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Rough Country News

  • Ram teams up with country music star for latest farm-centric effort

    Pickup trucks have always been associated with farmers. With the automobile's rugged characteristics, heavy-duty capabilities and strong reputation, it has been a staple of rural life for decades. That tradition is at the forefront of the latest joint effort between an automaker and an organization. Ram Truck is teaming up with the Future Farmers of America and country singer Easton Corbin to highlight the importance of farmers in the U.S. 

    Year of the Farmer
    As part of the celebration of the Year of the Farmer campaign, Ram is striving to spread the word about the positive effects farmers have on the U.S. Ram began these efforts with a memorable Super Bowl commercial and is continuing the initiative throughout 2013. 

    Easton Corbin was chosen as a partner because of his history with farming. Corbin was once a member of the FFA and understands the role that farmers play in communities across the country. He will head to FFA chapters in 12 locations to show appreciation for farmers and bring some attention to the cause. 

    "It's clear that Easton, like the Ram Truck brand, cares passionately about 'Year of the Farmer,' the FFA organization and its mission," said Reid Bigland, president and CEO of Ram Truck. "Through his tour of local FFA chapters, he's personally connecting with this special group of kids to help us further the notion that there's a 'farmer in all of us,' while reminding everyone that we all have a role in reducing hunger in America." 

    A comprehensive partnership
    The partnership between Ram Truck and the FFA will do more than raise awareness. A webisode series featuring footage of Corbin's tour and visits with the FFA will be broadcast online, allowing fans from all over to take part in these special concerts. 

    Ram is also hosting a contest that will give three lucky winners a chance to head to the Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas. From now until February, interested parties can enter to win a trip to Sin City as well as tickets to major events surrounding the award show. 

    Farmers are just one of the segments of drivers that are frequently drawn to pickup trucks. Everyone from construction workers to fans of recreational off-road driving get behind the wheel of these rugged automobiles, and they all have a chance to reap the benefits of this latest campaign. 

  • Jeep Wrangler Polar to head to American showrooms

    When Jeep first debuted the Wrangler Polar Edition at the Frankfurt Auto Show, it appeared that the model was going to be the latest in a long line of impressive limited editions from the manufacturer. However, recent news points to the fact that the Polar Edition may be getting a wider rollout than previously anticipated.

    Coming to America
    The brand revealed that it will be bringing the Polar Edition to the U.S., sending it to showrooms across the country. That move should please many fans of extreme off-roading, as this limited automobile is packed with features and characteristics that make it a truly one-of-a-kind off-road vehicle.

    Made for some serious adventures, the Polar Edition boasts Trac-Lok anti-spin wheels, impressive heating and climate control, and a 3.6-liter engine that delivers 285 horsepower and 260 foot-pounds of torque. 

    Even its style is special. With an electric blue paint job, black glossy wheels and a new front grille, the Polar Edition looks just as impressive as it drives. It's also available in a silver metallic color or bright white. It is definitely a more distinct appearance than some Jeep drivers may be used to, but the unique design meshes well with the intended icy setting and will certainly look flashy against a snowy white backdrop. 

    "Jeep Wrangler is known for its 4x4 capability on any road or trail and in any weather condition," said Mike Manley, president of Jeep. "The new Jeep Wrangler Polar Edition represents a tip of the hat to our loyal Jeep enthusiasts who are also lovers of outdoor winter activities and adventures. This new winter-themed Jeep will get them where they want to go in a fun, new, unique - and very capable - special-edition package."

    Kick it up a notch
    Although there are a few off-roaders throughout the U.S. who may not be able to take full advantage of the features included in the Polar Edition, plenty of drivers in colder parts of the country will appreciate the amenities.

    Despite all of the included extras, there is still a lot of room to make Jeep modifications. The Polar Edition may be primed for the cold, but there are opportunities to make a few upgrades that will have it operating in top shape in all conditions. Whether you're installing a lift kit or adding armor, you can outfit the Polar with the features it will need to be successful at rock crawling or typical recreational off-roading. 

