We Test Drive the Mahindra Roxor in the Rockies

    Roxor in the Rockies

    Rick PéwéWriterRick PéwéPhotographerTraci ClarkPhotographer, Writer

    We had the opportunity to test the new Mahindra Roxor with the LE package on the trails near the Continental Divide in Colorado. The four-cylinder turbo diesel and five-speed manual transmission delivered plenty of torque and power at elevations above 10,000 feet, but we were somewhat disappointed with the 3.73 axle gear ratio and open differentials when it came to the steep and rocky sections of the trail. This vehicle would benefit from lower gearing and lockers front and rear. A more aggressively treaded tire could be helpful as well.

    The Roxor ride is reminiscent of an old leaf-sprung flatfender Jeep or CJ-5/7—a bit rough, but not intolerable when the tires are aired down a bit. The diesel engine is quiet and allows for conversation between driver and passenger at slow speeds, which brings up another interesting observation: The Roxor has a two-person maximum passenger capacity, so it’s not a very family-oriented off-road vehicle.

    While the Roxor does catch your eye with its Jeep-like lines and appearance, and the price tag is modest enough to be tempting, the fact that it isn’t street legal and needs to be trailered (not flat-towed) to and from the trails could be a major drawback for many. Our overall impression of the Roxor is that for its target market it’s a great little off-road machine, and as with any vehicle, it has a balance of pros and cons. We would like to see the axle gear ratio addressed sooner rather than later, and lockers are rumored to be available soon for a premium price. Additionally, a full soft-cab enclosure is available for purchase; however, it doesn’t come with the windshield, which will be another separate item to purchase. All in all, the Roxor has a place in the side-by-side market, and of course we like the way it looks. We give it a passing grade in performance, but there is room for improvement.

    Special thanks to Mike Stoveken with Rocky Mountain Roxor–Silverthorne Powersports in Silverthorne, Colorado, for letting us get behind the wheel.

    Hard Facts
    Vehicle: Roxor w/ LE package
    Engine: Turbodiesel m2DiCR; 2.5L/152ci inline four-cylinder; direct-injection fuel system
    Power: 62 hp @ 3200 rpm
    Torque: 144 ft-lb @ 1,400-2,200 rpm
    Transmission: Five-speed manual
    Transfer Case: Two-speed manual w/ 2.46 low range
    Suspension: Leaf spring w/ stabilizer bar and hydraulic shocks (front); leaf spring w/ hydraulic shocks (rear)
    Axles: Full-floating w/ 3.73 gears and 9-inch disc brakes (front); semi-floating w/ 3.73 gears and 11-inch drum brakes (rear)
    Tires: 235/70R16 BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A (29 inches tall)
    Wheels: 16-inch, 5x5.5 lug pattern steel

    Specifications
    Wheelbase: 96 in
    Overall Length: 148 in (156 in w/ spare tire)
    Width: 62 in
    Height: 75 in
    Ground Clearance: 9 in
    Fuel Capacity: 12 gal
    Base Curb Weight: 3,035 lb
    Rear Payload Capacity: 349 lb
    Towing Capacity: 3490 lb
    Person Capacity: 2
    Max Speed: 45 mph
    Max Towing Speed: 15 mph

    Options as Tested
    LE Package upgrades, Bestop bikini soft top, Warn 8000-pound winch, HD front bumper w/ hooks and mounting plate, 40-inch KC HiLites lightbar, side and rearview mirrors, ROPS mounted grab handles

    Tale of the Tape: Mahindra Roxor vs. Jeep CJ-7

    We’ve all heard the simple rumors—the Roxor is just a CJ-7 with a diesel engine—and the like. While at first glance it appears to be, after taking some quick and dirty measurements it turns out to be very different in many ways. While the Roxor wheelbase is 96 inches and a CJ-7 comes in at 93, the overall length is similar at 148 versus 153 inches for the CJ-7. But you’ll also notice that the door opening and the tub height and lengths are different. No slapping on a CJ-7 soft top here! Yes, they are closely matched, but not the same. The Roxor is more of a blend of a CJ-5/7 and YJ with a unique Indian manufacturing perception. Is it a Jeep? It may not be a true Jeep, but its DNA sure came from the original! —Rick Péwé

    *All measurements are in inches and approximate, except where noted.

    Model:RoxorCJ-7
     
    Wheelbase9693
    Overall Length148153
    Width6265.3
    Height7569
    Door Opening3235
    Door to Rear of Tub5446
    Outside Windshield5959
    Back Floorpan Width3636
    Wheelwell11.511.5
    Floorpan Rear5337
    Dash9.59.5
    Cowl Width1111
    Hood43.540
    Firewall to Radiator2935
    Firewall to Grille3943
    Front Fender4040
    Floor to Top of Dash2227
    Cowl-to-Door Opening1314
    Headlight Spacing3126
    Grille Height2020
    Weight (lb)3,0352,730

    The Naked Truth About Roxor

    Here’s the bottom line on the Roxor: It is more Jeep-like than many other modified Jeeps. To demonstrate, we offer up this unclothed Roxor—hence, the naked truth. You’ve all heard that the Roxor is a basic, bare-boned vehicle derived from the Jeep, and that is true. The similarities are endless, but only when we get to disassemble and check out the internals will we know the whole story. And true to the original Jeeps that were made by Mahindra in India under license from Willys way back in 1946, these Roxors are assembled in the U.S. from Indian-made components. Since turnabout is fair play, here’s the skinny on the naked beast.

    The Roxor is a blend of many things, with the old-school Jeep DNA shining through. The axles are Dana 44 clones, meaning they aren’t made by Dana, but copied from the original Jeep axles that were made by Dana. That means many of the aftermarket gears and ’shafts should work if ratio changes and beefy parts are needed. The brakes are drum rear and disc front, but of uniquely Indian design and manufacture. Why they saved some coin on drum rear brakes is an interesting note. Also, the two-pieced rear axle design seems a bit antiquated, yet fine for this application and power. Likewise, the copy of the Spicer 18 transfer case is very intriguing as well since the single-shift mechanism is unique, and the possibility of adding a Saturn overdrive is exciting.

    The boxed frame is beefy and solid, but there are not many exit points to drain mud and water after creek crossings. The leaf-spring suspension is similar to a CJ-7/YJ cross, as are the steering linkage and bars. Only time will tell if the Mahindra 2.5L turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine will be adequate, but we figure once the aftermarket unleashes its potential it will be perfect. In addition, rowing the gears on the five-speed tranny with an external slave cylinder–controlled clutch is fun and rewarding—we just wish it had lower axle gears. Check out the photos and see what else you can compare, and remember, this is still an apples-to-oranges sort of deal. —Rick Péwé