Archive for the ‘4×4’ Tag

Wrangler looks to aluminum suspension, not body

The Jeep Grand Cherokee may have shown the future direction of the Jeep Wrangler: using aluminum and other lightweight materials for the suspension and peripherals, but not for the frame or key body parts.

Cheap body repairs are important for Wrangler, because it’s intended to be taken off-road. However, if the company can use relatively light, “high-strength” steel alloy for skid plates and more aluminum in the suspension and other major components, it could still cut weight, or at least maintain weight in the face of higher safety standards (both Federal and insurance-industry).

Key design changes, including using permanent A-pillars and having the windshield itself slide down over the hood rather than folding down both the windshield and pillars at once, could help the Wrangler to have greater “natural” torsional stiffness, so that chassis reinforcement would not be needed, also cutting weight while letting the Wrangler meet normal rollover standards.

The 2018 Jeep Wrangler is also likely to have a hydroformed frame, as Ram trucks do, increasing stiffness without weight gains. Some reports claim the windshield and grille will only be a little more slanted than the current Wrangler.

This gives the company more time to develop aluminum-bodied cars. Scuttlebutt now has the Grand Cherokee as the first to go with the expensive but lightweight metal.

Read more at: http://news.allpar.com/index.php/2015/09/wrangler-looks-to-aluminum-suspension-not-body-29910

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Let’s Find Out If The Jeep Renegade Is A Real Jeep

The 2015 Jeep Renegade got us all fired up when it first appeared; was this the ultimate “efficiency you need, capability you want” combo or just a little Italian car wearing daddy’s work boots? Time to take one off-road to find out.

Obviously the Renegade isn’t about to dethrone the Wrangler is the ultimate off-roadable SUV you can drive off a lot and straight to some place like Moab. But it’s not meant to, and it leaves its big brother in the dust when it comes to on-pavement comfort and fuel economy.

Even though we had to conduct our test on a pre-planned route under the watchful eyes of Jeep’s corporate ambassadors, I was more impressed by the vehicle’s abilities than I thought I’d be.

The Renegade is at home on routes that bleed the line between “dirt road” and “trail,” with enough in reserve to get you through that sketchy section you’d have to turn back at in a Honda HR-V.

A Renegade would be the wrong choice for somebody looking for a vehicle they could use everyday but “get into off-roading” with. Those people need a sedan and a CJ-7. The Renegade is the vehicle you want when you do most of your driving on the road, but like to buzz down dirt tracks free and easy (or look like you do) without the fuel economy or ride quality penalty you pick up with a bigger, taller, meaner 4×4.

Read more at: http://truckyeah.jalopnik.com/lets-find-out-if-the-jeep-renegade-is-a-real-jeep-1718262365

2018 Jeep Wrangler: The most changes since 1997

The next generation of the iconic off-roader will be the 2018 Jeep Wrangler, debuting sometime in 2017.

While Jeep reportedly tried an independent suspension for Wrangler, based on the 1963 Jeep Wagoneer or the Ram 4×4, Larry Vellequette of Automotive News wrote on February 15, 2015, that they would stick with floating solid axles; one insider said they would change the configuration somewhat. Among other things, this will help Mopar and the aftermarket to keep selling modifications, and will keep modified Wranglers on the trail for years to come.

To lose weight, or at least to avoid gaining too much extra weight, Wrangler is likely to switch to an aluminum tub and may use a lighter but equally tough hydroformed frame, possibly with other aluminum-alloy components. A diesel could provide a serious boost in fuel efficiency.

The Jeep Wrangler is a key vehicle for Chrysler, the “ring that controls all Jeeps,” and Sergio Marchionne has said many times they cannot reduce its off-road capability. Whether this means they will actually not reduce its capability remains to be seen.

The appearance of the Wrangler is not likely to change much, and aerodynamic improvements may be brought about mostly by changes in the side mirrors, underbody covers, and gearing.

Flip-up rear window

A new Chrysler patent application shows a unique full folding back glass design, and while this patent isn’t officially related to the Jeep Wrangler, it is used for the illustrations, and there is no vehicle in the current lineup that would accept a design like this as well as the Wrangler.

The current Wrangler has backglass that opens away from the bodywork with struts that hold it up high enough to access the entire opening for easier loading and unloading. The spare tire swings out of the way and the backglass opens upwards. This patent application shows a similar design, but this backglass folds all of the way up to the roof, with clips built into the roof so it can be pinned down. This design also has clips inside of the vehicle where the driver may clip up the struts after disconnecting them to swivel the glass up onto the roof.

