Hooniverse Asks- What Country Makes the Best Off-Roaders?

And thou shalt knoweth them by the position of their spare tire. . .

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]

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  1. P161911 Avatar

    1) Hummer H1
    2) Jeep (CJ, XJ, ZJ, SJ, etc.)
    3) Bronco
    4) K-5 Blazer
    5) I-H Scout/Scout II
    6) Original Power Wagon
    7) Ramcharger
    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.

  2. Ash78 Avatar

    Historically: England, born out of necessity for scouting and maintaining the Empire. Defenders ftw, even if today they command really insane prices on the private market.
    Today: Forgot the name, but the expression "f*ck yeah" comes to mind 😉

  3. DvoSpeed Avatar

    The Russians/Soviets have a shot?
    Vityaz, UAZ 469?

    1. ptschett Avatar

      Not to mention the Lada Niva…
      [youtube moKxB6CODZ4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moKxB6CODZ4 youtube]

  4. Dan Avatar

    Germans – Unimog.

  5. buzzboy7 Avatar

    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
    Type 1
    Type 183
    And Technically German(by ownership

  6. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    I was gonna go with the stars and stripes.
    …but then I remembered Iceland:
    [youtube hBvKNcY-Frc http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBvKNcY-Frc youtube]

    1. P161911 Avatar

      Most of their stuff is at least based on US mechanicals. The engines are US V-8s and the grills at least look like Jeep grills.

      1. Tim Odell Avatar
        Tim Odell

        True, but the vehicles are still uniquely Icelandic.

        1. BPR Avatar

          I’m going to second Iceland. Any country that makes things with enough tire and motor to hydroplane across lakes is OK with me.

    2. dmilligan Avatar

      Yeah, they build some seriously bad-assed boonie rigs in Iceland. That glacier truck from a while back was a real eye opener.
      A lot of the drivers in the video have a marvelous touch with the throttle on the hill climb section. The way they come up and over the crest and set it down easy on top is a thing of beauty.

  7. tonyola Avatar

    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.

    1. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      My sister-in-law is from Kenya.
      The Landie Vs Land Cruiser Vs Patrol debate rages on nonstop.

    2. P161911 Avatar

      I just chalk that up to the fact that the Big 3 never went after the far flung corners of the world market in the same way the Japanese did, at least not since the 1930s. I think the world wide Land Rover Empire died with the world wide British Empire.

  8. Han_Solex Avatar

    That picture is impossibly awesome.

  9. facelvega Avatar

    Sweden. The Volvo C303, friends.

    1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

      That, and my Volvo 240's done some mildly crazy shit, even with an open rear diff. Given an LSD, a skid plate under the engine bay, and an even grippier set of mud'n'snows, it'd be effectively unstoppable.

  10. FЯeeMan Avatar

    I think we have a winner here, folks!

  11. straighteight Avatar

    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.

  12. tristan Avatar

    japan, without a doubt , land cruiser & patrol you don’t find other vehicles underground

  13. name_too_long Avatar

    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.

  14. Louise M Slaughter Avatar

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