The ROXOR is an under-equipped, out-gunned novelty

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.

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28 responses to “The ROXOR is an under-equipped, out-gunned novelty”

  1. P161911 Avatar

    I still don’t get the whole $15k plus SXS market anyways. For that money you can get a pretty decent used 4X4 pickup truck or Jeep, which offer tons more utility in only a slightly bigger package.. I guess that there are a few places that they cam be useful, but they just seem like adult power wheels for the most part, unless you are talking the high performance off road versions. Those would fall in the same category as any powersports toy (dirt bike, PWC, snowmobile, etc.)
    Strangely enough, when my dad was looking for some sort of off road vehicle for his lake place (big steep hill about 1/4 mile down to the dock and he is 73 now) he found a rough Jeep YJ for less than a golf cart or SXS. Does the job just fine. As long as he doesn’t get stuck when he forgets to put it in 4 wheel drive. Plus it can still be driven on the road (even if 5th gear is gone) to fill up with gas at a pump instead of from a can.

    1. Ross Ballot Avatar
      Ross Ballot

      Though I’ll never buy one, I do understand the $15k+ SxS market you’re talking about. Take this fairly realistic scenario: Someone who lives out by Pismo or Hatfield-McCoy, and has a fixed budget to spend on a toy. A $15K SxS might not get him to the trails, but it’ll be more fun than a $15k Jeep/pickup/Toyota. Yes, it’s very much an “adult Power Wheels” (or “off-road golf cart”) but it’s going to be wildly capable compared to what was available on a mass-market level just ten years ago.
      There’s tons of cases in which the SxS might be the better choice. It’s not all about utility for the money with ORVs…it’s a heavily emotional and “want” based decision, not so much out of necessity.
      And funnily enough, my dad had a YJ from 1989-2003…and his also didn’t have 5th gear.

    2. GTXcellent Avatar

      I think it depends on your living situation, because I’ll say this – our Polaris Ranger is by FAR the greatest “tool” I’ve ever owned. Period. I use the winch in spring and fall to put our dock and boat lift in/out. I plow snow. With the dump box we haul everything from leaves and grass, to bringing produce in from the garden, to shuffling yard furniture in/out from our shed depending on the season to you name it. I’ve hauled so much rock that the front tires barely touched. It’s so damn versatile I get giddy now just thinking about it. Then, after doing all that work, we can enjoy an afternoon cruising around the forest trails.

      1. Ross Ballot Avatar
        Ross Ballot

        Precisely. And a RZR can do 75% of what a Ranger can do, but nowhere near what a ROXOR can do. That said, a $15k ROXOR can’t do half of what a used $15k TJ/JK can do…

  2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

    Thank you for finally saying the emperor has no clothes.

  3. Classic Bob Avatar
    Classic Bob

    No need for FCA’s Jeep to waste time and money on a frivolous lawsuit against Mahindra, the Roxor will succumb to a timely death -all on its own.

    1. Ross Ballot Avatar
      Ross Ballot

      I don’t think we’ll see the ROXOR on sale here for very long.
      The new Jimny would be neat to see on sale in the US, and I do think it would sell better than the ROXOR, but it’s probably an unlikely pipe dream.

    2. Batshitbox Avatar

      Mahindra has owned the rights to produce CJs for longer than I’ve been alive, so why would the parent company sue a franchisee?

      1. Classic Bob Avatar
        Classic Bob

        Exactly… However, they want to stop Mahindra from selling the Roxer and have threatened to sue.
        And to clarify, they are not a franchisee as FCA receives no franchise or royalty fees. Mahindra simply retained rights to build the old Willy’s Jeep model since the 1940’s.

  4. mdharrell Avatar

    “No heat, no air conditioning, no radio, navigation… and a manual transmission is the only option…”
    Sounds good, but the fact that it’s not street-legal here is a deal-breaker.

  5. Feds_II Avatar

    The Roxor is a few things:
    1. A beachhead for Mahindra. Can they transport/sell/service a car-ish vehicle through their existing dealer network? If yes, expect a road-going something.
    2. It’s quiet and car-like. To roam around your acreage, this is very appealing vs. CVT/bike engine BWAH-BWAH-BWAH.
    3. Diesel means COLOURED diesel. That means it’s cheaper to run, and you can fill it up out of your farm tank.
    4. So what about the price? We’ll roll it into your tractor loan. It’s $50-$100/month that you can write off.
    5. It’s a ready-to-go ship of theseus for every rotten CJ in every backyard ever. $200 of tune + $200 of Thar grille and 2 new rivets for the VIN, and your classic CJ is back on the road.
    It’s a bad side-by-side, but it’s not really a side-by-side to begin with.

