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Best Off Road Vehicles | Overland Expo West 2022

Best Off Road Vehicles |  Overland Expo West 2022

Overlanding continues to grow (as much as 5 to 10 percent per year, according to the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association), while the pandemic is only pushing it further. That increased interest has also fueled the Overland Expo, a series of four shows in the United States that gives automakers, accessory manufacturers and independent DIYers a space to come together and show off their gear and equipment. Whether they rode two wheels, four wheels, or no wheels, below are the craziest factory vehicles and passion projects that caught my eye at Overland Expo West in Flagstaff, Arizona last weekend.


New Legend 4×4

Matthew Crisara

This custom International Harvester (IH), built by the artisans of New Legend 4×4 is one of the best Frankenstein builds I’ve seen. Astute readers will know that the only vehicle in the Scout range that resembles a real pickup truck is the Scout 80. That said, if it wasn’t immediately obvious, this custom build has a much longer wheelbase, cab and bed. I left out the model name because the final product is an amalgamation of several vehicles beautifully linked together.

The clear centerpiece of the structure is the double cab made up of three different Scout canopies. It is almost impossible to find where the different roof parts come together in the final product. Even with New Legend founder and owner Sean Barber walking me through the build, I had to look very closely to distinguish the welds.

headlight and grill of new legend 4x4

Matthew Crisara

interior of new legend 4x4

Matthew Crisara

Aside from the fab custom work, the build is quintessentially New Legend 4×4, blending the Scout’s stunning exterior and interior aesthetics with modern technology and overland equipment. Under the hood, it’s powered by a beefy Cumins R2.8 diesel engine, delivering enough torque to move a medium-sized mountain. At the rear, the vehicle is equipped with: ACS Classic from Leitner Designs rack with three different Gear Pods


Unimog 406

unimog

Matthew Crisara

You may be surprised to learn that this Unimog – which appears to be a 406 variant – that I saw at the Bilstein booth is more of a restoration job than a modification. The only obvious mods are a set of Bilstein shocks on the front and rear axles, along with a Warn front bumper. Everything else, including the 5.7-liter diesel engine and 47-inch tires, are factory options. The short wheelbase in combination with the gigantic tires make its appearance nothing but striking.

Daimler fanboys know the mystique behind the beastly Unimog† The name itself comes from the German expression “UNIversal-MOtor-Gerät” – gerät is the German word for a device. The call sign was eventually shortened to Unimog and the car was announced in November 1946. Since then it has made a name for itself as a go-anywhere car.


Land Rover Series IIA Forward-Control Fire Truck

orange land rover

Matthew Crisara

Most everyone knows that Land Rover is best known for its Defender and Range Rover models. However, it is a little-known fact that the British car giant made a fire engine for a short time. This particular example has served for 14 years as a fire truck for the municipality of Waldkirch Bernhardzell in Switzerland. It then sat in the Swiss Transportation Museum for 20 years before being imported to the US. Unsurprisingly, it is incredibly rare, as only 611 were produced. If you can believe it, the Forward-Control is actually on the same chassis as the Series 2 Land Rover you see further down; the only real difference is the subframe that supports the cab.

At a very modest asking price of $39,995, the vehicle itself is actually quite capable. What it lacks in raw power it makes up for with off-road necessities: The 2.6-liter diesel engine under the hood is only good for a meager 90 hp and 115 lb-ft of torque, but a good low-range gearbox that will give you extra grip when the going gets tough. You’ll also notice that it has solid off-road tires and plenty of ground clearance at both ends.


Mitsubishi Delica Space Gear

Mitsubishi Delica Space Gear

Matthew Crisara

When it comes to Japanese vehicles for the domestic market (JDM), most car enthusiasts will probably think of sports cars like the Datsun 240Z, Honda Integra Type R or even the Mazda RX-7. However, there is no shortage of JDM vehicles with off-road driving in mind, no more than the Mitsubishi Delica van† This particular Delica belongs to Andy and Mercedes Lilienthal. (Mercedes successfully finished last year’s Rebelle Rally in a slightly modified Volkswagen ID.4 AWD.)

By default, the Delica was actually a fantastic platform for going off-road. It has four-wheel drive and a decent low-range gearbox. However, this custom build – a 1994 Delica Space Gear – features numerous tweaks to further optimize its off-road sense. Despite having a top speed of about 60 mph, these things are super fun to drive and look at.

As one of the exhibition vehicles on the Warn Winches Of course it had a Warn front bumper with openings for a winch, storage points and extra lighting. In addition to the bumper, the vehicle also has Ranco shocks, mild lift, bigger tires and a larger fuel tank.

mitsubishi delica space gear front view

Matthew Crisara

mitsubishi delica space gear rear view

Matthew Crisara


Porsche Cayenne

Porsche Cayenne

Matthew Crisara

With the same “Pink Pig” livery as Porsche’s 917 LeMans race car, this Cayenne was hard to miss. And this thing is a fast hog: The slightly modified 4.0-liter V8 puts out just under 600 horsepower. However, the list of changes beyond the flashy new wrap and light engine mods wasn’t that extensive.

