Automotive

The 10 wildest off-road vehicles of 2015

The 10 wildest off-road vehicl...
2015 in off-road design
2015 in off-road design
View 70 Images
Honda has given the CFR1000L Africa Twin some major off-road chops
1/70
Honda has given the CFR1000L Africa Twin some major off-road chops
The return of the Africa Twin
2/70
The return of the Africa Twin
The CFR1000L Africa Twin is also comfortable on the road
3/70
The CFR1000L Africa Twin is also comfortable on the road
The new Africa Twin gets power from a 998 cc two-cylinder with 94 hp
4/70
The new Africa Twin gets power from a 998 cc two-cylinder with 94 hp
The Honda CFR1000L Africa Twin
5/70
The Honda CFR1000L Africa Twin
The new Africa Twin rides on 21-in front and 18-in rear wheels
6/70
The new Africa Twin rides on 21-in front and 18-in rear wheels
Honda CFR1000L Africa Twin
7/70
Honda CFR1000L Africa Twin
The Africa Twin starts at €12,100
8/70
The Africa Twin starts at €12,100
Honda brings back the Africa Twin
9/70
Honda brings back the Africa Twin
Inside the cockpit of the Toyota Ultimate Utility Vehicle
10/70
Inside the cockpit of the Toyota Ultimate Utility Vehicle
The UUV wears an N-FAB custom front bumper
11/70
The UUV wears an N-FAB custom front bumper
Toyota engineered around the large wheel/tire combo by hinging the front doors in back
12/70
Toyota engineered around the large wheel/tire combo by hinging the front doors in back
Toyota showed the Ultimate Utility Vehicle at SEMA 2015
13/70
Toyota showed the Ultimate Utility Vehicle at SEMA 2015
The Ultimate Utility Vehicle was designed to serve as command center for Toyota's Ever-Better Expedition around North America
14/70
The Ultimate Utility Vehicle was designed to serve as command center for Toyota's Ever-Better Expedition around North America
The Ultimate Utility Vehicle has equipment like a 60-in Sony LED TV, TracVision mobile satellite television receiver and Flir M-324xp night vision camera system
15/70
The Ultimate Utility Vehicle has equipment like a 60-in Sony LED TV, TracVision mobile satellite television receiver and Flir M-324xp night vision camera system
With its 4x4 Tacoma underpinnings, the Ultimate Utility Vehicle is ready for off-road driving
16/70
With its 4x4 Tacoma underpinnings, the Ultimate Utility Vehicle is ready for off-road driving
You've never seen a Sienna quite like this one
17/70
You've never seen a Sienna quite like this one
The UUV has off-road LED lighting
18/70
The UUV has off-road LED lighting
Toyota Sienna + Tacoma + off-road mods = Ultimate Utility Vehicle
19/70
Toyota Sienna + Tacoma + off-road mods = Ultimate Utility Vehicle
The Mattro Ardenner employs there electric-powered tracks
20/70
The Mattro Ardenner employs there electric-powered tracks
Suspension close-up
21/70
Suspension close-up
Mattro revealed the Ardenner at the Interalpin mountain equipment show in Innsbruck earlier this year
22/70
Mattro revealed the Ardenner at the Interalpin mountain equipment show in Innsbruck earlier this year
The Ardenner's three motors put out 1,033 lb-ft and between 50 and 80 kW
23/70
The Ardenner's three motors put out 1,033 lb-ft and between 50 and 80 kW
The Ardenner is designed for year-round recreation and/or work
24/70
The Ardenner is designed for year-round recreation and/or work
United Arab Emirates startup Zarooq Motors presented the Sand Racer last month
25/70
United Arab Emirates startup Zarooq Motors presented the Sand Racer last month
Zarooq is still completing the actual car and has shown renderings in the meantime
26/70
Zarooq is still completing the actual car and has shown renderings in the meantime
Zarooq hopes to start its own single-model race series with the Sand Racer
27/70
Zarooq hopes to start its own single-model race series with the Sand Racer
The Sand Racer design comes from the same hand that did the Lykan and Fenyr supercars for UAE-based W Motors
28/70
The Sand Racer design comes from the same hand that did the Lykan and Fenyr supercars for UAE-based W Motors
Named for a fast, nimble desert snake, the Zarooq Sand Racer has between 304 and 500 hp on tap
29/70
Named for a fast, nimble desert snake, the Zarooq Sand Racer has between 304 and 500 hp on tap
Good news for lovers of speed and mud: The Ariel Atom has gone off-roading
30/70
Good news for lovers of speed and mud: The Ariel Atom has gone off-roading
The Ariel Nomad features a steel tube chassis
31/70
The Ariel Nomad features a steel tube chassis
The Nomad doesn't look the part of a road car, but Ariel has designed it for both road and earth
32/70
The Nomad doesn't look the part of a road car, but Ariel has designed it for both road and earth
Ariel powers the Nomad with a Honda 235-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder
33/70
Ariel powers the Nomad with a Honda 235-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder
During the January Nomad announcement, price was given at £27,500
34/70
During the January Nomad announcement, price was given at £27,500
