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Rough Country News

    • Chrysler inching closer to Jeep recall

      For years, drivers have turned to Jeep vehicles when they were in search of a reliable automobile. The brand has a reputation for producing some of the most capable off-road driving options on the market, and many recreational users have spent their time and money making a number of Jeep modifications to upgrade their rides. Unfortunately for these drivers, there may be some problems on the horizon for Jeep, and a recall could even be in the cards for the oft-reliable brand. 

      AutoBlog reported that Chrysler, Jeep's parent company, has been in a battle with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the past several years. The safety organization claims that more than 3 million Jeeps are currently affected by a problem with the location of the gas tank in the lineup. According to the NHTSA, in a rear-end collision, the gas tank may be damaged, causing fires and injuries. Chrysler maintained that there was no such issue, but the company eventually agreed to join in a voluntary inspection of several Jeep models. 

      Now that this campaign is underway, Chrysler has agreed to recall more than 1.5 million vehicles, and as many as 2.7 million SUVs, including Grand Cherokees and Libertys, The Detroit News reported. To prevent further issues, the automaker will be installing special trailer hitches that add another layer of protection should an accident occur. 

      "Chrysler Group has finalized replacement part design and is initiating the tooling process to deliver the required volume," Chrysler said in a statement, as quoted by The New York Times. "Launching a safety recall demands complex engineering and close collaboration with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration well before we accumulate replacement parts. Chrysler Group takes seriously its commitment to customer safety." 

      The full recall has yet to go into effect, but drivers who own a Jeep vehicle may want to take a closer look at the safety features of their vehicle. A few simple changes can go a long way toward safety. 

    • 2015 GMC Canyon makes its debut

      Although Ford may have dominated the headlines at the North American International Auto Show, GMC was on hand with a new creation that is ready to make a splash. As part of the growing midsize truck market, the GMC Canyon offers a prime blend of capability and bulk. With factors such as fuel efficiency and maintenance costs acting as a major factor in the car-buying process, the midsize segment could become more prominent, and the GMC Canyon will certainly be a large part of that. 

      Latest reveal
      To debut the Canyon, GMC drove the pickup onto the grounds of the Detroit Auto Show, and many viewers may have thought they were seeing double. The manufacturer showed off the Chevrolet Colorado - the sister truck of this Canyon - at the L.A. Auto Show in November, and the two trucks are quite similar. This new Canyon is also close to the GMC Sierra, and many fans of off-road driving will likely be hoping that the latest pickup brings together all of the top features from the family. 

      "The all-new 2015 GMC Canyon completes GMC's three-truck family, which started with the redesigned 2014 Sierra 1500 and 2015 Sierra HD," said Tony DiSalle, vice president of GMC marketing. "It rounds out a lineup that offers the broadest range of capabilities in the industry, giving truck customers more choices to find the vehicle that meets their professional, personal and lifestyle needs." 

      The all-new GMC Canyon
      As the newest introduction to the midsize segment, the GMC Canyon offers an impressive array of features that can serve in many different situations. Those motorists who prioritize comfort and everyday driving will benefit from touches like the sculpted door panels, expanded storage spaces, 8-inch touch-screen panel and 4G LTE service. 

      Of course, many of the sought-after qualities of the Canyon deal with the truck's off-roading abilities. It is equipped with four-wheel drive, a lift-and-lower locking tailgate, two-tier loading, multiple tie-down locations, an already installed bed liner, and bed rail. It also has an aluminum hood, which not only provides some added front strength but also keeps the weight of the vehicle down while evening out the mass of the truck. 

      "Not everyone needs full-size capability, but they still deserve strength and true-truck attributes that comes in larger models," DiSalle said. "The Canyon will offer all the capability with confidence - and GMC's signature refinement that complements active lifestyles. It also delivers the technology customers want with more standard features." 

      Driver options
      While the standard version of the 2015 GMC Canyon is quite impressive, drivers will be able to customize parts of the truck to meet their needs. These efforts only scratch the surface of truck modifications, but they could be enough to get new owners started on the right foot. 