Driving with rear glass open could cause the vehicle to pull in exhaust fumes if the front windows were not also open, or while idling at a halt; and can also draw in mud when used off-road. Even with these downsides, there are likely people who would love to be able to lock the backglass of their Jeep Wrangler open while driving with the top on, so the next generation Wrangler may include this as an optional package. There is also the possibility that this backglass design is intended for a fixed roof model that would offer the option to drive with the backglass open because the owner cannot remove the roof altogether. It could also serve as another “look what we have” item that will never get used.

Chrysler may also simply have patented it to prevent other automakers from using it.

Aluminum Wranglers

Automotive News’ Larry Vellequette quoted Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne (May 6, 2014) that indicates extensive use of aluminum on the 2018 Jeep Wrangler (to be produced starting in calendar-year 2017, according to the latest Five Year Plan). When aksed if he could think of a better use for aluminum than Wrangler, Mr. Marchionne answered, “No.” He also said that FCA would be ready to produce aluminum vehicles in 2017, the same year Wrangler (but also probably at least one Alfa Romeo) enters production. (Alfa Romeo appears to be re-pioneering resins, years after GM’s Saturn and Chrysler’s own research, which resulted in several concept cars but no production car.)

While Chrysler has successfully attacked highway mileage with gearing and aerodynamics, weight is the key to city mileage, and the company is having problems meeting fuel economy goals because of customer demands for weight-increasing safety ratings, big wheels, powerful stereos, and (outside of Wrangler) near-silent interiors.

Chrysler posted a job opening for a senior buyer of aluminum components in June 2014.

Diesel engines, pickup trucks, and other changes

Many expect Jeep to finally issue a U.S. diesel version of the Wrangler, and a limited production pickup version (Gladiator? Comanche?). The engine would likely be a Fiat four-cylinder diesel (424?), the upcoming Alfa Romeo 2.2, or the next-generation VM 2.8 liter I-4 (a newer version of the engine used in Europe for many years).

Standard American engines would likely be a V6 — by then, upgraded with more power and efficiency — and the upcoming Hurricane Four.

Most expect Jeep to make the Wrangler more aerodynamic, with a greater slant to the windshield; many have speculated that the fold-down windshield function will finally be dropped. It is a unique feature for Jeep in North America, but few seem to care about it. Removable doors are likely to remain, along with the various hard and soft tops. A new patent shows flipping rear glass windows.

Independent suspensions

Many may ask why Jeep would even want to use an independent suspension, when the current design:

– Is proven to work well off-road

– Can be modified for higher off-road performance

– Is proven in sales

– Costs less to set up than an independent suspension

The arguments for the new design include:

– It could increase stability and would end the so-called “death wobble,” a public relations and lawsuit problem

– A “true Jeep” independent suspension would greatly improve ride and handling

– Most independent suspensions would improve on-road behavior

– The factory could increase capacity by bringing in ready-to-fit suspension assemblies

One possibility would be updating a 1990s design by Chrysler engineers Evan Boberg, Gerry Hentschel, and Bob Sheaves, who created an independent suspension for the 1997 Jeep Wrangler. This design does not lose ground clearance during a jounce; the differential travels with the wheel — if one side of the vehicle goes over a rock or into a ditch, the differential is pulled up, providing superior “real-life” ground clearance. Wheel travel was around 12 inches. (Evan Boberg described it in Common Sense Not Required, Bob Sheaves in this article on Li’l Blue; neither is currently employed by Chrysler.)

Another possibility is adapting the Ram Power Wagon’s suspension to the Wrangler, which would be less risky than most other solutions.

An independent suspension carries risks. The Wrangler’s off-road credentials will have to be superior to current models to win the hearts of Jeepers, who, with magazine critics, will be ready to call it “a rebadged Fiat,” “fake Jeep,” and “mall runner” — regardless of what it can do on the trail. The system will need to be well tested on all types of terrain, be as durable as the current setup, and capable on all models.

Some have talked about the possibility of making two Wranglers, traditional and independent, but this is not feasible in the current factory. A backup plan may be in place, but given that such a backup plan would also require a factory redesign, the “backup” may simply be spending more time to get it right… unless Chrysler is planning to reopen a closed plant (or build a new one) and move the old Rubicon tooling there. This remains unlikely, at best.

There have been no specific, official announcements on timing or suspension choices.

Read more at: http://www.allpar.com/SUVs/jeep/wrangler/2017.html

Official: New Ram Sports

Today, Ram confirmed the launch of two “buzz trucks” based on the Ram 1500 Sport pickup. Both share the Sport’s normal Hemi V8 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission and are sold as crew cabs only, in rear wheel drive and 4×4 forms. They have a 3.92:1 axle ratio, dual exhaust, vented hood, and 20-inch wheels. Canadian versions are similar, but, even accounting for exchange rates, have different pricing (see the Canadian Ignition Orange and Black Sport, announced by Allpar over the last two days).

