By on August 12, 2019

Can you kill a ghost? While Hollywood and some Catholic priests say yes, in the automotive realm the process of ridding oneself of a spectre usually involves a new sheet on the drawing board, not a ceremonial ritual.

As you may have already heard, a ghost long rumored to haunt Detroit’s future product stable has reportedly disappeared into the ether from which it came. It never had much of a form, its name carried a question mark, and no one officially admitted to its existence. It only had a clear rival: the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and upcoming Ford Bronco. (Read More…)

By on June 17, 2019

When the invite from Fiat Chrysler came in, I hemmed and hawed. The event in question was an off-road drive of the 2020 Jeep Gladiator, along with other off-road-oriented Jeep and Dodge rigs, taking place at an off-road park in west-central Indiana. This was a regional event — media invitees all came from Chicago, Detroit, and Indianapolis.

If I hadn’t already driven the Gladiator in March, I’d have gone without a second thought. That’s why I hesitated – I’d driven the truck on the launch, and I’ll learn more from a second-look that takes place over a week-long loan (I have one scheduled) than I would from a few more hours of rock-crawling. Was it worth the time out of office?

(Read More…)

By on May 16, 2019

In The Current Year, new car lots are filled with family-friendly adventure vehicles. They’ve got lots of seats, lots of cladding, and some sort of system to drive all four wheels (even if it’s a lousy system like on the CR-V). But our Rare Ride comes from a time when family 4×4 options were much fewer in number. 1989 was a very different time for the adventuresome family buyer.

Enter Quigley, and the Chevrolet Beauville.

(Read More…)

By on April 8, 2019

Every year, the Easter Jeep Safari treats us to a batch of Fiat Chrysler’s finest off-road concepts and breathes a little fun into the auto industry.

While assuredly a marketing ploy, it’s one of the most enjoyable (and something this author eagerly waits for every spring). This year’s marketing proved a little more heavy-handed, thanks to the presence of Jeep’s all-new Gladiator, but no less palatable. Jeep is bringing six models to Moab for 2019 and every one comes with a truck bed and loads of accessories Mopar cannot wait to sell you via the Jeep Performance Parts catalog.  (Read More…)

By on December 27, 2018

On Thursday, Jaguar Land Rover announced that an all-new Defender SUV will be sold in the United States and Canada come 2020.

“On behalf of Land Rover and our retailers, we are proud to announce the voices of American and Canadian customers have been heard: the all-new Defender will be for sale here starting in 2020,” said Kim McCullough, Vice President of Marketing at JLR North America. “This announcement is a holiday gift to our Defender fans in North America and a hint of what’s to come in the New Year.”

While giving individuals the opportunity to buy themselves an expensive item with their own money is a pretty shitty gift idea, it’s nice to learn the Defender’s twenty-year hiatus will soon come to an end.  (Read More…)

By on October 1, 2018

Earlier this year, we addressed speculation that there was a chance Nissan’s new body-on-frame SUV — and spiritual successor to the now-defunct Xterra — could go on sale in the United States. Unfortunately, the development team behind the Nissan Terra has advised us to keep it in our pants. It isn’t coming here, despite previous claims from the manufacturer that it could be possible.

“We can do anything,” Ashwani Gupta, global head of light commercial vehicles for the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, said last March, while maintaining that a strong case would still need to be made for the model’s U.S. arrival, “[The Terra has] authentic capability to go off-road — even if the customer only wants to go off-road once a year.”

Nissan has since changed its tune on the Terra’s prospects. “Currently, that is out of our scope,” Hironori Awano, chief vehicle engineer of the Terra, said during a briefing at Nissan’s global technical center last week. “The U.S. market is one of the toughest, not just because of crash tests but also because of customer expectations.”  (Read More…)

By on May 24, 2018

Ford’s F-150 Raptor is one of the meanest off-roaders you can purchase from the factory and, for the 2019 model year, the automaker’s doing its part to further improve its trail worthiness. Instead of going for visual upgrades that might tempt impulsive shoppers, Ford is sticking with hardware and technology.

The 2019 Raptor will receive upgraded shocks, Recaro sport seats, and a new Trail Control system that allows the pickup to cruise through seriously rugged terrain at low speeds — allowing the driver to focus on steering, instead of maintaining momentum and traction. According to the manufacturer, the system automatically adjusts power and braking to each individual wheel and is functional up to speeds of 20 mph. It also works for hill ascent and descent, even on craggy landscapes.  (Read More…)

By on March 20, 2018

Jeep and Mopar have teamed up to create another round of concept vehicles for the annual Easter Jeep Safari. Now in its 52nd year, thousands of off-road enthusiasts will once again head to Moab, Utah, for a week of technical off-roading and dirt-related camaraderie. They’ll also get to see these 4x4s in the flesh. This year’s batch was a little less showy than the previous annum, but pursuing substance over style isn’t a terrible impulse when you’re planning on slamming a vehicle into boulders all day.

