Auto Industry News: A Rugged Weekend at Overland Expo East, Chevy ZR2 Airbag and Subaru Recalls, & Jeep Pickup Gets Named?

For those who seek off-road adventure, this week’s news has you in mind. The Overland Expo East rocked North Carolina this past weekend, proving that the overlanding trend still has plenty of wind left in its sails. The so-close-we-can-taste-it Jeep pickup truck now has an unofficial-official name thanks to some internet sleuths. The unnecessary deployment of Chevy ZR2 airbags on trail rides finally gets some attention from the automaker. While a Subaru recall ensures outdoor enthusiasts don’t get stranded in the wild. And in the racing world, NASCAR’s final four moves on, as the Formula 1 Brazilian Grand Prix served up plenty of nail-biting drama.

Overland Expo East 

The Overland Expo East took place at REEB Ranch just outside Asheville, NC this weekend. And with heavy rains, deep mud, and near-freezing temperatures, the event played out much like a true overlanding/off-road adventure. Unexpected weather conditions combined with an incredibly high turnout meant many campers were turned away, while others were nearly washed out. But that didn’t stop the fun for many, who braved the elements to enjoy the interactive show.

Hundreds of experts, vendors, and specialized classes were made available to enthusiasts, bringing overlanding instruction and gear to the masses. And while the venue didn’t quite hold up to the weather, those who squeezed in early still had a blast, enjoying a pretty packed schedule including an outdoor overland-themed cooking showcase, adventure areas for the kiddos, and even a “Cool Ride” event where attendees vote on their favorite customized adventuring vehicle.

While we’re sure some revelers were left disappointed, many hardcore adventurers will remember the 2018 Overland Expo East with cold, muddy, yet fond memories.

Jeep Pickup (Official) Name Leaked

Turn up some Jim Croce, because the long-awaited (and still technically waiting) Jeep pickup truck ‘got a name’. According to reports, the truck, set to debut at the upcoming LA Auto Show will be named the 2020 Jeep Gladiator. It has a different energy than “Scrambler,” which is what enthusiasts have been calling it the past few months in memory of the defunct Jeep project.

Official Jeep pickup name is leaked.
Courtesy of Jeep Scrambler Forum

The FCA media site briefly listed the Gladiator name publicly before taking it down. But as we all know, the internet doesn’t forget. These screenshots, courtesy of JeepScramblerForum.com, have been spreading at lightning speeds. The following trims were listed as well: “Sport Pickup JTJL98,” “Overland Pickup JTJP98,” ”Rubicon Pickup JTJS98.”

Automaker Takes Accountability for Chevy ZR2 Airbags Issue

You might remember hearing about this a couple weeks ago. Twitter and forums featured posts with ZR2 owners claiming the mid-size truck’s side air bags unnecessarily deployed while traveling not-so-rough terrain. After ruling out pure coincidence, Chevy is now addressing the problem themselves.

Chevy ZR2 airbags debacle finally being addressed by automaker.
Courtesy of Chevrolet

Luckily, fixing the Chevy ZR2 airbags requires only a simple software recalibration. Naming it a “Customer Satisfaction Initiative,” Chevy says that the repair will be completed free of charge upon a ZR2’s next dealer-visit. So, owners who already dropped $40K+ on the off-road capable rig can rest assured their wallets won’t be taking a further hit.

Subaru Recall

Subaru, typically a beacon of reliability and durability, has issued a recall on over 200,000 Legacy and Outback models. According to the NHTSA, the 2018 models present a stalling and crash risk because of incorrect fuel ranges. A software error in the system could potentially prevent the low-fuel warning dash light from illuminating, presenting a danger to riders.

The Subaru recall may take until December to fully implement, so owners should keep an eye on their fuel tank levels in the meantime. The automaker assures consumers that the problem has been resolved for 2019. Those current models that need repairing will have the necessary software reprogramming done free of cost.

Subaru recall issued for engine stalling risk.
Courtesy of Subaru

However, to add insult to injury, Subaru is also issuing a recall on engine valve springs for 2012-2014 Imprezas, and 2013 models of the BRZ, XV Crosstrek, and Toyota Scion FR-S (a joint-design venture). Apparently the springs can fracture and cause engine malfunction or stalling. And while the automaker estimates that barely .1 percent of the affected vehicles will experience any issue, “out of an abundance of caution” they’re pushing the Subaru recall… six years after the first consumer reports rolled in.

Around the Circuit

NASCAR’s Championship 4 has been set and it is Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., and Kevin Harvick who remain standing. Busch cemented his spot in a big way with a convincing victory in Phoenix on Sunday. While the 2015 champion had to endure the last-ditch driving efforts of the rest of the field following a restart, he ultimately  prevailed. Kevin Harvick, who has been neck-and-neck with Busch all season in points, overcame an early flat tire to finish fifth.

Lewis Hamilton captured the victory at Sunday’s Brazilian GP, but not without a dosage of necessary F1 drama. While qualifying had its own controversy, Sunday saw the race results come to blows—just not in the way you would think.

Max Verstappen made contact with a backmarker, who took him from what was shaping up to be a steady lead. Estaban Ocon (who Verstappen was about to lap) had been running close enough to make it wheel-to-wheel contact. As a result, Verstappen spun out, losing his lead over Hamilton, and immediately shouted a few choice words…

As a result, Hamilton—who was battling imminent engine failure and worn tires—reaped the benefits of Verstappen’s poor luck. This victory marked the 50th out of 99 races for the Englishman. Verstappen raced valiantly to finish in second, and Kimi Räikkönen took third.

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