      The Canyon comes in two body styles: extended cab and crew cab. Crew cabs have another option of a 5-foot or 6-foot bed, while the extended cab only has the 6-foot cargo bed. Owners can then choose their trim level, which is available in base, SLE and SLT. The base offers only the bare minimum but can keep costs down. On the other side of the spectrum is the SLE and SLT, with the SLT package being the best choice for off-roading. That option boasts 17-inch all-terrain tires and a finely tuned truck suspension. 

      There are also multiple engines to choose from, including a 2.5-liter option with 193 horsepower and 184 foot-pounds of torque and a 3.6-liter motor with a maximum of 302 horsepower and 270 foot-pounds of torque. Each type should be able to tow up to 6,700 pounds.  

    • Looking back at the 2013 Jeep Wrangler Moab Edition

      Jeep released many special edition models in the past several months. In fact, there was so many that it was easy for a few to fall through the cracks, including a few models that should be given their fair share of the spotlight. One of those is the 2013 Jeep Wrangler Moab Edition, an off-road vehicle that is sure to please traditionalists who like to embrace the rugged nature of their rides. 

      Offering an array of excellent features that are ideal for off-roading, this vehicle is primed to become a favorite of heavy-duty drivers. 

      About the Moab
      It's impossible to miss the 2013 Jeep Wrangler Moab Edition, largely due to its unique paint color. Whether you're looking at the vehicle in vivid Gecko green or a Rock Lobster red, this automobile demands attention. It may be available in more standard shades like black and white, but with all of the extra benefits available with the Moab, you'll likely want to be noticed. Everything meshes well with the black wheels, fender flares and trim, which accents all paint colors nicely while sticking to the rugged vibe. 

      Although the Moab contains all of the capabilities you've come to expect from Jeep, there are also a few touches that cater the vehicle toward a more high-class crowd. The sleek exterior and extremely comfortable interior are just two of the ways this is accomplished, and with extras like a touchscreen on the center console, there are enough smart advancements to keep all types of drivers interested. 

      What to expect
      Thanks to a few key features, the 2013 Jeep Wrangler Moab Edition is more than capable of handling itself when off-roading. Several Jeep modifications, such as off-road tires, side rock rails and taillight guards, help to protect the vehicle even when it is being pushed to the limit. However, the Moab doesn't require a lot of fiddling before it can hit the trails. Auto Week reported that the edition is relatively customized as is, and with its special design and extra features, drivers won't have to make many changes to ensure their safety while off-road driving. 

      Of course, plenty of modifications can still be made. Installing a lift kit, adding armor, installing a front winch or outfitting the vehicle with similar types of off-road accessories is relatively easy to do. You can choose from two- or four-door models, as well as an optional soft canvas top and a soft top lift. You can also purchase the model with anti-spin rear differential, which will increase security on all kinds of steep slopes or slick terrain. 

      Drawing inspiration from the land
      The name of the 2013 Jeep Wrangler Moab Edition stems from Moab, Utah. This mountainous region is home to some of the coolest off-roading trails in the U.S., and any vehicle that draws its moniker from the space must be well equipped to live up to it. 

      Much of the Moab area is made up of old mining roads that have since been taken over by 4x4 vehicles. Some of the most challenging courses show off the beauty of the land while also providing plenty of obstacles to overcome - whether it's the solitude, intense rock crawling spots or other trials. Beginners should stick to routes like the Secret Spire and Chicken Corners, while more experienced drivers will enjoy stretches like Pritchett Canyon or Golden Spike. Each of these routes offers a special array of landmarks and challenges, allowing drivers to test their mettle in a unique area. 

    • All-new Jeep Cherokee makes waves on the market

      When the 2014 Jeep Cherokee was first introduced to the public, many fans of the brand were left wondering if the vehicle could possibly live up to the expectations set by its predecessors. Now, after a few months on the market, the automobile is proving that it certainly can. Everything from expert reviews to sales figures show that the new Cherokee is a force to be reckoned with, and it is definitely an SUV that is making waves in the world of off-roading. 