The packages include the 8.4-inch Uconnect phone-stereo-navigation systems and rear-view cameras.

The Ignition Orange Sport has body-color accent stitching through the cabin, embroidery on the seat-backs, accent-color Ram’s heads on the headrests, and colored accent sport mesh on the seat inserts, along with hood stripes and headlight blackouts.

The Black Sport is nearly all black inside, with leather and “light black” chrome accents.

Ordering opens this week, and production starts in April. In the U.S., the Ram 1500 Ignition Orange package and the Ram 1500 Black Sport package are both $1,595.

The Ram 1500 Sport Crew Cab 4×2 starts at $42,215, including destination. All Rams with the eight-speed automatic and Hemi include a thermal management system, pulse-width modulation, and active aerodynamics, including grille shutters and air suspension, for best-in-class fuel efficiency, unsurpassed torque, and high towing capability. The Sports also have stop-start systems (which can be shut off by the driver if desired) to boost real-world city/suburb mileage.

Earlier this year, Ram announced a diesel version of the Ram 1500 HFE, boosting both city and highway mileage by 1 mpg (to 21/29).

Read more at: http://allparnews.com/index.php/2015/03/new-ram-sports-confirmed-27975

Pics Or It Didn’t Happen – Trails End

You’ve just finished telling your friends about your latest wheeling adventure, complete with prolific arm gestures, impressive body language, graphic details, and your overall thoughts about the entire exploit. Dead silence. Then someone says, “pics or it didn’t happen.” Pics, you ask? That’s so three years ago. You got video. High-definition, kick-butt, can-almost-taste-the-dust video.

It wasn’t always this way. It used to be unusual to see video being recorded on the trail. Back in the day, we were the oddity (more than usual) when we showed up at the Telluride Rotary 4×4 Tour in Colorado with a rented VHS camcorder (it was one of the giant ones that rested on your shoulder and made you look like you worked for a television network). We were the only ones videotaping at obstacles, and even still, cameras were a rarity because this was prior to the widespread availability of cell phone cameras. We had several requests for copies of the tape, which we gladly provided after we figured out how to wire two VCRs together and waited for hours while the copying took place.

Nowadays, it’s common to see 4x4s outfitted with forward- and rear-facing waterproof high-definition cameras suction-cupped to the body or glass of the rigs.

A few years and a huge technology jump later, we returned to the Telluride Rotary 4×4 Tour with a Kodak DC50 digital camera at a time when digital cameras were a brand-new thing. The DC50 didn’t take video, required a cable to download, was held like a pair of binoculars, and was relatively large. But at least it was expensive. At the time, it was a cutting-edge piece of hardware that left people (and us) in awe. The filmless camera was quite the conversation piece as we used it on the trails to gather photos.

Technology waits for no one, and nowadays it seems everyone is packing a cell phone that can take a mega-megapixel photo or razor-sharp high-definition video. Often, we’re on the trail, standing between the crowd and an obstacle “working” and we’ll look one way and see a 4×4 doing its thing. We’ll turn the other way and scores of cellphones are pointed at the action. It’s an exciting time. It’s also an embarrassing time when we fall on the rocks and 75 people get it on video.

But now, the wheeling world has entered a new age where technology unrelated to vehicle performance has infused itself into off-roading. It’s probably the most exciting time yet for reliving our off-road adventures, and it’s the incredible growth of vehicle-mounted cameras. We see ’em at trailrides and events all the time. Nowadays, it’s common to see 4x4s outfitted with forward- and rear-facing waterproof high-definition cameras suction-cupped to the body or glass of the rigs. We’ve succumbed to the tech and run a small forward-facing dashcam in our Power Wagon all the time. It powers up when the truck starts and shuts off when the ignition is turned off. It has recorded our most heroic off-road moments—and our most stupid mistakes. And we just returned from driving a ’15 Ford F-150 that was equipped with cameras that allow a 360-degree view of the truck. Recording capability isn’t available on the system yet, but we see it coming. Soon, we may be able to check an option box that will outfit a 4×4 with the technology that will allow us to record everything that goes on in each direction as we wheel using factory-installed cameras.

Nowadays, video is on a tear, and the phrase should be “video or it didn’t happen.” Which leads us to this question: If you use a dedicated video recorder when you go wheeling, what kind do you use? Is it mounted inside or outside of your rig? Do you run more than one video camera? Where are you most likely to use the footage: social media, your club’s website, or just for personal use? What is the most amazing footage you’ve captured? Or, do you think recording video of off-roading is stupid?

