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    • Truck from 'Back to the Future' reappears on the market

      When car fanatics think of the rides in the film series "Back to the Future," their minds are probably immediately drawn to the DeLorean, the futuristic-looking vehicle used by the main characters to travel through time. However, that was not the only vehicle used in the movies. In fact, the character of Marty McFly, played by Michael J. Fox, drove around in a 1985 Toyota SR5 Xtra Cab 4x4 truck when he wasn't time-hopping through the decades, and that truck has recently reappeared in the public eye. 

      About the truck's history
      This Toyota pickup truck has been on quite a journey since its time on the "Back to the Future" movie set - its real-life adventures may even rival those from the film. Jalopnik reports that the people in charge of the restoration say the truck was originally stolen years ago before being transported to Mexico. The vehicle was eventually recovered by police and shipped back to the U.S., where it began being treated for several of the bumps and scrapes it picked up during its time south of the border. 

      Redone to be resold 
      The Toyota SR5 Xtra Cab 4x4 has undergone several repairs in the past few years. Its truck modifications include a rebuilt drivetrain, new starter and new brake master cylinder. This vehicle also has a fresh coat of black paint and a refurbished interior designed to make it comfortable enough for any driver, regardless of their decade of origin. The Toyota suspension has been raised and tires ready for off-road driving have also been installed, making the machine ready to handle whatever adventures you throw at it. 

      Before you can get behind the wheel of this vehicle, however, you'll have to see if the price is right. Its current auction price on eBay sits at $14,500, but that could rise over the course of the next day. While the seller maintains that the price is merely half of what has been invested in the truck, the ride has still accumulated nearly 30 years of use and traversed more than 280,000 miles, AutoBlog reports. However, it does boast four-wheel drive and off-roading capabilities, and it could be a one-of-a-kind option for someone searching for the ultimate off-road vehicle. 

      Regardless of who ends up with this truck, it will remain a piece of movie memorabilia forever. 

    • The 2014 Toyota Tundra raises the bar

      When people talk about the most popular trucks on the market, most of the attention is focused on offerings from Ford or Ram. These American-made models dominate sales of pickup trucks and are the most common choices for drivers looking for an off-road vehicle or heavy-duty work truck. 

      Toyota hasn't always produced the best trucks for the general public. Previous models have been criticized as being too small and not powerful enough for the needs of many drivers, as even with truck modifications they were not consistently reaching the performance of U.S.-based counterparts. All of this may change when the 2014 Toyota Tundra makes its debut on American roads. 

      What to expect in the 2014 Tundra
      Those drivers who haven't loved previous Toyota trucks may change their tune when they get a glimpse of the 2014 Tundra. One of the most anticipated parts of the upcoming truck is its enhanced engine. As a matter of fact, the truck boasts three different engine options, and drivers can choose whichever one they want to get the most out of their investment. 

      A 4.0L V6 comes standard on the most basic model, achieving 270 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and reaching 278 foot-pounds of torque at 4,400 rpm. The next step up is the 4.6L V8, which features 310 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 327 foot-pounds of torque at 3,400 rpm. At the top of the class is the 5.7L V8 engine. With this motor, which is the most popular one offered by Toyota, the Tundra can reach 381 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 401 foot-pounds of torque at 3,600 rpm. 

      What's under the hood is certainly impressive, but the exterior of the Tundra has also been given a facelift. reports that larger headlights and a more prominent front grille create an imposing figure - one that is highlighted by a new three-piece front bumper that adds to its distinguished look. 

      How it drives
      The design changes made to the Toyota Tundra do more than create a more rugged appearance. Many have also improved the entire driving experience of the truck, whether motorists are cruising down highways or off-road driving. Drivers can choose what size tires they want to include for a customized driving experience, while upgraded front and rear springs contribute to a much smoother ride no matter what wheels they select. 

      It's also much easier to control all of the capabilities of this truck thanks to an overhaul of the interior. A new instrument panel includes color displays loaded with information and a more centered dashboard. Enhanced safety features, such as larger airbags, have also been added to ensure anyone taking part in off-roading or even standard driving can stay safe. 