      Expert reviews
      Reviews from experts around the auto industry all point to the 2014 Jeep Cherokee being a rousing success. The Detroit Free Press claimed that the vehicle quickly ascended to the top of the ranks of off-road vehicles, largely thanks to its ability to get through everything from mudding courses to steep slopes.

      According to the news source, the Cherokee has capabilities that set it apart from similar SUVs. That could be a major boon for the brand, as few vehicles from any automaker offer a combination of fuel efficiency and everyday driving abilities with off-road power. However, the Jeep Cherokee is definitely one that can compete with peers like the Chevrolet Equinox and Toyota RAV4 - and it is proving that in the sales charts as well as on the trails. 

      Current sales
      All of the excellent reviews for the Jeep seem to be having quite an impact, as the sales figures for the 2014 Jeep Cherokees are already quite impressive. According to Reuters, sales of the new vehicle reached 45,415 vehicles in the month of November, which was significantly higher than what was predicted before the month. Chrysler, Jeep's parent company, stated that the 2013 month was the best November since 2007, before the recession hit. In fact, the great numbers posted by the model helped propel Jeep brand sales to a 30 percent growth from month to month, the news source reported. 

      A large part of the Jeep's success has to do with its impressive new design. Although it is a bit different than Jeeps of the past, the new look was something that intrigued many drivers. To top it off, there is still plenty of room to make Jeep modifications, which ensures that even the most extreme drivers are not left out of the loop. 

      "Jeep took a chance by stepping outside of its comfort zone with the aggressive design of the new Cherokee, and so far, the SUV appears to be strongly resonating with buyers," said Brian Duval, general manager of one Jeep dealership. "Not only do Cherokee owners get Jeep's most modern design yet, but they also receive excellent fuel economy without the losing the brand's signature capability." 

      Room to grow
      Although much of the look of the Jeep has changed, the goal of the vehicles has not: Jeep continues to offer some of the best off-roading automobiles on the market. Multiple reviews of the new SUV have mentioned the Cherokee's ability to conquer all kinds of off-road driving, including rock crawling, which makes the car particularly attractive to drivers.

      Added to that is the fact that the 2014 Jeep Cherokee can be had for a relatively low price. The Automobile Journalist Association of Canada named the vehicle as the Best New SUV Under $35,000. That manageable sticker price leaves plenty of room for investments in a Jeep lift kit or making changes to the Jeep suspension - both of which are popular alterations that many drivers want to take care of before they take a vehicle out into the environment.

    • Congress considers implementing a federal gas tax increase

      One of the only disadvantages of owning a pickup truck or Jeep is that, on average, these vehicles don't have fuel efficiency that is as good as smaller automobiles. While the numerous benefits typically outweigh that hiccup in the mind's of owners, and large vehicles are seeing efficiency improve, it can still be aggravating to have to make frequent trips to the gas station. Unfortunately, those visits may soon have to become more costly, as there could be an increase in the average fuel price beginning in 2014. 

      According to The Washington Post, Congress is planning on handling a drop in transportation funding by raising the federal gas tax. A bill was introduced in the House of Representatives Dec. 4, and it aimed to raise the tax by 15 cents per gallon. That price hike would help make up for the budget cuts, but it may leave come drivers reconsidering their road trips or off-roading adventures. 

      The increase would bring the total amount of federal tax up to 33.4 cents per gallon on gas and 42.8 cents per gallon for diesel fuel, the news source reported. Officials believe the jump is necessary, as the improving rates of efficiency mean drivers are making fewer stops at a gas station. That has left a hole in the budget that could be used to improve roads and similar infrastructure. 

      "Congress hasn't dealt seriously with the funding issue for 20 years," Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) told The Washington Post. "With inflation and increased fuel efficiency, especially for some types of vehicles, there is no longer a good relationship between what road users pay and how much they benefit. The average motorist is paying about half as much per mile as they did in 1993." 

      It remains to be seen if the tax hike will be approved, but the idea is something drivers will want to keep an eye on regardless. 

    • Pickups do big business in the fall

      In the past several months, the auto industry has welcomed several high-profile pickup trucks to the scene. From brand new models to completely redesigned editions, these rugged vehicles are giving drivers plenty of choices to consider as they shop around for a new ride. Fans of off-roading who are looking for a potential off-road vehicle may want to take a serious look at some of the most popular additions to the marketplace. 

