. With Tow/Haul engaged, the computer “knows” that the truck is towing, how much weight it’s pulling and takes the driver’s accelerator inputs into consideration as it adjusts the shift points to pull more engine power for starts, hills and merging. But this is not its only function; when slowing, the transmission downshifts are made at higher rpms, promoting engine braking. This reduces wear on the trailer brakes and offers better downhill control. Any trucker will tell you it’s all about controlling the load, and that’s what the computer is programmed to do; however, many

Brake pads on trailers often don’t need replacement for many years (depending on usage), but because of the amount of time most trailers sit idle, corrosion, binding, seizing and wire deterioration are the true enemies of your brakes. At the very least, trailer brakes should be inspected annually. Their key need is cleaning and lubrication, jobs most owners can easily do. OCT / NOV 2013

Trucks Plus 41


FEATURE under control automatically. The key element to this system is the controller which provides a two-way flow of information to the truck’s computer that activates the system. For example GM’s new Silverado uses the data fed to its Trailer Sway Control to also assist its truck’s standard StabiliTrak system. Together, they will combat a potentially life-threatening situation, often before the driver even realizes it. When the computer senses trailer sway, it brakes the truck (and the electric trailer brakes) as needed (sometimes only one side) or cuts engine power and downshifts to bring the trailer under control. And, that’s the best reason to make sure your trailer’s brakes are serviced regularly.

drivers still feel the need to make the decisions, so most trucks will allow manual downshifting. Why bother, you may ask? Research has shown that using the transmission’s gearing to hold the load on grades can reduce brake rotor temperatures by 100C during a braking event. Cooler brakes – both sets – means sharper stopping when the need really arises. One of the biggest advances in trailer towing safety in the last decade is trailer sway control. As the name implies, the truck (working with the trailer brakes) can bring a swaying trailer back

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FEATURE

The Specialists

We pit the Rubicon 10th Anniversary against the FJ Cruiser Trail Teams edition in their natural habitat Story and photos by Budd Stanley

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he Jeep Rubicon 10th Anniversary is a particularly astute player in the off-road SUV segment, as you likely read here earlier. However, it’s not alone in the special edition dedicated off-roader market. Earlier this spring we brought you news of the Toyota FJ Cruiser Trail Teams Special Edition, itself a confident all-terrainer. So, two special edition vehicles aimed at the same lifestyle market at the same time. Time for a head-to-head, don’t you think? What exactly differentiates the two was the first question I had, so I picked up both vehicles, grabbed fellow tester Ingo Bludau and we took them up into their natural environment, a difficult off-road trail leading through the Cascade mountains north of Whistler, climbing to altitudes of over 2,000 metres. Let’s start with what these special editions have over their regular counterparts. In the case of the Jeep, the 10th Anniversary Rubicon comes equipped with red leather seats, sculpted venting hood and all-steel bumpers front and rear, ready for an optional winch, and which disconnect for increased approach angles up front and a myriad of optional add-on mounts for the rear. The Rubicon’s ride height has been raised half-an-inch, and aggressive BF Goodrich

KM2 265/70R17 tires chew into the ground for better traction, while an impressive crawl ratio of 73.1:1 makes just about any situation a cinch. Conversely, the FJ Cruiser Trail Teams edition adds rock rails, roofmounted off-road lighting with roof rack, blackout bumpers, grill, mirrors, and door handles, and exclusive “Cement Grey Metallic” exterior colour with matching roof, which I really quite admired. On the business end of things, Toyota adds Bilstein shocks, and 16-inch black TRD alloy wheels with BF Goodrich Rugged Terrain tires. Along with special edition badging, a large metal TRD shift knob is accompanied by an additional gauge pod mounted on the dash, giving the driver vital incline and pitch angles, temperature and equally important, a compass. Now, after jumping through both rigs, I have to say the Toyota’s list of improvements was a bit disappointing, although I sure wish Jeep had thought of the inclinometer gauge pod. By the numbers, the FJ Cruiser falls short on the ground clearance front with a standard 245 mm (9.6 inches) to the Jeep’s raised 279 mm (11 inches). The FJ makes up for this with a shorter 2,690 mm (105.9 inch) wheelbase to the Rubicon’s 2,946 mm (116 inches) (2,423 mm for 2-door) yielding approach and departure angles of 34 and 31 degrees respectively and a breakover of 27-degrees, while the Rubicon sports a 42-degree approach, 33-degree departure and 22-degree breakover (45, 33 and 27-degrees in the 2-door). It’s clear to see that Jeep has the ideal numbers when it comes to clearances, but with a tested price of $49,985 to the $44,265 tariff of the FJ Cruiser. Our first test was not in rough terrain, but on the freeway making our way north into the wilds of the Coastal Mountains, and it was here that Toyota’s conservative design makes the most sense. Even the