From: http://www.fourwheeler.com/features/1503-pics-or-it-didnt-happen-trails-end/#ixzz3RRzQkAvD

POLARIS ANNOUNCES SPECIAL FOX EDITION AND NEW RZRS IN LIMITED EDITION COLORS

As part of RZR’s continuing innovation and commitment to its enthusiasts, Polaris is announcing several new models featuring new paint schemes and graphics, and a new RZR XP 1000 EPS model with the first-ever Internal Bypass Shocks available on a side-by-side.

The new RZR XP 1000 EPS FOX Edition is hands-down, the best performing suspension ever offered on a sport Side by Side, featuring highly-tuned FOX Podium® Internal Bypass Shocks, re-tuned coil-over springs, new front stabilizer bar and softer rear bar. The vehicle offers the next generation of suspension innovation that takes Razor Sharp Performance to a whole new level.

The new FOX Podium® Internal Bypass Shocks found on the RZR XP 1000 EPS FOX Edition generates highly-progressive damping that gives the vehicle a plush ride with all the bottom-out resistance expected from an ultra-performance off-road vehicle. The shocks have large diameter bodies (3 in/7.6 cm rear, 2.5 in/6.4 cm front), reservoirs and increased fluid capacity for dramatic improvements in heat dissipation, fade resistance and durability. The internal bypass technology offers more zones than a conventional shock for better tenability and performance for the smoothest ride available on a side-by-side and better handling over a wider range of terrain at any speed.

To complement the new shock package, Polaris outfitted the RZR XP 1000 EPS FOX Edition with redesigned coil-over springs. The progressive rate upper spring is a lighter-weight spring that absorbs small impacts while the stiffer, main spring maintains ground clearance and absorbs bigger impacts in rough terrain.   <BR><BR>

The RZR XP 1000 EPS FOX Edition also is the first RZR XP to feature a front sway bar and also has a redesigned rear sway bar with 25 percent less stiffness. Combined with the FOX Podium Internal Bypass Shocks, the sway bars dramatically decrease body roll and improve vehicle handling and comfort.

Along with the new suspension package, the RZR XP 1000 EPS FOX Edition features Matte Turbo Silver paint, cut and sew seats, new graphics package, innovative 6-Point harnesses and the Polaris Interactive Digital Display which is an integrated, industry-leading LCD display and gauge with full-featured GPS, mapping capability and compass. The display also features integrated Bluetooth functionality and shows the speedometer, tachometer, dual trip meters, odometer and maintenance warnings along with a digital clock, and operating conditions including fuel level and diagnostics.

The RZR XP 1000 EPS FOX Edition will be available in dealerships starting in February 2015.

Along with the new RZR XP 1000 EPS FOX Edition, Polaris also is announcing several other new models with new paint scheme and graphics which include the following:

2015 RZR® 570 EPS Black Pearl

Additional features on this model include:

Electronic Power Steering
Engine Braking System (EBS)
TURF Mode
Sealed under hood storage
Maxxis Tires with Cast Aluminum Rims
High / Low beam headlights
Black Pearl paint
Custom graphics package
Custom cut & sew seats with RZR emblem
Color-matched painted front and rear suspension springs

2015 RZR® 900 EPS Trail Blue Fire

Electronic Power Steering
High Performance Close Ratio AWD
Engine Braking System (EBS)
TURF Mode
Driver’s Side Seat Slider
Cast Aluminum Rims
Blue Fire paint
Custom graphics package
Custom cut & sew seats with RZR emblem
Color-matched painted front and rear suspension springs

2015 RZR® 900 EPS Trail Gloss Nuclear Sunset

Electronic Power Steering
High Performance Close Ratio AWD
Engine Braking System (EBS)
TURF Mode
Driver’s Side Seat Slider
Cast Aluminum Rims
Nuclear Sunset paint
Custom graphics package
Custom cut & sew seats with RZR emblem
Color-matched painted front and rear suspension springs

2015 RZR® S 900 EPS Voodoo Blue

Electronic Power Steering
High Performance Close Ratio AWD
Driver’s Side Seat Slider
High Performance Steering Wheel
Voodoo Blue paint
Custom graphics package
Custom cut & sew seats with RZR emblem
Color-matched painted front and rear suspension springs

2015 RZR® S 900 EPS Stealth Black

Electronic Power Steering
High Performance Close Ratio AWD
Driver’s Side Seat Slider
High Performance Steering Wheel
Stealth Black paint
Custom graphics package
Custom cut & sew seats with RZR emblem
Color-matched painted front and rear suspension springs

2015 RZR® XP 1000 EPS Stealth Black

Electronic Power Steering
Stealth Black paint
Custom graphics package
Custom cut & sew seats with RZR emblem
Color-matched painted front and rear suspension springs

2015 RZR® XP 1000 EPS Orange Madness

Electronic Power Steering
Orange Madness paint
Custom graphics package
Custom cut & sew seats with RZR emblem
Color-matched painted front and rear suspension springs

2015 RZR® XP 4 1000 EPS White Lightning (Monochrome)

Electronic Power Steering
White Lightning paint
Custom graphics package
Custom cut & sew seats with RZR emblem
Color-matched painted front and rear suspension springs

All models will be available in dealerships starting in January.