      November sales
      Detroit News reported that vehicle sales in November reached approximately 1.2 million. That success could mean record sales for the entire year, as the total number of new cars sold is expected to exceed 15.5 million units - about 1 million more than 2012. 

      The month of November saw impressive sales figures for all vehicles, but especially with regard to pickup trucks. While the entire year has boasted mostly positive numbers for automakers, pickup trucks continue to be one of the most sought-after vehicle types in the U.S. 

      "Certainly sales have come in far beyond our expectations," said Alec Gutierrez, a senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book, as quoted by Detroit News. "... The level of sales volume in that last weekend was just very, very strong." 

      Some brands stand apart
      Although the entire segment of pickup trucks experienced success, a few brands have more reasons to celebrate than others. Ford was at the front of the pack, selling more than 65,000 models of the F-Series. That is about 16 percent more than in November 2012, and the yearly sales are also posting big increases. Ford has sold approximately 688,000 versions of the F-Series so far in 2013, which is far and away the most of any automaker, reported. 

      "November was fairly typical, producing a strong sales lift toward the end of the month around the Thanksgiving holiday weekend," Erich Merkle, an analyst for Ford, told Detroit News. "It should be noted the month continued to show a market that is experiencing a good deal of resilience, particularly as we compare to October." 

      In a distant second place was the Chevrolet Silverado. November sales for this vehicle jumped more than 12 percent to approximately 34,000 vehicles in the month compared to last year, and it has moved about 437,000 pickups in 2013. Shortly behind that was Ram Truck. Although the brand had a more than 20 percent increase in monthly sales from 2012, it still ended up in third place with 322,268 trucks sold in the year. 

    • The best habits for savvy off-road drivers

      Being a good off-road driver is about more than successfully navigating a vehicle in and out of tough spots. The best and most respected drivers practice a variety of positive habits that set a good example for everyone in the wilderness and help to improve the experience for all. 

      Here are four simple ways you can practice good off-roading habits. Although these are just a few of the many potential methods, they are among the easiest, and drivers of any experience level can take advantage of these tips: 

      Be punctual and prepared
      Whether you're participating in formal races or just heading out into the wilderness for recreational purposes, you should take steps to be prepared. Complying with local or state laws and respecting the environment are incredibly important. Not only could you face steep fines - or worse - by failing to follow these rules, but you also may put yourself or others at risk. Be respectful of your surroundings and don't leave any evidence of your visit beyond some tire tracks. 

      If you are attending a formal event, make sure to be punctual. The same can be said of visiting public parks or off-roading facilities. You may have to fill out permit forms, pay entry fees or comply with other time limits, so it's probably worthwhile to do some research ahead of time. Even just a few minutes of effort can allow you to select the right time to show up for off-roading and inform you as to all of the information and gear you'll need. 

      Help others
      There will undoubtedly come a time when you find yourself - and your vehicle - stuck in a precarious situation. When that moment arises, you'll probably need some assistance, and it's always a good idea to offer to help fellow drivers when you encounter them in similar scenarios. 

      An easy way to be able to help others is to have a tool kit and emergency gear stored somewhere in your vehicle. Recovery straps and jumper cables are good basics to have, and the rest of your chosen equipment will likely depend on the type of off-road driving you are doing. Some factors will also depend on the geography of the region and the time of year. For example, in the winter, it is a good idea to have some type of sand or gravel in the winter, as it can improve traction. 

      Put safety first
      No matter what situation you are in, safety should come first. While most drivers know they should be driving the speed limit and obeying the general rules of the road, anyone participating in off-roading needs to make sure all truck or Jeep modifications are safely installed. This usually requires testing out new additions to a vehicle before you get out in the wilderness to ensure everything is functioning properly. 

      Always keep tinkering
      You may have successfully modified your truck or Jeep to create the off-road vehicle of your dreams, but that doesn't mean you're done. Lift kits and other vehicle enhancements are constantly evolving, so that means your automobile should be as well. You also have to be dedicated to providing consistent maintenance for a vehicle. After a round of intense off-road driving, some of your alterations or equipment may have been damaged, so it is important to check all of your gear before and after an experience. As technology advances and tools get safer, you may also want to consider making some new investments so you are always at the forefront.  

