Off-road focused 4WD’s stand out at Chicago International Auto Show
While the Detroit Auto Show has had some of the biggest showstoppers over the last couple years, the Chicago Auto Show is traditionally the exposition that focuses more on trucks and the 4WD market. This year would be another hard act to follow for Chicago, however a couple manufacturers showed up with some pretty serious off-road inspired machinery, and all but one will be reaching showrooms by the end of the year. Let’s not waste any time, we give you Chicago’s top offroad focused machines...
TOYOTA TACOMA TRD PRO-SERIES Last issue we brought word that Toyota was bringing the TRD Pro-Series Tundra north of the border. In that piece, we pleaded, threatened and begged Toyota to do the same when they finally launch the TRD Pro-Series version of the Tacoma. Well, it seems that our prayers have been answered.
Toyota used the Chicago Auto Show to launch the newest of the TRD ProSeries model and Toyota Canada have followed up with confirmation that the super Taco will indeed be sold in Canada as well – by the end of the year.
Much like the Pro-Series Tundra, the Tacoma will be based off the TRD OffRoad trim package, putting even greater focus on proper off-road performance. And let’s get one thing straight, this ain’t no “badge and floor mat” special edition, Toyota did their homework and is putting the good bits on the Pro-Series.
That means the Pro-Series will receive a set of 16-in TRD black alloy wheels with Goodyear Wrangler AllTerrain Kevlar-reinforced tires, an aluminum front skid plate, FOX 2.5 Internal Bypass shocks tuned by TRD, TRD-tuned front springs with a 1-in lift and TRD-tuned rear suspension with progressive-rate off-road leaf springs. No locking diff in the front, but there will be an electronically controlled locking rear differential.
Spicing up the accessories side, the Pro-Series will be equipped with Rigid Industries LED fog lights, projectorbeam headlights with black bezels, LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL), taillights with black bezels and black “TRD Pro” and “4x4” rear tailgate badging.
Toyota is quickly becoming one of the most off-road focused brands sold in Canada, and we’ll be sure to return with a full report once we get our hands on the Pro-Series. NISSAN TITAN Quite likely the biggest showstopper in Detroit was Nissan’s unveiling of the Titan Warrior, a hardcore off-road concept based off the Titan XD that had all the right bits to take a Ford Raptor to task. In Chicago, Nissan’s big reveal was a little more discreet, but just as important. While the Titan XD is essentially a three-quarter ton, we still haven’t seen the half-ton Titan. That changed in Chicago.
When we drove the Titan XD last issue, Nissan told us that the Titan and Titan XD would not share one part. So, we were a little surprised to see that the regular Titan looks exactly like the XD –
only a little shorter. While the two don’t share chassis’, they will share the same cab dimensions and be equally as wide.
The new Titan will be available in 4x2 or 4x4 drive configurations with three cabin configurations – Crew Cab, King Cab and Single cab – and three bed lengths – 5.5, 6.5 and 8 feet. Similar to Titan XD, Titan will be available in five trim levels – S, SV, PRO-4X, SL and Platinum Reserve.
Powering the Titan will be Nissan’s 5.6L Endurance V-8 gasoline engine that will pump out 390 hp and 401 lb.-ft. before directing power to a new 7-speed automatic transmission. There is a V-6 gasoline engine in the works, although we have no information on this currently.
RAM POWER WAGON
Along with the launch of a new 4x4 Off-road Package for the Ram 2500 that includes a list of must-have upgrades for the occasional off-roader, Ram provided a sneak peek at one of our favourites, a Power Wagon.
For the most part, this is just a refreshing of the iconic heavy duty. The 2017 Power Wagon will still have its popular 410 hp, 429 lb-ft 6.4-liter HEMI V-8 engine, a transfer case offering a 2.64 low range ratio, matched to a 4.10 axle ratio giving a crawl ratio of 35:1. Backing this up is a set of standard front and rear electronic-locking differentials, Ram’s unique “Articulink” front suspension system that incorporates high movement joints and a disconnecting sway-bar system, allowing for additional flexibility and axle articulation and a standard Warn 12,000-lb electric winch mounted behind the front bumper.