Read more at: http://www.polaris.com/en-us/company/news-item.aspx?articleID=308

2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Review

I fell into a common trap with the last few Jeep Wranglers I’ve tested by focusing on their continued refinement and improved on-road manners instead of their go-anywhere capability.

Not this time.

I’m not going to discuss the Wrangler’s wobbly steering, excessive wind noise or dive bar mechanical-bull-riding suspension. It’s time to take the Jeep where it’s meant to be: the mud.

When I told the folks at Jeep my plan, they asked me repeatedly to get it dirty. And instead of giving me an off-road special like the short-wheelbase Wrangler Rubicon, I got a long-wheelbase four-door 2015 Wrangler Unlimited Sahara to prove just how capable any Wrangler can be.

More spacious than a regular Wrangler, the monstrous Unlimited measures 173.4 inches in length, an increase of over 20 inches compared to the two-door model. Starting at a base price of $27,390 after destination charges the price jumps to $33,785 in Sahara trim. But my tester goes further.
After adding items like the Connectivity Group, Max Tow Package, heated front seats, automatic climate control, colored hardtop, Alpine sound system with navigation and a remote starter, the price jumped to $41,665. What do all these options have to do with off-roading? Not much, but it does make the Wrangler more comfortable when tackling the trails and the tow package does include shorter ratio 3.73 front and rear gears.

Starting Small
I had a seriously sketchy road in mind, but before I decide to start small and test the Wrangler’s basics before jumping knee-deep into the muck.

First I went bombing through a grassy field. That’s almost an insult to the Jeep because any vehicle could probably make it across, but not like this thing can.
There’s a difference between surviving an excursion and relishing it. Fields can look smooth and flat, but they rarely are. Hidden in the green ground covering are pits, bumps and rocks.

Most vehicles will make it across a big open field, but the ride is unpleasant as the car bump stops, bottoms out and crashes over uneven surfaces. The Wrangler just laughs it off. As I cruise at 30 MPH over a dry unmaintained field, the Jeep’s suspension delivers a smooth, controlled ride. In fact, the drive here is more pleasant than some of the surrounding broken pavement roads.
Time for a Workout

Next I took the Wrangler to a man-made moderate off-road course. Short in duration, the course is carved out of deep brush and is designed to test off-road prowess. First is a set of rollers set on a slight incline. Rollers are a series of metal tubes that freely roll within a frame. Think of them as industrialized versions of the bottle return rollers found at a local liquor stores or parcel rollers at shipping depots.

By placing both wheels from one side of the vehicle on these rollers, the side-to-side power distribution can be tested. If the vehicle lacks locking differentials or some form of a limited slip differential (LSD), the two wheels on the rollers will spin and the vehicle won’t move. My Sahara did not feature the optional rear LSD or the locking differentials found in the Rubicon and Willys Wheeler models.

But thanks to modern traction control systems, by using the Jeep’s brakes the Wrangler is able to send power to the wheels not on the rollers and advance forward. It’s not the best off-road setup by any means, but it works in a pinch.
Ground Clearance and Suspension Travel

Next on the trail is a series of logs and man-made dirt mounds set strategically to test ground clearance and suspension travel. With the largest mounds measuring just over eight inches high, the Wrangler Sahara’s 10.2-inch ground clearance is never really put to the test, but the suspension did get a thorough workout. The mound placement from side to side are perfectly located to try and upset the Jeep’s suspension. Although the Wrangler was bouncing around on the course, it never slipped a tire, hesitated or tried to bump steer off the course.
Putting it all Together

There is a road that I’ve been meaning to test for years, but I’ve never had the right vehicle to do it. It’s a dead-end with a posted warning that the surface is clay, the road is unmaintained and to use it at your own risk. Perfect.

I picked a day with steady rain that transformed the clay road into a greasy muck. Puddles are I can see puddles ahead, but have no idea how deep they are. Sliding the 4X4 transfer case into four-wheel high, I ease onto the throttle and begin. At best I’m a novice off-roader with minimal experience and little coaching. With a steady throttle at all times, I recall what I’ve been taught and react appropriately as the Wrangler slides back and forth through the goo.

I used all 10.2 inches of ground clearance at certain points because some of the ruts were roughly a foot deep. The Wrangler’s differentials dragged through the sludge as the Bridgestone Dueler A/T tires clawed for traction. Mud flew everywhere and the road behind me looked like dual backhoes dug trenches, but the Wrangler soldiered on. Best of all, the Jeep is ready and willing to do it again and again.

