There are so many things I don’t understand, and many of them are, in fact, Jeep things. The last time I drove a Wrangler I was far from impressed. It’s never occurred to me that I should own one.
Strictly speaking, nothing’s changed; the vehicle you see here is not mine, being the property of the infamous Danger Girl, and it’s also not a Jeep. Or is it?
For a variety of reasons that don’t warrant discussion here but will be obvious at some point in the future, I’ve been shopping for a side-by-side utility vehicle. For work, not play. Plowing snow, pulling a mower, herding
cattle sheep goats chickens? It’s all on the table. As a Ninja owner since 1994, my thoughts naturally went to the Kawasaki Mule. It’s not only the right tool for the job, it’s also assembled in Lincoln, NE.
(And as far as I can tell, “assembled” is all it is; Kawasaki doesn’t have a Honda-of-Ohio-style support network around the plant. The Mule is basically a Japanese CKD, or “completely knocked down” kit.)
Used Kawasaki Mules, just like every other used vehicle in the country, have become insanely expensive. So I went looking for new Mules. Turns out they are mostly sold out before delivery, unless you’re willing to take the twenty-grand-with-delivery-fee Platinum edition. Which I kind of was.
Ah, but there was a potentially better option right on the showroom floor of my local Mule dealer: a 2018 Mahindra Roxor with under 300 miles. Now, if you’re a Jalopnik reader or a participant in Weird Car Twitter, you know what a Roxor is. For the rest of you: Back in 1949, Willys sold some tooling and a production license for the CJ-3 to the Mahindra brothers in India, who then built a business as a local producer of Jeeps. For the last seventy years the firm has essentially built time-warp Korean-War-era CJs for its home market, labeled “Thar”.
(Earlier this year, Mahindra finally introduced a new Jeep, engineered in-house to have no relationship to those original CJ-3 copies, but it’s only available in Southeast Asia.)
If you’re a firearms enthusiast, you may recognize this story as similar to that of Taurus, the Brazilian firm that made its reputation building copies of the Beretta 92 using tooling sold to the Brazilian government by Beretta in the Seventies. Back in the Nineties I had a stainless-steel short-barrel PT92CS, and rather astoundingly I was able to find the exact gun I once owned on the Internet a while back. As I recall, it was a finicky feeder of anything but standard ball ammo, but it was quite nicely made.
Back to fake Jeeps. The Roxor is an American-assembled Mahinda “Thar” jeep. In this case, “assembled” isn’t quite fair, because the company is claiming 50% domestic content from it’s half-million-square-foot facility in the Detroit area. The engine is a Peugeot-based eight-valve pushrod turbodiesel inline-four that has made a name for itself as an everlasting, if not particularly powerful, way to move a jeep. The transmission is a five-speed Mahindra unit.
As with the Taurus 92, which ended up looking much like a Beretta 92 while being quite different mechanically, the Roxor looks kind of like a mashup of a “flatfender” Jeep and the CJ-5/CJ-7. Some of the running gear is apparently very similar to what’s in a CJ-5.
Compared to a standard Kawasaki Mule, the Roxor is a little bigger, a little heavier, a LOT more powerful, and a bit simpler in most respects. Most critically, because it’s not CVT-equipped, it can tow quite a bit more, to the point where I’d feel comfortable using it to maneuver a loaded car trailer around our property. It can push a plow and pull a mower.
While Danger Girl was sitting in the Roxor at the dealership, no fewer than five people came up to tell her “That ain’t street legal, just so you know.” Well, in Ohio at least, it can be. A brief, ah, closed-course test suggested to me that it would best be operated at low speeds on side roads. In particular, it has a CJ-5’s appetite for feeling unstable in sharp turns. Overall, however, it’s a charming device, and about as far away from a modern Wrangler as a 356A is from a new 911 Carrera GTS.
It has a winch and a massively obnoxious KC lightbar that I suspect the original owner used for poaching or spotlighting deer. As a Roxor LE, it has various little upgrades like aluminum wheels but it’s certainly not like my ex-girlfriend’s Wrangler Sahara or anything like that, luxury-wise. I’m looking forward to many years of plowing snow and driving two-track trails in it.
In consideration of the generally non-thought-provoking nature of this week’s post, I’d like to direct you to a couple of additional viewpoints: Scott Lockin on Ten US Health Problems That Are Worse Than Corona and some Christmas perception at Up In The Valley. I’ve read both pieces a few times, so feel encouraged to discuss them here.
Last but not least, Merry Christmas to my readers. While in the near future it may be necessary to reveal that we are Riverside Green were always virulent detractors of any religion but socialism, for the moment we are charmed to share the celebration of Christ’s birth with all who would hear the good news.