So, what’s new on 2017 Ram Power Wagon? Well, the changes are mostly cosmetic, but you will no doubt notice the new 1500 Rebel-inspired grille that features a prominent Billet Silver “RAM” letter badge. The larger blacked-out grille is bookended by bi-functional black bezel projector headlamps with LED marker lights. You will also find new 17-in wheels and 33-in Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires.
The Power Wagon’s interior has been upgraded with unique technical grain seats finished in Diesel Gray and Black with Sedoso fabric inserts embossed with the Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tire tread pattern, matching the Power Wagon’s actual footprint. A thick vertical stripe decal aft of the cab, with “Power Wagon” in a large rotated font, will help distinguish the Power Wagon model. The decal pays tribute to a 36 year old admired design.
MERCEDES-BENZ SPRINTER EXTREME CONCEPT
On the fictional side of the Chicago Auto Show, we found this Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Extreme Concept, which was a good thing as the show was lacking some real concepts. From afar, the Sprinter Extreme Concept looks awesome, however once you get a little closer; you start to lose interest.
Let’s start with, what is it? What you see here is Mercedes 3500 Chassis Cab that has been sent to Mercedes tuning house, RENNtech, to be outfitted as an extreme dump truck.
The good part, RENNtech made a dump truck look cool, and that’s not an easy thing to do. They fitted a Scattolini ScattoMaax “Tipper Bed” that articulates in three different directions (either side or to the rear). They redesigned the bed walls out of aluminum, raised the suspension by six inches, mounted 18-in beadlock wheels with a meaty set of Nitto Trail Grapplers and then wrapped the vehicle in all sorts of lights, racks, cargo boxes and winches… you know, the type of stuff we all get excited about.
The bad part, well let’s just say it looks as though RENNtech are new to the whole off-road lifestyle thing. Now we’re not going to throw them under the bus, which is a classless way of shunning newbies from our sport. However, perhaps some constructive criticism. When traveling off-road, the bottom of the front bumper is usually the first thing that gets driven into the ground, so it’s not the best place to mount extremely expensive LED lamps. Likewise, for the integrated crash bar mounted to rather weak looking protective caging for the winch. We love that you have a winch on a Sprinter, however the whole package will likely be laying on the trail just beyond the LED lights.
We know, we know, it’s a concept car. Top marks have to go to Mercedes and RENNtech for making us want to own a dump truck.
While the snorting and grunting of all the high testosterone off-roaders usually grab our attention, Nissan quietly pulled the covers off the next generation Armada. We weren’t even quite sure if the Armada was going to continue production, but now we have the answer.
Yes, the 2017 Armada will continue to use a new higher output version of Nissan’s 5.6L V-8, now 390 hp, and a new 7-speed automatic transmission. It has an all-new aerodynamic design and is over-flowing with new technology, however we noticed something else intriguing about the new Armada. It will not be built off the Titan platform anymore; instead, it will be based off Nissan’s Y62 platform and will be built in Japan.
To most, this is a non-story, however for those who know their legendary 4WDs, they will recognize this as the Nissan Patrol platform. Granted, the Patrol’s glory years as one of the world’s best off-roaders is past, but we hope the new Armada will live up to its celebrated lineage.
The 2017 Nissan Armada will be offered in a range of three high-content grade levels – SV, SL and Platinum, will have a towing capacity of 3,855 kg (8,500 lb) and will go on sale later this summer.
The Titan XD finally gets a younger brother. Toyota pulls the covers off the highly anticipated Tacoma Pro-Series.
Mercedes… showing a dump truck concept… didn’t see that one coming.
The Armada lives, and its got a secret it’s keeping from you.