EarthRoamer XV-LTS expedition vehicle gets even meaner
When we looked at the 2014 EarthRoamer XV-LTS, the beastly hunk of off-road engineering offered one of the smoothest combinations of rugged-terrain capability and comfy living we'd ever seen on the US market. Three years later, the venerable Xpedition Vehicle has gotten even better thanks to a lighter, tougher Ford Super Duty chassis and a more robust list of standard equipment. The latest XV-LTS will get you farther off the grid than ever, sleeping you in style and comfort ... assuming you can manage a US$500K price tag.
Ford got the ball rolling on the latest EarthRoamer when it unveiled the 2017 F-Series Super Duty back in September 2015. As with the smaller F-150, it calls its newest Super Duty design its toughest and most capable ever, owing to an all-new high-strength steel frame, military-grade aluminum body, reinforced 4WD components, axles and suspension hardware, and more towing and hauling capacity. These changes make it both a more capable pickup truck and a more capable base for an expedition vehicle aimed directly at the roadless ends of the earth.
EarthRoamer began planting its one-piece molded composite living modules atop the new F-550 Super Duty cab chassis earlier this year, and we got an up-close look at its latest handiwork at Overland Expo West over the weekend. The updated XV-LTS flashes a meaner face, complementing the updated Super Duty front-end with a new ruggedized bumper design that includes a curved LED bar positioned right between the thick central bars of the new Super Duty grille. A 16,500-lb Warn winch is integrated into the front bumper below, and EarthRoamer has also added a new off-road lighting package and new hard-angled fender flares.
"We took cues from the angular look of the new Ford F-550 to inspire the design of our new front bumper and fender flares to create a cohesive look for the 2017 EarthRoamer," EarthRoamer president and COO Tyler Tatro said when introducing the new XV-LTS earlier this year.
The Super Duty base puts a standard 4WD powertrain underneath the XV-LTS, relying on Ford's 6.7-liter Power Stroke V8 turbo diesel engine for up to 330 hp and 750 lb-ft of gear-hauling, rock climbing, dirt-kicking muscle. That engine is mated to a TorqShift six-speed automatic transmission, and EarthRoamer feeds it with a supplementary 50-gal (189L) diesel tank, upping total fuel capacity to 90 gallons (341L) for nearly 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of potential range per fill-up (EarthRoamer estimates fuel economy at 9 to 11 mpg).
EarthRoamer equips each 29-foot-long (8.8-m-long) XV-LTS with an air ride suspension system standard, allowing independent height adjustment at each wheel. Adjustable King remote reservoir off-road shocks smoothen out Mother Earth's unevenness, and heavy-duty anti-sway bars improve stability on the long stretches of pavement that connect off-road tracks.
The 41-in Continental military-grade tires fit to beadlock wheels provide for a minimal ground clearance of 12.5 inches (up about 2 in over the 2014 model's minimum) and an approach/departure/break-over breakdown of 30/22/14 degrees. An onboard air compressor system adjusts tire pressure at will and can also power tools and fill up external inflatables.
Up above all that rugged and adjustable mechanical hardware, EarthRoamer builds its fiberglass-sandwich camper module out with an impressive list of standard and optional features. Buyers can choose from four different floor plans named after famous Colorado resort towns and cities, seating up to six and sleeping up to four on a combination of over-cab bed and convertible seating and seating.
Each floor plan includes a galley, taking care of cooking and food prep needs with a single-burner induction cooktop (dual-burners and diesel cooktops available optionally), stainless steel sink with electronic touch faucet, 8 cu ft (227L) 12V DC fridge/freezer and convection microwave. A Keurig coffeemaker and EarthRoamer-logo cookware and serving ware can be added optionally.
The onboard wet bath has a shower, cassette toilet, sink, medicine cabinet mirror and fan.
EarthRoamer has been steadily increasing electrical capacity, and the XV-LTS now carries 1,200 watts worth of solar panels standard, storing energy in a 12 kWh AGM battery bank. That bank can also receive power from the truck's alternators during driving and as a backup at camp and the 30A shore power hookup. The 3,000W inverter supplies electricity to AC appliances like the air conditioner, microwave and induction stove.
EarthRoamer says that the system should offer enough power for most camping applications, assuming good judgment and a little common sense are used (turn things off when you're not using them), and in the event that campers need more power, they can always idle the engine periodically to charge the battery bank.
Campers that prefer being entertained by the sounds and views of nature will be happy to go au naturel on entertainment, but others can add entertainment options up to the full "ultimate entertainment package" with multi-position 32-in HD TV and Bose surround sound. Satellite TV, Internet connectivity, Sirius XM radio and Apple TV are also options. The 120V, 12V and 5V USB outlets let occupants plug in their devices, and a hidden biometric safe keeps valuables under lock.
Even when venturing through extreme heat or cold, the XV-LTS keeps occupants comfy, regulating interior temperature with a standard 7,000 BTU air conditioner and 13,600 BTU diesel air heater. Exhaust fans, screened windows and a remote-controlled screened roof hatch provide additional airflow. The onboard hydronic hot water system keeps the faucets running warm, while an 85-gal (322L) insulated fresh water tank supplies the flow.
The XV-LTS exterior comes standard with an electric awning with LED lighting and wind sensor, electric entry steps, exterior hot/cold shower and exterior-access storage. The available outdoor kitchen area on the exterior swing-out has evolved from what we were looking at three years ago. It still includes a grill and sink but the stove is more integrated and there's more fold-out prep space – a cleaner design all around.
Unfortunately, the outdoor tailgating entertainment system that was a prevalent option on the 2014 XV-LTS is no longer listed on EarthRoamer's options list, but judging by the amount of customization in the expedition vehicle industry, we're guessing EarthRoamer could still whip something up for an insistent customer willing to pay the right price.
Speaking of prices, the new XV-LTS and its much-upgraded standard equipment package starts well higher than it did last time we checked in, basing just under US$439,000. The truck comes in Ford's Lariat trim and can be ordered in either Super Cab or Crew Cab. A white exterior and clear-coat maple interior cabinetry are standard, but a number of colors, wood finishes and trim options are available at extra cost. The model we looked over at Overland Expo included enough options to raise the price up to $565K.
We're still waiting to see the XV-HD that EarthRoamer teased (to much dismay) in 2015, and EarthRoamer says it's still in the build, taking some time to get all the development and shaking down complete on the very first production model. Maybe next year.