Toyota '05 Tacoma Double Cab
Our sources caught the new Tacoma Double Cab in an unguarded moment. The new truck is reported to have an increase in wheelbase by 5 inches and almost 4 inches in width compared with today's Tacoma. It looks to us to be influenced by the X-Runner's styling, though it's hard to tell under the camouflage. We're told that buyers can expect to find the new Tacoma at dealerships as early as next fall.

Will Hot V-8s And Horsepowerremain Popular With Gas Price Hike?
According to SEMA, eight-cylinder engines were offered in 29.1 percent of light vehicles built in North America for the U.S. market last year, the highest rate since 1985 - a trend that has shown increases every year since 2000. At the same time, four-cylinder engines fell from nearly 27 percent to 25.3 percent. The organization cites a variety of reasons from analysts for the rise in V-8s, such as strong demand for trucks and SUVs; relatively inexpensive gas prices; and improved fuel efficiency, even in bigger engines. The popularity of Chrysler's 345hp Hemi points to how fashionable high performance has become. With fuel prices soaring, and rumors of oil stocks at all-time lows, we maybe seeing the high point of this trend. We hope not.

Cooper Tire To Launch Avon Tyres In The U.S. And Canada
Cooper Tire & Rubber Company plans to launch AVON Tyres USA, a new collection of performance passenger, light truck, sport truck, and motorsport tires. Completely new to the U.S. and Canadian markets, the AVON Tyres USA line is the first ever to have been designed and engineered from consumer feedback data. All data was collected and analyzed by The Tire Rack, the country's largest independent tire tester, through its Web site, www.tirerack.com

Beginning late this spring, AVON Tyres USA will introduce AVON Tech, a lineup of Ultra High Performance (UHP) tires led by the Tech M500, a Z-rated (with a W-rated cap) asymmetrical summer tire; the Tech M550, a Z-rated (with a W-rated cap) all-season directional tire; and the Tech R, a high-traction DOT-approved tire for motorsport use such as SCCA Solo and road racing. The Tech ST, which addresses the growing high-performance sport truck market, will launch in the fall of 2004.

'04 Ford F-150 Regular Cab, Supercab, Supercrew, Receive Government's Highest Rating For Frontal Impact
The '04 Ford F-150 Regular Cab, SuperCab, and SuperCrew have each earned the top safety score in the federal government's frontal impact crash test - five stars for the driver and five stars for the front-seat passenger. The Ford F-150 is the only '04 pickup to earn the government's top safety rating of five stars for both the driver and right-front passenger in the frontal impact mode.

Nine Of Ten Vehicles Tested By BAR Are In Compliance Withcalifornia Exhaust Noise Law
The California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) reports that approximately 90 percent of the nearly 600 vehicles that have undergone the state's new exhaust-noise test have been certified to be in compliance with California law. BAR began operation of the motor vehicle exhaust-noise testing program in late summer 2003. The program, the product of a SEMA-sponsored law, allows California hobbyists to prove their vehicles comply with state noise standards.

The law also allows courts to dismiss citations for exhaust systems that have been tested and for which a certificate of compliance has been issued. The 40 smog check stations that provide referee functions are performing the test. These referee stations are issuing certificates of compliance for vehicles when tests of their exhaust systems demonstrate that they emit no more than 95 decibels under SAE test procedure J1169. However, only those vehicles that have received a citation for an exhaust-noise violation are permitted to submit their vehicle for the test.

BAR has yet to issue a regulation to provide for the cost to consumers for performing the test. Tests are currently being performed at no cost to consumers. BAR has established a toll-free number [(800) 622-7733] to accept phone calls from motorists who have received citations for excessive exhaust noise and wish to have the test performed. BAR officials have asked that cited motorists have the citation and vehicle registration information available when calling.