We added our 1994 Toyota Land Cruiser before we knew that Kid 4.0 was on the way. Now that she’s here, we’re not getting rid of the Land Cruiser, but we are searching for some roomier options that include some decent cargo capacity.

I will always look at a Pinzgauer first. It’s huge, 6×6, and looks like it will survive the apocalypse. But it’s out of our price range.

UAZ 452 River

The UAZ-452 is another option. Think of a VW bus, mount the engine between the front two seats, and build it in Russia. Production of the UAZ-452 began in 1965 and continues today. Most of the variants have accumulated nicknames like “loaf” or “pill” and they are very fitting.

Size Matters

The interior arrangements can be varied seating a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 11. The most common setups seat eight passengers.

UAZ-452 Interior

The engine is a 2.7L inline four-cylinder that creates 112 horsepower and 153 lb-ft of torque. The powerplant is located between the driver and front passenger seat. Part of me wonders if the engine location helps heat the passenger compartment through radiant heat, but I couldn’t find anything to prove this as a fact.

The 112 horses are connected to a five-speed manual transmission and all variants have a two-speed transfer case. The 452 has a top speed of 78 mph. The owner of the UAZ pictured from Reddit below says his likes to cruise at 110 km/h or 68 mph. That’s not bad. The 6×6 Pinzgauer’s top speed is 62 mph.

That is a lot of lube

One of the knocks against the UAZ-452 is that there are over 20 lubrication points underneath.  And you have to use a syringe to do it.

Lube points on UAZ-452

This one is traveling Russia currently.

Teriberka, Russian North… Heading to the Arctic ocean from r/overlanding

Fits in the Budget

One of the benefits of the UAZ-452 is that purchasing a decent example is cheap. A downside is that buying one will involve shipping. UAZ’s corporate website lists one North American distributor and it’s in Miami. The distributor’s website is full of lifted pickups with zero references to any 452’s. Totally not sketchy.

The UAZ would be a capable off-roader. It has 8.6 inches of ground clearance. The 452’s are 171.4 inches long, which is 0.2 inches shorter than a 2018 Ford Focus Hatchback. The wheelbase of the UAZ is 100 inches, or four inches shorter than the Focus. It really is a capable, compact off-roader.

I don’t think the UAZ will work as our family camper, but it was fun to see how others around the world are using them to travel the world.

UAZ-452 in Mongolia