The Swincar's legs allow it to barrel over obstacles and ride on uneven ground
35/70
The Swincar's legs allow it to barrel over obstacles and ride on uneven ground
A product from France's Mecanroc, the Swincar is a very different style of off-road vehicle
36/70
A product from France's Mecanroc, the Swincar is a very different style of off-road vehicle
You can see why it's called the "Spider"
37/70
You can see why it's called the "Spider"
Thanks to its highly maneuverable tilting design, the Swincar Spider is adept at traversing across hills
38/70
Thanks to its highly maneuverable tilting design, the Swincar Spider is adept at traversing across hills
The Swincar is powered by four wheel motors
39/70
The Swincar is powered by four wheel motors
Germany's Altinsoy Manufaktur plans to offer both standard and electric versions of the Bees mountain bike
40/70
Germany's Altinsoy Manufaktur plans to offer both standard and electric versions of the Bees mountain bike
Germany's Altinsoy Manufaktur plans to offer both standard and electric versions of the Bees mountain bike
41/70
Germany's Altinsoy Manufaktur plans to offer both standard and electric versions of the Bees mountain bike
The Bees Bike features a modular design that lets you switch out the rear shock for a solid bar, going from full-suspension to hardtail on the same bike
42/70
The Bees Bike features a modular design that lets you switch out the rear shock for a solid bar, going from full-suspension to hardtail on the same bike
Bees Bike at Eurobike 2015
43/70
Bees Bike at Eurobike 2015
The electric Bees Bike uses a mid-mounted Brose drive
44/70
The electric Bees Bike uses a mid-mounted Brose drive
In addition to the hardtail/fs adjustment, you can also adjust the size of the bike
45/70
In addition to the hardtail/fs adjustment, you can also adjust the size of the bike
The "EV" doesn't mean electric vehicle; the Ripsaw EV2 is powered by a 600-hp diesel engine
46/70
The "EV" doesn't mean electric vehicle; the Ripsaw EV2 is powered by a 600-hp diesel engine
Howe and Howe's Ripsaw EV2 features a gullwing door design
47/70
Howe and Howe's Ripsaw EV2 features a gullwing door design
If the name Howe and Howe sounds familiar, it might be because the twin brother-run company had a TV Show on the Discovery Channel
48/70
If the name Howe and Howe sounds familiar, it might be because the twin brother-run company had a TV Show on the Discovery Channel
The Ripsaw EV2 out in its element
49/70
The Ripsaw EV2 out in its element
Howe and Howe Ripsaw EV2
50/70
Howe and Howe Ripsaw EV2
The new Mercedes G500 4x4 Squared is a bigger, meaner G-Class
51/70
The new Mercedes G500 4x4 Squared is a bigger, meaner G-Class
While the G500 4x4 Squared is a massive, off-road-hungry 4x4 outside, it's still a Mercedes inside
52/70
While the G500 4x4 Squared is a massive, off-road-hungry 4x4 outside, it's still a Mercedes inside
The new G500 4x4 Squared
53/70
The new G500 4x4 Squared
The G500 4x4 Squared has portal axles
54/70
The G500 4x4 Squared has portal axles
Mercedes debuted the G500 as a show car at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show
55/70
Mercedes debuted the G500 as a show car at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show
The Mercedes G500 4x4 Squared was one of the biggest, nastiest vehicles on display in Geneva
56/70
The Mercedes G500 4x4 Squared was one of the biggest, nastiest vehicles on display in Geneva
Mercedes 4x4 Squared at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show
57/70
Mercedes 4x4 Squared at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show
The G500 has a foot and a half of ground clearance
58/70
The G500 has a foot and a half of ground clearance
The G500 can has 3.3 feet (1 m) of wading capability
59/70
The G500 can has 3.3 feet (1 m) of wading capability
The G500 4x4 Squared barrels through the backcountry
60/70
The G500 4x4 Squared barrels through the backcountry
Polaris equips its new YXZ1000R with a three-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission
61/70
Polaris equips its new YXZ1000R with a three-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission
The YXZ1000R is built on a steel frame
62/70
The YXZ1000R is built on a steel frame
Yamaha will reportedly give the YXZ1000R about 110 horses to work with
63/70
Yamaha will reportedly give the YXZ1000R about 110 horses to work with
The all-new YXZ1000R sport side-by-side in the sand
64/70
The all-new YXZ1000R sport side-by-side in the sand
Yamaha gets dirty
65/70
Yamaha gets dirty
Yamaha YXZ1000R
66/70
Yamaha YXZ1000R
Yamaha YXZ1000R
67/70
Yamaha YXZ1000R
Mercedes G500 4x4 Squared at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show
68/70
Mercedes G500 4x4 Squared at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show
Mercedes G500 4x4 Squared at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show
69/70
Mercedes G500 4x4 Squared at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show
2015 in off-road design
70/70
2015 in off-road design
View gallery - 70 images

