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Here Are Five Obscure 4x4s I'd like to Take to Moab

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author photo by Chris O'Neill October 2017

If you've never been to Moab, it's truly a magical place -- a massive outdoor desert playground in Southeastern Utah. And 4x4s are everywhere. It's no coincidence that it's the setting for Jeep's annual "Easter Jeep Safari," as there are Wranglers on every block, along with just about every other off-road vehicle you can think of. A while back I talked about the unique mountain car culture, and Moab is no exception.

Among the sea of Jeeps and Polaris RZR side-by-side ATVs swarming around like mosquitoes, you'll still find some real oddball cars -- the occasional Isuzu VehiCROSS, old military Humvees, first-generation Ford Broncos ... Moab attracts them all. This got me thinking: What's the most 'fringe' vehicle you might encounter in the off-roading capital of the country? In a land already coated in classic Land Cruisers and lifted Subaru Outbacks, what would really stand out?

So, after way too much thought and deliberation, here are the five vehicles I'd be most interested in testing out on the trails of Moab and then driving around town at the end of the day.

Acura SLX

Acura SLX

The Acura SLX was the ill-selling Isuzu Trooper-clone Honda tried to pass off as a luxury SUV in the late 1990s. Very few people are even aware of the SLX's existence. It goes without saying that Acura isn't a brand associated with much in the way of utility or ruggedness -- but the Isuzu Trooper was a capable and respectable 4x4. There are few things that would give me more satisfaction than passing by all of the unsuspecting good ol' boys and their Jeep Wranglers from behind the wheel of a vehicle they think was built for delivering children to soccer practice.

Laforza

Laforza

The Laforza is about as unique as it gets -- but it was supposedly built for heavy-duty applications and, therefore, it's probably capable off-road. In theory, at least. The Mustang V8 under the hood should be relatively bulletproof -- but beyond that, I probably wouldn't venture too far off-road with this thing by myself. Nonetheless, it would be a rolling conversation piece on the trails.

Unimog

Unimog

I saw a guy camping with one of these in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and I've been fascinated ever since. It was tucked way back into a spot and obstructed by trees, so I wasn't able to get a great look at it, which made it all the more mystical. Unimogs have portal axles, and they're geared like tractors, so they'll get you anywhere you want to go -- just assuming that getting there in a timely manner is of no importance, and you aren't concerned about having back problems once you arrive. And, most importantly, it could literally drive over just about any other vehicle on the trail. That's gotta be worth something.

4x4 Kei Truck

4x4 Kei Truck

I view the 4x4 Kei Truck as an inexpensive alternative to the Polaris side-by-side ATVs that are so popular today. I like to think I could buy one for just a thousand dollars and then modify it myself with some big ATV tires and whatever other cheap modifications I could come up with. I'd trailer it to wherever I was going and then drive it into the woods with a bed full of whatever supplies I needed for the weekend. Like a Power Wheels for adults.

First-Generation Porsche Cayenne Turbo

First-Generation Porsche Cayenne Turbo

I'll admit, I'd be pretty conceited about this one. A turbocharged V8-powered German SUV with an adjustable suspension and locking differentials that originally retailed for close to $100,000? I'd act like I was the king of the trail. And then I'd have to eat some serious crow when the air suspension would inevitably give out, or the engine would get flooded by a puddle, or some electrical disaster would occur, leaving me stranded while getting passed by all of the cookie-cutter Wranglers I'd laughed at earlier in the day.

Chris O'Neill grew up in the rust belt and now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He managed to work in the auto industry for a while without once crashing a corporate fleet vehicle. On Instagram he is the @MountainWestCarSpotter.

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Here Are Five Obscure 4x4s I'd like to Take to Moab - Autotrader