As usual, I read with interest your 2016 Four Wheeler of the Year article. I was disappointed that you neglected to test the 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser simply because you could not obtain a loaner vehicle to test. That is a pretty lame excuse. You could have bought/leased/rented a 2016 Land Cruiser for your test but neglected to do so. Also, the comparable Lexus LX570 could have been sought in its place.
I was glad to see that the Jeep didn’t break down and get top honors again this year, as breakdowns seemed to be a requirement for top honors in years past.
I noticed that the off-road test caused flat tires on all three vehicles. You must have driven over a lot of sharp rocks this year.
Daniel M. Hart
I’d love to have been able to test the Land Cruiser, but renting one isn’t really a feasible option for a lot of reasons, most of which is that we conduct our testing early in the model year before most of the dealers receive their test vehicles. And certainly before any rental agencies put these vehicles into their fleets.
It points to the rigorous testing we put these vehicle through, but yes, the trails we visited this year were fairly rough and strewn with a lot of sharp rocks.
Range Rover Again?
I won’t be one of those people who cry a river when you guys select a $100,000 vehicle as your Four Wheeler of the Year. But how on earth did you pick a $100,000 vehicle as your Four Wheeler of the Year? Come on, guys. Why are you even testing SUVs that are out of the price range of the majority of your readers?
New York, NY
I think the biggest hurdle we’ll be facing in the coming years is that off-road performance is becoming something of a luxury in and of itself. Most vehicle manufacturers are focusing more on maximizing EPA numbers and minimizing production costs. You may not want to hear it, but things like locking differentials, transfer cases with real low-range, and suspensions with great wheeltravel all cost money to build. I’ve been of the opinion for a while that in the not-too-distant future you’re going to see off-road–capable vehicles like the Wrangler Rubicon move up into the same ilk that Viper and Corvette enjoy for street performance. It’s nothing I like to admit, but the writing is on the wall, and I expect prices to keep moving on up through the roof as government regulations, coupled with consumer demand, push the limits on sticker shock.
That said, why are we testing vehicles that are that expensive? Because we invite everything that qualifies. If there was a $20,000 import-spec Suzuki Jimney we could invite, you could bet we’d love to test one. But when it comes to the Range Rover Sport SVR, which won our 2016 Four Wheeler of the Year award, it was simply the best all-around vehicle we tested—especially in terms of off-road performance. It’s an amazing feat of engineering.
Take My Money!!!
I have to say I really enjoyed your March 2016 Firing Order. It reminded me of my childhood riding in the back (very back, with no seatbelts) of my parents' Oldsmobile wagon. I also grew up listening to my dad talking about racing muscle cars and often heard him talk about the one that got away: a mint ’63 Corvette 427 with side pipes for $4,500! Apparently Grandpa was worried Dad would kill himself in a car that hot. He ended up settling for a fairly quick Nova.
I've been searching for old cars and trucks as long as I can remember, and several have followed me home. Recently I've come across a couple deals in my travels that I couldn't pass up. The first was an ’88 XJ with a blown transmission, with only 215,000 km and a Dana 44 rear. I traded the owner two bottles of wine for the Jeep and have made it into a pretty decent wheeler. The latest is a ’69 Power Wagon I found on a service call. I realize 1968 was the last domestic year for WM300s, but this one somehow slipped through the cracks and was kept in North America for an oil company. I got a great deal on the truck, mostly due to the fact the previous owner was also a car guy and just wanted to see the truck brought back to its former glory. I can't wait to get it back on (and off) the road!
I need a Power Wagon just like that—tire chains and all! Just shut up and take my money!
Bug Out Blazer
I’m seriously digging the Bug-Out Blazer buildup now that it seems to be back on track. I’ve long been thinking about sending my Springfield 1911 into Robar to have it coated. Seeing BOB’s TrailReady beadlocks in that beautiful Robar treatment sealed the deal!