“Pushing the limit is something the Jeep brand is no stranger to and these seven new, exciting and capable concept vehicles are the latest example of that,” said Jeep head Mike Manley. “Every year, we look forward to introducing new concept vehicles and ideas to our enthusiasts. The Moab Easter Jeep Safari presents a unique and perfect opportunity to collect valuable insight from our most loyal customers.” (Read More…)

By on March 18, 2018

NissanTerra01-750px

Nissan has twice confirmed production for its Navara-based body-on-frame sport utility vehicle. Called the Terra, rumors of the new model had off-road enthusiasts cocking their hands in preparation for a round of high-fives. Unfortunately, the vehicle appears to have been specifically designed for the Chinese market and may be spending all of its time in Asia for a while.

That hasn’t kept people from speculating that the Terra might eventually replace the Pathfinder or return as a successor to the defunct Xterra. We’re dubious of any claims that the Pathfinder might return to body-on-frame status. Sales of the model have been steady in North America and have not been hurt by its unibody design. But, with Nissan’s Frontier badly needing an update, it is not inconceivable that it could spawn an SUV using the Xterra name in a couple years.  (Read More…)

By on January 13, 2018

g-wagen in amber

In celebration of the redesigned G-Class, Mercedes-Benz has decided to cast the original G-Wagen in fake amber. The massive instillation is suppose to convey the timelessness of the SUV’s design — which is good, because we don’t think Daimler is going to bother changing the look of the new one all that much.

“The amber cube puts the uniqueness of the G-Class in a nutshell” explained Dr Gunnar Güthenke, head of Mercedes-Benz’s off-road vehicle unit. “Our cult off-road vehicle has been continuously evolving for nearly 40 years – without losing its character or its core values. Its DNA is stronger than time and than any fashion trend. The cube expresses this to stunning effect and thus embodies the objective for advancing the G-Class.” (Read More…)

By on January 4, 2018

2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class Camo

There’s been a lot of buzz around the 2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class, details of which “leaked” earlier this week. However, as the vast majority of those tidbits came straight from the manufacturer, Benz is really just whetting appetites for its updated SUV ahead of its official debut at the Detroit Auto Show in two weeks.

The good news is that Mercedes doesn’t seem to have muddled the G-Class’ iconic design; the bad news is that the company feels compelled to address concerns that the SUV won’t be a genuine off-road vehicle. Considering that I’ve never seen anyone but automotive journalists take the ultra-lux behemoth through the dirt, this didn’t seem like a problem that needed to be confronted.

Still, Benz does intend for the G-Class to journey across treacherous terrain, and there’s evidence to back up its claims.  (Read More…)

By on October 26, 2017

suzuki-e-survivor

While in the midst of developing the next Jimny, a model you might remember better as the Samurai, Suzuki also made an effort to set up a secondary compact off-roader at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show. Less grounded than the fourth-generation Jimny, the e-Survivor concept looks like a mashup between Jeep’s Wrangler and the lunar rover NASA took to the moon.

The name suggests something serious but the design speaks directly to weekend rock crawlers and fun-loving dune buggy enthusiasts. It certainly looks capable of both activities. The open-topped two-seater uses a lightweight ladder frame, all-wheel drive, and has enough ground clearance to be a scrappy little off-roader. However, as an electric, its value as a legitimate “survival vehicle” is dubious — unless you’re willing to swap gas canisters for solar panels in your post-apocalyptic scenario.  (Read More…)

By on October 25, 2017

2017 Ford Raptor

I knew I was borked the minute the truck started down the incline.

Even a Ford Raptor is no match for fresh, gray mud that looks like wet cement. Illinois mud may not be Alabama mud, but it’s no joke. And I had just attempted to drive a Raptor through just that sort of mud, mud that was puddled at the bottom of sharply angled incline that had a distance of a few feet from top to bottom.

The thing is, when one is about to hit a mud hole, the best thing to do, usually, is to give it as much throttle as you can to maintain momentum (but not so much as to fling yourself into a tree). However, I came in a little too hot, bounced, and lost momentum when I reacted to the bounce by not digging into the throttle.

And that, friends, is how you stick one of the world’s most off-road-ready production vehicles in the mud. Also, it’s a good way to expose yourself to social media ridicule, as smartphone-wielding park guests, already happy to see a Raptor on the trail, surround you. Apparently, the woods aren’t free from 4G LTE.

(Read More…)

By on October 16, 2017

2019-land-rover-discovery-svx-downhill

While still famous for premium-trimmed vehicles with off-road capabilities, Land Rover has taken a hard left onto luxury avenue in recent years. Rumors are stirring that the brand has sacrificed some of its utilitarian edge for creature comforts — especially with the release of the ultra-stylish Range Rover Velar.

With the Defender yet to peak its headlamps over the horizon (and rumored to be electrified), JLR is hoping to get back some of its overlanding chops by affixing the SVX badge onto more models. However, the company’s Special Vehicle Operations unit will only touch Land Rovers — allowing Range Rover to maintain its suburban chicness while not muddying the two brands’ identities.  (Read More…)

By on November 21, 2016

Bowler Defender

Drew Bowler, the founding father of monstrous rally-ready Land Rovers, passed away unexpectedly on November 14th. For over 30 years, Bowler Motorsports has produced a succession of iconic vehicles for winning trials, hill rallies, comp safaris, and raids.

(Read More…)

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