  • Winter tires may make a big difference

    Winter is right around the corner, and the prospect of dealing with inclement weather and plunging temperatures has many drivers considering the best ways to prepare their vehicles. One of the top choices for this is installing winter tires, which can offer better safety and performance on different types of terrain. 

    Although most drivers stick with all-season tires, there are several options for those vehicle owners who want to go above and beyond for their automobiles. 

    The benefits of snow tires
    Drivers who don't want bad weather to stop their recreational driving should seriously consider installing snow tires on their vehicle. These tires are designed to retain their elasticity even as temperatures drop, which enables them to keep a better, stronger grip on the roads and terrain.  Their flexibility leads to better traction and safer operations in all types of conditions. 

    "Winter tires provide increased traction, braking and handling in wintry conditions, all of which are important for safe driving during the winter season," said Philip Dobbs, the chief marketing officer for Bridgestone Americas. "Think about it this way - a snowplow can't clear the cold. If it's cold enough to see your breath, you should consider changing to winter tires." 

    For fans of off-roading, snow tires can provide peace of mind. Safety is always of paramount importance, and the advantages offered by snow tires can make a big difference in how you handle the elements. 

    What you need to know
    Using winter tires can be a big boon for you and your vehicle, but you have to know how to use them properly. Bridgestone Americas recommended installing these tires when the temperatures begin to drop. Overnight frosts can contribute to slick roads, as can wet leaves accumulating throughout nature trails, so you may need to have wheels with a better grip in these situations. That is especially true if your rock crawling and traction become more important. 

    Installing a lift kit on a truck or SUV could impact the size of the tires needed to fit on your automobile. If you've raised the ground clearance on your off-road vehicle, you will want to research how that affects the size snow tires you need or if there are specific brands and styles that work best. 

    You may be familiar with installing traditional tires to an automobile, but snow tires may have certain quirks that you need to accommodate. Be sure to read the instructions and check the owner's manual to see if there are restrictions you must adhere to. 

  • Nissan creates an off-road vehicle primed for water

    Off-roading frequently takes drivers to wet environments. It doesn't matter if you're mudding or just happen to come across a stream during a trek through the wilderness - there is always a good chance you'll encounter water. That's one of the reasons drivers make truck or Jeep modifications that outfit their vehicles for this damp terrain, but few take it to the degree that Nissan recently did. 

    The 'Note Boat'
    To honor the debut of the new Nissan Note, the automaker created a version of the vehicle that can handle some extensive water depths. Dubbed the Note Boat, the automobile features a brand new technology that is capable of transforming itself into a floating machine. 

    The Note Boat includes a sliding rear seat that creates more room for a rower, while the doors open out to almost a 90-degree angle to provide plenty of space for oars or paddles. A comprehensive video system allows the driver to see everything around the vehicle at all times as well. 

    Nissan made sure to show off the capabilities of the finished product. The Note Boat was sent to Eton Dorney Lake, the site of the 2012 Olympic rowing competition, and put to the test in the ultimate environment. The manufacturer even recruited some experts to handle the vehicle, getting three stars of Great Britain's official team to control it down the waterway. 

    "It's certainly a novel experience rowing down Eton Dorney Lake in a car," said Olympic rower Polly Swann. "I'm amazing at how wide the doors open - I could achieve almost a complete rowing stroke, which produced more than enough power to push the Note down the lake." 

    What you can do
    Not every driver will want - or need - to transform their vehicle into a boat, no matter what kind of intense off-road driving they are doing. Many motorists opt instead for installing a lift kit. By adding more ground clearance and potentially even larger, more capable tires, auto owners are reducing the chances that water infiltrates the undercarriage and rusts their machine.

    Others choose to install armor to guard the weak points of a vehicle. This can come in handy when you're driving through water and can't see what is lying below the surface, which may include rocks or other obstacles that could cause damage. 