44 Trucks Plus

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FEATURE grip easily and even the new, more powerful 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 has a bit of trouble keeping those big tires spooled up.

Both vehicles tackled deep-water crossings as well as rugged off-road terrain.

From the river valleys, we climbed high into the rocky alpine and here, the Jeep started to show its worth. It scrambled over every challenge it approached with confidence to spare, be it a deep water bar, rutted washed-out section or straight up the side of the mountain, with any resemblance of a trail long since forgotten. The Jeep’s superior Low-Range, disconnecting sway-bars and aggressively lugged BFGs inspired me to press on to face greater and greater challenges, only a thick wood stopping my progression. In rough, rocky, rutted or muddy terrain, the shear mechanical abilities of the Rubicon barrel-rolled it through to victory. However, it has to be said that while the FJ was not as capable, its new CRAWL control, the electrically-controlled terrain management

most fanatical off-roaders will still do the majority of their driving on tarmac, and the FJ’s independent front suspension, lower ride height and smoother handling proved it to be the hands-down winner, as the solid front axle, aggressive off-road tires and loose drivetrain made the Rubicon a bit scary when speeds got into the triple digits. Next, we found ourselves in loose sand dunes ready to swallow anything that lost any kind of momentum. And again, it was the Toyota coming out on top as its wider track, all-terrain tires, smooth drivetrain and slightly lighter weight kept it sure-footed in the loose stuff. The Rubicon was admirable, but the large mud-terrain tires lost

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FEATURE True body-on-frame off-road architecture makes these two vehicles the best out of the box offroaders available today, save $100,000 Land Rover and Mercedes alternatives.

system, did a masterful job of making up for many of the FJ’s handicaps, handling impressively steep and slippery inclines and tricky rutted ravines, making use of the driver aids and brakes to make slow and safe progress through any challenge. It just didn’t have the hardcore ability of the Jeep and couldn’t give the same satisfaction of making use of well-honed skills built up over years of experience. At the peak of a Cascade mountaintop, Ingo and I stopped to exchange thoughts on the two specialists. With driving duties completed, there was still another category that popped up during comparison, that of ergonomics and build quality. While we both like the look of the FJ, I’m a particular lover of the old FJ40 that is the basis for the FJ’s design. That said, it is a very bad vehicle when it comes to vision. In most SUVs, vision out the back is poor, but the FJ’s funky design means vision out any window is poor to non-existent. The stupid rear half doors are an absolute pain to operate, and aid massive blind spots. The opening rear window won’t open as it gets stuck on the rear spare, not to mention the FJ’s long and large metal shift knob that was called many things on the trip by many people, none that can be mentioned here in print.

kilometres of gravel road for the front fender to start to fall off the Rubicon. The looseness of the drivetrain aids rough terrain articulation, but after a day on the trail, the Jeep was much harder on the neck than the Toyota. Regardless, when you’re out in the wilderness, the Jeep’s hardcore hardware, excellent vision and supreme abilities made it the master of rough terrain. With everything said, dared and done, I have to give the win to the Jeep. Primarily for the reasoning that if a manufacturer is going to build a special-edition vehicle specifically for off-roading, that vehicle should then require little-to-no additional modification to do what the enthusiast plans to use that vehicle for. While Jeep put real-world hardware on the Rubicon, Toyota just isn’t as serious about off-roading and can’t get away from the form-over-function mentality. So, if you are an experienced off-roader, the Rubicon 10th Anniversary is your truck. If you are new to the adventure lifestyle, the FJ Cruiser Trail Teams Edition is a smart choice as a very capable off-roader that will let you get away with a couple of mistakes along the way; you just won’t learn the trade as fast. Both the FJ Cruiser Trail Team Edition and 10th Anniversary Rubicon produced similarly dominant off-road abilities for unmodified vehicles, but the numbers are slightly on the side of the Jeep.

