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Roxor vs. Flattie vs. Samurai

A completely unscientific comparison.

What's best, a nearly stock 2018 Mahindra Roxor, a fairly stock 1948 Willys CJ-2a, or a fairly built 1987 Suzuki Samurai? Let the test begin—sort of. Truth is, in a perfect world all vehicular comparisons would follow as scientific of a pattern as possible. All of the vehicles being compared would have the same mileage that has allowed them to break in, each vehicle would be totally stock, and exactly as the manufacturer intended it to. Also, the same exact lines on the same exact test course would be strictly followed, and each test vehicle would be driven by the same driver. All these stipulations lessen the amount of human error and bias that could occur in a comparison. These stipulations are also completely unrealistic. Instead, let's just go four-wheeling, make some comparisons that are clearly not impartial, and run with it. That's good enough for us because we lack the funding for a real test, and we also don't have a time machine to compare vehicles that span a 70-year time frame.

The first fake contestant in this fake competition is a fairly stock 2018 Mahindra Roxor LE. This rig has a few factory options, like a Warn M8000 winch, KC light bar (that needs to go because light bars are for the mall), upgraded front bumper (more on that later), a spare tire, a windshield, a top and so on. In the other corner is our pal Trent McGee's 1948 CJ-2a. Story is that it was rescued from a field in Texas. It's a little rusty—albeit less rusty than it was—a little dinged up, mostly stock (it has a rear locker and a new-fangled aluminum radiator), and it's a ton of fun in the dirt. (It's OK on the road until about 40 mph.) Tires are new STA Super Traxions from Coker Tire that are about 32 inches tall. Last, in the other-other corner is the 1987 Suzuki Samurai we built up in Petersen's 4-Wheel & Off-Road. This rig is hardly stock, has Toyota axles, an open front, a TRD E-locker rear, and custom suspension. It does, however, have a 1.3L 4-cylinder (that is tired), a 6.5:1 transfer case, 35-inch Race BFG tires, and a rather nice roll cage (if we do say ourselves). The plan is to hit the trail and see how these things do.

Ramp Travel Index Compare'o

If you're more than 10 years old—or haven't been off-roading for 10 years—you might not know what an RTI or Ramp Travel Index is, and that's just fine. Several years ago, the RTI was a thing that people cared about. It measured the amount of flex that an individual vehicle has. At the end of the day, a vehicle's RTI number doesn't really matter on the trail, but running a rig up a ramp like this does give you information about how it flexes and what if anything fits. The Flattie aced the RTI ramp competition. It has a flexy, well-worn suspension and a flexy frame. In second place is the Samurai. The Roxor with the sway bar installed was unimpressive and a definite third place, but because neither of the other two rigs have a sway bar and removing a sway bar is an old-school rock crawler trick, we pulled the Roxor's front sway bar and re-tested. That helped us gain nearly 2 feet on our very unscientific ramp.

Rock Crawling Trail and Overall Comparisons

All three of these rigs were pretty capable on the rocks. The Samurai was definitely the best for hitting this trail with its big tires, uber-low gearing, and rear locker. The Samurai has a crawl ratio of about 102:1 (would have a crawl ratio of 31:1) and the tire height, aired down to about 9 psi, definitely helped as well as the short wheelbase (because there weren't any steep climbs).

The CJ-2a crawls pretty well, but it really lacks the gearing necessary for good crawling with a crawl ratio of about 37:1. That meant our expert driver Trent McGee had to slip the clutch and hit some obstacles with a bit more speed than he would have liked. Still, the tired flat head 4-cylinder has low-end torque that helps with crawling a rough trail like this.

The Roxor has the largest engine of the group, is the largest rig of the group, and probably weighs the most of the group, but the 2.5L turbo Diesel makes nice low-end torque. The crawling of the rig with the stock sized tires (about 29 or 30 inches aired down to 11 psi) is pretty darn good with the engine at idle. But the center skid plate hangs low, and that front bumper has huge wings that get in the way in the rocks. We pulled the bumper and just dealt with the low center skid. All in all, the rig crawls very well, but it could maybe use a touch more low-end gearing with a factory crawl ratio of 35:1. Roxor has noticed this, and as a result, the 2020 models come with 5.38:1 axle gears to give them a crawl ratio of 50:1. That should help.

As said, the Roxor is larger than the Flattie and Samurai—maybe more than people think. That size difference doesn't really matter, but the smaller body of the two older rigs makes them that much more nimble. At the end of the day, the Roxor is pretty well set up to take a place as a smallish crawler. We hope to add lockers and some lower axle gearing, and we'd also like to raise that center skid a bit; we will let you know how all these things affect the performance. The Flattie and Samurai both require some mechanical knowhow to keep them running—and to troubleshoot when they won't. And while the Roxor is basically turnkey simple, its price is rather high when compared to the $5,000-$6,000 value of the Samurai and Flattie.

Sources:

Mahindra Roxor
www.roxoroffroad.com