Reader: I was just recently reading your July '07 issue and I was looking at the "Top 10 Four-Wheeling Cities" article. I noticed that you guys didn't include Hollister, California, in your Top 10, and I was just wondering why you didn't include it. You should have included it because Hollister Hills is a pretty big four-wheel park. (And you have done Top Truck Challenge there quite a few times.) It has some pretty tough courses like the Tank Trap. Hollister also has the Frame Twister and the pretty awesome Mud Pit (my favorite spot there).
But I just have to say thanks for putting in Prairie City in the top 10. I love that place. Thanks for taking the time to sit there and read this letter.
Elk Grove, CA
Editor: Thanks for writing. And yes, we have held Top Truck at Hollister Hills a few times-every year, in fact, since 1993. For that article, though, we were only considering larger metropolitan-type areas that are in close proximity to many dozens of nearby four-wheeling opportunities. And in that sense, Hollister doesn't quite qualify. But it is, without doubt, one of our favorite 'wheeling spots in the U.S.
Reader: I was curious about how the Mega Titan is coming. I was expecting to see it compete at Top Truck Challenge this year. I thought that was the reason behind the build. Are you planning on going through the Tank Trap with the truck? I also noticed that the trucks are becoming so large that the obstacles are looking kind of small.
Fuquay Varina, NC
Editor: Mega Titan Pilot Robin Stover replies: The Mega Titan has actually been used to prerun events at Top Truck Challenge, as well as to aid our staff with extractions during the event. We never planned to actually compete in it because it wouldn't be fair to the other participants. Besides, who would shoot the photos? However, the idea did cross our minds early on.
You are correct about the rigs of TTC getting bigger with each year. We're all wondering if and when we're going to see Grave Digger enter.
Reader: I am retired, and my wife and I use 4x4s (currently, an Xterra and a Discovery) for excursions, not bogging or crawling. Trout fishing off of trails in the Smoky Mountains, a planned trip from Canada to Mexico (all off-pavement), and Alaska next year.
For my next rig, I am looking at the Dodge Durango. Although I would like something smaller, I want a full body on frame (trading in the Xterra). Is the drivetrain (axles, differentials, and so on) heavy-duty on the Durango? And, how is the four-wheel-drive system for serious 'wheeling (it has full-time, 4WD "Lock," and low-range)? I will be using 285/75/17 tires and would like to install a 3-inch block. The lifetime warranty is very attractive, but I can't find out if the drivetrain is basically that of a Ram 1500 pickup (i.e., with heavy-duty components). Any info and advice would be most appreciated.
Editor: Yes, the Durango drivetrain is essentially the same as what you'll find on a comparable Dodge Ram 1500 pickup, and for general-duty (non-Rubicon) 'wheeling in stock trim, its drivetrain components should be up to the task. To be honest, though, we'd recommend you hold onto your Xterra. Granted, it doesn't quite have as much horsepower, storage, or towing capacity as the Dodge, but in almost every other way: wheelbase, ground clearance, overhangs, gearing (with the manual transmission), aftermarket parts availability (i.e., for the Durango = none), factory options (rear locker, premium shocks, BFG tires) ... well, long story short, we think the Xterra has it all over the Durango-and the vast majority of SUVs, for that matter-when it comes to trailability. Hope this helped.