We've seen some truly wild and awesome motor-powered off-road vehicles this year, everything from electric mountain bikes to monstrous expedition vehicles, from luxury-branded 4x4s rolling into dealerships to experimental show trucks. It wasn't easy trimming the list, but we've compiled our 10 favorites from 2015. Collectively, these cars can roll and ramble over virtually every inch of solid ground Earth has in its possession.

Mercedes G 500 4x42

Mercedes may be known best for stylish luxury cars, but its full fleet also includes some of the biggest, baddest recreational 4x4s and work trucks on the planet. The Unimog is the gnarliest of the bunch, but the G-Class is pushing closer thanks to monstrous build-outs like the G63 AMG 6x6 and all-new G500 4x42.


The G500 can has 3.3 feet (1 m) of wading capability
The G500 can has 3.3 feet (1 m) of wading capability

Mercedes showed the new G500 first as a show truck at March's Geneva Motor Show, then as a production model at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The new 4x4 is a functional cross between the standard G-Wagen and the G63, and it borrows the latter's portal axles, giving it its imposing presence with 1.5 feet (450 mm) of ground clearance and a "diving depth" of 3.3 feet (1 m). It's powered by a 416-hp 4.0-liter V8 biturbo and has a permanent all-wheel drive, an off-road reduction and three differential locks. Not many will be able to stomach the €226,100 (US$248,500) price tag, but those that do will buy themselves one helluva ride.

Howe and Howe Ripsaw 2

What's even tougher than a massive, muscled-up G-Wagen? How about a consumer "luxury super tank"? Hollywood sure thought Howe and Howe's Ripsaw was tough enough when it based the Peacemaker from Mad Max: Fury Road on it, and now the slick tank gets a new generation in the closed-top Ripsaw EV2 - the "e" stands for "extreme," not electric.