      The bottom line
      This full-size pickup truck will be offered in five price grades. While the bottom line will vary based on some of the variables that drivers choose, as well as which edition the base truck is. The most basic version of the truck comes with a suggested retail price of $25,920. With additions like a Double or CrewMax cab, as well as the customizable engine and all-wheel drive options, the MSRP can rise to as high as $47,320, with many sticker prices landing in the mid-$30,000 range. 

      All of these variables make it easy for an off-roading enthusiast to create his or her ideal truck. Drivers can choose from 4x2 or 4x4 models depending on their needs, while also selecting one of the three engine options to match their desired power output. 

      The 2014 Toyota Tundra started arriving in dealerships Aug. 9, and will become available around the U.S. throughout the month. 

    • Petersen Automotive Museum welcomes pickup truck display

      No one can deny that the pickup truck has played a major role in the shaping of America. Whether it was contributing to the production on farms, helping out at construction sites as industry exploded around the country or safely transporting drivers across the nation's roads, these trucks have been immensely important to the U.S. 

      One facility is finally giving pickup trucks the respect they deserve. The Petersen Automotive Museum is debuting a new exhibit titled "Pickups: The Art of Utility," which will highlight the history of these vehicles. 

      "The Art of Utility" 
      With a history spanning more than 100 years, pickup trucks are fascinating vehicles. Over the years, the pickup has transformed from a purely practical automobile into one of the coolest ways to get around, and drivers all around the world can make their own changes to the ride to turn it into whatever type of machine they want. 

      "Whether custom showstoppers, off-road adventure vehicles or bone stock cargo transporters, pickups have been an integral part of the automotive landscape for more than a century," said Leslie Kendall, chief curator of the museum, as quoted by "The pickup truck means many different things to different people, which is part of what we want to explore in this exhibition." 

      Pickups on display
      A few of the vehicles included as part of this display show off the most important styles and truck mods that occurred throughout the evolution of these automobiles. Currently, there are 19 of these trucks on display as part of the exhibit, ranging from a horseless carriage to a modern show vehicle that has been completely redone with truck modifications. 

      The oldest truck in the collection is a 1909 International Harvester Auto Wagon. It was built in the model of a horse-drawn carriage - minus the horses, of course - and was used as one of the world's first multi-purpose cars. Alterations could be made depending on if it was transporting people or cargo, and it could handle some of the earliest forms of off-road driving. 

      Fans of off-road vehicles will be particularly impressed with the 1953 Dodge Power Wagon. With its use of a Willock Swivel Frame, this truck was one of the first to incorporate special alterations catered to off-roading. According to Hemmings, the frame allowed the front and rear halves of the truck to move separately, reducing the risk of damage from extreme off-roading and making the entire process of driving over rocks or uneven surfaces much smoother. 

      Another can't-miss model is the 1952 Ford F-1 Half-Ton Pickup. While truck mods later in its life gave this vehicle four-wheel drive, it originally came with amenities like a radio, heater and windshield washer - uncommon inclusions at this time, Hemmings reported. Unlike many of its peers, this Ford was intended only for light use, making it one of the first models to be aimed at everyday driving instead of heavy-duty work. 

      About the Petersen Automotive Museum
      There are more than just pickup trucks on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum. Located in Los Angeles, Calif., the museum aims to fill its 300,000 square feet of space with collections that show off some of the auto industry's most important and interesting creations. Fewer than 200 automobiles are on display at any given time, but the collections are constantly rotated and interspersed with cars on loan to keep the exhibits fresh. This means that, even if you have toured the space before, you are guaranteed to see something new when you visit. 

      The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. "Pickups: The Art of Utility" will be in the museum thought April 6, 2014. 

    • Inside the Toyota Tacoma recall

      Thousands of Toyota Tacoma pickup trucks are being recalled due to a problem with the seatbelts. The manufacturer announced Aug. 7 that it was enacting a voluntary safety recall for more than 342,000 Tacoma pickup trucks. 

      All of the affected models of this midsize truck were produced between 2004 and 2011 and are Tacoma Access Cabs with rear-hinged rear doors. There is a possibility that the front seat belts of these trucks could have a screw come loose, which would potentially put both the driver and passenger in danger. According to, repeated slams of the cab doors could loosen the screw attached to the seatbelt pre-tensioner, causing this spring to lose its function and negatively impact the performance of the seatbelt itself. 