However, the FJ is built many times better than the Jeep, always offering up a solid and comfortable ride. It only took about a hundred

OCT / NOV 2013

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HISTORY

Unsung Hero Dodge Caravan celebrates 30-years of duty

Story by Budd Stanley, photos courtesy of Dodge Canada

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here is one segment of vehicle that we have never reviewed or even produced a story for here at Trucks Plus, yet they make up a vast quantity of the vehicles sold in Canada each year. They are the unsung heroes of family transportation, the tool of choice for soccer moms across the land. They are Minivans, the loyal and under-appreciated people haulers that are often neglected by their owners and overlooked by the press. And the one that sparked off the entire revolution, the Dodge Caravan, enters its fourth decade of loyal duty still standing atop the segment’s success that it created. Chrysler proudly boasts that the Caravan was the first of a new family-hauling segment designated Minivan. This is likely due to the Caravan being the first front-wheel drive van, as well as Chrysler’s failed effort to trademark the Minivan name. However, it’s worth noting that both the Toyota Van and Volkswagen

Wood paneling and wire spoke hubcaps, a 1980s icon. Type 2 Bus preceded the Caravan with similar size dimensions. Regardless of who was first, the Caravan has become far and away the most successful and iconic of the breed. The idea of building a Minivan first came to Lee Iacocca and Hal Sperlich in the mid 1970s when both men worked at Ford. Henry Ford II didn’t like the idea, but when the pair moved over to Chrysler, they found more receptive ears to their concepts and the Caravan was launched only a few months ahead of the Renault Espace, which at that time was a part of the same company. The Caravan was, and still is, built in Windsor, Ontario. The success of the Caravan and its Town and Country twin has seen the plant pump out over 13 million examples since production started back in 1983. To put it another way, so many have been sold that nearly six out of ten Minivans sold in Canada were Chrysler products.

The Caravan started the Minivan revolution back in 1983, despite Toyota and VW already producing passenger versions of their small vans. 48 Trucks Plus

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The first generation featured seating for seven with two bucket seats up front, followed behind with a two-person bench, then


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HISTORY If the wood paneling doesn’t date this 1980s classic, maybe the all-brown interior does, complete with K-car trim.

a three-person bench. Two standard doors were fit to the front while a large sliding door gave extra space for loading the rear seats with a hatch door in the back for low cargo ingress and egress. It was all built on Chrysler’s new-at-the-time S-Platform, a progression from the K-Platform that underpinned the K-cars. The K-car influence would continue inside, as most of the Caravan’s switches, knobs and trim were lifted from the K-series.

Customers had the option of a base 2.2-litre inline four-cylinder coughing out a measly 96 horsepower. This was not an issue at the time as both the Toyota and VW vans were also underpowered, but as Ford and GM joined the fray with more potent V6 options, Chrysler replaced the 2.2 base engine with a new fuel injected 2.5-litre base four-pot backed up with a 136-horsepower Mitsubishi-sourced 3.0-litre V6. As the power struggle continued, Dodge went and did something rash, in Minivan world thinking. With horsepower starting to become a selling point and turbochargers being the technological marvel of the day, Dodge slapped a turbo onto the base 2.5 four, upping horsepower from 100 to 150. A turbo in a Minivan didn’t seem to trend well with the soccer mom crowd, though, who opted for the 3.0-litre V6 option so often that sales of the turbo dwindled to nothing and it was run out of existence after only two years on the market. However, with the tuner crowd, the insane power that could be cranked out of the engine made the invis-

ible Caravan one of the greatest sleepers of all time, transforming front tires into smoke at stop lights and making an embarrassment of muscle cars at the drag strip by simply cranking up the boost. With the ushering in of a new design in ‘91, Chrysler upped the all-weather capabilities of the Caravan by adding AWD as an option that obviously went over well with Canadians. The AWD drivetrain would fare much better than its turbocharged counterpart and would be available until 2004. Along with AWD, the short-wheelbase Caravan was canceled for the fifth generation with Chrysler opting to keep just the Grand 50 Trucks Plus

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HISTORY Plymouth Voyager, Ram Commercial Van and even the Volkswagen Routan. All these vehicles had slight cosmetic differences but are all badge engineered versions of the Caravan master template.

