• Follow us


Off-Roading Brings A Different Kind of Automotive Joy - The Truth About Cars

When the invite from Fiat Chrysler came in, I hemmed and hawed. The event in question was an off-road drive of the 2020 Jeep Gladiator, along with other off-road-oriented Jeep and Dodge rigs, taking place at an off-road park in west-central Indiana. This was a regional event — media invitees all came from Chicago, Detroit, and Indianapolis.

If I hadn’t already driven the Gladiator in March, I’d have gone without a second thought. That’s why I hesitated – I’d driven the truck on the launch, and I’ll learn more from a second-look that takes place over a week-long loan (I have one scheduled) than I would from a few more hours of rock-crawling. Was it worth the time out of office?

I considered sending a freelancer/contributor – I’d be curious what someone else thought of the truck. Eventually, I decided to go because I hadn’t yet driven the Ram Power Wagon. I also later learned that the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk with the new 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine would available for a spin through the woods.

I’m not going to review the vehicles I hadn’t driven – or anything from the event, really — because a full review would need to involve on-road driving. And because Fiat Chrysler isn’t dumb enough to put vehicles on the trail that can’t handle it. Besides, is it really shocking that a Wrangler Rubicon can ford a stream and won’t break while clambering over some rocks?

Instead, I’ve come to preach the gospel of off-roading as an activity. You don’t need a Fiat Chrysler product – they may have sponsored this event, but there are plenty of capable off-road vehicles being built by various automakers (including the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro I drove down to Hoosier town). Not to mention ATVs, side-by-sides, et cetera.

Simply put, if you have the chance to spend a day boulder-bashing, do it.

(Full disclosure: Fiat Chrysler supplied lodging for one night, meals, snacks, and offered gloves and a T-shirt, plus paid for a day’s usage of The Badlands off-road park in Indiana. Also, if the cop who stopped me for speeding on Hwy 41 is reading this, thanks for letting me go with a warning.)

Despite growing up a car guy, I never got much into extracurricular activities such as track driving, drag racing, or autocrossing. This was mostly a function of time and money – I didn’t have either. Which meant I never owned a vehicle that was able to do any of these things.

I did own a Ford Bronco II with four-wheel drive as a teen, and a friend of mine did try to get me to go off-roading once. Problem was, the Bronco gave me lots of problems, so I demurred, although being a teenager and wanting to avoid being branded a wuss, I never said no. I just sorta dodged the invite. Not that it mattered – it’s not like the suburbs of Chicago offer up much in the way of places for off-roading.

So it wasn’t until I started writing about cars for a living that I was truly exposed to all the fun things once can do with a vehicle on private property in a closed and controlled setting. I immediately found track driving to be my favorite thing to do, because speed. I am not the best or fastest journalist out there, but I have fun.

I don’t enjoy autocrossing as much, despite the fact that consequences for failure are much less unforgiving than track driving. I’m just not as smooth as I’d like to be, so that keeps me from being faster. Drag racing is a blast but I’ve only done it twice, and only against the clock, not other people.

It took me a little longer to really see the appeal in off-roading. I’ve enjoyed ever since the first time I did it, but it’s the polar opposite of track driving in many ways. You’re driving slow, usually under 10 mph. You’re relying on others to spot you, something that you don’t do on track (unless you have a right-seat rider or a pit crew). It’s about patience — not only can driving too fast get you in trouble, but making a decision hastily can do the same.

That’s why I am coming around to enjoying off-roading, despite some serious misadventures. It requires a different skill set than other types of performance driving, and every time I have a chance to do it, it’s a fun challenge to learn how to think differently about motoring.

Yes, it’s true that all four activities I’ve listed here involve skill sets that are different from one another. Track driving requires you to learn lines and apexes, to practice car control, to be smooth with inputs, to learn where the limit is and to know when you’re approaching it (and how to keep from crossing it), and how to drive out of trouble should the worst occur. Among other skills.