      The Chicago Tribune reports that this is the result of a design flaw rather than a manufacturing defect, and the issue can be fixed with the installation of a new screw and sealant. Tacoma owners will be notified by mail, but in the meantime they can check out the Toyota Recall Information Site to see if they have any cause for concern. 

      Drivers who have designated their Tacoma for off-roading should heed the warning and make sure they bring their truck in for a check. Seatbelts are always important, but they become even more essential when you're traversing rocks or mudding through unknown terrain. You may want to invest in special seatbelts that are designed to offer complete protection when off-roading. Often coming in the form of harnesses, these devices disperse pressure during a collision and can help keep passengers secure in a vehicle. 

      Off-road driving is an exciting but dangerous pastime, and having secure seatbelts is the only way to drive. 

    • GM reveals information about upcoming trucks

      What's in a name? When it's the name of a car, it can mean a lot, which is why so many automakers take the time to carefully choose just the right moniker for their models. A few of these names evoke thoughts of off-roading, like the Wrangler, the Silverado and the Ram, just to name a few. 

      The latest news about automobile names comes from General Motors, as the company recently made several announcements regarding its upcoming midsize pickup trucks. 

      Same names, new identities
      General Motors recently announced that it will be keeping the names of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon for the 2015 model year. Each of these midsize pickups is going through a redesign, so there was some speculation about whether or not they would receive new names to go along with their updated look. 

      The Colorado will return to the market as a sport-pickup truck and will be more of a rugged off-road vehicle. The Canyon, on the other hand, will be a work truck catering to professionals. Despite the smaller sizes, each of these models is expected to accept truck modifications with ease and will boast enough power to handle whatever gets thrown in its way. 

      Expanding the segment
      According to The Associated Press, sales of small and midsize pickups have fallen 19 percent through the first six months of 2013. While much of this may be because GM paused production of its older versions to focus on redesigns, it represents a larger movement within the industry that has drivers leaning toward full-size trucks. 

      The main idea behind these redesigns is to make pickup trucks more attractive to a variety of drivers. To attract customers, GM aims to create trucks that cater to the every need of a specific market. 

      "Having the same car everywhere in the world is not the right answer," Dan Amann, CFO of GM, told The Wall Street Journal. "Being able to deliver on the requirements that satisfy the customer in each marketplace using as many common components, common architecture and common modules as possible is the optimization between giving customers what they want and maximizing the scale leverage we have around the world." 

      Drivers curious about the Colorado and Canyon will have to wait until late 2014 to get a glimpse of the models. 

    • General Motors plans changes to line of pickups

      It's not uncommon for manufacturers to make changes and implement redesigns when they think their offerings need a facelift. Some of the changes may be minor and can be done as the automaker moves into a new model year, but others are more intense and require a lot of time to completely implement. The latter will likely be the situation facing General Motors, as the manufacturer is preparing to make significant changes to its line of full-size pickup trucks. 

      Lighter GM trucks 
      The major difference that future truck models will have is a lighter overall weight. With the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado coming in at 4,387 pounds, it's one of the heaviest options on the market, and that is after the parent company dropped its weight by anywhere from 250 to 400 pounds in the past year. To keep the number coming down, GM will be looking at new materials and building processes that could make the truck lighter. 

      "We're going to look at all the levers we can pull - materials, aerodynamics, powertrain - to continue to improve fuel efficiency, both on an interim basis and as we go to the next-generation trucks," GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson told Reuters. 

      Although the official spokesman didn't go into much detail regarding the alterations, an insider said that most of the weight reduction would likely come about as a result of a change in the materials used to create the vehicles. 

      "GM can make some changes [in materials] when the Silverado and Sierra get a mid-cycle freshening," one source told the news source. 

      While some enthusiasts may be anxiously awaiting these changes, which could have a major impact on how truck modifications are done to GM vehicles, the final edition won't be complete until around 2019. AutoBlog reports that, in the meantime, the manufacturer will work to finish minor alterations and could start reducing the overall weight in the next few years. 

