Show Notes for Podcast Episode #10
The Pinnacle Overland Vehicles
Scott and Matt discuss the ultimate overlanding vehicles, reviewing the best choices from Toyota, Nissan, Mercedes, Land Rover, and Jeep. The conversation primarily focuses on models available in North America, but time is also spent discussing the top choices for international purchase and travel.
If we’re being realistic, overlanders might be asking for too much from their vehicles. We demand something that can cross technical terrain with ease, yet do so with a massive roof load from the obligatory roof tent, roof rack, and accessories. We demand a large cargo payload, but want something with compliant suspension that soaks up corrugations. It’s incredibly important to state very clearly that you can drive around the world in absolutely anything; a London taxi, a Citroen 2CV, and an Earthroamer will all open the door to a world of new experiences. The overlander’s vehicle is juxtaposed from the very beginning, and there are few vehicles in near-stock form that can tick the boxes. We call these vehicles pinnacle overlanders, and they are the most-desirable vehicles on offer for overlanding.
A pinnacle overland machine does not give care to price, it does not worry about stereotype—it worries about absolute function and purpose for international vehicle travel. Let’s use the Mercedes G-Class for example, while they are most-frequently seen as a status symbol in hippity-hop circles and can cost as much as a nice home, underneath they are the same-exact commercial vehicle currently used by dozens of militaries around the world. Mercedes’ international parts network is also second-to-none, even beating Toyota who typically use region-specific driveline packages.
These vehicles are not being chosen solely on their cost or their technical prowess, they are being chosen on their suitability for long-distance vehicle-based travel. We’re prioritizing things like payload capacity, serviceability, and international parts-availability over horsepower, trick-suspension, and luxury items (though some of the vehicles have both!). It is possible to buy a pinnacle overland vehicle for $5,000—or $150,000, though we are only focusing on best-of-breed vehicles that are exceptional in their use as an overland vehicle.
What disqualifies a vehicle from being a pinnacle overlander?
A pinnacle overland vehicle must be aspirational, and must be able to operate in adverse conditions away from its country of origin for extended periods of time. It also needs to have been produced (roughly) within the last decade, and must be sold worldwide to ensure the availability of spare parts.
The Toyota Tacoma makes a fantastic choice for an overland vehicle, and there is a reason so many in America have chosen it, however it is sold exclusively in North America. What do you do when you catastrophically break a windshield, or experience engine failure while you’re on the Silk Road? Additionally, we are not discrediting older vehicles, it is just an honest observation that those setting out to explore the world for an extended period of time should not do so with a pair of previously worn-out shoes.
You’ve likely been brainwashed that diesel is the only option for extended international overland travel, and if we were referring to Toyota’s venerable 1HZ diesel engine, that still remains true. However for most diesel vehicles sold in the United States, Canada, and the European Union, their technological advancement (and the massive gains in power and efficiency that came with it) was a kiss-of-death.
Every diesel vehicle sold in America since 2006 now requires ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD) and everything sold new today requires diesel exhaust fluid (DEF). While this is great for the air we breathe, it means that these vehicles will require very specific considerations when taken abroad for even short trips—ULSD becomes scarce the moment you cross the Mexican border.
It is because of this that a lot of otherwise fantastic machines are absent from this list—or only present in their gasoline (petrol) powered forms.
North America’s Pinnacle Overlander is the AEV Brute? (a bit of foreshadowing about the Gladiator from 2014)
Short list, North America:
Toyota Land Cruiser 200
Notable: Tacoma, Bison (gas), Frontier, GX460
Short list, International:
Toyota Land Cruiser 70
Nissan Patrol Y61
Land Rover Defender
G-Wagen 461 Professional (runs on high sulphur diesel)
The Ultimate Overland Vehicles
[00:00:00] Scott Brady: Hello and welcome to the Overland journal podcast. I am your host, Scott Brady, and I'm here with my co host, Matt Scott.
Matt Scott: What's going on?
Scott Brady: Well, we're going to talk about pinnacle Overlander. What can you buy today and literally leave the lot and drive around.