Drag racing is mostly about reaction time and hand-eye coordination at launch, while autocrossing is about being smooth and (sometimes) knowing how to slide a bit without scrubbing speed. Like with track driving, car control is key, along with smooth inputs.

Off-roading involves some of those skills. Smooth throttle and braking applications are needed, especially if you don’t have electronic doodads like hill-descent control available. You need to place the front wheels precisely with the steering, and you need situational awareness of what’s around you and your rig.

But only off-road can you stop, hop out, and think through your next move. You don’t have that luxury at speed on a track – you best have done your mental planning during the driver’s brief, or your last coffee break in the pits. You might have a spotter or guide on hand who can hop out and tell you which way to steer, which is tremendously helpful.

While all forms of performance driving involve problem solving to some degree — autocrossers will think about the parts of the course where they lost time and ponder how they can be faster there; track rats will mull over lines and apexes and whether they can brake late before entering certain corners — off-roading puts it front and center. And gives you time to work on it.

In other words, paved high-speed driving sometimes depends on your reactions, while off-roading depends on your foresight.

Another benefit is the scenery. Sure, plenty of tracks out there offer scenic views. But you can’t focus on how pretty those trees are at 100 mph. Crawling along at 5 mph on a muddy trail allows you to take in the wonders of nature. No wonder Jeep continues to make vehicles that can go topless and doorless while also allowing the front windshield to fold down.

There are, of course, drawbacks. Unless you never get out of the truck, you’re gonna get dirty. Mosquitoes and other unpleasant insects hang out in the woods. If you’re really out in the middle of nowhere, you could get lost or stuck, and it’s not always easy to get ahold of help. It’s certainly possible to get hurt, as well.

So you’ll need to be prepared, and you’ll need a capable vehicle that is also appropriately prepared. But do that, and do it right, and you’re in for a good time in the woods.

Just watch out for that poison ivy.

[Images © 2019 Tim Healey/TTAC]

Related Read More

Leave A Comment

More News

All Motor Trend Stories RSS

ICYMI: Chevy Teased the 2020 Corvette C8.R Race 2019-07-19 00:48:03It’s understandable if you missed it, given all the earth-shaking news revealed at the coming out party for the 2020 Corvette. But at the very e

We See You: 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible Peeks 2019-07-19 00:14:09While we’re still oogling the mid-engine 2020 Corvette Stingray coupe, Chevy just teased the convertible at the coupe’s unveiling event. T

Supercar Bargain! 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray to Start 2019-07-19 00:09:37Going mid-engine can’t be cheap, so you’d think the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray would receive a hefty price hike. But you’d be

The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8’s Exterior Styling in 2019-07-18 23:30:55After decades of rumors, waiting, and promises, it’s finally here. The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette sports a mid-engine layout and looks like a prope

Build Your Dream 2020 C8 Mid-Engine Corvette in 2019-07-18 23:30:15Want to get a sense for your C8 Corvette before you drive it? Chevrolet has developed an interactive mobile showroom to display all the car’s ex

Can the New 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Really Hold 2019-07-18 23:30:07Move over, ZR-1. Step aside, Ford GT. Back up, NSX. You too, R8, 488, Huracán. There is a new mid-engine sheriff in town, one whose name and fa

2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8: 4 Tech Triumphs 2019-07-18 23:20:37Flagships always get the coolest tech first, and the Corvette C8 is most definitely Chevrolet’s flagship and a major standard-bearer for the ent

2020 Chevrolet Corvette: Three Challenges the Mid-Engine Car 2019-07-18 23:20:21Everything about building a mid-engine car was new to the C8 development engineers. There’s virtually nobody left from the earlier mid-engine Co

Mid-Engine 2020 Corvette Basics: What You Need to 2019-07-18 23:15:50Prepare to be bombarded with facts, trivia, and minutiae covering every aspect of the long-awaited mid-engine Corvette in the weeks leading up to its

