Aug 122012
Trucks and SUVs - typical workhorses of North America

Trucks and SUVs – typical workhorses of North America

The market prices for trusted SUVs are returning to the norm, particularly in the used trucks segment. Possibly, that’s a hint to hold onto your Jeep for another couple years. And there is a clear reason for that. The tendency that was fairly clear over the last decade was that North Americans continued to buy huge and powerful SUVs and pick-up trucks, until the rampaging fuel prices made everyone think about downsizing, getting into the world of crossovers or even switching to more compact and lighter cars.

And why did North Americans traditionally opt for the huge and heavy gas-guzlingg

gas-guzzling Econoline with its gasoline 4.6L V8...

gas-guzzling Econoline with its gasoline 4.6L V8…

trucks in the first place? It must had been something that was a part of the culture, where the gas had always been super cheap, but the ability to haul trailers or heavy loads, or even just being able to impress others with the looks was more than just a commodity. Once one crosses from USA into Canada, there is a striking difference in the vehicles

and its fuel efficient diesel peer from Germany

and its fuel efficient diesel peer from Germany

Canadians drive. Though traditionally large pickups and SUVs abound, more money conscientious Canadians tend to prefer smaller cars, even to a point of choosing something sub-compact. And an even greater contrast anticipates one crossing the ocean and landing in Europe… The first thought often is, “all these cars… they are so miniscule, how do these people manage to get things done?” After a careful look, one discovers that the things for which Americans and Canadians use huge Dodge Ram or Ford F-series pickups can be easily accomplished by a modest Ford Transit van, and that Mercedes Sprinter with a 2.4L diesel engine can take more people and prove to be much more economical than lets say Ford Econoline with its gasoline monster powertrain.

So, why did I say in the beginning of the post that there is future and that the prices will go up? I think that despite the general

a U.N. SUV at home - no paved road!

a U.N. SUV at home – no paved road!

downsizing tendency and the escalating gas prices there is still room for big trucks and SUVs, despite their generally inferior fuel economy. The world will never be a planet carefully divided into even sectors with perfectly paved asphalt roads. There will be always places where no car or crossover be able to replace a well suited off-roader, be it in UN forces on a different continent in the desert or tundra, or even here, in the mountains, or places that are known for its unpredictable adverse weather conditions.

"I know the hurricains are comin" - a country song

“I know the hurricanes are comin'” – a country song

That’s probably the reason why trucks and SUVs have always held their ground better against depreciation, as opposed to cars and other vehicles. And the latest trend in the return of popularity of true off-roaders, I contribute to the fact that the climate is clearly becoming totally messed up, where the folks everywhere are witnessing abnormal weather changes. Even where I live, in Montreal, I see winters becoming hysterical and summers sub-tropical. And when you witness something like this, and the south of the continent is plagued by floods, forest fires, tornadoes and violent storms, people tend to hold a little longer to their trusted Jeep.

Jun 032012

Toyata RAV4 - where it started The times they are a-changing… That’s what I am saying to myself watching the new crossover breed replacing the trusted off-road veterans. Or, may be, the crossover tribe is not so new after all, and by now has claimed its right to the large portion of the offroad market. This is particularly true of Canada, but of other countries, where the the high fuel prices forced the owners to exchange their SUVs for smaller crossovers. The latest category become incredibly popular among both men and women, ranging in size of the vehicles from tiny first generation Toyota RAV4 and Honda CRV to much larger behemoths like Audy Q7 or Ford Escape.

 While all of this is taking place, car manufacturers are shifting the priorities towards comfort and appearance, sacrificing traditional off-road qualities. This brings us to a certain crisis of the off-road genre, where only a few vehicles like Land Rover Defender or Jeep Wrangler still put off-road capability over comfort and handling. One could still argue Audy Q7 crossoverthat many of the pickups are 4X4, but let’s face it, the longer wheel base and often times a transfer case without a law range will hardly satisfy serious off-roaders.

More so, quite a few vehicles that had made a name for themselves as serious conquerors of uneven terrain have obviously decided to jump on the bandwagon. Take Ford Explorer for example. The first two generations derived from Ford Ranger pick up base did pretty well off-road, while the third Explorer came in 2002 without locking differentials, with electronically controlled transfer case and with a questionable ground clearance of 19 cm, making it usable only for soft-roading. While the fourth generation Explorer wasn’t that much different from the third, fifth generation Ford Explorer which debuted in 2010 was a true crossover with its monocoque body and a number of electronic terrain management systems that proved to be unusable even on the most modest off-road.

Land Rover Defender - trusted veteran

Land Rover Defender - trusted veteran

Not to mention the latest Jeep Grand Cherokee, even though the previous Grands weren’t built on a frame, but still provided fantastic off-roading capabilities. Well, take a look now at the Grand Cherokee SRT-8, on which all the off-roading gear was removed. And what about BMW X5 and X3 or Mercedes ML – ever tried taking one of those things mudding?

