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Proof Excellent Off-Roaders Are Built, Not Bought

By Steven Symes Feb 06, 2020
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By Steven Symes Feb 06, 2020
Sorry to everyone who thinks otherwise.

Plenty of people buy a brand-new Jeep Wrangler Rubicon or a Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro expecting them to be monstrous off-roaders. After all, the commercials show them fording streams, climbing over rocks, and going on Antarctic expeditions with ease. Yeah, the thing is that’s all called marketing, not reality. While those rigs are pretty good on trails right off the dealer lot, but they just don’t stack up to a built Jeep, Toyota, or a lot of other modified rigs. The video clip below illustrates this so clearly when a new Jeep Wrangle Rubicon Unlimited struggles on a section of trail where a Jeep Cherokee XJ and Toyota Land Cruiser J80 (which are both built) roll right through without breaking a sweat.

Still think those out-of-the-box off-roaders are awesome? With a nice lift, bigger (and better) tires, and maybe a few other mods that Rubicon would have done just fine. Some purists will complain the newer Jeeps are horrible for a range of reasons. The ones who focus on the leather upholstery, air conditioning, or touchscreen are really off the mark, because those don’t have any impact on trail worthiness.

As people clamor for Jeeps, Fiat Chrysler has been much obliged to deliver and keep stoking the fires of demand, because it really needs the cash. That means stretching the truth a little, like trying to spin the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk as a great way to take on Metal Masher in Moab or some nonsense like that.

Unfortunately, the current and previous generations of the Jeep Cherokee are far too tame to recommend for any serious off-roading. They might be great for tooling around town or on the highway, but the old XJs are the real trail masters. The guy who runs the YouTube channel the above video is from, Matt’s Off Road Recovery, uses one to rescue people on the trails of southern Utah all the time, and he helps out quite a few people who think their little crossover with all-season tires can handle some serious conditions, because that marketing sure is convincing.


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