REVEALED! Mid-Engine 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Makes 495 2019-07-18 23:15:48If you say anything enough, it’s bound to come true. In our case, cry “mid-engine Corvette” a sufficient number of times, and eventu

2020 Cadillac CT5 Price Undercuts the BMW 3 2019-07-17 19:27:41Cadillac has announced pricing information for its new compact sedan. With a starting price of $37,890, the 2020 Cadillac CT5 is $3,355 less expensive

Elon – How Do You Become A Meme 2019-07-17 18:11:00After selecting the Tesla Model S our Ultimate Car of the Year, we texted with the Tesla PR team to see if co-founder and CEO Elon Musk would be inter


Waze Data Can Help Predict Car Crashes and 2019-07-08 07:00:00Waze users notify the app of crashes an average of 2 minutes, 41 seconds before anyone alerts law enforcement.

Public Transit Agencies Think Rewards Programs Can Bring 2019-07-07 07:00:00Following the example set by airlines, Uber, and Lyft, public transportation officials are creating frequent-flier-like systems to goose ridership.

Norway Invites You to Explore Its Electric Vehicle 2019-07-06 08:00:00The Land of the Midnight Sun—and one of Tesla's biggest markets—wants you to come experience the transportation future.

Sikorsky's S-97 Raider Helicopter Is a Pirouetting Speedster 2019-07-05 09:00:00The funky, speedy whirly bird is Sikorksy's bid to win a major new contract from the Army.

Why Bigger Roads Make Traffic Worse, and Other 2019-07-04 09:00:00Your airline stranded you. What do you now? And what does July 4 shopping have to do with traffic congestion?

Tesla Model 3 Crash Results, Europe's Record Heat, 2019-07-03 17:08:46Catch up on the most important news from today in two minutes or less.

Tesla Model 3 Can Survive a Crash—and Avoid 2019-07-03 04:00:00The Model 3 scores well in European crash testing, a day after Tesla reported a quarterly record for deliveries.

Bentley's New Hybrid Hides Its Luxury From the 2019-07-02 19:00:00The Bentley Bentayga Hybrid can go from 0 to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds and deliver more than 500 pound-feet of torque. And the windshield wipers are hidde

Bike-Friendly Cities, a New Urbanism, and More Car 2019-06-30 09:00:00Copenhagenize Design published its list of the world's top 20 cities for cyclists, and Sidewalk Labs unveiled a plan to remake part of Toronto.

What Boeing’s 737 MAX Has to Do With 2019-06-30 07:00:00Investigators believe faulty software contributed to two fatal crashes. A newly discovered fault will likely will keep the 737 MAX grounded until the

Transit Agencies Turn to Uber for the Last 2019-06-29 07:00:00Transit systems worry about losing passengers to ride-hail services. But some agencies are also testing using Uber in place of low-ridership lines.

The 20 Most Bike-Friendly Cities on the Planet 2019-06-27 09:00:00The 2019 Copenhagenize Index ranks the world's urban hubs on how much they're doing to promote life on two wheels.

Automotive news - from

Autoliv describes second quarter - "challenging conditions" New! 2019-07-19 12:04:00Takeaway from safety equipment specialist supplier Autoliv's second quarter of 2019: "Navigating through challenging conditions".

SHOW REPORT - Gaikindo International Indonesia International Auto New! 2019-07-19 10:11:00The Gaikindo International Indonesia International Auto Show (GIIAS) got under way earlier than usual this year, on 18 July, as the industry look

Indonesia sales slightly higher in June New! 2019-07-19 08:29:00New vehicle sales in Indonesia rose by 1.2% to 59,539 units in June 2019 from 58,842 units a year earlier, according to local reports citing wholesale

Continental opens new powertrain plant in Wuhu, China 2019-07-19 07:12:00Continental has announced the official opening of its new Powertrain plant in Wuhu, China.

Chery Automobile selects Quanergy Systems as its lidar 2019-07-19 07:10:00Lidar provider, Quanergy Systems says it is partnering with with Chery Automobile.