A redesign in 1994 saw the introduction of AWD.

The Grand Caravan is a true unsung hero. It may not have won any prestigious international motorsport events, attempted any adventurous expeditions or been known for any kind of performance. Like its purpose in life, it is a job that goes unnoticed, hidden away in a crowd of other invisible Minivans, going about the daily business of getting the family from A to B. Yet despite the onslaught of cookie cutter crossovers, scrambling over themselves to do what Minivans do but with a trendy new look, the best vehicle for transporting groups of people still is the lowly Minivan. And the one that did this best is the now30-year old Caravan.

Caravan long wheelbase chassis which by 2007 had grown to 3,078 mm (121.2 in). However, drivetrain configurations and engine sizes was not what made the Caravan a family favourite; it was its constant development to build the ideal family hauler that proved its worth. The Caravan was the first Minivan to integrate airbags and ABS in 1991. Integrated child safety seats, dual-side sliding doors, Easy Out Roller Seats, Swivel ‘N Go and Stow ‘N Go seating and Blu-Ray rear-seat entertainment system were also added to enhance interior flexibility and make the act of transporting little ones a much tamer and easier affair. The Caravan would become such a success for Chrysler that several clones were built off the Caravan’s platform, including the slightly more upscale Chrysler Town and Country, the

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The third generation Caravan increased size, aerodynamics and handy features such as Easy Out Roller Seats, Swivel ‘N Go and Stow ‘N Go seating to customize the vehicle’s layout.


FEATURE

Building the Beast

A Canadian’s insight into the car that protects the U.S. President

Story by Budd Stanley, photos courtesy of Cadillac, U.S. Government Looking at the photo above, you are likely quite aware of just what vehicle this is - the presidential limousine for the U.S. President, also known as Cadillac One, or “The Beast” to the Secret Service. You’re likely also asking, why exactly is there a photo of a limousine in the pages of a truck magazine? You would be right to query this point, but what if I told you that this vehicle was actually a truck, not a car. And not only is its platform based on a truck, there was a Canadian that had an important role in the development of this highly specialized vehicle. Craig Couch is a Canadian, born in Newcastle, Ontario, grew up in the Oshawa region and went to work for GM the day after he graduated from high school. Today he works as Product Manager for GM Canada, working his way to this position as an engineer. Earlier in his career, Couch had the distinct opportunity to work on a special project that would become hugely rewarding. Moving up from process engineering to product engineering in 1999, there really wasn’t a whole lot to work on in Oshawa other than a couple of engine cradles and some sheet metal. However, there was a small Skunk Works-like team that was responsible for frame and chassis development for the American Secret Service Specialty Vehicles program, right here in Canada at the Oshawa headquarters.

The primary reason for mounting the Cadillac onto the C/K frame was purely due to the massive weight this vehicle packed on when you consider all the armour plating, armour glass, a larger and more powerful engine, and executive office appointments, not to mention all the communications and defence countermeasures that only a select few even know about. Once stretched, the Cadillac body was not capable of withstanding the added weight, let alone maintain structural rigidity if evasive manoeuvres would be required. The project was an up-fitting build within GM, with engineers like Couch working to a set of requirements handed to them by the Secret Service. Extraction points must be strong enough that if a helicopter were to hook in, it could lift the vehicle into the air and fly the president out of danger without fear of the vehicle becoming unstable or having an extraction point break. If the vehicle needs to make an emergency escape, crashing through parked vehicles, the frame and chassis is required to be able to handle multiple heavy impacts and continue on its merry way. One of the most difficult facets of the job was the need to marry the body to the frame using as many parts already manufactured by GM as possible, to keep the added cost of custom design and fabrication to a minimum.