The Verdict

Even if the Wrangler is more civilized than it used to be and now features a 285 HP 3.6-liter V6 that is shared with a family sedan and a minivan, it’s still a purpose-built off-roader. Once you experience its go anywhere capability experienced, the urge to drive over everything is irresistible. Thankfully, it’s more than willing to oblige.

Read more at:http://www.autoguide.com/manufacturer/jeep/2015-jeep-wrangler-unlimited-review-4193.html

Willys Wheeler a highlight at the Texas Truck Rodeo

Having two days to sample 75 different trucks, SUVs and crossovers sounds like being handed the keys to the candy store. But the old admonition about being careful what you wish for is is very appropriate: it’s a lot of candy, you get only a little taste of each kind and you have to eat very fast.

The reality is that you get about 12-13 hours of total driving time to sample as many of those vehicles as possible; you have to share those vehicles with 60 other people that have the same requirement and you have to be able to compare those vehicles in a large number of categories.

In spite of all of that, it’s a great opportunity to test a variety of vehicles side-by-side as well as drive some trucks that don’t routinely appear in media review fleets.

One of the most memorable vehicles at the event was a Hydro Blue 2015 Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler which, along with a 2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon Hard Rock Edition, nailed down the Off-Road Utility of Texas title for the second year running.

Like almost all the vehicles at the Rodeo, the Willys was very well-equipped with options like automatic transmission, air-conditioning and hard top. They took the price from around $27,000, including destination charges, to about $32,000.

At most media events like this, the automakers send a team of managers, engineers and marketing people. These folks ride with you, filling you in on all the nifty stuff about the truck you’re driving and making sure you don’t do anything too weird, like taking off to Guadalajara for an extended test drive or testing the rock-climbing capabilities of vehicles that were never intended to climb rocks bigger than gravel.

However, on the afternoon of the second driving day, a lot of those company folks had to leave in order to make flights back to Detroit or wherever they called home.

While a desire to see events like this continue prevented anything too outlandish, the journalists had an opportunity to drive by themselves. This is a time to be cherished as you can focus on the vehicle instead carrying on a conversation.

The blue Willys Wheeler, which had been pretty busy since the driving began, was available so a drive was in order, especially since I had never driven a Wrangler with an automatic transmission.

Jeep-Willys-2-Web

There are two courses at the Knibbe Ranch. One is a road course that includes a few miles of country roads and a short stretch of highway. The other is an off-road course. The off-road trail isn’t like traversing the Rubicon Trail or mastering Moab but it does offer the chance to try out real four-wheel drive, hill descent control and other features. There are rocks to climb, creeks to ford and what many would consider moderately rough terrain to conquer.

My first time on the course, there were other drivers. As each challenge was approached, our parade would stop as we engaged the four-wheel drive or switched on the hill descent system and then each in turn made the crossing.

The Willys Wheeler handled it all with aplomb and the automatic transmission made shifting in and out of 4 Low a breeze.

As we circled back to the staging area, I noticed that no one was on the course, so I opted for a second pass, this time in two-wheel mode, and left the transmission in drive.

With no other vehicles ahead of me, I was able to open it up a bit. The ride was bouncy in places and the Willys and I may have been momentarily airborne a time or two, but it was a hoot: I grinned the whole time.

The Jeep never missed a beat, whether it was descending a rocky stair-step track or climbing a muddy incline. It was in its element.

All too quickly it was over and time to return and let another writer have a chance to enjoy the Willys Wheeler.

But it sure was fun while it lasted.

Read more at:http://www.allpar.com/news/index.php/2014/10/willys-wheeler-a-highlight-at-the-texas-truck-rodeo

A Classic Throwback With Modern Capability

2014 Jeep® Wrangler Willys Wheeler Edition

The roots of America’s love affair with Jeep® can be traced to World War II, as the one-of-a-kind vehicle dutifully served the U.S. military with its durability and ruggedness. The affinity for Jeep gained traction as the first civilian Jeep (“CJ”) vehicles – the Willys-Overland CJ-2A – reached the public in 1945. The CJ-2A, and successor CJ-3A, was immortalized for its go-anywhere capability and strictly functional amenities.

“The new Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler Edition is a Jeep purist’s dream, delivering a Jeep vehicle that harkens back to the original, classic CJs of the 1940s,” said Mike Manley, President and CEO – Jeep Brand, Chrysler Group LLC. “This new Jeep vehicle delivers pure functionality and rugged capability in a unique package that recognizes the origins of the brand.”