Audi appoints Achim Heinfling as Ingolstadt plant director 2019-07-19 07:08:00Audi's Ingolstadt plant director Albert Mayer is to retire this autumn and will be succeeded by Achim Heinfling, who is currently managing

Teijin inks joint agreement with AEV Robotics 2019-07-19 06:37:00Teijin has signed a joint development agreement with AEV Robotics (AEV).

Hyundai claims world first for new hybrid transmission 2019-07-19 06:25:00Hyundai Motor Group claims to have developed the world's first active shift control (ASC) transmission.

Thai market declines in June 2019-07-19 06:18:00Thailand's new vehicle market declined in June 2019 for the first time since early 2017, by 2.1% to 86,048 units from 87,854 units in the same month

Nemak to cease Windsor production by mid-2020 2019-07-19 06:11:00Lightweighting solutions provider, Nemak is to stop manufacturing operations in Windsor, Canada, by mid-2020.

Malaysia sales plunge 34% in June 2019-07-19 06:10:00Malaysia's new vehicle market plunged by 34% to 42,526 units in June 2019 from 64,465 units in the same month last year, according to registration da

Toyota to develop BEVs for China with BYD 2019-07-19 06:04:00In another sign that Toyota is ramping up its battery electric vehicle (BEV) plans, the company has announced an agreement with BYD to jointly develop

High Gear Media Network Feed

2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, 2020 Land Rover Defender, New! 2019-07-19 14:00:00The mid-engine 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray broke cover; we spied the 2020 Land Rover Defender; the 2020 Cadillac CT5 received a price tag. It's

2020 Corvette Stingray configurator live, here's our perfect New! 2019-07-19 13:00:00Chevrolet didn't let off the gas after revealing the mid-engine 2020 Corvette Stingray on Thursday. Already, a configurator is live for the highly an

Lotus Evija targets Nürburgring production car record New! 2019-07-19 11:45:00Lotus has joined the hypercar crowd with its Evija, a carbon fiber, battery-electric beast billed as the world's most powerful production car. We're

2021 BMW 2-Series Gran Coupe spy shots and New! 2019-07-19 10:00:00The Mercedes-Benz CLA will soon have competition from a coupe-like sedan from BMW. A prototype has been spotted for the upcoming 2-Series Gran Coupe,

2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R roars in front of New! 2019-07-19 08:45:00The new race car based on the mid-engine C8 Chevrolet Corvette has been teased—and the car looks mean. Prototypes have been testing at major rac

New mid-engine 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray costs less New! 2019-07-19 08:09:00The new, mid-engine 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray will cost less than $60,000 to start when it goes on sale early next year. GM President Mark Reus

Top already dropped on 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray New! 2019-07-19 08:09:00The new C8 Chevrolet Corvette is finally here, revealed Thursday night in entry-level Corvette Stingray form. However, Chevy also provided a sneak pee

2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray arrives with mid-engine design, New! 2019-07-19 08:09:00The 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray arrived Thursday in Southern California to fulfill the vision of Corvette engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov after 62 yea

New 2020 Corvette has a trick to rev New! 2019-07-19 08:09:00The new mid-engine 2020 Corvette is finally here, and Chevy already got your letter: What are we supposed to do when people don't immediately notice

BMW promotes production chief Oliver Zipse to CEO New! 2019-07-19 08:00:00The BMW Group, responsible for the BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce brands, on Thursday named Oliver Zipse as its new CEO. Zipse replaces Harald Krueger who

Maserati's electric sports car due in 2020 might 2019-07-19 07:00:00Maserati will finally replace its 12-year-old GranTurismo next year with a new sports car available with a battery-electric powertrain. The new sports

2020 Fiat 500e spy shots 2019-07-19 02:45:00Fiat's 500 minicar will come in for a major shakeup next year. A new generation of the battery-electric 500e based on a dedicated EV platform will be

