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UACJ-6D is More Reliable Than a Brand New Land Rover

Posted in Features on October 24, 2018
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Ping! It came from that infernal device sitting just to the right of my keyboard. That dreaded sound that emits from my cellphone any time a text comes through. The sound almost never portends something good. It’s usually a corporate fire requiring immediate extinguishing or a sick kid who needs to be picked up at school or some freelancer who got my number through dubious means and is pitching me horrendously bad story ideas. So it was with a mixture of trepidation and loathing that I picked up the phone.

But happily this time, instead of a robotext trying to get me to vote Socialist or an insurance salesman, it was my buddy Fred Williams. “Hey, we’re wheeling Isham Canyon this weekend. You wanna come along and film an episode of Dirt Every Day?” Any day on the trail is better than rotting at a keyboard. And wheeling with some of my good buddies? Hells yeah, I’m in!

I retorqued some bolts on the UACJ-6D, checked the fluids, tossed some groceries and snacks in my ARB fridge-freezer, and walked around the side of the garage past my RV parking to grab my trailer gear from my shed. But as I emerged with a handful of tie-downs I did some mental trailering math. First, I’d have to move the two Jeeps parked in front of the trailer into the street because my driveway was full. Then I’d have to install the receiver hitch in the 2018 Land Rover Discovery I’m currently driving as a long-term test vehicle for the Four Wheeler Network and hook the trailer up to it. Then, to get the trailer brakes to work off the Land Rover, you have to do some rigmarole with reflectors and backup cameras and all this complicated stuff. Once that’s done I could pull the trailer out into the street, move the two Jeeps back into the RV parking, load up the UACJ-6D, and then drive four hours from San Diego to Ridgecrest knowing the Discovery was towing almost every bit of the 6,500 pounds for which it’s rated. The automotive journalist in me was screaming to take the Disco for test data, but the off-road purist in me said, “Um, nah. That UACJ-6D hasn’t ridden a trailer yet. Why start now.”

The off-road purist won. I pulled out of the driveway Friday at 7:30 p.m. and sailed up Interstate 15 at 75 mph, bailed onto Highway 395, and arrived in Ridgecrest at midnight. The next day I met Fred Williams and Dave Chappelle and Jeepin’ Joe and the Dirt Every Day team in the lobby, and we caravanned out to Isham Canyon trail, where the UACJ-6D led the pack through the hardest lines. After a successful day shooting video for Motor Trend, eating like kings, and wheeling like crazy, we caravanned back to town, said our goodbyes, and I hit the road back to San Diego with the UACJ-6D not missing a step or suffering one hiccup. I pulled into my driveway at midnight and parked the official vehicle of UA 2017 next to the Discovery and walked into the house as the gearboxes cooled and the turbo tinked and ticked itself into dormancy. What an awesome 24 hours of 4x4-fueld fun!

The next morning my family of six climbed into the 2018 Land Rover Discovery, and as I drove my oldest two to their sporting events I contemplated what a different, sterile experience it is driving a modern deprivation chamber compared with the humming, buzzing, open-air CJ that I had stepped out of the night before. And right then, as I sat daydreaming at a red traffic light, the Disco flatlined. The engine died, the electrical systems shut down, the shifter submerged back into the center console, and not even the hazard lights worked. We waited for the tow truck.

As the Discovery got winched up onto the deck, I had to chuckle to myself that had I towed up to Ridgecrest I almost certainly would’ve wound up breaking down smack in the middle of the desert. I probably would’ve winched the Disco onto the trailer and hauled it home behind the UACJ-6D. Heck, the little Cummins R2.8 has 310 lb-ft and the Ultimate Dana 60 axle brakes are massive. I bet it would’ve towed it just fine. Now, if I can just squeeze seating for six in it, I think it will be my most reliable family vehicle as well as a super-capable off-road fun machine.

Be sure to tune into Dirt Every Day and look out for a special episode of “Behind the Wheel” featuring the UACJ-6D. Both shows will be on motortrendondemand.com

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