      Following Ford
      Many insiders speculate that the upcoming change to GM trucks is in response to Ford's alterations. Ford announced that it was cutting the weight of the F-150 almost five years ago, and the changes are expected to come to fruition in the 2014 model year. Each of these automakers is striving to improve fuel economy with the changes, and it could also make truck mods, installing a lift kit or implementing other changes much easier. 

    • 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee tops SUV challenge

      Jeeps are not new to off-roading, but the models usually associated with the pastime are large and heavy-duty. In reality, the automaker has a wide range of SUVs, and many of them are more than capable of transitioning to an off-road vehicle. One such model is the Jeep Grand Cherokee. This midsize vehicle is a worthy alternative to the typical gas-guzzlers that you may find when searching for an SUV, and it proved just that during a recent test that put the vehicle up against a few of its main competitors. 

      Ahead of the pack
      The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee was recently named the winner of the Midsize SUV Challenge, conducted by and USA Today. It beat out five other SUVs for the title, coming out on top after being evaluated in categories like fuel efficiency, driving ability, comfort, features, and more. 

      "After extensive testing, the Jeep Grand Cherokee took the top spot in the Today Midsize SUV Challenge, thanks to its luxurious interior, impressive multimedia system and overall driving capability," said Patrick Olsen, the editor-in-chief of "Jeep Grand Cherokee has long been considered a true off-roading SUV, and thanks to some serious refinement, today's incarnation of the Grand Cherokee edges out the other, very worthy, midsize SUV options available to shoppers." 

      Final results were based on input from a panel of expert judges, as well as feedback from a family representing the average SUV buyer. While their needs may not be the same as yours - especially if you're gearing up to make Jeep modifications - the practicality is definitely something to consider. 

      About the 2014 Grand Cherokee
      The Grand Cherokee made waves in the challenge for its effortless blend of off-road toughness and touches of luxury. One key area of improvement for the 2014 version of the SUV is its technological abilities. The new Grand Cherokee can easily connect to a smartphone and has USB ports throughout the interior. Rear parking sensors and a power liftgate also make it easier to carry out any task in the car, whether you're testing your off-road driving skills or running errands.

      "We are delighted that the judges recognized the improvements we've made to the Jeep Grand Cherokee - the most awarded SUV ever - that make it even better," said Jeep CEO Mike Manley. "No other SUV offers Grand Cherokee's combination of legendary Jeep 4x4 capability, fuel economy, advanced user-friendly technology, world-class craftsmanship and on-road refinement." 

    • Ram 1500 Outdoorsman named ones of the best-value deals

      Most of the budget you have set aside for your vehicles will likely be relegated for use on truck modifications, such as installing a lift kit. If you want to make sure you have enough funds for investing in the right truck mods you'll need for off-roading, then you usually have to make some sacrifices when purchasing the car itself. However, that does not mean you have to sacrifice quality just to fit within the constraints of a budget. There are many options for top-of-the-line trucks or off-road vehicles that won't hurt your wallet, including some great deals that are among the best in the entire auto industry. 

      Save money with the Ram 1500 Outdoorsman
      A recent study from looked at the best value vehicles currently on the market. The organization selected the winners based on a combination of savings off of the manufacturer's suggested retail price, according to average retail costs. The 2013 Ram 1500 Outdoorsman landed the No. 2 spot on the list and was the highest-ranking truck. 

      The Ram 1500 Outdoorsman truck earned recognition thanks to its affordable pricing, even on new cars - in fact, the truck currently offers drivers an average savings of $4,330 off the suggested retail price of $37,370. That is a total savings of 11.6 percent of the truck's value, and that chunk of change could be used to purchase the right Dodge lift kit or truck suspension instead. 

      "If you're especially picky about the color or particular configuration of your new car, this would be a great time to go kick the tires and still get some of the best deals of the year on 2013 model-year vehicles," said Jesse Toprak, senior analyst for TrueCar. 

      EcoDiesel engine
      Want another way to save money with the Ram 1500 Outdoorsman - or any other Ram truck? Then you may want to consider investing in a model with the EcoDiesel engine. This motor should provide enough power to fuel off-road driving adventures while also saving owners money in the long run, as diesel engines are more efficient than their traditional counterparts and burn less fuel over extended periods of time. 

