Off-Roading

Chevrolet begins new Silverado 1500 desert racing program

Hall Racing is piloting the first Silverado 1500

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

The Ford Raptor rules. As far as off-road ready trucks go, it's the king of the full-size realm. Ram has already confirmed the Raptor-fighting 1500 TRX is coming sooner rather than later. Now, Chevrolet is inching closer to a hint at serious Silverado off-roader development.

The Detroit-based automaker will compete in the Best in the Desert Racing series in a Silverado 1500. Chevrolet is open about the reason saying, "the Silverado race truck will be used for engineering development and validation."

"Off-road racing is just brutal on vehicles," said Mark Dickens, chief engineer, Government Programs, Performance Variants, Parts and Motorsports, "and a single race puts more wear and tear on trucks than most vehicles will experience in years. That makes off-road racing a valuable test bed to evaluate new components. What we learn while racing informs everything from future performance parts and accessories to GM Defense projects and production vehicle changes."

Hall Racing Chevrolet Silverado 1500 The model is powered by Chevy's 6.2-liter V8 engine.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Hall racing drivers, piloting a Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 since 2017, have tested out a number of components that have become available as part of the Chevrolet Performance off-road parts catalogue.

Additionally, some of those parts are now been integrated into GM Defense's Infantry Squad Vehicle, a prototype selected for evaluation and testing by the U.S. Army.

To get the Silverado 1500 race-ready, Chevrolet has to do a number of modifications. Starting life as a LT Trail Boss model, the truck was equipped with a 420-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 engine and 10-speed automatic transmission.

It will compete in the stock class, which limits modifications but there were a number of significant changes made. Specifically, a log travel suspension, front and rear HOU be shocks, and a set of prototype high-capacity Multimatic Dynamic Suspension Spool Valve dampers. These dampers are a scaled-up version of the ones used on the Hall Racing Colorado ZR2.

Hall Racing Chevrolet Silverado 1500 The Silverado 1500 is built for off-road racing and features prototype parts.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

"This is the next evolution of the DSSV off-road damper," said Michael Guttilla, executive vice president, Multimatic Engineering. "We've taken everything we learned from the highly successful Colorado ZR2 program and scaled it to deliver next-level performance in the Silverado. Initial on-truck development has been successful, but competition will provide the true test."

Additional prototype parts on the Silverado race truck include front and rear jounce shocks, rear shock skids, 35-inch off-road tires, and skid plates covering the transfer case, steering gear, rear differential and front underbody.

Chevrolet will participate in six Best in the Desert races in 2020, along with the Mint 400, with both Silverado and ZR2.

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The Passport was lightly modified for competition.

Honda

Honda recently announced a line of off-road-oriented trims and packages for its vehicles. Called TrailSport, the trim brings rugged appearance upgrades to the Honda Passport and will eventually offer more performance upgrades for other vehicles in the automaker's catalog. To further prove its mettle in the off-road space, Honda built a 2022 Passport rally truck to compete in the American Rally Association race series. The truck debuted over the weekend in Michigan and had a reasonably successful run for its first time out.

2022 Honda Passport Two Honda engineers handled driving duties.Honda

Importantly, the Passport's drivetrain and suspension were left untouched for the rally. The 3.5-liter i-VTEC V6, nine-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive, and suspension in the rally vehicle are the same components that you or I would see if we bought a new Passport today. Honda did add a transmission fluid cooler, but even then, it's the unit that everyday buyers can get with the available towing package. The SUV's interior was stripped and modified for safety and performance.

2022 Honda Passport Honda is pushing deeper into the off-road with its TrailSport trims.Honda

Honda did upgrade the Passport's wheels and tires for the event by fitting 17-inch BRAID Winrace T rally wheels and Maxxis RAZR M/T or A/T tires. The automaker also made modifications to the SUV's underside with custom 1/8-inch thick aluminum oil pan and rear differential skid plates. High-density panels protect the fuel tank and other sensitive components, while Carbontech XP12 brake pads and high-temp racing brake fluid slow things down.

2022 Honda Passport The Passport's interior had to be stripped and modified for the event.Honda

The ARA National and Regional Championship Series events feature modified street vehicles that travel at speeds well in excess of 100 mph. The courses include gravel, dirt, mud, and snow, and cover hundreds of miles. The Honda Passport rally vehicle was first driven by two Honda engineers and ran in the top ten out of 42 teams. Honda says that a tire de-bead eventually slowed the team, leading to a delayed finish.

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The Bronze Edition model builds on the XLE trim.

Toyota

The Toyota Highlander entered its fourth generation for the 2020 model year, which brought sleek style, updated tech, and a premium-look interior. A new XSE trim joined the lineup for 2021, and for 2022, Toyota is adding a new hybrid-only Bronze Edition trim.

2022 Toyota Highlander Bronze Edition The Bronze Edition adds useful features, such as a hands-free power liftgate.toyota

The new Bronze Edition Highlander builds on the XLE trim with:

  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Digital rearview mirror
  • Ambient interior lighting
  • Memory driver's seat with 10-way power adjustments
  • Hands-free power liftgate

Toyota notes that the Bronze Edition previews features that will show up with the greater 2022 Highlander release. Among them are the new Wind Chill Pearl color, which replaces Blizzard Pearl from the previous model, and height/tilt passenger seat adjustments.

2022 Toyota Highlander Bronze Edition The Highlander is a supremely comfortable SUV with room for the family.Toyota

The Highlander carries on into 2022 with a standard 3.5-liter V6 that makes 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and either front- or all-wheel drive. A Highlander Hybrid is available, which mates a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with two electric motors. Combined system output is 243 horsepower. With the V6 on board, the Highlander can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

2022 Toyota Highlander Bronze Edition The Bronze Edition is available for Highlander Hybrid models.Toyota

All 2022 Highlander models get Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+, which includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, road sign assist, full-speed adaptive cruise control, lane departure alerts, lane tracing assist, a sway warning system, and automatic high beams. Those features and the Highlander's excellent crash testing scores were good enough for the SUV to earn a Top Safety Pick + designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

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