 Nonetheless, there are still honest vehicles that can do off-road stock. Clearly Land Rover Defender, all of Jeep Wranglers, the older Mercedes G-class/Puch, Cherokees 1-3 generation, Nissan Patrol and Toyota Land-cruiser, Mitsubishi Pajero and of course Hummer H1/HUMVEE. The others, be it Ford Edge or Nissan Rogue, or Volvo XC-90 should be treated for what they are – crossovers – a breeding of SUV,

Third generation Cherokee

Third generation Cherokee

station wagon and of a minivan. That’s the direction SUV manufacturers are going…

Dec 092011

Tent in stowed position

A diehard camper who likes to get far away from everyone is going to need a sturdy off-road vehicle to get there. In the case of a Jeep Rubicon, you will have limited space to carry cargo. Your tent is often the largest space hog you have to contend with. Why not install a rooftop tent on your Rubicon to take care of the problem?

Yes, you can stow any tent on the top of your Jeep, but do all of those tents simple unfold and set themselves up? How many of those tents automatically offer you ground clearance when you are in an area where wild animals have no fear of humans or heavy rain is a possibility? The last thing you want to do is find a curious rattle snake or an inch of water in your tent in the middle of the night.

8 minutes to set up.

In order to set up a rooftop tent all you have to do is remove the cover, flip a couple of straps and pull the ladder down. As the ladder is pulled down, it erects the tent. Install a few flexible rods and your rain fly and windows are open and you are ready to climb in out of the elements.

These tents are designed to withstand winds gusting up to 60 mph and have been tested in the Arctic Circle. The PVC fabric and wax impregnation shed snow like a champ. Since you are elevated, you do not have to worry about melting snow or pooling water when it rains.

If your goal is to get off-road and away from people, cell phones, or just commune with nature for a few days, a rooftop tent is your best companion. Easy setup, durable construction, and space saving. What else could you ask for other than a Jeep Rubicon that is at least 12 inches longer in the cargo area?

Installs on your trailer as well

Nov 292011

Nothing has screamed ”icon” over the last seventy years like the Jeep Wrangler. It is the first vehicle that comes to mind when Americans think of off-road action. No other vehicle has carried heavy artillery across battlefields and civilians across rivers and mountains. The 2012 Jeep Wrangler is set to put its personal stamp on the American psyche.

The 2012 Jeep JK Wrangler has the eternal soul of its bygone brethren, but has been updated for modern tastes. The biggest improvement is the available 3.6L VVT Pentastar V-6 engine that comes straight out of the 2011 Grand Cherokee. This engine is a logical replacement for the lackluster 3.8L of recent years. The 2012 was designed with specific outcomes in mind: capability, refinement, fuel economy, and enhanced performance.

How were those goals accomplished? First, with the V6. The engine is 90lbs lighter and the alternator has been moved back to the top of the motor to allow for water fording. The lighter engine helps the new Wrangler add 13% to its fuel efficiency, while adding another 40% in horsepower. That is a jump from 202 hp to a top end of 285hp. Horsepower alone is meaningless if you do not increase torque. How about another 10% over the 2011? Add the right transmission to the added power and torque and you get a winning formula. The 2012 Jeep Wrangler slaps an A580 five speed automatic to the power plant. This is a transmission that shifts like silk, further improves fuel efficiency, and controls noise levels in the cabin at highway speeds.

Off-road enthusiasts have a few other ideas about what makes a good Wrangler. The 2012 has seen the addition of skid plates and steel rock rails. The approach and departure angles have been improved to allow better clearance. With all of these improvements, it is easy to see that Jeep may be around for another 70 years.

Nov 262011

2012 Jeep Wrangler

No matter how much you like your Jeep Wrangler, you may want to have the chance to customize it. Add a few things here, change a couple of things there. In order to add the things that you want most, you need to be aware of everything that is available to you. Here are several of the items that Jeep is making available for the 2012 Jeep Wrangler.

The line up includes more than 250 accessories ranging from $18 door handles to a $12,000 camper trailer. Here are a few more that could be of interest to many of you:

  • First off, there is a Warn 9.5ti Thermometric Winch. This winch has a 9,500-lb pull, temperature feedback, extreme duty water proofing, and 125 feet of 5/16 inch steel cable. To top it off, the winch features a remote control
  • Don’t like the top? Mopar is offering several soft top and hard top options along with sun bonnet options.
    Tubular and standard factory running boards in chrome and flat black.
  • There are complete chrome dress kits including, rear door hinges, fuel filler caps, door handles, mirrors, and grille or the parts can be bought individually.
  • Tow hooks, roadside safety kits, and skid plates for off road enthusiasts.
  • The Ecometer helps make you aware of how fuel efficient your driving is. Interested in saving a little gas? This is the device for you.
  • Garmin nav system or a complete media center with Sirius radio, nav center, and much more.
  • Last is an electronic vehicle tracking system just in case your Jeep attracts some unwanted attention.

In addition to these items, Jeep is offering some of the more popular add-ons like 17 and 18 inch wheels, bike racks, and seat covers. For a complete list you can stop over at and shop to your heart’s content.