A while back Mahindra unveiled the ROXOR, a new four-by-four with the looks and feel of the past but with intent to take market share from the ever-evolving-and-expanding class of off-road vehicles currently on the market. It certainly nails the nostalgia feel when going solely based on its looks, but, as we all know, appearance isn’t everything.
Upon its release, we of the Hooniverse writing staff had a quite heated argument in our Slack channel over the purpose and prospect of Mahindra’s new ORV. And, as you can expect, it was a many-sided discussion that left us divided on where we as a group stand in regards to the ROXOR.
As one of your resident die-hard off-road guys, I took a stand: the ROXOR, though attractive conceptually, is a novelty. It’s a show-piece meant to garner stares, and not so much as to compete as a serious off-road vehicle. It’s for those who want to look the part, but don’t care as much about actual wheeling.
Recently I finally got to lay my eyes on a ROXOR in person for the first time. Though I didn’t get to drive it, I did get to poke around a bit for about half an hour… and it didn’t change my mind one bit.
Jump with me, and let’s discuss why this thing is outclassed by basically everything.
Being that I have feet in both pools in which the ROXOR competes, the streetable off-roader and dedicated SxS, the Mahindra’s competition in both fields is better and more attractive in every way. So as to see everything fairly and from any possible viewpoint, I’m trying my hardest to justify the ROXOR’s existence. But, truthfully, it’s just not happening. Price and lack of ability to register and drive it on the street are the absolute downfall of the ROXOR, but it goes deeper than that.
Undoubtedly the biggest problems the ROXOR are up against would be price, value, and credentials relative to the competition. The ROXOR starts at $14,999 and goes all the way up to the mid-$20k range around fully optioned as per the company’s configurator. The lack of standard equipment is apparent in that the Build & Price tool only allows additions of– wait for it– a light bar, mirrors, aluminum wheels, a hard top, grab handles, and a steel bumper with winch. No heat, no air conditioning, no radio, navigation, or any of the other accoutrements available on other 4x4s are even options here, and a manual transmission is the only option (as opposed to the trail-friendly CVTs of the side-by-side class).
For that money– let’s call it the $15k and $20k numbers– any of the ROXOR’s competitors will do both on or off-road better. And they’ll be better outfitted as well: a Polaris RZR can be optioned with navigation, a radio, built-in digital instrumentation, and even drastically more complex drivetrains, and you know that any street-friendly vehicle from Jeep or Toyota has loads more tech than a ROXOR ever will. The ROXOR has none of that.
An old-fashioned analog speedometer, tach, fuel gauge, and so on. Hell, the ROXOR has 62 horsepower. For only a few grand more, you can buy a new RZR S 1000 Turbo, which has 168 horsepower. And it weighs less, too. Even the base RZR has 45 horses and only weighs 996 pounds, which is rather svelte compared to the ROXOR’s ~3000 lbs.
Let’s nail down our off-road intentions with two major questions: Do you want to drive an off-road-only vehicle on the street such as in places like Utah and Maine where it’s legal? The slew of side-by-sides will do just fine. Want to drive off-road? A used Jeep/Toyota or new/used SxS hits every box. A used, well-taken care of, and well-modified TJ Wrangler (or even a JK) is easily had in that price range, and can be driven on the road. As can any 4Runner, FJ Cruiser, Land Cruiser, Samurai, etc. Or, conversely, Polaris will sell you a wide variety of RZRs. Can Am will sell you a Maverick, Commander, or General. Yamaha will sell you a YXZ1000R.
The only caveat I can see in my argument here is that of the person who wants near-primitive Jeep CJ style without the fuss of an older vehicle. Or, has a farm and needs to tow with their 4×4 (the ROXOR does have 2-3 times the towing capacity of a SxS). For that, the ROXOR is solid. And if you do want to buy something like a CJ and don’t mind tinkering there are still CJs out there. Still, if you’re buying a CJ, you probably at least want the ability to put a plate on it and drive it to your wheeling spot. Can’t do that with a ROXOR.
And there are still so many unknowns with the ROXOR: reliability, dealer networks/support, availability of parts, and so on. The questions for Mahindra’s new truck are many, and time will tell its fate. But do you know what would be rad? A ROXOR body over an RZR, Maverick, or YXZ1000R underpinnings. Kind of like slapping a new body over your old tired RC car (or truck).
Of course, I’d absolutely love to test drive a ROXOR. To see if its abilities in the dirt, rocks, and mud can prove me wrong. But for now, I’m standing by it by initial thoughts on the matter. The ROXOR is stuck in a place where it lives between a wannabe-CJ and actually having credentials to compete with side-by-sides. For everything you can say about the ROXOR, you can find something better in the competition. The ROXOR might be a cool novelty, but it’s just nothing more.