The Truth About Cars

Ask Bark: Breaking The Cycle Of Negative Equity New! 2019-07-19 13:13:55When I was in high school, many moons ago, I had to recreate an historical debate in front of the class as part of a project for my American History c

Coupe de Grâce? Mazda Files for ‘MX-30’ Name New! 2019-07-19 12:15:03Mazda has filed the term “MX-30” with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). While the filing incorporates broad automot

Rare Rides: An All-wheel Drive Chevrolet Astro RV New! 2019-07-19 11:04:23The Rare Rides series has touched on recreational vehicles twice in the past, when it featured a BMW-powered Vixen, and the custom fiberglass hodgepod

Piston Slap: Goodwill Repair, Goodwill Replace Again? (PART New! 2019-07-19 10:10:09Caroline Writes: Good day Sajeev: I was blessed to find your information on line.  I am experiencing the exact issues mentioned on your site rega

2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8 Reveal – Mixed Feelings New! 2019-07-19 09:16:51ORANGE COUNTY, CA. — After months, if not years, of hype, plus another 30 minutes or so of introduction, the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette is fin

Corvette Interior Pic Leaks Ahead of C8 Reveal 2019-07-18 19:35:39I’m in California today so that I can see the new Chevrolet C8 Corvette in the flesh. The reveal will take place later tonight. In advance of th

Nissan Recalls 91,000 Titan Pickups Over Electrical Woes 2019-07-18 16:56:33Nissan Motor Co. is recalling 91,319 Titan pickups over an electrical short risk that could cause the vehicle to stall. It’s believed by the man

Volvo Needs to Cut Costs by $214 Million, 2019-07-18 15:29:10Volvo is planning on reducing fixed costs by 2 billion Swedish kronor. That sounds like a lot, but it’s only about $214 million. While not

Space Exploration and Research Revolutionized Auto Tech On 2019-07-18 13:24:25Space may be the final frontier, but humanity’s efforts in up there resulted in new and advanced technology down here. Some of that technology h

The Hunt For BMW’s New CEO Begins [UPDATE: 2019-07-18 12:21:12With Harald Krüger out, BMW needs a new CEO — one that can effectively transition the company into becoming and electrified autom

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design Review – 2019-07-18 10:55:43Mid-size luxury sports sedans are supposed to strike a balance between comfort, sportiness, and safety. Consider the 2019 Volvo S60 well-rounded. Ridi

J.D. Power Releases Brand Loyalty Study for 2019, 2019-07-18 10:11:13J.D. Power’s annual Automotive Brand Loyalty Study came out for 2019 this week. According to the outlet, Subaru outranks every other brand when

Automotive News Breaking

GM, VW, China partner SAIC braces for first New! 2019-07-19 13:40:58China deliveries at SAIC General Motors are projected to slide by almost 8 percent to 1.82 million vehicles in 2019 while sales at SAIC's j

Cummins makes offer for VW's large engines unit, New! 2019-07-19 13:07:08Volkswagen is reviewing all options for its MAN Energy Solutions business as part of its restructuring and has engaged in talks with other p

Gentex Q2 net income stays flat at $109 New! 2019-07-19 12:06:50Revenue increased 3 percent to $468.7 million over the second quarter of 2018, Gentex said, noting it improved its results despite an 8 percent drop i

Why Oliver Zipse emerged as the new BMW New! 2019-07-19 08:07:23Oliver Zipse’s powers of persuasion, evident from his patient explanations with detail to reporters, will be in demand after predecessor Harald

Autoliv slashes full-year outlook after Q2 profit slide 2019-07-19 07:15:00Autoliv said it was stepping up actions to curb costs, which included plans to cut about 5 percent of its workforce and implement a sharper purch

Driverless bus hits pedestrian in Vienna 2019-07-19 06:38:47Austrian trials of the technology were halted pending an investigation after the accident resulted in minor injuries.

