Vehicle manufacturers are in the business of making money and will do so in the way they see most beneficial for their cause. For GM, Jeep, Ford, and all the other vehicle manufacturers out there, offering a vehicle as their product is no differnet than Nike offering a pair of shoes – the product needs to be high quality, target a specific audience, and make a reasonable profit margin for the time needed to produce it.
With the focus on making the right product while juggling supply and demand, manufacturers are in a constant battle to match the right product with the market that will make the most financial sense. On the surface, we see car dealerships in America and are given a small selection of vehicles to choose from. If you dig a bit below the surface however, you will find that often times manufacturers will offer an entirely different selection of vehicles in other countries that may not even resemble anything you see in America.
There can be vast differences between manufacturer’s vehicles from country to country depending on the demands of the environment and what the consumer wants in that particular market. With the varying vehicles from country to country, occasionally there are vehicles that we here in America do not have access to, but are downright bad ass.
Thanks to the “chicken tax,” or 25-percent tariff placed on manufacturers who wish to import vehicles into the United States as a way of protecting American automakers from foreign competition, it does not make financial sense for automakers to import some of the great light trucks that the rest of the world gets to enjoy. As such, we wanted to go over five light trucks that are not sold in America, but that serve as amazing off road capable platforms that the rest of the world gets to enjoy.
Known as “the indestructible truck” to numerous countries worldwide, the current generation Toyota Hilux, manufactured from 2005-present, is not only the best selling truck in South America, but it is also a truck known for its legendary reputation for being able to withstand the world’s harshest conditions and most abusive drivers for years on end. The Hilux is currently produced in Thailand and South America and is sold in Austrailia, Asian markets, the Middle East, South America, and more.
Marketed as a mid-sized light truck, the Hilux shares many design cues, along with components, as the Tacoma that is sold in America. Over the course of the Hilux’s life cycle, it has been offerend in numerous body styles including single cab, extended cab, and a full four door variety. Whats more, while Americans hope and pray for small-displacement turbo diesels in their mid-size and full-size trucks, the Hilux has been offered with numerous turbo diesel powerplants from a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated 143 hp diesel to a 3.0-liter I4 turbo diesel that packs 162 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque at a mere 1,400 rpm.
For the off road enthusiast, Toyota has you covered as the Hilux is offered with a five-speed manual transmission, a fantastic four-wheel-drive system, and a wheelbase of 108-122-inches that is ideal for off road. Toyota has a long standing history of off road heritage and as a testimate to the Hilux’s durability, a South African team was able to complete the 2012 Dakar Rally, likely the world’s toughest off road race, in a minimally-modified Hilux and managed to finish third in their class. Before you head to the Toyota dealership to buy a Hilux, as of now, Toyota has no expectations to bring the Hilux to America – as is further proven by the 2016 Toyota Tacoma set to be unveiled in January 2015. For now, we can still dream.
Ford Ranger T6
The North American Ford Ranger which sold from model years 1983-2011, was Ford’s entry into the compact truck market and was incredibly successful over its production cycle. Being sold as both the Ford Ranger and the Mazda “B-Series,” production ended in 2011 as the platform was largely outdated, having not received significant upgrades since 1998, and was pushed aside to direct truck buyers toward the full-size F150.
While the death of the North American Ford Ranger was met with a lot of disappointed truck buyers, numerous other countries still got to enjoy a pickup with the Ford Ranger moniker – code-named the T6. Offered as a mid-size pickup in 180-countries worldwide, the Ford Ranger T6 was originally released as a 2011 model year offering by Ford Motor Company. Currently produced in Thailand, South Africa, and Argentina, the T6 is sold under the Ranger moniker and is the same truck internally as the Mazda BT-50 – also not sold in the United States.
Much like the Toyota Hilux, the T6 is offered with numerous powerplants that would be envied by off roaders from coast to coast in America. Most notibly, a naturally aspirated 2.2-liter diesel motor that achieves 276 lb-ft of torque and 30.9 mpg along with a 3.2-liter turbo diesel inline five-cylinder that produces an astonishing 346 lb-ft of torque and 28 mpg. Both motors can be mated to a trusty six-speed manual transmission along with two or four-wheel-drive systems depending on the intended use of the owner.
The North American Ford Ranger was an off roader’s favorite, especially in the south-west deserts of America, and the T6 is no exception as it is considered to be a very capable off road truck for the 180 countries it is sold in. Don’t expect the T6 to be coming to America anytime soon though, as the size difference between it and the North American F150 was deemed to be too minute for Ford Motor Company to offer both to U.S. truck buyers – i.e. not cost effective.
Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Series
The “Land Cruiser” moniker is synonymous worldwide with dependability, ruggedness, and for its off road prowess – and because of this, Toyota makes its way onto our list yet again. The Land Cruiser has been a series of four-wheel-drive vehicles produced by Toyota and is recognizable globally because of the many different variations and generations that share the same nameplate.
While the United States has received numerous generations of the Land Cruiser, it has been marketed more as a high-end SUV that can also go off road. Toyota has not positioned it as the creme-de-la-creme of off road SUVs as it has in other countries due to the market and the types of uses. Furthermore, Toyota has never offered the Land Cruiser 70 Series in America, which is a true off road capable platform to build off of.
The Land Cruiser 70 Series is currently available in markets like Austrailia, Latin America, Africa, and a host of other lucky countries. It is currently sold in four different boy variations – a single cab truck variety, a double-cab truck configuration, a seven-seater wagon, and a “troop carrier” which is essentially a standard looking SUV without the rear doors that would somewhat resemble the body of a van. A luxury off roader the 70 Series is not, and aside from basic creature comforts like power windows and a CD player, the truck is light on frills but heavy on capabilities.
Featuring a 4.5-liter V8 trubo diesel that produces 202 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque between 1,200 and 3,200 rpm, the 70 Series has the brute force low end power to get you out of nearly any off road situation. Mated to the powerhouse turbo diesel is a five-speed manual transmission to give drivers the best access to the power. A part-time four-wheel-drive system is used with manual locking hubs to get you out of even the most difficult of off road terrain. Finally, the 70 Series comes with a snorkel to show off that it means business and Toyota offers a host of accessories including a winch, brush guards, and numerous lighting configurations.
If all of this has you ready to go buy one and hit the trails, join the club, but don’t get your hopes up because there is no intention of this vehicle ever making its way to America.
Nissan has offered six generations of their Patrol-branded SUV since its inception in 1951. The current (sixth) generation Patrol is marketed as a luxury SUV and is essentially the North American Infiniti QX56, just with some different styling cues and the absence of the Infiniti name. While the SUV is nice enough, it’s not exactly something that someone is going to go abuse off road – which is why the fifth generation Patrol produced from 1997-2013 is so cool.
Known as the Y61 Nissan Patrol, the fifth generation model, which is now perdominantly on the used car market, can be had for a good price and is heavy on capabilities. Originally offered in either a two-door SUV, four-door SUV wagon, four-door pickup, or two-door pickup variation, the Patrol was a great choice with tons of room for flexibility depending on needs. The Patrol was also not lacking on power either as it was offered in numerous gasoline and turbo diesel forms over its lifecycle. Most notably, the Patrol came with the straight-six TB48DE power plant that produced 276 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque stock but was and is a great choice of tuners in the UAE who have been able to get close to 1,900 hp out of them – which sounds like a great time.
Considering the power potential in the TB48DE and the great four-wheel-drive system in the Patrol, there are countless viral videos of the Nissan Patrol climbing insanely steep sand dunes and tackling some of the world’s toughest terrain. Don’t bother going to look for one on Craigslist though, they aren’t sold in the U.S.
Land Rover Defender
Only being available in America for a few years in the 1990s, the Land Rover Defender is the final off roader we wish we had in the United States. With a heritage running some 67-years and enough information for someone to write a book about, the Defender nameplate has served the test of time and has been used by government bodies and the public alike.
The Defender was offered in numerous shapes and configurations over its lineage, from two or four-door truck varieties to three or five-door SUV varieties and was branded with either the 90, 110, 127, or 130 nameplate to go along with the Defender moniker depending on the length of the wheelbase. Power was driven to the four-wheel-drive system by a host of engine combos over the years – from 4.0-liter naturally aspirated V8s to 2.2-liter turbo diesels produced by Ford Motor Company and were mated to either automatic or manual gearboxes.
Known for their durability and utilitarian nature, the Defender has a long standing history of being a vehicle that is relatively easy to repair and that can take a true beating. Furthermore, with wheelbases that ranged between 93 and 127-inches, and lots of ground clearance with their cab on frame design, the Defender was a go to for civilians who liked to take the road less traveled and many government bodies including military, police, and fire departments. Sadly, the 67-year lifecycle will be ended in 2015 and unless you are willing to pay top dollar for an imported Defender, and risk having the government come after you, finding one in the United States just isn’t going to happen.
One Can Only Dream
While there are many great platforms available for off roaders in America, one can only dream about having access to the full array of choices made by some very common vehicle manufacturers. Certain vehicles are only made available in specific parts of the world for very specific reasons by automakers and even though we may want something offered on the other side of the world, odds are, it just isn’t going to happen.
If you were given the keys to a truck not available in America, what would you choose? Would you choose one from our list or something different all together? Let us know in the comments section below and keep it locked on Offroad Xtreme!