2006 Chevrolet Trailblazer SS
Now that sales of the mid-size Chevy ute have softened, resulting in mega discounts at dealers around the country, the bow-tie division is attempting to inject some sex appeal with this SS derivative. The main selling point is the installation of the Corvette's LS2 6.0-liter V-8 engine, making a solid 391 hp and 395 lb-ft of torque--enough to motivate the truck from 0 to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds. To make sure that the truck isn't just about straight-line go, GM's High Performance Vehicle Operations tuned the suspension and upgraded the brakes. The SS features stiffer springs, an inch lower ride height, and thicker anti-roll bars, as well as standard StabiliTrak stability control. Larger, 12.8-inch diameter front brake discs are fitted, allied to new iron twin-piston calipers, while the monster twenty-inch aluminum wheels have 255/50 V-rated tires. The SS actually looks pretty mean and serious, thanks to more aggressive fascias, a black mesh grille, body color trim, and removal of exterior cladding. Inside, the SS gets a new instrument cluster, front bucket seats, a T-shaped shifter, and leather-wrapped steering wheel. Cloth seats are standard, while leather is optional. The SS comes with rear-wheel drive--a limited slip differential is standard--or with available full-time all-wheel drive. The truck goes on sale late this fall.
2007 Ford Explorer SportTrac Adrenalin
After showing a concept preview of the next Explorer Sport Trac at the Detroit Auto Show, Ford gave an early look at a high-performance SVT version of the Sport Trac at New York. The Sport Trac Adrenalin features a supercharged 4.6-liter V-8, a six-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive, and a four-bucket-seat interior. Based on the current Ford Explorer, the upcoming Sport Trac will switch to an independent rear suspension and will add stability control. Compared to today's truck, it will have a larger, four-foot, composite bed with in-floor storage. The SVT version's supercharged V-8 makes an estimated 390 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque, and mates exclusively with a console-shifted six-speed automatic borrowed from the Lincoln Navigator. Ford's AdvanceTrac all-wheel drive, with a rear-biased 40/60 fixed torque split, should help keep wheelspin in check. The truck isn't just for play, however, as it's rated to tow 6000 pounds. This concept is decked out with a vented hood (functional, and likely to stay), front fender vents (not functional, and likely to be dropped), a VW GTI-like black front grille section, integrated running boards, 21-inch wheels, and a two-tone black and red leather interior. Ford's first sport-utility muscle truck won't rumble into showrooms until 2007.
2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8
Jeep's first entry into the SRT8 club has a lot in common with fellow members--the orange and black paint covering a 415-hp, 6.1-liter Hemi V-8, the SRT racing bucket seats, and the massive exhaust tips poking out in back, for example--but the Grand Cherokee is a stand-out in many ways. The quickest, most powerful Jeep ever made is the first SRT model to feature full-time all-wheel drive. And SRT engineers did not simply carry over the system directly from a stock Grand Cherokee. A unique transfer case trims off 60 lbs., and a European Grand Cherokee Diesel driveshaft is employed to handle the increased torque. All that power is put to the ground through massive 20-inch rubber wrapped around aluminum wheels, with monstrous 285-series tires in the rear to keep this sled pointed down the road, rather than perpendicular to it. Also unique to Jeep is the 3500-lb towing capacity, allowing owners to not only beat most passenger vehicles in a stoplight duel, but tow a boat while doing it. Look for the Porsche Cayenne-beating Jeep to show up at dealers at the end of this year at $6000 or so over the 340-hp HEMI model's $36,000 base price.