Thursday, February 19, 2015

North America's Top-5 Overland Vehicles

Expedition Portal, the online presence for Overland Journal, analyzed all new 2015 4x4s available in North America for their suitability as an overland-style vehicle.  This includes factors such as offroad capabilities, strength and durability, size, load capacity, and aftermarket support.  While overlanding does not necessarily require utmost offroad prowess, it is an important factor since more capable vehicles can safely access additional trails than less-capable vehicles can.  Overall, however, an overland-style vehicle must be well-rounded and perform well at many tasks, not just one.

Of 2015's Top Five Overland Vehicles for North America, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited is predictably the most offroad-capable vehicle.  From the article:
This list would be incomplete without the inclusion of Jeep’s pinnacle vehicle, the cornerstone of the entire Jeep brand. The Wrangler is an icon of off-roading and to many, a platform without peer. The 3.6-liter 6-cylinder 24-valve VTT engine when paired to the 6-speed manual provides a visceral driving experience that is increasingly rare these days. The Rock-Trac 4WD system with 4:1 low gearing, Dana 44 front axles and electronic sway bar disconnects make this the best 4×4 in its class––by far, not to steal a tagline from Land Rover.

Although the Wrangler is commonly used as a daily driver, and does admirably on the blacktop, it is purpose built for off pavement use. Once in the backcountry, its colors really shine. The Achilles heal to the Unlimited Rubicon however, is the abysmal load carrying capacity. Should your adventures fill all four seats, each occupant will have to pack lightly to stay under the 1,000 pound payload allowance. Not just light, but really light. Despite Jeep’s efforts to soften the interior space and fit it with more creature comforts and features, it is still an austere space befitting the “Jeep thing” vibe. That is not intended to be a pejorative as many owners are drawn to that spartan design as a hallmark of the Jeep ethos.
Not found on this list, but certainly worthy of inclusion due to its nearly Jeep-level offroad capabilities and its superior load-carrying capacity, is the Ram Power Wagon.  A slide-in cabover camper would make for a true backcountry home-away-from-home.  The Ford Raptor, while unsuitable for a cabover, could certainly be used with a lighter-weight bed shell or trailer without compromising its desert-tuned suspension.  Read the full article here and share your thoughts below!

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