Howe and Howe Ripsaw EV2
Howe and Howe Ripsaw EV2

Howe and Howe hasn't published many details about the Ripsaw EV2's build, but it calls the Ripsaw platform the "fastest dual tracked vehicle ever developed." The EV2 has 600 hp of diesel power, and according to Fourwheeler.com, the tank has a top speed over 60 mph (96.5 km/h) and gets there with sports car-like acceleration. While the Ripsaw was originally developed for the military, the EV2 is available to a limited number of regular customers that have the wherewithal to drop six figures on an honest-to-goodness tank.

Bees Bike

Germany's Altinsoy Manufaktur plans to offer both standard and electric versions of the Bees mountain bike
Germany's Altinsoy Manufaktur plans to offer both standard and electric versions of the Bees mountain bike

Moving all the way to the other end of the off-road sizing scale from the Ripsaw, the German-designed Bees Bike puts an interesting spin on the electric mountain bike. The bike's distinctive frame gives it its signature adjustability and modularity. Owners can adjust the placement of components to better fit their bodies and riding and can even switch between full suspension and hardtail configurations by swapping a solid bar in for the rear shock. The bike comes with a Brose mid-motor electric drive to supplement the rider's leg power.

Swincar Spider

When it's sitting silent in a garage, the insect-legged, tilting Swincar Spider probably doesn't look much like an off-roader at all, appearing more like some kind of oddball go-kart or child's toy. But things change in a hurry when it gets some dirt or rock under its tires.

Thanks to its highly maneuverable tilting design, the Swincar Spider is adept at traversing across hills
Thanks to its highly maneuverable tilting design, the Swincar Spider is adept at traversing across hills

Thanks to the spidery legs independently suspending each wheel, the unique electric buggy can wheel over big, jutting rocks, traverse straight across hills with up to a 50 percent gradient, climb hills of up to 70 percent and arrow through ditches that would leave most other vehicles screaming for mercy. It includes an electric motor integrated into each wheel and a four-wheel steering system. It's not especially powerful, and appears bouncy enough to reacquaint you with the contents of lunch, but watching it in action is truly a sight to behold. If you didn't already see it when it blew up the Web back in August, here's a look at the Swincar in action.

30 sec TECH: Swincar all-terrain spider car

Honda CRF1000L

Honda brings back the Africa Twin
Honda brings back the Africa Twin

One of the biggest motorcycle debuts of 2015, the new Honda CRF1000L brings back the legendary Africa Twin badge. Even without the Dakar pedigree of "Africa Twin" scrawled across its side, the CRF1000L is an exciting development for tourers, a ground-up "go-anywhere" design that promises masterful off-road performance and solid, comfortable on-road touring.

Power comes from a new 94-hp (70-kW) 998 cc twin engine working with a six-speed manual gearbox or optional dual-clutch. The DCT adds off-road grit through a a traction/control-improving "G" mode. The engine's compact packaging contributes to the bike's 9.8-in (250-mm) ground clearance, and the 21-in front/18-in rear wheel/tube tire package helps the bike's off-road handling and reliability. This bike begs the rider to jump on and venture wherever the road or dirt takes him, not worrying about stopping for gas for close to 250 miles (400 km).

Zarooq Sand Racer

Deciding that the efforts of American and Japanese automakers weren't quite up to snuff for their particular desert-shredding needs, UAE-based startup Zarooq Motors formed to design a desert racer from the ground up. The Sand Racer is positioned as tough enough for blasting across blistering hot sand in the day and sophisticated enough inside for cruising town. We imagine it'll be driven mostly by folks with a fleet of cars, though, so they'll probably take something else out for nights in the city.

Named for a fast, nimble desert snake, the Zarooq Sand Racer has between 304 and 500 hp on tap
Named for a fast, nimble desert snake, the Zarooq Sand Racer has between 304 and 500 hp on tap

In base trim, the Zarooq is powered by a 304-bhp (227 kW) 3.5-liter V6 mounted mid-rear inside the steel tube frame, and things can be tuned up to 500 hp. Zarooq opts for an RWD layout rather than 4WD, helping to keep weight down to 2,315 lbs (1,050 kg). Zarooq is still finishing the design up and plans to reveal the actual car early next year.