  • Cruisin' the Coast delights participants and truck enthusiasts

    A love of off-roading or pickup trucks had to start somewhere, and for many drivers it's a passion that is rooted in their childhood memories. Whether your first car was a restored pickup or you learned how to tinker with automobiles thanks to a truck that needed some work, there's a good chance you have some sort of history with these classic vehicles. Because many of these automobiles have since left the roads, there are only a few opportunities to get a look at the models, but some of the shows and festivals that feature these old school trucks are definitely worthy of a visit. 

    Set along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Cruisin' the Coast has quickly transformed itself into a can't-miss event for auto lovers. The most recent edition, held in early October 2013, was certainly one for the record books - and it may even convince truck fans to plan a trip in the future. 

    A valued tradition
    Throughout its 17-year history, Cruisin' the Coast has become one of the most popular events for classic car lovers and truck enthusiasts in the U.S. When it began, the celebration featured about 300 vintage automobile, but that number swelled to nearly 7,100 classic pickups and hot rods in 2013. The vehicles cover a 30-mile routes that snakes through Mississippi, allowing thousands of spectators a chance to check out the cars and even get a feel for how some of them drive. 

    "Part of the attraction is we are a driving event so they get to drive their cars," registration director Lisa Burnett told The Sun Herald. "It's all along the beachfront and we get to see some beautiful scenery. One thing that keeps popping up is the friendliness of the people and the Southern hospitality they encounter here at the venues, restaurants and hotels."  

    Classic trucks steal the show
    Whether you're looking for a chance to get ideas for renovating your own truck or just want to see what types of truck mods are being done on these vintage vehicles, this event could be the perfect destination. According to PickupTrucks.com, the majority of the trucks date back to the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, with many of the models boasting special customizations and personal touches that make them unique. 

    Truck lovers who attended the most recent running of Cruisin' the Coast were in for a treat. Of the 7,100 vehicles that made up the 2013 event, many were revamped trucks. That provided a trip down memory lane for many visitors. 

    "I had one gentleman tell me it's like eight days of being 18 again," Burnett told The Sun Herald. 

    Car auctions, races, social gatherings and swap meets fill the rest of the days, providing plenty of options for auto lovers to get their fill of vintage rides. 

    The next event
    It's not too early to register for the 2014 edition of Cruisin' the Coast. Next year's event, which will be held Oct. 5 to 12, has already opened Early Bird Registration, allowing interested parties to sign up and reserve space for themselves and their cars in this stellar festival. 

    One thing is for sure: Newcomers will have to compete for space with returning drivers, many of whom find Cruisin' the Coast to be among the most enjoyable auto show experiences. 

    "This is our fifth year coming here," Dan Heard, a festival participant and classic truck owner, told PickupTrucks.com. "The friendliness at the venues, restaurants and hotels is great. Everyone we've encountered are just so nice and really makes us feel welcome here."

  • Could a Tesla pickup be on the horizon?

    Tesla made a lot of headlines in 2013, mostly for the stellar performance and safety ratings of its Model S. While the manufacturer is sticking with what it knows for now, there are rumors that the automaker could soon enter the world of pickup trucks. 

    An analyst at Seeking Alpha, an investment research website, recently brought up the idea of Tesla joining the pickup truck revolution. Trucks have already staked their claim as one of the most popular auto segments, and the segment is predicted to continue expanding in the future. 

    A Tesla chief designer did comment on the possibility of a pickup once in the past, claiming that the torque of an electric motor - such as the one Tesla produces - would be an excellent option for pickups, according to Seeking Alpha. Elon Musk, the free-speaking brand CEO, has also discussed a potential Tesla truck, saying that it would feature an impressive air suspension and torque, the news source reported. 

