4-Wheel & Off-Road welcomes letters to the editor. Letters must include an address or a telephone number so the sender can be verified. Once verified, your name may be withheld at your request. Letters published in this magazine reflect the opinions of the writers, and we reserve the right to edit letters for clarity, brevity, or other purposes. Due to the large volume of mail we receive, we regret that we cannot reply to unpublished letters or return photos. Digital photos must measure no less than 1600 x 1200 pixels (or two megapixels) and be saved as a TIFF, an EPS, or a maximum-quality JPEG file.
4-Wheel & Off-Road
6420 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048-5515
Reader: I picked up your issue with "The Ultimate Adventure" (Dec. '07) event in it and was looking at some of the trucks and was wondering about the Toyota 4Runner's exocage. Are exos legal for the street? I have always wanted to exo my Cherokee, but wanted it to remain a daily driver. By the way, I love your magazines and read them cover to back. Thank you for all your hard work!
Editor: We've never been asked that question, and can't seem to find a good answer as to why an exocage would be illegal. As far as we're concerned, they work great and offer extra protection both on and off the road. However, some vehicles end up looking more like a jungle gym with a 4x4 inside, and others are truly tacky, but hey, we aren't the fashion police here!
Reader: I just received the Feb. '08 issue. I noticed that you left out the Suzuki Samurai when tallying the votes by brand at the end of the "Best 4x4 Ever" article. No, I don't now own, nor have I ever owned, a Suzuki. I just noticed. I've owned five vehicles that made the list and lust after most of the others. You guys put out a great mag. Mr. Pw understands what it is all about. Keep the D.E.D. articles coming and keep dragging home and wheeling the down-to-earth stuff.
Editor: Yup, you caught that one that we didn't, and I even had to look a second and third time. I wonder where all the Suzuki owners are that missed that little goof? Thanks for letting us know before the wrath of the Samurais are upon us!
Reader: Comments: The Jeep Patriot with the 2.0L diesel engine sold in Europe gets 42.2 mpg. It was named Green 4X4 of the Year from 4X4 and MPV Driver magazine due in large part to its low emissions and superior mileage for an SUV. Although produced in Belvedere, Illinois, and exported to Europe, it is not available in the USA with the diesel engine. We were looking for a righthand drive 4x4 for rural mail delivery and the fuel-efficient Patriot seems perfect. We inquired as to why we could not purchase one with the diesel and were told that it currently does not meet the more restrictive USA emissions standards. This seems to contradict my impression that European vehicles get better mileage and pollute less. To get a righthand drive, we ended up buying a Wrangler that gets 15 mpg. This doesn't make any sense. What's going on?
Editor: We want a diesel Jeep here more than you can believe, and Jeep just may be thinking the same thing. The market is ripe and we've been sticking our snout around pretty deeply; don't be too surprised if something surfaces for the aftermarket right from Jeep itself in the next few months.
Reader: My daily driver is a '92 XJ built into a very capable trail rig, with 4.5 inches of lift and 31-inch BFGs. With a lot of thought and care put into its design, and many "peripheral" upgrades, it is also a safe and well-mannered street vehicle. Just the same, it attracts unwarranted attention from the cops everywhere I go, and getting it inspected every year is a real hassle. My state has special registration plates for street rods and so-called "custom vehicles" (kit cars), which allow for a wide degree of exemptions and call for the mechanic performing the state inspection to use his "experience and discretion" in determining whether or not the vehicle is safe and sound. Why can't there be a similar special plate for a "custom 4x4?" I would love to start a 4x4 club in my area, and someday I want to build up a rig and apply for the Ultimate Adventure, but it seems my state government wants to make that very difficult for me.
Editor: The best thing to do is to investigate those street-rod rules, and see if they can apply to your ride. Lots of states make exceptions for those vehicles; we just need a powerful enough lobby to make rules for us too!
Reader: I think you did a fine job testing the contestants for 4x4 of the Year. The Toyota Land Cruiser, in my opinion, is the clear winner, but I wonder how most of the other vehicles would have fared with about $30,000 worth of upgrades?
Ft. Worth, TX
Editor: How about another ride instead of upgrades? Well, that would be about 15 cool 4x4s for around $2,000 each, or better yet, 30 for $1,000 each, or 52 for $577 each-one for each week of the year!
Reader: I just read the 2008 4x4 of the Year and I have a question: Is pushing your base consumer away a new marketing process? I am worried about the direction this mag is going! A four-wheel-drive station wagon winning, plastic everywhere, overhangs that a field mouse could jump up and touch, tires that are better fit on an ATV? I can remember when a 4x4 with a locker, V-8, and 35-inch tires would be a true off-roader's dream. As a person who owns an off-road shop, and a SEMA sponsor, I see you're not worried about the people who sell off-road parts like lifts. What's the cost of putting an 8-inch lift kit on the Toyota Land Cruiser? Rick Pw, please decide what's important, selling Toyota or giving a fair opinion on the 4x4s. As for knowing what your base is, I can tell just by looking at the ads in your magazine.