    • Chevy Silverado helps GM sweep end-of-year awards

      After years of being in the shadows of the best-selling Ford F-Series and critically acclaimed Ram Truck lineup, Chevrolet pickups are finally taking their turn in the spotlight. The 2014 Chevrolet Silverado is the latest creation to take home some major accolades, building on the momentum it gained after being named the Pickup Truck of the Year by Four Wheeler magazine. 

      General Motors performs well
      When the winners were announced, it was immediately apparent that General Motors came out on top. The automaker swept the awards for North American Car and Truck of the Year, which were announced in the early hours of Jan. 13 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. 

      GM took home the top prize for 2014 North American Car of the Year, which went to the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, as well as Truck of the Year, which was the Chevrolet Silverado. Experts rated these two vehicles as the best among their peers after testing with regards to innovation, comfort, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and overall financial value. 

      A panel of 49 automotive journalists from the U.S. and Canada selected the winners. This is the 21st year the recognition has been given out, but just the second time the Chevy Silverado has earned the prize. The truck previously won in 2007. 

      The Silverado came in first place by a significant margin over the second-place Jeep Cherokee. Judges voted the Acura MDX 97 into third place. 

      Considering the Chevy Silverado
      One of the benefits of the 2014 Chevy Silverado is that it can be used in a variety of situations. Whether drivers want to go off-roading, complete intense construction work or simply get from place to place on the roads, the Silverado is more than ready to handle the load. Add in its ability to be adapted into any scenario with truck mods and you have a hardcore pickup that - perhaps most importantly - won't break the bank. 

      GM hopes that the recent success of the Silverado, along with other vehicles, will cause some drivers to give the models a longer look. 

      "I hope that people look and if they haven't considered General Motors or Chevrolet, they'll get into the showroom, because I'm confident if they get into the showrooms they'll see a lot of vehicles they like," incoming GM chief executive Mary Barra told The Philadelphia Inquirer. 

    • Ram 1500 Mossy Oak Edition brings some flair to the trails

      The upcoming Detroit Auto Show promises to be an exciting one, thanks in large part to a lineup of huge reveals that will draw attention from drivers and news sources alike. While the debut of some much-hyped new trucks will likely dominate the headlines, fans of off-roading shouldn't overlook the introduction of a few special edition pickups.

      One unveiling that is already garnering attention is that of the 2014 Ram 1500 Mossy Oak Edition. Building off of the award-winning structure of the standard Ram 1500, this limited edition truck looks to provide those motorists who love the outdoors with a vehicle that can meet all of their needs and more. 

      Partnering with Mossy Oak
      This exciting new model came about as a result of the partnership Ram has with Mossy Oak, a lifestyle brand that places an emphasis on enjoying the great outdoors. Fans of Mossy Oak are usually fans of certain recreational activities as well. The company creates camouflage apparel and gear for hunting, fishing and similar pastimes, and many of the individuals use pickup trucks to fully enjoy these hobbies. 

      "The Ram Truck brand has been a great partner to Mossy Oak," said Ronnie Strickland, the executive vice president of Mossy Oak. "The people there love trucks, but they're also into hunting and fishing and understand that their customers are, too. To have Ram take that relationship to the next level by offering a special Mossy Oak Edition speaks volumes about their commitment to hunters and outdoorsmen and women, and we are extremely proud to partner with them." 

      There have been similar editions in years past, but after a brief hiatus, the Ram Mossy Oak has returned. 

      About the model
      Off-road driving is made easy with the many features of the 2014 Ram 1500 Mossy Oak. The partnership is on full display across the bedcaps and tailgate of the truck, as they are covered in a Mossy Oak camouflage pattern. Its logo is also included on the rear quarter panels. 

      Drivers will also appreciate the sleek appearance and design of the interior. Camouflage covers the instrument panel, as well as the door panel inserts. That complements the leather seats, which can be customized with a natural color scheme. Similarly, the exterior color of the truck can be carefully selected, with buyers having an option of choosing from black, black gold pearl and prairie pearl. 