The presidential limo at that time was a Cadillac DeVille, and it was the job of the Canadian team to make that body fit onto the frame of a full-size C/K truck, known publicly as the Silverado and Sierra. They were tasked with receiving an already up-fitted body and to develop a competent chassis to fit and work with the body. This required bespoke fabrication, engineering the suspension, brakes, ABS, extraction connection points as well as supplementing the air supply system to the cabin. And they must do this in a way that the vehicle still holds all its Cadillac attributes; it still needed to look like a Cadillac, just one with an amazing amount of capability. OCT / NOV 2013

Trucks Plus 53


FEATURE and there is a lot of work behind it and all. Then when all the cameras are set up and ready, “boom,” in a split second, it’s all over. Now you have to go back and forensically dig into the mess post-crash to determine how everything worked and what we can do to make it better. To see your work pass the test with flying colours was really amazing.”

Once a set of parameters was met, several vehicles would be created to act as test mules in the great many tests that the Secret Service required to validate the vehicle’s effectiveness, most of which Couch cannot disclose. However, days spent on a range were some of the most exciting aspects of his job. Watching his creations getting shot with multiple calibre weapons, unleashing multiple loads into the side of the body, into the tires, into the wheels and brakes as well as the engine bay to find how each system reacts to the damage sustained allowed him to see the results of the team’s work. He laughingly recalls the “Bulldozer test” in which the limousine rams two Suburban-sized vehicles in an attempt to clear a getaway path. “It’s okay to dump your coolant, it’s not okay for the engine to die right away. You need to know how far the vehicle can drive sans coolant,” remarks Couch.

Ironically, this Canadian division of about 15 people tasked with this specialty development lost the Secret Service job in 2003 when GM created a major development centre growing the team to 440. Good for work and manpower, but it lost a bit of the coolness factor. Today, the Secret Service Special Vehicles are now produced in a single location, and continue to evolve as new threats are determined and to match a new President’s needs and requirements. However, its nice to know that a Canadian facility with Canadian workers pushed the boundaries to build such an important vehicle during a time when rapid innovation was required to meet the new threats of the modern post-9/11 world.

Couch continues, “For me the most exciting test to watch was a frontal crash test. You book your time down in Milford, Michigan,

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RV-ING

2014 Winnebago ERA Story and photos by Howard J Elmer

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or some people, the oversized tri-star on the nose matters; for others, it’s an afterthought. However, despite which camp you might fall into, the road manners and engine in the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter do matter, as they offer up the best ride and drive in the Class B segment of RVing. I have put this statement up front as it was what re -occurred to me right off as I started my test drive in the 2014 Winnebago ERA 70X. Not to mention, it also looks limousine slick in a Jet Black colour scheme with stainless steel wheel liners. Over the past two years alone I’ve driven the Sprinter (commercial versions) through the wilds of Alaska (over 2,000 km worth of it) and also the wilds of Chicago (two days of urban inner-city stop/go congested street crawling). Both these experiences sold me on just how good this truck is. I’ve spent days in a Sprinter and found the seating comfortable (with armrests, adjustable lumbar support and moveable head restraint). The driver also gets a standard tilting wheel, power mirrors with a defrost feature, power windows, 12V power ports, overhead storage, sun visors and easy pass-thru to the main cabin. The diesel engine really is the heart of this unit. It’s strong, quiet and fuel efficient, while the five-speed automatic it drives is bulletproof, shifts well and is easy to access with the short stick-shifter right at your right hand in the dash. This 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine has recently been tuned up to produce 188 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. In addition, this motor is EPA compliant – meaning it is a low-emission engine that uses the urea-injection method of cleaning up its diesel exhaust. This is called the BlueTEC system by Mercedes. So, is it any wonder that the chassis-cab version that Winnebago uses to build the ERA on would also exhibit these traits? No, it’s not. Driving around southwestern Ontario with the ERA also showed that Winnebago has added a body to this chassis that is exactly in the right proportions. By that, I mean, not just the physical size, but the way