Editor: Sorry guys, we picked the Land Cruiser purely on ability, not whether it could be modified with a lift kit cheaply or if people would buy it. The test picks the best, not what you think should win based on componentry. Oh, and in our January issue we had one Ford, one Nissan, and one Toyota ad. Then in February we had two Chevy, two Jeep, 1.1 Toyota, and one Nissan. In March there was one Jeep, one Nissan, and one Toyota ad. Does all that sound like we're selling out to Toyota? I don't see it! But I did love your field mouse comment!
Concerning your recent Land Cruiser issue stating that there is a solid front axle version sold in the Middle East, could you please supply more information concerning this statement? I saw information to the contrary at a UAE Toyota Web site.
Editor: Good reason, because we were wrong. We received incorrect information, and apologize. Unfortunately the solid-axle Land Cruiser has gone the way of the dodo bird.
Reader: I have ordered the Ultimate Adventure videos/DVDs for my son every year for Christmas for at least the last five years. I want to order it again, but haven't seen the ad in his latest issues of your magazine. Can you tell me where I can order it? By the way, my son loves your magazine and reads each issue cover to cover, many times over! He's now 18 and starting to build his own truck.
Editor: No worries. Here's the info. Simply log onto our Web site at ww.4wheeloffroad.com and the links will take you to where you can buy it. hanks for watching!
Reader: OK, I'm a longtime subscriber and big fan of your magazine. I respect Pw and those guys, but I'm all about Tim Hardy. This guy is everything that is perfect about the off-road hobby (well, perfect except for the fact that he doesn't drive a Jeep). I try to be just like him all the time. I had a YJ, and after reading an article about his Sammy, I took the top off my Jeep and sold it. Winter, spring, summer, or fall-rain or shine-I drove my YJ topless. I would still be today if it weren't for the baby. Babies do not like rain. Don't ask.
Anyway, to my point. Is there any way I could get Tim's autograph? I would love to meet him or take him wheeling, but I'm sure Ohio doesn't have hard-core enough trails for the likes of Hardy. Plus, he'd probably spit on my XJ for not being up to snuff. Next time you see him, tell him my buddies and I have even invented a phrase because of him, "Tim Hardy Hard." Like if we see something really hard-core or someone living the life, we'll say "That's Tim Hardy Hard." Examples of things that would qualify are topless Jeeps in February, sleeping in a Sammy (there is a guy in our club who does this, I swear), and '70s snowsuits on a trail ride in December.
Top Notch Motorsports
Editor: And I thought Tim was nuts-now he has a posse! I swear, next time I drag Tim to Ohio I'll look you up and get him to sign your '70s snowsuit!
Reader: I love your magazine and love all the articles, but I must say I am disappointed with your choice of the Ultimate Adventure vehicle, the Wrangler JK Rubi Wagon. Your past vehicles-FJ, Chevy pickup, and Avalanche-are all vehicles we could build. But this one is a Frankenstein. Not all of us can afford to buy a two-wheel-drive, four-door Jeep JK and cut it up to put on a diesel truck frame. This is not a real-world vehicle. It's great that you have time and money to create this monster and I would love to drive it, but it should not be an Ultimate Adventure vehicle. Why? In your vehicle requirements you state that all vehicles must have current registration and insurance, and you don't mention anything about state inspection, nor do I see inspection stickers on your windshield or any other vehicle windshield. How were you able to have this vehicle inspected, knowing that it is not original and has a cut and spliced frame? I live in Pennsylvania and I know some guys cannot get their Jeeps inspected because they install V-8 engines that are not original.
Also, I would like to know how you can allow a vehicle, which would not pass inspection in my state, to be on your Adventure. I also noticed that many vehicles on the Adventure do not have turn signals, headlights, or fenders. I know for a fact that bead locks are not legal for street use, nor is full hydraulic steering. Sorry to be such a downer. If I struck a nerve, feel free to send me a 4WOR license plate. I will wear if proudly on my Jeep YJ.
Editor: You raised some good points. The UAJK was built as a dream machine, and we sure couldn't personally afford to build it either! Maybe next year we'll build a real-world rig like this year's Danger Ranger. As for inspections, you'll notice we didn't go to Pennsylvania. All the other vehicles are registered in their home states. All vehicles on the trip had headlights, and they had fenders and turn signals if the vehicle needed it. For instance, the '51 flattie was built with one taillight and no turn signals, so it is legal with just that system. Now you mentioned that you know bead locks and full hydraulic steering are not legal for street use, but I have yet to have anyone show me chapter and verse where that is stated and is applicable to our situation. You aren't a downer, and thanks for the questions. Send us your address for a plate!