Where we're going, we don't need roads.
Every year it becomes harder to choose the three finalists of the CarBuzz Awards Off-Road Warrior. There's a good reason it's so tricky: Americans love big cars that can tackle challenging terrain, whether they use them for that purpose or not. We suppose it's a bit like owning a supercar that can do 200 mph. You'll never reach that speed unless you live near the autobahn, but you get a warm, fuzzy feeling knowing it can.
Our judging process is different. The category is called Off-Road Warrior, and at the very least, it needs to live up to that name. As before, there wasn't a shortage of candidates for 2022. This year saw the introduction of the Land Rover Defender V8, Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro, and the Chevrolet Silverado ZR2. These are all hugely impressive off-roaders, yet they failed to make the final three.
Like last year, our top three consists of two off-roaders that take an old-school approach to off-roading and a brand-new EV with several unique features that help it conquer the most challenging terrain.
Here they are, in no particular order:
So, there's a lot not to like about the new Hummer EV. It weighs 9,000 pounds, the roof panels are leaky, and it's incredibly ostentatious. But this category is all about off-roading, not whether you look like a peacock while driving it down the PCH.
First off, GMC got the basics right. The air suspension increases the ground clearance to 15.9 inches in Extract Mode, which results in approach, breakover, and departure angles of 49.7, 32.2, and 38.4 degrees, respectively. It comes standard with 18-inch alloys wrapped in 35-inch off-road tires. There's no need for a transfer case because the 1,000-horsepower tri-motor setup's full power is available from one revolution per minute.
Thanks to the Ultium-based platform, General Motors could introduce a few never-seen-before features like Crab Walk, one-pedal off-road driving, and a large frunk with additional space for overlanding goodies.
Thanks to the aptly-named Watts To Freedom (WTF) launch control mode, it's also easily the fastest car on this list.
The original F-150 Raptor was equipped with a V8, though Ford had to downsize with the introduction of the second-generation model. But, as we uncovered recently, Ford knew all along that a V8 model would follow.
The Raptor R is equipped with a modified version of the Predator V8 from the Shelby GT500. It produces 700 hp and 640 lb-ft of torque, which is more than you need for dune surfing. While the power is impressive, the underpinnings make this car special. It rides on the same Fox Live Valve shocks as used on the standard Raptor but with R-specific tuning. The trick suspension setup is this truck's piece de resistance. Ford never subjected it to the Moose Test because there's no need. You can run straight over a moose and feel nothing more than a minor jolt. The theoretical moose won't cause any damage underneath since all of the vital parts are protected by metal plates.
There are 13.1 inches of ground clearance, thanks to the uprated suspension and the giant 37-inch Goodrich KO2 all-terrain tires. A set of 17-inch beadlock-capable wheels are standard.
The standard Ford Bronco won the award for best off-roader last year because it was everything the 2018 Wrangler should have been. Ford proved that you could build an off-roader that's just as capable without using a prehistoric solid front axle.
This year Ford made it even better with the introduction of the Bronco Raptor. It's an epic machine, boasting a Raptor HOSS 4.0 race-ready suspension system, a fully-boxed, high-strength steel frame, and 37x12.5-inch all-terrain tires. The track has been widened by 9.8 inches to stabilize it at high speeds. The ground clearance is also 4.8 inches more than the standard car, measuring 13.1 inches.
Ford also included extra cooling for all the essential mechanical bits and thick metal skid plates to protect the belly.
We've driven the Braptor on every surface imaginable. It's even good at hustling along a mountain pass, relatively speaking. There isn't a single place the Bronco Raptor feels out of place.
Will it take the win? You'll have to wait for December 6 to find out when the winners are announced.