Official part of the Goal Zero booth, the Cayenne was equipped with a plethora of the brand’s mobile power plants operating on a set frontrunner drawers in the trunk. Outside of its electrical systems, the vehicle rode on a gorgeous set of stark white Rotiform STL wheels (made to look like, you guessed it, steelies), wrapped in General’s Grabber All-Terrain tires. Under the skin, the vehicle boasted a 3-inch lift and new upper wishbones.


Dometic Series 2 Land Rover

Dometic Series 2 Land Rover

Matthew Crisara

Maybe I’m biased, but I think the Series 2 Land Rover is one of the nicest of the bunch. Every part of the vehicle is fit for purpose while being absolutely beautiful to look at. I saw this copy at the Dometic stand was driven over 250 miles off road to get to the Expo; once there they left it as it was with everything dusty and full of patina. With a plethora of brand new Ford Broncos, Toyota Tundras, Jeep Wranglers and other downright immaculate vehicles on display at the Expo, this seemingly pristine classic was a breath of fresh air.


Rivian R1T

rivian r1t

Matthew Crisara

There are few pickup trucks that can draw a crowd as well as the R1T. Amid a sea of ​​other vehicles on the show with honed bumpers, lift kits and flashy wheels, Rivian’s booth was clearly the place to be. Some Expo visitors had never seen the vehicle before and just wanted to know what it was. Others were reservation holders who wanted to see what they got.

While the truck itself hadn’t had any aftermarket modifications – just do it please – it did have the optional camp kitchen. Although Rivian’s product expert told me the package is an additional $7,000 on top of the vehicle’s $67,500 list price, you’re getting pretty good bang for your buck. In addition to the three-piece modular kitchen and sink, it also includes a full 30-piece kitchen set from snow peak

rivian r1t cooking equipment

Matthew Crisara

rivian r1t extra tire room

Matthew Crisara


GMC Hummer

gmc hummer

Matthew Crisara

This was the first time we saw the all-electric behemoth in real life. And it’s immediately clear that the vehicle aims to be both an exercise in design and engineering.

The Hummer pickup leads its class among EV pickups in almost every measurable stat. For example, the spec sheet contains a collection of numbers that baffles the mind. Horsepower: 1,000. Torque: 1200 lb-ft. Price: $110,395. Length: 18 feet. Unfortunately, the screen was unable to show its crab-walking function – which allows all four wheels to spin in the same direction – but we’ll leave that to a future test drive of our own.

gmx hummer rear view

Matthew Crisara

As for the design elements, GMC’s Hummer plugin doesn’t stray too far from its roots. It’s still inherently a Hummer with its big and boxy aesthetic. However, it looks much more futuristic. Whether that’s the stormtrooper-esque white-and-black color scheme or the high and clean body lines, you’re the judge. Anyway, you can’t confuse the latest Hummer with anything else you’ll see on the road right now.


GMC Sierra 1500 AT4X

gmc sierra 1500 at4x

Matthew Crisara

This custom GMC Sierra 1500 AT4X couldn’t be more different than the Hummer. It’s already super capable with its 6.2-liter V8 powerplant — which puts out 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque — and a low-range gearbox. If you couldn’t tell by looking at it though, this has been heavily modified with pretty much every Overland accessory you can think of.

gmc sierra 1500 at4x overland function

Matthew Crisara

gmc sierra 1500 at4x rear

Matthew Crisara

This build, put together by the organizers of the Overland Expo show, was dubbed the ‘Ultimate Overland Vehicle’. Fortunately, with such an accolade to fulfill, the final product includes components from 21 of the exhibitor’s brands and partners. Of the extensive list, my personal favorite is the custom 3-foot rear canopy made by MITS Alloy North America. It is therefore no surprise that the standard bed was replaced by a 1.40 meter long metal tray.


Team Sand Mode Honda Ridgeline

team sand mode honda ridgeline

Matthew Crisara

This slightly modified Honda Ridgeline also competed in the Rebelle Rally last year, competing in the same X-Cross class and finishing fifth. Team Sand Mode consisted of two Honda engineers, with Tasha Krug behind the wheel and Liz Long navigating. While the race itself is heavily focused on navigation skills, it still requires precise driving to reach all the waypoints.

The vehicle itself — a 2021 Honda Ridgeline — is mostly stock, with the exception of restore points, a custom tire carrier, and other off-road details. Mechanically, the vehicle is nearly identical to any Ridgeline you will find in the showroom. The photos may be deceiving, but the damage to the track on the outside of the vehicle gives it away as not just any show pony.

team sand mode honda ridgeline side

Matthew Crisara

Matt Crisara
Matt Crisara is a native Texan with an unbridled passion for cars and motorsports, both abroad and domestically, and as Autos Editor for Popular Mechanics, he writes the bulk of automotive digital and print coverage.

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