Mattro Ardenner

Worlds away from the hot sands of the Middle East, Austria's Mattro builds unique off-roaders designed for the dirt, rock and snow of the Alps, including the Ziesel electric armchair. This year, Mattro revealed the Ardenner, a functional cross between an ATV and a snowmobile. It leans a little more toward the latter, but it can move on both snow and dry ground thanks to the two powered front tracks that stand in for the dual skis you'd see on a regular snowmobile.

The Ardenner is designed for year-round recreation and/or work
The Ardenner is designed for year-round recreation and/or work

The Ardenner's three electric motors team up for a whopping 1,033 lb-ft (1,400 Nm) and up to 107 hp (80 kW) of output. The all-electric, all-terrain machine is designed to roam all year long and can be used for both work and play, hitting speeds up to 50 mph (80 km/h) and carrying loads as heavy as 550 lb (250 kg). We get the feeling that the driver will have fun with this thing even if they're just hauling manure around the farm.

Yamaha YXZ1000R

Side-by-side manufacturers were all about giving drivers new ways of engaging with the engine this year, Honda with its paddle-shifting Pioneer 1000 and Yamaha with the manual-sticked YXZ1000R. We pick the Yamaha out of the two because it brings two industry firsts, according to Yamaha: first SxS with fully manual five-speed sequential shift transmission and first three-cylinder engine in its class.

Yamaha gets dirty
Yamaha gets dirty

Outside of confirming a 10,500 redline, Yamaha didn't release engine specs when announcing the YXZ1000R in September, and the model has not yet joined the Wolverine and Viking on Yamaha's website. Rumors put the power figure around 110 hp. Whatever their specific number, those horses will put an emphatic signature on the dirt or sand when finding their way to the long-travel Fox-cushioned 14-in aluminum wheels with 27-in Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 radial tires. Drivers can dial between 2WD, 4WD and 4WD full diff lock.

Toyota Ultimate Utility Vehicle

Even as a SEMA show car, a Sienna minivan smashed on top of a Tacoma truck frame, then transformed into an angry off-road machine, would have been surprising. But Toyota actually drove its Ultimate Utility Vehicle on the streets ... for thousands of miles. The unique truck was designed as a support and command center for the Ever-Better Expedition, a caravan of Toyota employees rolling all around North America.

With its 4x4 Tacoma underpinnings, the Ultimate Utility Vehicle is ready for off-road driving
With its 4x4 Tacoma underpinnings, the Ultimate Utility Vehicle is ready for off-road driving

The idea was to capitalize on the roomy Sienna interior to create a functional workspace and the modified Tacoma chassis for its toughness and off-road capabilities. The one-off includes an overhauled suspension with 4-in lift, 33x22 Nitto Mud Grappler tires around 22-in Monster Energy 539B off-road wheels, and suicide front doors to accommodate those mods. It's definitely the strangest off-road vehicle to come from a major automaker this year.

Ariel Nomad

Ariel got the year of off-roading started off right when it revealed the Nomad in early January. If you're familiar with Ariel, then just attaching the term "off-road buggy" to its name should be enough to give you goosebumps. If you need more than that, consider that this British outfit has taken the street-legal, track-tuned Atom, an open ultralight capable of sub-3-second acceleration when tuned with optional power increases, and turned it into a dirt-n-dune buggy.

The Ariel Nomad features a steel tube chassis
The Ariel Nomad features a steel tube chassis

Starting with the Atom and Honda's 235-hp K24 iVTEC four-cylinder, Ariel has added a steel tube cage, off-road-ready double-wishbone suspension, and a variety of road, all-terrain and mud tire options. Though beefier than the Atom, the Nomad still maintains a low weight at 1,477 lb (670 kg), allowing it to hit 60 mph in just 3.4 seconds and 100 mph (161 km/h) in 8.7 seconds.


View gallery - 70 images
2 comments
Tom Lee Mullins
I think those are really cool.
Derek Howe
I'll take the Ripsaw 2...that thing looks like a beast! (and no, I (unfortunately) don't have any relation to them) I'm just a guy who likes badass things.