What do you picture when someone mentions Russia? Snow-covered countryside inhabited by stern men in furry hats swilling vodka while their beautiful blonde daughters long for an American husband to take them away and buy them high-heels? While we're sure that is true somewhere in Russia, it's not the Russia we experienced on a recent two-week road trip through the far east of the country.
First, the groundwork. Suzuki has a new car, the all-wheel-drive Kizashi. Though we don't often concern ourselves with AWD autos, our sister publication Motor Trend does. In fact, MT devised a road trip of sorts across Japan, up through Russia, and then down from Alaska in a trip they called Tokyo to L.A. the Hard Way. They planned to do this trip in a pair of Kizashis. Sending two sedans across the uncharted territory of Siberia could be risking disaster, so Suzuki added two of its Equator 4x4 pickup trucks to the mix, and that's where we came in. Who better to follow some car guys across the Russian wilderness than a couple of truck guys? Add to that a swarthy Motorcyclist journo on a Suzuki V-Strom 650 and you have the makings of an awesome adventure that showcases the full spectrum of Suzuki producst. (OK, we didn't have any Suzuki quads or outboard boat motors, and we could have found some places to test them in the Russian mountains and rivers, but you get the idea.)
Our trip across eastern Russia was a true adventure, covering over 3,000 miles, mostly on slightly maintained gravel roads versus the dismally maintained asphalt. We saw amazing countryside, majestic mountains, and cities that covered the spectrum from amazing to eerie. The Suzuki did great passing over rough pot-holed tracks with only the occasional flat tire.
If ever there was a destination ripe for the outdoor enthusiast, it is eastern Russia. The mountainous area is perfect for campers, hunters, and off-roaders alike.