Off-Road Torture Examination: Do You Truly Need Four-Wheel Drive?

Prior to you compose us mad letters, we’ll simply say it right up front: This is an unjust contrast. We understand it is because we developed it by doing this. How could we match a 4×4 against a 4×2? Well, for starters, their rates are so close regarding be considered the same. As a baseline for this comparo, we chose the very popular “small” sport/utility, Ford Explorer, in a two-wheel drive, 5.0-liter V-8 configuration, which can be found in at a base rate of $27,960, consisting of the $775 optional V-8. The opposition, a 2000-model Durango is freshly offered with a 4.7-liter Magnum V-8 (initial presented on the ’99 Jeep Grand Cherokee, pink Jeep interior accessories), but the catch is that it’s only supplied in four-wheel drive (in the meantime). The cost of access for this sport/utility is $27,975, or a simple $15 distinction. Obviously, optional devices on these two bring their as-tested costs to almost exactly $30,000.

One more good reason for this test is to work out an ongoing dispute living both inside as well as outside our workplaces: How much even more can a 4WD lorry go than a 2WD? Is it a valuable range that suggests among you makes it to the backwoods angling opening while the various other does not, or could an experienced off-road vehicle driver obtain the rear-drive Traveler to the exact same areas as the four-by Durango? Our resident hunter/fisherman, Elderly Road Test Editor Mac DeMere has driven all kind of MT examination vehicles to “off-pavement” recreation places with differing levels of success. Upon returning from a journey, he normally reports something like, “I really did not get stuck, so it has to be a good off-road vehicle.” We’ll learn if he transforms his mind on this trek.

Both the Durango and also Explorer call themselves “compact” sport/utilities-though the EPA categorizes them as “special objective”-as well as are available in a large range of arrangements, versions, and prices. A sales number of 431,000 units last year plainly reveals the Traveler to be the hot seller in the small segment. Actually, that truly large number makes it the fourth-best seller of all lorries in the United States. The vast bulk, approximately 85 to 90 percent, of those sales are attributed to either of both 4.0-liter V-6-powered variations, with the remainder mosting likely to the 5.0-liter V-8 Traveler for a share of regarding 64,000. Although it can not boast the means Ford does, the Dodge Durango shouldn’t repent either, with over 180,000 systems offered last year-all V-8s.

Ultimately, we ventured to the Structure Whirlwind to examine the optimal suspension expression as well as balance of the vehicles. Though it sometimes felt like a really slow roller-coaster flight with various wheels hanging in mid-air, the Durango tip-toed across the high-wire show nary a squeak or groan. About halfway into the exercise, however, the Explorer found itself completely out of suspension travel and also readily available traction. With its right-rear wheel hidden deep in its wheelwell as well as the left-rear wheel 4 feet from terra firma, it was going nowhere, quickly. Once again, we had to meticulously backtrack our tire tracks backwards to remove the Explorer from its precarious perch.

If we needed to pick one of these 2 portable V-8 sport/utilities to drive every day, we need to recommend the Durango with this clause to obtain the four-wheel ABDOMINAL MUSCLE choice. It merely drives better and extra easily in all situations, lugs more individuals and/or freight, as well as has a rate advantage over a likewise geared up Traveler. To buy a like variation of the V-8 Traveler with 4WD, you ‘d need to invest a minimum of $2000 more. However to the Traveler’s credit history, it does offer front side air bags as well as the potentially money-saving (by stopping bumper damage) reverse park-distance picking up system the Durango does not. So, in concerning a year when a redesigned Traveler makes its debut, we’ll be calling current champ Durango for a head-sup rematch.What did we learn? We effectively identified that four-wheel drive might obtain a vehicle usefully further than one with only rear drive. Real, it wasn’t a reasonable apples-to-apples test, however it’s pleasing sufficient to finally get DeMere to quit saying he can take a rental cars and truck anywhere a 4×4 can go.