The King of the Hammers is perhaps the most balls-out off-road event on the planet. Each year, drivers and spectators gather in the California desert for two weeks of high-horsepower, dirt-throwing, rock-climbing action. Monster Energy put together this fun 5-minute reel to look at what you can expect if you’ve never attended.
Off-roading and overlanding have increased greatly in popularity; however, these venues remain largely off-limits to owners of EVs due to the lack of charging units in the backcountry. Now, Optima and parent company Clarios have created a unique and fun opportunity to encourage EV owners to get off the grid and play in the desert – with free charging.
It’s not every day that we review a vehicle and walk away wishing we could own what we just drove. This is one of those times. The 2024 Lexus GX 550 is that good. Redesigned from top to bottom, this adventure-loving SUV is built with off-road capability, first and foremost, complemented by refined driving dynamics and a luxurious and serene environment.
Kawasaki’s new RIDGE line of side-by-side off-roaders offer more comfort and power than others. The AWD UTVs are available with a full cab and HVAC system and have a 999cc four-cylinder engine that makes either 92 hp or 116 hp in the trail-tuned RIDGE XR. That model also gets larger tires, sport bucket seats, and front and rear locking differentials.
After betting Travis Pastrana that he could run a mile in under four minutes, Jim York and his pals from Channel 199 came up with a cheat code. They welded a treadmill to the roof of a UTV, powered it with a generator, and then took it for a spin. It looks fairly tame on the pavement, but hanging on while doing an off-road jump looks a bit more sketchy.
What’s the best design for a LEGO vehicle to conquer a difficult off-road obstacle course? LEGO Technic expert Dr. Engine created four very different vehicles and tested them on a tricky course with loose, uneven terrain and a steep slope to see which design was the most capable in challenging conditions.
Alpha Motor Corporation outfitted its Superwolf electric truck for overlanding. The dual-motor EV comes loaded with gear from Roam Adventure Co., KMC Wheels, KC Lights, DMOS Collective, and rolls on BF Goodrich mud-terrain tires. The truck seats four, has a 65″ cargo bed, zooms from 0-to-60 in 5.9 seconds, and can go up to 275 miles per charge.
When it comes to factory-spec off-road vehicles, the Ford Bronco Raptor is at the top of its class. Thanks to an excellent suspension, powerful engine, massive tires, and great clearance specs, Ford’s top-of-the-line 4×4 SUV can handle every kind of terrain. We spent a week off-roading and daily driving the “Braptor” and fell in love with this impressive beast.
The updated 2024 Jeep Gladiator has a shorter 7-slot grille, a new 12.3″ touchscreen, a power seat option, a windshield antenna, and rugged new Mojave X and Rubicon X grades. But the best new feature is the Jeep Adventure Guides app, which includes 62 Jeep Badge of Honor trail guides and an optional upgrade with 3000+ trails from Trails Offroad.
4WD racer Blake Wilkey hit the streets of Tijuana with his insane Baja Bug trophy truck to kick up dirt and catch some air. Director Michael David Squier and his talented film crew captured the wild ride as Blake burned rubber through the heart of the Mexican city, fled from the police, taunted a bullfighter, and snacked on some churros.
A typical ATV has four wheels, and a tank rolls on tracks driven by several smaller wheels. This unique ATV from Finland marches to the beat of a different drummer, rolling on 18 wheels, each with its own motor and springy suspension. Invented by Eldar Aliev, the 18-wheeler can crawl over rocks up to 14″ tall, fallen trees, ride through water, and even climb stairs.
The first of two new 2024 Lexus SUVs is a revamp of the sturdy but long-in-the-tooth GX. The all-new GX 550 rides on the same platform as the LX 600 for improved on- and off-road handling. It’s powered by a 3.4L twin-turbo V6 that makes 349 hp and 479 lb-ft. of torque, has full-time 4WD, and comes in a rugged new Overtrail grade. A hybrid model is in the works too.
Elite military forces like Seal Team 6 and Delta Force have been sending soldiers to Cameron Advanced Mobility for off-road driving instruction since 2001. CAM was founded and is led by Ken Cameron, a veteran not only of the U.S. Army but also the Camel Trophy, where he and his team crossed the jungles of Borneo in 1996 to earn 2nd place overall.
GMC bestows its Sierra HD pickup with a AT4X off-road trim. Built for extreme overlanding, it has a 1.5″ lift, Multimatic DSSV dampers, an e-locking rear diff, skid plates, and 35″ Goodyear Territory tires. The AT4X AEV Edition adds upgraded steel bumpers with recovery points, a front winch, 18″ Salta wheels and more.
We previously enjoyed a few snowy days driving the Ram 1500 TRX. After another week of living with this bonkers truck in warmer and drier surroundings, we’re convinced no production pickup’s more fun-to-drive or off-road capable. This one looks incredible, bathed in pearl-coat Hydro Blue paint with black accents.
Vehicle tuner Hennessey takes the Ford Bronco Raptor to another level with its 500 horsepower Bronco VelociRaptor. It rolls on 20″ Hennessey wheels wrapped in 37″ off-road tires and features a new front bumper with pod fog lights, a new rear bumper, unique badging, and custom chassis tuning. Just 200 will be made for 2023.
The Polaris RZR XP has been redesigned for greater agility and durability. The angular, side-by-side UTV has a new 114-hp ProStar 1000 Gen 2 engine, a stiffer chassis, and Walker Evans Racing Needle shocks with 20.5″ of travel. Improved seating positions offer sportier driving and better rear seat visibility in the 4-seat model.
The latest addition to the Defender family stretches the luxury off-roader by more than 13 inches to accommodate more passengers and cargo. Despite its increased length, the Defender 130 is still impressively capable off-road while offering the luxury and comfort we’ve come to expect from Land Rover.
The Land Rover Defender Service Awards celebrate non-profit organizations that make a meaningful impact on the world. The first-place winners of the 2022 awards each won a 2023 Land Rover Defender 130, custom spec’d and ready to help serve their missions. The Awesomer was on hand for the reveal of their shiny new rides.
Audi presents a concept sportback designed for adventure. The Activesphere has a sleek design and off-road capabilities. In packs Quattro all-wheel drive, a height-adjustable air suspension, panoramic glass windows, autonomous driving, and a gesture control system that pairs with augmented reality glasses.
Bruder’s rugged camper is designed for overlanding on the most challenging terrain. It rolls on 37″ wheels, and its suspension offers 12″ of travel, while its lightweight body handles temperatures from -22ºF to +140ºF. Its climate-controlled cabin operates off-grid thanks to battery packs and roof-mounted solar panels.
We’ve witnessed first-hand how car companies test the suspension setups on new vehicles. They also use computer simulations with realistic physics models. This video from ExtenPro shows how various vehicle suspensions might handle on a punishing course they set up in the vehicle simulation game BeamNG drive.
After teasing us with a concept car, Lamborghini is producing its rally-capable Huracán Sterrato. The AWD supercar is powered by a 601 hp V10 engine and has had its suspension lifted by 1.73 inches to increase ground clearance. It rolls on all-terrain tires and has badass body cladding and fog lights. Just 1499 will be produced.