      This model will come with the RamBox cargo management system, which makes storing equipment and gear easy. Drivers can choose from beds measuring in at 6 foot 4 inches or 5 foot 7 inches in length, providing ample space for hunting, fishing or camping gear, as well as tool kits or emergency equipment needed for an off-road vehicle. 

      Dedicated to evolution
      Producing unique, special edition vehicles is nothing new, but this Mossy Oak version underscores how in tune Ram is with its customers. 

      "Ram Truck is focused on the needs and wants of truck buyers," said Reid Bigland, president and CEO of the brand. "Our Ram Truck owners are passionate about hunting and fishing. The Ram Mossy Oak Edition gives hunting enthusiasts a way to proudly proclaim their love for the outdoors."

      When you have a brand that wins big-name awards and sells so many models, it can be tough to find ways to improve. However, Ram has managed to do just that by looking to customized trucks like the 2014 Mossy Oak Edition. Fans of both of these brands, as well as recreational savants who love the great outdoors, are all likely to be thrilled by the steps made with this model. 

    • Understanding how an off-road vehicle stays valuable

      No matter what kind of car you drive - or where you drive it - you want to be able to get the most out of the vehicle. This may refer to its capabilities or its value, but either way, motorists will have to be on the lookout for ways to keep the value high. 

      Depreciation dips in November
      Many drivers take note of rates of depreciation, as they can have an impact on the worth of their own vehicles as well as the price of used cars. One resource that can help track this statistic is the NADA Used Car Guide, which provides insight into the automotive industry.

      A recent report from this publication focused on the average rate of depreciation, and found that it skewed to drivers' favor in November. Throughout the month, the average rate of used vehicle depreciation slowed to 1.5 percent, down from 3.5 percent in October. That is good news for drivers who want to make sure their vehicle retains value, and if the economy holds steady, this rate may as well. 

      "November's decline in the rate of depreciation can be credit to favorable market conditions, lower unemployment, moderating gas prices and advantageous credit conditions, including the end of the federal government shutdown in October" said Jonathan Banks, an automotive analyst with the NADA Used Car Guide. 

      Finding the best value
      There's no surefire way of determining which vehicles are going to maintain high value for an extended period of time. While qualities like fuel economy and safety features will certainly tip the scales in one way or the other, other elements or important factors are not as easy to predict. Ultimately, searching for a vehicle with a solid reputation and reliable qualities, and keeping up with regular maintenance throughout ownership, is the most effective way of making sure it retains value. 

      Even the truck modifications you make affect depreciation. For example, if you customize an automobile with updates like new shocks or armor, you could be increasing its value. Not only are these alternations relatively common for off-road drivers, making them desirable, but they also work to protect the vehicle and improve the driving experience. Both of these aspects are extremely important, and they may cause some drivers to think twice about their plans. 

      Trucks and SUVs that stand out
      Kelley Blue Book recently analyzed some of the most popular trucks and SUVs on the market to see which vehicles retained the most value. The Jeep Wrangler was ranked as the best crossover or compact SUV, as it kept about 58 percent of its initial value five years after purchasing. Similar options like the Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4 are also solid choices, but they don't offer the same off-roading tradition as the Wrangler. 

      When it came to midsize and large SUVs, Toyota took the crown. The Toyota FJ Cruiser and Toyota Sequoia were rated as the top models in these segments, respectively. According to KBB, the Sequoia retained just under half of its original value after five years, while the FJ Cruiser kept an impressive 70 percent of its value. 

      The brand didn't stop there. Both the Toyota Tacoma and the Toyota Tundra earned praise among pickup trucks. These editions retained approximately 62 percent and 52 percent of their original value, respectively. Of course, it should be noted that the Tacoma's only competition was the Nissan Frontier, as many manufacturers have bowed out from the midsize pickup truck segment in recent years. The Tundra, on the other hand, competed against many top-selling trucks and still managed to hold onto the No. 1 spot, even ranking sixth overall among all vehicle values in 2014. 

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