    If a Tesla pickup is anything like the Model S, drivers can expect big things. Not only does the electric vehicle boast a range of up to 265 miles with zero emissions, but it also offers superior safety features. An innovative aluminum design cuts down on weight while creating a rigid frame, and the lack of an engine makes it easy to optimize the vehicle for passenger protection. The Model S received top scores on almost all of its safety tests.

    With a strong exterior, wide range and premium features, an off-road vehicle from Tesla could change the industry. Of course, that is all speculation, but it is certainly something for fans of off-road driving to consider as they mull over the latest news from the sport. 

  • Auto industry could face parts shortage in 2014

    While most of the auto industry has big dreams for 2014, there is one section that is wary of what is to come: the suppliers. Many companies that make individual components for vehicles are facing extreme pressure to keep up with high demand, and as a result, they are not sure if they will be able to match automaker's expectations in the next year. 

    The outlook
    A recent survey from IRN, Inc. found that many manufacturers are concerned about a potential shortage of car parts in 2014. With demand for new cars on the rise, many suppliers are being forced to increase their output - a fact that few are prepared for. 

    "Capacity may finally be at the breaking point," the survey said, according to Automotive News. "If current projections ... are correct, expect this to be one of the top issues for the industry in 2014." 

    According to the survey, those suppliers who made electrical components were most concerned about a potential shortage. As many as 38 percent of survey respondents who made these devices were worried about not meeting capacity. Following those companies were suppliers of chassis and suspension components, of which approximately 30 percent were concerned, the news source reported. 

    "This suggests that the industry is maxed out," Melissa Anderson, IRN vice president, told Automotive News. "Among most suppliers, there is a fair amount of scrambling going on. It's not always pretty." 

    What you can do
    There is not much drivers can do to prepare for a potential parts shortage in 2014, especially because they have no way of knowing what type of auto repair they could need or even what vehicle they'll be driving in the future. If you have an off-road vehicle that you intend to keep throughout 2014, it may be a good idea to give the automobile a thorough inspection and make sure everything is functioning as it should. That way, if you find something that needs to be tinkered with or replaced, you have plenty of time to properly address the issue. This also provides you with some leeway in case a problem is bigger than you expect and requires a new investment. 

    Those who plan on doing some extreme off-roading in the next year will also want to take steps to ensure their automobiles are strong enough to handle whatever comes their way. Installing a lift kit to add more ground clearance can prevent any type of obstacle from interfering with the undercarriage. Similarly, installing Jeep armor or other protective plates may also guard exposed areas from harm. 

  • Esquire praises the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

    Esquire magazine recently handed out awards for its "SUV of the Year," and many off-roading enthusiasts will likely be happy with the automobile that took the top spot. The men's style publication rated the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT as the big winner in this year's Esquire Car Awards, awarding it the title of Sport Utility of the Year

    Multiple editors drove the new Jeep model, testing out its refreshments and updated amenities. While the 2014 version was not a complete redesign, it didn't need a total overhaul to compete. The few touches that were expertly applied to the edition enhanced the driving experience, and the vehicle itself is excellent for either day-to-day or off-road driving. 

    "The new 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT combines impressive performance and luxury wrapped in a muscular and stylish exterior," said Ralph Gilles, the president of Chrysler's SRT Brand. "Winning Esquire's 'SUV of the Year' award continues to help set us apart from esteemed competitors by appealing to the passionate, performance-enthusiast consumers with its unique blend of value, technology, power and character." 

    Not only did Esquire select the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT as the best option for SUVs, but some of the individuals who provided input to the test said driving the vehicle was an excellent experience. It is an automobile that you'll want to drive, and just as important, an SUV that is fun to handle in any situation. 

    "The one sonic experience of the year that I will not forget is engaging the ignition on the SRT," David Granger, editor-in-chief of the magazine, wrote in his review. "This is the sweetest-sounding, most reasonably prices engine note of our time." 

    With a vehicle this great, some drivers may even be hesitant about making Jeep modifications. However, the extreme durability of the Grand Cherokee brand, combined with the reasonable costs, certainly make alterations a viable option. 