the body (and its weight) sits and rides on the chassis. And, this is a big deal, because if there has been one systemic problem with many Class B’s over the years, it was that the body just felt (and rode) too big for the chassis. Many of them wallowed and pushed in turns; owners had to learn to drive ever so gently, exaggerating turns and slowing for all curves. The Sprinter supported ERA is not like that. The best way to describe this marriage of chassis and body is that it’s one of blissful harmony; frankly, you’ll feel just that, from your seat up, when you take it for a test drive. Now, of course, there is always another shoe that needs to drop, and in this story, that’s the price. These ride qualities don’t come cheap and the ERA features quality interior appointments that mimic the build qualities of the Sprinter, so if a price tag north of $100K causes you to hiccup, then yes, there are cheaper alternatives. But if you want the best, I think this one is it. Inside, the ERA 70X I drove seated four in separate adjustable leather high-backed seats, all of which could be swivelled to surround a removable pedestal table just behind the cab. Amidships, a long kitchen counter housed an oval sink with fold-down faucet and two-burner stove top, both of which had glass covers. The Corian counter also has storage below it as well as a refrigerator, microwave and cabin heater nicely built in. Across the aisle are a pair of furniture-quality bi-fold doors that open to reveal a “wet” toilet. This is a large unit for a Class B; using the shower in here will not be a chore. The way the doors open also creates a private dressing area; an inside door-mounted mirror is a nice touch, whether for dressing or shaving. OCT / NOV 2013

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RV-ING The rear of the ERA has a powered bench seat (which also provides three more seatbeltequipped travel positions). That’s seven seating positions in all, making this unit a true road trip warrior. By the way, several of these seats also feature child seat tether anchors. This rear leather sofa/bed measures 70x80 inches. When in the raised position, it too has an in-floor mount for the movable pedestal table in front of it. Again, think ultimate road trip. Looking forward, this is also the location of the wall-mounted flat-screen 22-inch HDTV – perfect for onthe-road viewing, or in bed. Both walls of the ERA have large tinted windows with screened sliders in the lower halfs. When it comes to getting air moving though, the Sprinter offers a very large sliding side door and the rear barn doors open wide as well. These also reveal decent storage below the reclining rear bench seat. Over that side door is also where the powered awning will create another living area, whether for an hour at lunch or in the campground for the weekend. Once you do button up for the evening, MCD blackout roller shades will provide complete privacy at night, or keep the sun out in the daytime. Past this, comfort is assured with a standard 16,000 BTU heater and a roof-mounted A/C unit that pumps out 13,500 BTU. If you are dry camping that won’t be a problem, either, because the standard onboard Onan diesel generator (2,500 watts) will run all the systems, plus you carry your own propane. This describes the unit I tested, but there is another version of the ERA that may appeal to a slightly different buyer. The 70A version differs in that it offers four sleeping locations. It does this by swapping the second set of swivel chairs for a 36x66-inch sofa bed behind the driver’s seat, while in the rear, the couch is replaced with twin beds. (See the floorplans.) I’ve already said that the Sprinter drives well, but I want to mention an aspect of its computer programming safety that will only be evident in winter. In Alaska, after driving on ice for several days, I realized just how often the Sprinter’s tractioncontrol systems intervened to keep me on the straight and narrow. Frankly, drivers know it’s a rare occasion when they experience the intervention of the computer in a slip-andslide situation, mostly because we try and avoid situations where we might lose control. However, like most cars today, the Sprinter uses a very good system that can prevent a vehicle this size from spinning out. This is another reason, as a manufacturer, if you want to demonstrate this system, the far north was the place to go, and it certainly did that. It’s worth mentioning here that the Sprinter has 5,000 pounds 56 Trucks Plus

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of towing capacity, a feature that many folks might want to take advantage of. The traction control systems in the unit will also help keep that trailer straight, too. Sprinter has standard ABS disc brakes, dual front airbags, Hill-Start Assist, tire pressure monitoring and keyless entry. It’s probably true that many prospective buyers of the ERA will be looking for a vehicle that can carry them on long journeys in comfort, as well as camping. With the Sprinter’s excellent on-road qualities and the fuel savings offered by its diesel, this Winnebago upfit will serve both those needs easily.