Toyota, BYD will jointly develop EVs, batteries for 2019-07-19 06:29:07Full-electric vehicles developed jointly with BYD will be sold under the Toyota brand in China before 2025.

GM flexes engineering muscle with radical Corvette overhaul 2019-07-18 23:15:00With a new midengine layout, the 2020 Corvette Stingray -- a barometer of GM's engineering prowess in an era of rapidly changing technology -- looks

Ford tells U.S. dealers to repair small-car transmissions 2019-07-18 16:05:50In the July 12 memo, Ford says dealerships should "arrange to diagnose the vehicle and repair as necessary." The fixes can be applied to 2011-17 mod

BMW taps factory man Zipse as CEO 2019-07-18 15:04:29Oliver Zipse, 55, will take over as BMW CEO on Aug. 16, replacing Harald Krueger, who will step down. Zipse was said to be in a horserace for the CEO

Ally's auto originations inch up in Q2 2019-07-18 14:01:28Used-vehicle loan originations accounted for more than half of Ally's auto originations for the sixth consecutive quarter.

Death of VW's Golf Alltrack robs market of 2019-07-18 13:47:38Volkswagen of America's decision to kill the Golf Alltrack and the Golf SportWagen isn't surprising, but disappointing nonetheless.

autoevolution news

2020 Genesis G80 Arrives at Nurburgring, Exhaust Tips New! 2019-07-19 13:38:01The all-new, second-generation Genesis G80 sedan has once again been spotted testing in Germany. This represents a fresh start for the Korean brand wh

National Weather Service Nebraska Bakes Biscuits in Car New! 2019-07-19 12:52:20So far this year, 21 children have died in hot cars in the U.S. As part of an extreme heat advisory, the National Weather Service in Nebraska launched

Southwest Fliers Have Musical Take-Off Thanks to Talented New! 2019-07-19 12:33:06You know you’re about to have an excellent day when the early flight you’re on takes off with a little musical number from one of the flig

Florida Car Thief Thwarted by Own Inability to New! 2019-07-19 12:13:23Florida man is at it again, but this time, he’s not behind the wheel of the car he’d set his sight on, because he can’t drive stick.

New Fiat EV Spied, 500e Returns In 2020 New! 2019-07-19 11:24:49One week after Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced a significant investment into the 500e, a prototype of the all-electric city car has been spied wit

Oliver Zipse to Replace Harald Kruger as BMW New! 2019-07-19 11:19:40German carmaker BMW announced on Thursday that Oliver Zipse will be replacing former executive Harald Krüger as chairman of the management board.

Widebody Lamborghini SC18 Alston Looks Like an Alternate New! 2019-07-19 10:34:03We've all heard tales about car aficionados buying machines for their offspring way before the latter are allowed to drive. And the most recent story

Mazda MX-5 Gets Cup, Design Options In the New! 2019-07-19 10:25:22Following the unveiling of the 30th Anniversary, Mazda unleashed two styling packs for the MX-5. The Cup and Design are available in the United Kingdo

Woman Tries to Buy Car with Home-Printed Money New! 2019-07-19 09:55:54The saying goes, if you don’t have it, fake it. Well, that applies to mostly everything but money: fake money and you’re bound to get caug

2020 Bentley Flying Spur First Edition Is How New! 2019-07-19 09:51:12If you thought you couldn't get more exclusive than a brand new Bentley Flying Spur, think again. Even this ultra-luxurious car has something to be

Watch a Paratrooper Cadet Completely Freak Out on New! 2019-07-19 09:40:06No one could possibly blame another human being for feeling afraid and causing drama when they’re about to be thrown off a flying plane, but tha

Chevrolet Teases C8 Corvette Convertible, Will Be Available New! 2019-07-19 09:13:49After unveiling the C8 Corvette and the Z51 Package for the sub-$60,000 sports car, Chevrolet has offered two glimpses into the future of the mid-engi

Disclaimer and Notice:WorldProNews.com is not responsible of these news or any information published on this website.