  • Motor oil not always up to standards

    Anyone who has taken a look under the hood of a car knows what an integral role motor oil plays in the functioning of a vehicle. The liquid is essential for auto engines, and it is incredibly important for drivers to make sure they are using the oil properly - especially if they plan on braving the elements in an off-road vehicle in the near future. 

    Motor oil falls short
    The American Petroleum Institute recently conducted a comprehensive study that looked at the quality of motor oil. Research found that 1 in 5 samples of bulk motor oil purchased within the past five years do not meet performance standards, which can have a drastic effect on the vehicles it is used in. 

    "API is concerned about the high levels of failure we are finding in our results," said Kevin Ferrick, manager of API's Engine Oil Licensing and Certification System. "API is sharing these audit findings with the public as part of its new 'Motor Oil Matters' program, which will help reduce the risk of consumers receiving oil that doesn't meet their cars' performance requirements." 

    The organization took samples from more than 1,800 motor oils, with almost 20 percent failing to meet quality standards. These standards are in place to protect consumers and their vehicles, so the fact that so many drivers are heading out on highways and off-road routes with less-than-stellar materials in their automobiles is concerning. 

    Importance of motor oil
    There's a reason why so many experts cite changing motor oil at regular intervals as one of the keys to preventative maintenance. It is an essential part of the vehicle's engine, and filling the system with the right oil can go a long way toward preventing harmful build up of dirt and sludge.

    Those who put off oil changes or use low-quality motor oil may have to replace an engine or undergo costly repairs sooner than expected. That kind of work is the last thing many fans of off-roading want, especially as the fall weather is ideal for recreational driving, so the only solution is to utilize the proper materials. 

    "The Motor Oil Matters program reminds consumers about the importance of using quality motor oils in their cars and trucks," Ferrick continued. "The Motor Oil Matters program also calls on certified oil change locations to go the extra step to verify the quality of the oil on invoices and receipts." 

  • Compromise reached in Utah off-roading case

    Most fans of off-road driving have a tremendous respect for the environment they use as a setting for their pastime. Drivers go above and beyond to make sure their truck mods are not harming the wilderness, preserving the open space for many other motorists to enjoy. However, there are occasions when the actions of off-roaders impact the environment, causing some issues in the sport. 

    Off-roading threatens wildlife
    Utah's Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is a popular spot for off-roading in the western U.S. The public lands are excellent for dune bashing and other adventurous forms of off-road driving, and as such they have become a major draw for recreational drivers. 

    However, drivers who frequent those lands faced some unwanted obstacles when the space was found to be the home of the tiger beetle. The species lives primarily in the sand dunes habitat and relies heavily on the land for survival, as it is not capable of thriving in other environments. Unfortunately, the prevalence of off-roading within the park has drastically affected the beetle's environment, threatening the species with possible extinction. 

    Organizations like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the Utah Department of Natural Resources teamed up to do something to save this species. At the same time, the surrounding community and off-roading groups from the area wanted to maintain the draw of the dunes for both financial and recreational purposes. 

    A compromise is found
    Luckily, all of the groups involved were able to reach a compromise that will protect the habitat of the tiger beetle while also preserving the land for off-road use. The final deal designates two-thirds of the park, or about 2,276 acres, as a critical habitat that is off limits to off-road vehicles, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. That accounts for about 88 percent of Coral Pink Sand Dunes, with the remaining space available for off-road use. 

    "We are committed to managing public lands to conserve the tiger beetle while supporting the recreation and outdoor activities that boost local economies in Southern Utah," Juan Palma, Utah state director for the Bureau of Land Management, told the news source. 

    Situations like these are rare but unavoidable. As more information comes out about the environmental effects of off-road driving, there could be several changes in the recreational driving landscape, but motorists who do their part could help lighten the impact of off-roading on the environment. 

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