    1. Ross Ballot Avatar
      Ross Ballot

      You make a point, but being that it’s not already a street-legal vehicle it inherently has to compete with the side-by-sides. Maybe not as a farm vehicle, but that’s not the perspective I’m coming at it from. In all fairness, it would make a good farm vehicle; I can’t deny that. But for off-road only, it doesn’t work as well.

    2. neight428 Avatar

      Yep, that’s the business case, though I don’t know how many units they will move.
      I do have an urge to find the nastiest pre-smog CJ shell I can find with a title still locatable and then see if a Mahindra dealer would take ~$7k cash. $15k makes no sense to someone without a tax angle.

  6. Sjalabais Avatar

    How does the price add up to this level without all the paperwork and effort to make it street legal? The attraction of “buying old new” is usually a nostalgic idea of simplicity, yes, but that doesn’t live long without the financial alure of a cheap entry. This is precisely how Lada still moves a sizable amount of Nivas in Central Europe – a surprising share to forest workers included. Even a Niva is sort of…luxurious? ameniteed?…compared to a Roxor though.

  7. tonyola Avatar

    Remember the Mahindra pickup truck that got a ton of press here in the USA about a decade ago? We all know what happened to that idea.

    1. Ross Ballot Avatar
      Ross Ballot

      And what a sad, drawn-out disappointment that was…

    2. outback_ute Avatar

      I think they are still selling those here in Australia, plus the smaller Genio. With the cab being so short it has a 9 foot tray. Very basic but it is also cheap.

      1. Ross Ballot Avatar
        Ross Ballot

        Really too bad we don’t get those here in the States. So, so many people would love and appreciate a pickup/utility vehicle of that size for city use or for a light, simple workhorse.

        1. Rover 1 Avatar
          Rover 1

          Not if it’s put together as haphazardly as the average Mahindra. Sure you can probably fix it with a plumber’s wrench and a hammer, but it also looks like they were assembled with them.
          They’re still trying to sell them in NZ but are getting stomped on by SAICs vastly superior similar priced GreatWall Chinese imports with their Cummins diesels.

          1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

            Do you get the Sokon/DFSK mini vehicles down there? I saw them in the UK, and I was curious how they are to drive and maintain.

          2. Rover 1 Avatar
            Rover 1

            No, I guess because we have these as near new used JDM imports and people here have discovered that a used JDM import with 100 000km is better made and more reliable than a new something from some reincarnated old design thrown together by unskilled people in a new factory in China, Indonesia or Malaysia. No doubt that may change, but people remember being let down in the past.
            That is Mahindra’s problem, people remember the last ones that came over missing piston rings amongst other things.
            But then every country seemingly has their Malcolm Bricklin looking for the next big thing We’ll probably see those Sokons in the next few years.

          3. crank_case Avatar

            I wasn;t even aware this was a thing, looks like a bigger Suzuki Carry/Daihatsu HiJet pickup.
            The only Chinese company making any inroads here in Ireland seems to be LDV, which was formerly Leyland DAF, but is now just a recognizable nameplate to shift SAIC stuff into Europe.

          4. crank_case Avatar

            Oooh, I kinda like that. Trying to get a kei and microcar owners group going here in Ireland, its not strictly either, but sort of in the spirit of things.

          5. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

            I actually took that photo at the 2012 CV Show at the NEC in Birmingham. I was kind of taken with it, too.

  8. Craig Dotson Avatar
    Craig Dotson

    The original SXS was arguably the John Deere Gator. That 6-wheeled balloon tire cart that was an abomination to drive over any kind of terrain but was nearly indestructible.
    Deere dealers used to give them away to farmers buying multiple large tractors. The list price was well under 10K which was a modest discount on what likely exceeded $250k in farm equipment. I don’t know if Mahindra has quite the size or scale that Deere did at that time but they’re likely following a similar playbook.
    I’m betting they see a market pitching this thing just to run between the barn and a tractor in the field, either to deliver mechanics/tools or to rotate out operators. Something cheap/disposable that keeps the rough high-wear miles off the “FARM USE” on-road truck. Using off-highway diesel is a big bonus especially to Mahindra’s existing commercial customer base.

    1. crank_case Avatar

      There was the Jiger and loads of ther 6×6 things in the 60s, but probably not as useful.

    2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      My sister-in-law’s family have had an original Gator TH 6×4 forever, and your description of it is spot-on. They just sold their ranch and the Gator sold in the estate sale, still chugging along. To be fair, the Gator was a huge improvement over the AMT 5-wheelers it replaced.