I couldn’t help myself. When I first saw the new 2018 Mahindra Roxor, I fell in love. I have a soft spot in my heart for the old Willy’s Jeeps and come, look at the Roxor – It looks just like one! If you think it looks like an old Jeep too, you’re right. Mahindra has held a license since 1947 to build and market vehicles that look like the old Willy’s Jeeps. They sell and market these in other parts of the world, just not North America. The Roxor, however, is a 100-percent American-assembled vehicle coming off a production line in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
If you’re at all familiar with Mahindra, you know they are arguably the number one selling small tractor in the world. But they don’t just make tractors. The company manufactures all sorts of agricultural and automotive products across the globe. In North America, the UTV market is strongly tied to the ag world, and competitive brands to Mahindra are marketing and selling UTVs. For Mahindra to jump in successfully called for smart planning. A partnership made sense and Mahindra went to work with Intimidator, a smaller company based in Arkansas that is widely known for UTVs, UTV accessories and lawn equipment. Intimidator worked with Mahindra to release gas-powered machines offered by both brands. The first machine, known as the mPact under the Mahindra brand, is a solid workhorse utility UTV. The most recent entry, the Retriever, rivals the newest offerings from the Polaris Ranger line in terms of performance and capability.
While the mPact and Retriever have origins in the ag side of Mahindra, the Roxor comes out of their automotive division. It represents a bold move on the part of Mahindra, too. In fact, they built an impressive new factory to produce just the Roxor and have a strong sourcing, shipping and warehousing network set up in Michigan to go along with it. There’s a reason for that, too, which we’ll come back to.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. It’s the same thing I was thinking of when I first saw the Roxor, too. Is it a Jeep, or a UTV? While the construction makes it look like a Jeep, it is, in fact, a UTV and is classified as one. The Roxor is not street legal, and Mahindra has no intentions of it being so.
I was impressed by the overall construction of the Roxor. Mahindra builds in on a full box-steel frame with solid front and rear axles that have leaf-spring suspension. The rear leaf spring has shocks mounted as well. It feels very sturdy and solid. We did a very limited test drive around an obstacle course and from that, we enjoyed the machine. The suspension feels exactly as you would expect it to if you’ve ever spent much time off-roading in any vehicle with leaf springs. Is it as plush as a machine with independent A-arm style suspension? No, but for what it is, it works well. We found decent articulation in the axles and I have to admit that I was enjoying myself immensely.
Speaking of the axles, you’ll find 9-inch disc brakes up front and 11-inch drum brakes in the rear that in our limited initial test drive had more than enough stopping power. For rubber, Mahindra went with 235/70R16 BF Goodrich All-Terrain KO2 tires wrapped around 5-lug, 16-inch steel or aluminum wheels.
Unlike any UTV you’re used to that has plastic body panels, the Roxor has a full steel body. However, it has traditional UTV-style cargo-net doors just like you’d find on any other UTV like a Polaris Ranger or a Can-Am Defender. The Roxor has a curb weight of 3,035 pounds, with a 12-gallon fuel capacity. That is very much unlike any other UTV on the market, and you do feel the weight when you’re driving it. Honestly, I expected to really feel the additional weight, but on the limited test course we had to drive the unit on, it wasn’t bad at all. I’d love to get one of these on some of my local trails to see how well it handles in real-world conditions.
The Roxor has a 96-inch wheelbase and is 148-inches long, 62-inches wide and 75-inches tall. It has 9-inches of ground clearance, too. For some perspective, the original military Willy’s Jeep from WWII was 123-inches long and just over 57-inches wide. With these dimensions, the Roxor is on par with the width of machines like the Ranger in terms of width. The biggest difference driving it is that the engine is in front of you, unlike most UTVs we are used to. This reduces the cargo capacity and changes the weight ratios. I bring this up just because if you drive it like you would a UTV, you’re bound to get into trouble. If you drive your truck or SUV off road much, then you’re probably going to do just fine with the Roxor.
The interior is sparse, but that’s good. Two seats with three-point seatbelts are it, with under-seat storage. The dash has a single gauge cluster for your information. It’s simple and it works. The seats are pretty comfortable and supportive. I think serious rock-crawler-types will want to beef up the cage and swap out the seating for something more robust, but for the uses the Roxor was designed for, it works.
Diesel power, baby!
The Roxor is powered by a 2.5 liter four-cylinder turbo diesel m2DiCR motor that produces 62 horsepower and 144 ft/lbs. of torque with an 18.6:1 compression ratio. This is mated to a five-speed manual transmission and a two-speed manual transfer case. The axles have 3.73:1 gear ratios. Because Mahindra has no intentions of this machine being street legal, or ever being so, they designed the Roxor with a top speed of 45 miles per hour. It also has a maximum recommended towing speed of 15 miles per hour. This setup equates to a 32-34 miles per gallon fuel economy and a range of around 350 miles. That’s pretty good if you ask me and
Like I said before, I’d love to get one here for an in-depth trail ride report and maybe a project build-up, or two.
And the Roxor is very capable too. The cargo area will carry 349 pounds of gear and it will tow a whopping 3,490 pounds thanks to the frame design, gear ratios, and engine platform. I can see this being a pretty handy vehicle to have around for doing some work chores, and I have a feeling we’ll be seeing plenty of them in riding areas, like Moab in Utah. The rock-crawling crowd is going to like this thing for sure.
The Mahindra custom shop
Mahindra envisions that Roxor as one of the most customizable UTVs on the market and they may be right. If you think about it, there are so many automotive parts and accessories that transfer over to being usable on the platform. The base price for the Roxor is $15,499 U.S., and it initially comes in Carbon Black, Classic White, Fire Orange and Tahoe Blue to start. However, Mahindra already has more color options in the works. They claim to be preparing for up to 900 special color combination options, including graphics packages and, of course, camouflage. This is why the warehousing network they have close at hand in Michigan is so important. Want a custom machine? It can happen, and soon.
There is an LE model coming soon with a Bestop soft top, 8,000lb Warn winch, 40-inch KCLites light bar and heavy-duty bumpers. There are also plans for many more special editions including a special Dune Edition in a sweet-looking desert sand color and features designed for rolling across the rolling mounds of sand. The reps from Mahindra spoke to great length about all of the custom options they have in mind for the platform. The goal, according to Mahindra, is to make the Roxor as customizable as current Jeeps, but with those options coming right from the factory. The idea of being able to have so many custom options is intriguing. How well that idea works remains to be seen. For now, we’re just going to say that it sounds like a great idea.
From the limited time we got to spend driving the Roxor, it seems like a well-built solid machine. The weight may be an issue for some, especially with trailering the machine to trail systems. Some people may see the Roxor as a gimmick, but what can I say – I’m such a huge fan of the old Willy’s machines that I really liked it. I can’t wait to spend more time behind the wheel. For more information, go to www.roxoroffroad.com, or to the rapidly expanding dealer network to see one in person.