Based on the Wrangler Sport model, the Willys Wheeler Edition features upgraded hardware, including a Dana 44 rear axle with Trac-Lok® limited-slip rear differential and 3.73 gears, BF Goodrich KM Mud Terrain LT255/75R17 tires, rock rails and a new Jeep Trail Rated Kit that includes a D-Ring, tow strap and gloves in a Jeep-branded bag. This works with the Jeep Command-Trac 4×4 part-time, two-speed transfer case with a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio to give the Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler Edition its improved off-road chops.

Special exterior design cues include a gloss black grille with black Jeep badge, gloss black front and rear bumper appliques, historic satin black “4 Wheel Drive” rear tailgate decal and “Willys” hood decals and unique high-gloss black 17-inch aluminum wheels. The Willys Wheeler Edition comes standard with a Sunrider soft top and deep-tint sunscreen rear windows. A premium Sunrider soft top and black-splatter Freedom Top are available.

Willys Wheeler Editions feature the Connectivity Group with SiriusXM satellite radio, and Sport S-based models have the Power Convenience Group and Premium Tire Pressure Monitoring System as standard. Jeep Wrangler’s iconic half doors are an option.

The 2014 Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler Edition features the award winning 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine that produces 285 horsepower and 260 ft.-lbs. or torque. It is available with a standard six-speed manual or an available five-speed automatic transmission, and delivers up to 21 miles per gallon on the highway.

Available in any Jeep Wrangler color, the Willys Wheeler Edition has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail price (MSRP) of $25,795 for two-door models and $29,595 for Unlimited (four-door) models. The 2014 Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Wrangler Unlimited are built at the Toledo Supplier Park in Toledo, Ohio.

1942 Willys Military Jeep® Featured in Veteran’s Memorial
As the nation paused this Memorial Day to remember those who served in the United States Armed Services, Chrysler Group’s Toledo Assembly Complex (TAC) unveiled its own special tribute to veterans around the country.

Vice President of Assembly Operations Zach Leroux, TAC Plant Manager Chuck Padden, UAW Local 12 Chairman Mark Epley, employees and five veterans with ties to the Toledo plant, including three retirees who served in WWII, dedicated a permanent veteran’s memorial in the shadow of the giant Jeep® sign that identifies the plant at the intersection of I-75 and I-280. Featuring a restored 1942 Willys Military Jeep, the memorial not only recognizes  the service of those in uniform, but also the plant’s  nearly 75-year history of building Jeep vehicles, starting with production of the first military Jeep.

“Like all Americans, we owe our freedom to the sacrifices made by the men and women who serve in the military, but at Jeep, we owe our very existence to our WWII veterans,” said Padden.  “When they returned home from the war, they purchased civilian versions of the Jeep vehicles they learned to depend upon in the war.  These heroes became our first Jeep enthusiasts.  Without them, we would not be here today.

“But the Jeep legacy is not just about the vehicles; it is also about the people,” added  Padden. “Some of the people who currently work in this plant and some who helped refurbish this 1942 Jeep are descendants of those who possibly built this very vehicle. We have come a long way at the Toledo Jeep plant, so it’s important to remind the new generation where it all started.”

Plant management and the local UAW leadership agreed that the best way to honor veterans and the plant’s Jeep history was to find a military Jeep to restore and put on permanent display. With the help of former Toledo plant manager Jerry Huber and a Craig’s List ad, the 1942 Willys was found in Wimberley, Texas, a community 28 miles southwest of Austin. The vehicle was in fairly good shape, but didn’t run. When the owner heard that the Jeep plant in Toledo wanted the vehicle to put on display, he immediately pulled the ad, sold it to the plant for $950 and volunteered to transport it to Toledo in exchange for a tour.

The Willys returned home on May 9 and restoration work began on May 12. A team of about 15 Toledo employees worked for a week and a half to return the vehicle to its original condition, replacing parts, refurbishing body panels and painting the vehicle. Because all of the vehicle identification plates and hood graphics were removed, the exact history of the vehicle can’t be determined, but the plant estimates that the vehicle was originally built in mid-1942.

The memorial also includes silhouettes of soldiers, created by volunteers from the plant. An assembly employee drew up the soldier outlines and body shop employees cut out the figures, ground the edges and finished them.

Roll Call
Helping to dedicate the Toledo Assembly Complex’s Veteran’s Memorial were five veterans, all of whom with ties to the plant.Lupe Flores, the 90-year-old cousin of Jeep retiree Hector Flores who serves on the Jeep Veterans Committee, served with the Army 101st Airborne from 1943-1946. Flores was involved in the D-Day Invasion in Normandy, France, and took part in two combat jumps during his time with the Army.

