Nissan Off Road vs. Pro-4x
Thanks for doing a long-term test of the Nissan Xterra Off Road (Nov. '10). It's been near the top of my next-purchase list since I first heard about it. How does the Off Road package compare to the Frontier Pro-4X (especially the Crew Cab) in terms of off road capability, comfort, quality, stability, etc?
Basically, they're two labels for the same options package. It's simply been re-branded on the Xterra for marketing purposes. We recently returned our tester to Nissan (and we're still broken up over it-we love that truck), and we'll feature the final installment of our long-term series next month.
Wheelers That Work
I volunteer with Mountain Wave Search and Rescue in Oregon. It would be neat to see an article about the vehicles of Search and Rescue. There are many search-and-rescue organizations across the nation, mostly volunteers bringing their own well-built all-terrain rigs to reach remote areas. Our organization alone hosts a number of print-worthy rigs, and it would be neat to see a great article about great volunteers.
We couldn't agree more. And, in fact, we've discussed the idea of a "Wheelers That Work" series, which would showcase off-road-ready vehicles belonging to organizations such as the Border Patrol, police and fire departments, public-utility and energy-exploration companies-and yes, you search-and-rescue guys, too. The only things that have held us back have been a shortage of time and resources, but if we can make it happen in the coming year, we'll let you (and everyone else) know about it.
Mo' Better Beaters
I just wanted to tell you that I think the Chevy S-10 should have been on your beater list ("The Beater Files," Sept. '10). It has a lot of good components. I'm more partial to Fords, but I have a friend who has a stock ZR2 with 32s, and it follows my built Ranger through the trails all day.
Via the Internet
In your recent "Best Cheap 4x4s" article from a while back, I couldn't help but notice you didn't include the Mitsubishi Montero. They can regularly be had for around $1,000, and most '90s models come with a rear air locker and bigger axles than even the mighty Land Cruiser. Not to mention the Montero has won more Dakar races than any other vehicle, with eight of those wins in stock form, and we can't even count how many Top 10 spots-look it up and see for yourselves. As for building one on the cheap, they can fit 33s stock, and 35s with a little work. They make a great platform for any kind of buildup, from racing to rockcrawling to show trucks. Their frames are fully boxed, the transmissions are bulletproof and compatible with the common Jeep transfer cases, and the trucks come in long- and short-wheelbase (pre-'91) configurations. Anyway, great magazine, even though you guys don't show any love for one of the more legendary off-road vehicles.
Well, we sorta agree. Yes, there's no denying the Gen 1 (pre-'92) Montero was a pretty cool rig, with a rear locker and a stout rear axle. And we loved the short-wheelbase version, a.k.a. the Dodge Raider, which came from the factory with 31x10.50s and great approach/departure angles. But those rigs are pretty rare in our neck of the woods-most of the Monteros we come across in the classifieds are '92-and-later models. Keep in mind, access to aftermarket parts was one of the criteria we used in deciding which rigs to include on this list. A beater 4x4 isn't much of a bargain, after all, if no one makes parts for it, and the later-model Monteros just don't enjoy much in the way of aftermarket support-at least not in the U.S.
About the S-10: Leaving them off our list was a tough call. Those little Chevys were pretty good out-of-the-box wheelers-especially the '94-and-later ZR2s, which came with beefier ring gears at both ends, 31x10.50 tires, Bilstein shocks and full skidplating-though we've noticed that the aftermarket for older Rangers has remained fairly steady over the past 10 years while aftermarket support for the S-trucks has lagged somewhat in recent years. Given a choice between the two trucks, we opted to include the Ford, though as you noted, the S-trucks are quite trailable, and older high-mileage models can be had for a very modest price these days.