      The EcoDiesel engine is slated to be available on future Outdoorsman models, as well as the Ram Tradesman, SLT, Big Horn, Laramie and Laramie Longhorn. 

    • Retail price of used trucks increasing

      Drivers who are considering purchasing a used truck for their future off-roading adventures may want to think again. The cost of used trucks and SUVs remains high, making it more difficult for you to find great-value deals. It may also mean it's harder to get an off-road driving career started, leaving you with the task of making truck mods to other vehicles. 

      Prices up midway through 2013
      According to recent data from the NADA Used Car Guide, pre-owned trucks were in high demand through the first half of 2013. In fact, the average cost of used full-size trucks and SUVs is bucking seasonal trends and remains at a high level. Through the first sixth months of the year, there was a 7.7 percent increase in the average price of used trucks, compared to drops of 1 to 2 percent for almost every other category. 

      "June closed out the first half of the year with average auction prices of used vehicles up to 8 years in age nearly equal to last year's level," said Jonathan Banks, an executive analyst with the NADA Used Car Guide. "Given the stability observed in used-vehicle prices year-to-date, we expect to close out the year with prices essentially unchanged from the historically high average of $15,664 in 2012." 

      These higher prices mean it may be more difficult to try and find good value on used car lots. It could also mean that drivers looking for an off-roading vehicle or an automobile to make truck mods on may have to get a bit creative. 

      How to combat cost
      While the cost of used trucks and SUVs may be high, that doesn't mean drivers are left out in the cold when it comes to improving their off-road vehicles. Making truck modifications is easy with the help of the right tools, and drivers can generally find affordable methods for installing a lift kit that could help get an existing vehicle ready for mudding. 

      If all else fails, drivers may just have to wait until this cycle of high used-car prices ends and there is a drop in average costs. However, there's no telling how long that might take. 

      "Seasonal effects aside, consumers should expect trade-in prices to remain high through at least the end of the year, especially for full-size pickups and SUVs because of lower supply and increased demand from a recovery in construction," Banks said. 

    • Ford to move forward on hybrid trucks without Toyota

      Ford and Toyota are rivals in almost all industry circles. The two automakers regularly compete against each other for a variety of things, not the least of which is market share, but that didn't stop them from joining efforts to work toward a new hybrid technology. 

      The original plan
      In August 2011, the manufacturers announced that they would be teaming up as they tried to create hybrid trucks and SUVs. In the nearly two years that followed, the companies put their heads together in an attempt to find new ways to meet fuel economy standards while maintaining the high quality of trucks and off-road vehicles that they have become known for.

      It seemed like a perfect partnership, as Toyota is one of the leading hybrid manufacturers in the world, and Ford just recently made major strides with the environmentally-friendly vehicles in the U.S., to go along with its iconic presence in the world of pickups and SUVs, Reuters reports. 

      While the collaboration now has come to a close, both automakers are eyeing the creation of large hybrid trucks and SUVs - a good sign for fans of off-roading who want to take care of the very environment they're driving through. 

      "After successfully completing the feasibility and development of the hybrid system project with Toyota, Ford is moving forward on its own with the development of a rear-wheel-drive hybrid system for Ford pickups and SUVs," the American automaker said in a statement, as quoted by USA Today. 

      What the future holds
      Ford also alluded to the possibility that it could have hybrid trucks on the market by the end of the decade. That is an interesting development for fans of the brand, which instead has been turning to turbocharged systems in trucks that save on gas in years past, according to the publication. 

      "We know what it takes to build world-class hybrids, and we now will build and leverage that expertise in-house," said Raj Nair, the vice president of global product development for Ford. "By continuing to develop a rear-wheel-drive hybrid system on our own, we can extend our advanced hybrid technologies to new vehicle segments and deliver even better fuel economy across our lineup." 

      Despite the fact that the joint effort for the hybrid ended, there could be more partnerships for Ford and Toyota down the line. The two manufacturers are considering teaming up to create infotainment systems and other, similar telematic devices, USA Today reports. 

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