SPECIFICATIONS: 2014 Winnebago ERA 70A Chassis: ..................................... Mercedes Benz Sprinter 3500 Engine: . .......................................... 3L six-cylinder turbo-diesel Horsepower: . ..................................................................188 hp Torque:...........................................................................325 lb-ft GVWR:......................................................................... 11,030 lb GCWR:......................................................................... 15,250 lb Length: ...............................................................................24’1” Height:................................................................................. 9’11” Interior Height: .....................................................................6’3” Interior Width: . ...................................................................5’10” Fresh water:...................................................................... 28 gal Black water:...................................................................... 10 gal Grey water:....................................................................... 21 gal LPgas:............................................................................... 16 gal Hot water:............................................................................ 6 gal Base MSRP:................................................................$103,391 Options: Infotainment Centre/GPS w/6-inch touch screen. Bluetooth, AM/FM Radio, CD/DVD player, iPod, USB connections, Compass, and outside temp gauge. RV safe and easy routing – tools from Rand McNally. Rear view camera, Satellite ready....................$1,533 Lower Valance Panel trim – stainless steel:.......................$700 Microwave/Convection Oven:.............................................$105 Stylized aluminum wheels................................................$2,135 Exterior package – Jet Black...........................................$1,519 Canadian Chassis surcharge...........................................$5,942 Canadian Housing and motor vehicle standard charge . ..$378. Total price as tested:.................................................... $115,703

Test unit supplied courtesy of Forest City motorhomes, London, ON


SE-SERIES ROCKER PANELS

The newest innovative look in rocker panels!

FEATURES ` Made of 304 stainless steel and mounts with high performance 3M adhesive ` Stylish accent ribbing that runs the length of the panels ` Ribs have bullet ends for a tight seal against the vehicle to prevent water and moisture from getting behind panels ` 3 Year Warranty

ROCKER ARMOR ROCKER PANELS

This aggressive new textured rocker panel material is designed for the ultimate in protection and rugged good looks.

FEATURES ` Available in Pre-cut kits and Universal kits in 3 different widths: 6 inch, 7 inch, and 8 inch ` Mounts with High Performance 3M Adhesive ` Protects against scratches & dings ` 3 Year Warranty

Made in the U.S.A.


GEARING UP Pro Comp Introduces the Phantom 5182 Series Wheel Pro Comp is introducing the latest addition to its wheel lineup with the Phantom 5182 Series Wheel. The Phantom features an eight-spoke design, machine-milled spokes and milled accents along the rim. The wheels come with a bolt-on centre cap and are finished in matte black. Built using state-of-the-art casting technology, the Phantom boasts unsurpassed wheel strength and comes available in both 17- and 20-inch sizes for 5-, 6- and 8-bolt patterns. For more information please go to www.procompusa.com

Pro Ryde LIFTmachine Strut Type Suspension

Amp Research BedXTender HD Available for GM 1500 Pickups Amp Research is proud to announce it has made the BedXTender HD available for the 2014 Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500 pickups. When the tailgate is closed, the BedXTender flips forward and keeps things from moving around in the bed. With the tailgate open, the extender flips back to secure any extra-long cargo right up until the edge of the tailgate. The BedXTender HD is made from 6063 T6 aluminum alloy and is available in two configurations, the MAX and SPORT. The MAX boasts a U-shaped design and the SPORT features a V-shape that is good for things like motorcycles. For more information please go to www.amp-research.com

The all-new LIFTmachine from Pro Ryde provides users with the opportunity to adjust their front lift or leveling kits on pickups and SUVs that feature struttype front suspensions. The LIFTmachine allows you to adjust the lift height from 1.5-3 inches and it features a design that doesn’t require spring disassembly as most leveling kits do. The lift, which is installed at the top of the strut assembly, is simply adjusted using standard ½-inch drive tools and is made from high-strength steel for increased durability. For more information please go to www.prorydeliftkits.com

Bully Dog RFI Cold Air Intake for Ford F-150 and Raptor 6.2L Bully Dog’s RFI cold air intake system for 2010-2013 Ford F150 and Raptor with the 6.2L V8 engine deliver cold, dense air to the truck’s engine which provides gains in horsepower, torque and fuel efficiency. The systems are designed to pull cold air from cold air sources in the engine bay, which is then fed to the engine to increase power. Not only do the systems improve your overall performance, but they also improve the look of your engine bay with the sleek, custom styling. For more information please go to www.bullydog.com

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GEARING UP Fuel-Tool PT500 Fuel Transfer System Fuel-Tool LLC has eliminated the need for gas cans with the PT500 Fuel Transfer System. Once installed, the system is able to access fuel directly from your truck’s gas tank and then can transfer it to any piece of gas powered equipment such as recreational, commercial, farm, marine, or residential machinery. The PT500 will provide you with fresh, filtered gas wherever you go, and is a safer option than using fuel cans.

