Modern four by fouring evolved out of the military work trucks that helped the Allies win WWII. Thanks to the Marshall Plan, even our vanquished former foes have had the opportunity to get in on the game, some initially building near-clones of existing trucks. Over the years since, what were once utilitarian workhorses have evolved into the brawny status symbols we see today. But that’s not to say there haven’t been a lot of stellar contenders for toughest truck sprinkled along the way.
Of course here in the States we’ve anointed the Ford-designed and Willys-built Jeep as our iconic off-roader, and in one form or another it’s been in steady production since the war. Jeep, it seems, has defined the genre here in the States, despite worthy competition from other makers, including that of its military replacement.
Britain’s Land Rover Series, debuting in 1948, was inspired by America’s Jeep, and in many ways the Brit could go toe to toe with the Yank. Rather than military use, the Land Rover was intended to be an all-purpose utility vehicle for farmers, and a another major difference between it and the Jeep was the use of aluminum for the bodywork. That was driven, not by plan, but by necessity as steel was being rationed in Britain after the war, but there was a god bit of surplus aluminum around.
Over on the Continent, manufacturers with nearly unpronounceable names were developing off-roaders with capabilities of near biblical scale. The Pinzgauer was created by the Austrian maker of all things moped – Steyr-Daimler-Puch – in the late ’60s, and brought a new level of prowess to the breed. Portal axles, a central transmission and differential, all helped to give the military-aimed truck legendary capabilities. An edelweiss field away in Germany, Unimog built a truck with similar features.
There’s few product niches in which the Japanese fail to compete, and the off-roader is one where they can tout success. Nissans have been Patrolling the globe for decades, and Toyota’s Land Cruiser has become almost as beloved and esteemed as either the Land Rover or Jeep. In fact, while the Land Rover was inspired by the Jeep, the Land Cruiser’s ancestors were actually based on the specs of a Bantam Mk II captured during the war. The Toyota trucks of today are luxo-barges, but the originals could seriously rock the rocks.
So with of all those, plus the multitude of others, each country has bona fides to extol in claiming the crown of producer of the world’s best off-roaders. But which one is it?
Image sources: [seriouswheels.com, 4x4offroads.com, Priuschat.com, Wikipedia.com]
Hooniverse Asks- What Country Makes the Best Off-Roaders?
1) Hummer H1
2) Jeep (CJ, XJ, ZJ, SJ, etc.)
4) K-5 Blazer
5) I-H Scout/Scout II
6) Original Power Wagon
Really the Patrol, Land Cruiser, and Land Rover are just different interpretations of the original Jeep. The Uni-Mog is a little on the large side for most uses. Also, most of the foreign off-roaders are a little underpowered. Sure with super high gearing they are fine for the trails, but who wants to drive 40mph the whole way to the trail.
Not to mention the Lada Niva…
[youtube moKxB6CODZ4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moKxB6CODZ4 youtube]
This is kinda hard. Each country makes offroaders best suited to the offroad environments they have it seems. However I will have to say I fully support germany and for these reasons
And Technically German(by ownership
Hard to generalize. There's no denying the qualities of the Jeep, the toughness of the military Hummers, or the usefulness of Big Three 4wd pickups. However, it always seems that Toyota Land Cruisers and Nissan Patrols are found in the farthest corners of the world, where breakdowns can be a life-threatening situation. It used to be Land-Rovers that were everywhere but it looks like the Japanese have taken their place.
Haha! Just kidding! If you got caught off-road in one of these you were shit out of luck. Looks trucky, though! Like a fiberglass Land Rover.
I think the USA is best at making vehicles specifically designed for off-road use.
Only including current production civilian vehicles it's a tie between the US and Germany.
The Germans have the MB G class. While it has been turned into a yuppiewagon it's the closest thing to a H1 still in production so they win the SUV class
The US has the Raptor, we win for Trucks.
All of that goes out the window if you include modifications / conversions, in which case Iceland reigns supreme.
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