Twins Lewis and Leroy Woggon, 87, were hired by the Jeep plant in 1943. Three months later, they were drafted into the Army and served as combat engineers during WWII. They both served for three years, returning to work at the Jeep plant after they were discharged. Leroy retired in 1989 after 45 years with Jeep, while Lewis stayed on five more years, retiring in 1994. Leroy’s son Gary has been working at Jeep since 1983 and currently works in the Wrangler paint shop. Lewis’s son and grandson both retired from the Jeep plant.

Ron Szymanski retired from the Jeep plant in 1998 following 35 years working in body, paint and assembly. He also served as the Jeep museum curator. Szymanski served in the Army National Guard from 1950-1955, then went to Officer Candidate School where he was Honorably Discharged in 1960 as a 1st Lieutenant Army Reserve Officer.

John Smith served in the Army Infantry from 1945-1946. Smith was hired by Jeep in 1947 and spent the next 40 years building Jeep vehicles before retiring in 1985.

The History of Jeep in Toledo
Toledo is known as the birthplace of Jeep. In 1940 as war spread through Europe, the United States Army determined that it needed a new type of fast, lightweight, all-terrain reconnaissance vehicle. The Army selected Toledo-based Willys-Overland for production of the vehicle, and the company began production in late 1941, building about 8,000 units that year. In total, 363,000 were built in Toledo through the end of the war in 1945.

The vehicle was officially known as the Willys MB, but not many people called it that.  Before long, it became universally known as the Jeep, many believing that the name came from the term “GP,” for “General Purpose.”

The Jeep was an all-purpose vehicle and served in every theater of the war. It was used as a staff car, pickup truck, ambulance, reconnaissance vehicle, machine gun mount, ammunition bearer and a troop carrier.

After the war, Willys-Overland introduced a version for the general public, adding refined features such as windshield wipers, a tailgate and an outside gas cap. It was called the CJ-2A, with the “CJ” standing for “Civilian Jeep.” It became an icon because of its open-air look and tremendous off-road capabilities.

Other Jeep models followed, such as the first station wagon with four-wheel drive, and the Wagoneer, a pioneering sport-utility vehicle introduced in 1963. They were also built in Toledo.

Meanwhile, Jeep’s corporate ownership changed hands several times until Chrysler acquired the brand in 1987. Today, the Toledo Assembly Complex builds the Jeep Wrangler, Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and the all-new Jeep Cherokee with nearly 4,200 employees.

“With our deep military roots, it was especially important for this plant to establish a permanent way of paying our respects to those who have fought for the freedom we all enjoy,” said the UAW’s Epley. “With nearly 10 percent of our workforce with military experience, plus all of our team members with family members having served or still serving, this memorial is very personal for all of us.”

Mark Your Place in Jeep History
The Jeep brand is creating an interactive time line of Jeep owners. Here’s how you can be a part of it. Submit a photo of your Jeep vehicle, along with the model year, and it will be added to the time line and posted on Facebook™. If you’re lucky, your photo could appear in a coffee table book version of the time line and Jeep will send you a copy. Click here to Get On The Time Line.

Read more at: http://www.chryslergroup360.com/featured_news/a-classic-throwback-with-modern-capability/

Outfitting for Off-Roading: A Guide to Trail Etiquette

If you’re new to the world of off-roading in your Jeep brand vehicle, learning the ways of the trail can be a little intimidating. That’s what we’re here for. In the last installment of Outfitting for Off-roading, we filled you in on some common off-roading terms to add into your vocab. Today we’ll highlight several of the unwritten rules of trail etiquette and take you through what to expect when you’re first getting out there.

Just like regular city driving, the world of trail blazing has its own unique set of rules. Below are some common situations you may find yourself in while taking on any trail.

Do: Keep other vehicles in sight. Especially if the trail you’re on is not particularly clear, it’s easy to lose track of other vehicles in your party. Make sure you can always see the vehicle behind you in your rear view mirror to prevent anyone from getting off track.

Don’t: Tailgate. Trust us, tailgating on the trail is even more irritating than on the highway. And it’s dangerous. Allow the vehicle ahead of you to completely pass over the obstacle before you make an attempt.

Do: Allow vehicles going up an incline to have the right of way. If a vehicle going up an incline loses momentum, it can cause a potential loss of traction. If you come across this situation on the trail, the vehicle going down should pull over as safely and quickly as possible.

Don’t: Speed. Trail riding is not a quick activity. Take your time, be aware of all obstacles and enjoy the environment around you.

Do: Be prepared. When it comes to spending time on the trails, we couldn’t agree more that it’s better to be safe than sorry. Make sure you bring the essentials, including tow straps, a first-aid kit, a CB radio and a spare tire among other things.

Keep an eye out for the next article when we go over the basics of tackling sand in your Jeep brand vehicle.

Read more at: http://blog.jeep.com/adventures/outfitting-roading-trail-etiquette/