Thursday, July 16, 2009

SUV Showdown: Land Rover comes out on top

(I misplaced the image credit for this; if this is yours, let me know)

With 35 votes or 59% of the total votes cast, the Land Rover Defender has been crowned King of (Off-)Road, with the Land Cruiser following up in second. While I'm not really surprised that this was the winner, I did find the overwhelming margin to be pretty interesting. The Defender is an excellent truck with a great off-road reputation, and badass looks to match. The Anglo-factor is also another great selling point, and what could be better than pretending to drive around your Scottish country estate while sitting in traffic on the interstate? Also, the ability to get rear seats that face to the middle (see below), it pretty awesome.

However, I will state that in spite of its awesomeness, the Defender did not get my vote. No, my choice (along with 9 other people with equally impeccable taste) went to the Mercedes G-Class.

Image from here

Yes, it is true that this truck has become a popular choice among rap stars and soccer moms with way too much money to blow (both of who seem to be pretty prevalent in Buckhead), I think that it has several things going for it. First, it is a pretty unique vehicle. While the Defender isn't exactly a common site on the road, I think that the Mercedes might have it beat out slightly. Second, it has military origins as (according to Wikipedia), it was originally a proposal for a light military truck and is used by a number of armed forces (as documented on the Wikipedia page). Military roots are never a bad thing for an SUV (though maybe some shouldn't really be driven by the general public **cough** Hummer **cough**). Third, its off-roading abilities are pretty bona fide since it sports three locking differentials. Now, to be honest, I'm not completely sure how those work, but I do know that off-roaders are big fans, and the ability to get them on a stock vehicle is a pretty big deal.

Getting back to the style aspect, as one reader did point out, they may seem a bit too refined, especially if purchased brand new right off the showroom floor. However, I think if one was to buy one that was about 15-20 years old that has had some of the shine taken off of it with wear and tear, it could look a bit more understated and masculine.

Anyways, thanks to everyone who voted and left comments.

Honorable Mention: ICON

I don't think that this competition would have been complete without at least mentioning the ICON. While I didn't include it in the original vote because it is technically a Land Cruiser, the ICON is essentially an old Land Cruiser built from the ground up with brand new technology and parts right here in the US. Limited to just 24 units per year, they're a *little* pricey, tipping the scales around $100,000 (and up, depending on specifics), but they are available in three models (above) and in two body styles ("Old School" and "New School;" I'll leave it up to you to decide which is better). Anyways, make sure to check them out and add to your "If we ever come out of this recession..." list.


Anonymous said...

I always think that the Mercedes looks like the truck that the bad guys, you know the one with the slightly facist/dictatorial overtones, would send their henchmen out in. Would never be a surprise to see James Bond dispatching countless number of these....

Anonymous said...

Does this mean you are giving away the Rover and the Cruiser?

Anonymous said...

Got to get me one of those ICONs.

(If only to tow one of the Bentleys out the mud...)

Tony Ventresca said...

Of course, the G-wagon has drifted a long way from it's roots as a military proposal - it's now a suburban warrior. Friend of a friend of mine owns a Defender 90 in the UK and he says there's a major rivalry between the LR and Toyota owners, with neither giving an inch. Off the record, he told me that the Toyota is probably more reliable, which is why you see thousands of the things chugging around the Developing World!