DEFLECT IT. PROTECT IT.

EXPERIENCE IT.

For more information please go to www.fueltool.com

All New Pro Series Grill Guard from Aries The new Pro Series Grill Guard from Aries includes an aerodynamic crossbar that is able to accommodate most popular brands of LED light bars on the market today. Users are able to mount any combination of smaller LED light bars in pairs, or a single bar up to 30-inches long inside the crossbar. The unique housing allows full articulation of the bar for aiming purposes and also protects it from theft and the elements. The Pro Series is made from ¼-inch-thick plate and mandrel-bent 1- ½-inch OD carbon steel tubing, and finished with a durable textured black powder coat finish.

SIDEWIND DEFLECTORS HOOD PROTECTORS Fast & Easy Installation Available in Chrome or Smoke

For more information please go to www.ariesautomotive.com

New G2 Brute Differential Cover for Chrysler 9.25-Inch Front New from G2 Axle & Gear is its Brute differential cover for the Chrysler 9.25-inch Front. The covers, which are manufactured from heat-treated aluminum, are designed to protect your ring-and-pinion by cooling the gear oil and providing additional protection from any impact. The covers feature internal and external cooling fins that will help dissipate heat from your oil. Also featured on the covers are a magnetic dip stick and drain plug that will draw any metal particles away to help filter the oil. For more information please go to www.g2axle.com

NEWLY RELEASED: 2014 Chevy Silverado 2014 GMC Sierra

stampedeautomotiveaccessories.com OCT / NOV 2013

800.858.5634 Trucks Plus 59


GEARING UP Diablosport inTune Now Available for 2014 GM 1500 DiabloSport has proudly announced that it is first to market when it comes to aftermarket programmers for the all-new 2014 Chevy/GMC Silverado/Sierra with the hand-held inTune now available for models with the EcoTec 5.3L V8 engine. The inTune is a hand-held programmer that comes pre-loaded with tunes and possible adjustments, which can give you gains of up 16 hp and 20 lb-ft of torque. The inTune features a colour touch screen, and free automatic updates are available with the use of a PC. For more information please go to www.diablosport.com

McGard Jeep Wrangler Door Locks

All-new from McGard is its line of Security Door Hinge Locks for Jeep Wranglers. The locks are designed to replace the lower hinge nuts of your Jeep and will provide you with the security of knowing it is merely

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impossible to remove the doors without the key. The cone shape of the lock face makes drilling the lock impossible, and the hardened steel construction will also prevent drilling, gripping or cutting. The locks are also finished with Zinc Nickel for added protection. For more information please go to www.mcgard.com

Ultimate BedRail and Tailgate Caps from Bushwacker Bushwacker’s new Ultimate BedRail and Tailgate Caps are dent-resistant, heavy-duty bed rail caps that are CAD engineered for a precise fit. They are made using an exclusive Dura-Flex 2000 TPO textured material that will protect your bed rails and cover any already-existing nicks or scratches. They feature a no drill installation, come with a matte black textured finish with 100-percent UV protection, and come available in OE, Diamondback Texture or Smoothback styles. For more information please go to www.bushwacker.com


LIGHT 'EM IF YOU GOT 'EM Custom Lighting

.P]L`V\Y[Y\JRHULKNLPU[OLKHYR

1947-2013 CHEVY/GMC | 1948-2013 FORD | 1994-2012 DODGE 3VUN4V[VY*VYW

(800) LMC-TRUCK | www.LMCTruck.com


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 stucktrucks@rpmcanada.ca and if we use your photos we’ll send you a cool Trucks Plus hat!

This isn’t a truck but it sure is stuck.

Maybe checking how deep that was may have been a good idea before going in.

Well, at least the good ol’ boys were there to help.

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Perhaps he should’ve stayed on the nice gravel road.


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