Matt Scott: Like you know, we're big fans of the G wagon. You know, the G wagon has global motor packages. Now in the United States, we don't get the turbo diesel engines. We never have. I mean, I guess until relatively recently in the car's history, we never even got the G wagon, but if you buy a new G wagon today, you can get that serviced with a mechanic that actually knows what's going on in Kazakhstan, or Cambodia, or wherever because Mercedes international service and international parts network is, I mean, second, I mean, better than Toyota. People always think Toyota is the best, but you know, Toyota uses a lot of, you know, regional drive, train packages. Let's think of that Tacoma, for example, it has that three and a half liter Atkinson [00:01:00] cycle engine, which that engine is primarily built for the US. I want to say in Japan, it's in the Toyota Al Fard, you're not going to find... well, one, you're not going to find a windshield when you break it somewhere and you're not going to be able to fix that engine without air freighting parts in, and a lot of times that's just not an option. I mean, people think we live in this really connected world, but you're going to end up in a lot of countries where used car parts or car parts have a 500% tariff. And they're going to get held up at customs for a week or two weeks. I know friends that were in South America that were like, had to fly back. And smuggle a transmission in with them because I think they were in Columbia or something and it just, it wasn't an option.
Scott Brady: It was cheaper to fly home, get the parts they needed and fly back. And that's the reason why we're focusing on these truly being pinnacle, which means does it meet all of the minimum requirements that we have for an Overland vehicle for international travel, which means does it have sufficient payload? Is it [00:02:00] capable in technical terrain? Does it have a reputation of durability and reliability? And if you look within every brand, there's going to be a vehicle that rises to the top in that regard, even in the United States, I mean, we don't get some of the coolest Overland vehicles in the world. We don't get a Y61 patrol. We don't get a 70 series Land Cruiser, but we do get vehicles that are pinnacle Overlanders that are available in most countries of the world and that's what we're going to talk about today. And the reason why we really want to focus on, on models that are available around the globe is because of service and support. One of the cool things about a Mercedes, if you buy a new G wagon, you actually not only have your warranty, that's good for however many months in how many ever many miles in your home country, but it's also good for 12 months unlimited miles globally. So you can drive your new G wagon into South Africa and rock up at the dealership and Joburg, and actually get the truck properly serviced. And that's actually a huge advantage. He [00:03:00] did the big trip with the 70 series trucks when we went to all seven continents. Toyota provided us with that same kind of a support they said for 24 months, you've got service and support at any dealership. Now, of course we never needed it. Cause we were, they were seventies cause there 70 series. Yeah. Because they were Land Cruisers we literally never needed to go to a dealership for repair. We did lots of oil changes, but you know, we never, we never needed to have anything fixed. I mean, I don't even think a piece of plastic broke, but those are certainly exceptional vehicles. But when we look at what's available in the United States, I think it's kind of important to start with. What is, you know, arguably the most pinnacle vehicle available in the United States, which is a 200 series land cruiser.
Matt Scott: Yeah. I think people need to realize how cheap land cruisers are here. You know, they are 25 or 30% more expensive in Australia. They're cheap here and we get top spec, land cruisers, you know what we're paying for [00:04:00] something with air conditioned seats international would be called a Sahara spec year. And you're probably getting the working model, you know, overseas. Some people will complain about that. I will just smile and take the air conditioned seats. You know, but the point being-
Scott Brady: It's not a reason not to buy the car.
Matt Scott: Exactly. Like the point being with the 200 series, whether, you know, you're getting the luxury version here in the United States or, you know, the UN spec version you know, in Africa that they're the same bones underneath, you know, that five seven motor is pretty phenomenal. Like, I don't know anybody that's ever had issues with it. Now there are going to be countries where that engine just was not available, where maybe the Mercedes is better for availability, but I would argue all day that for what you're losing with that. The small amount of decrease in availability from Toyota, you're making up in reliability.
Scott Brady: Yeah, you absolutely are. And Toyota does have the most prolific dealer network only followed by closely, very closely by Mercedes. If you look [00:05:00] at any developing country, even a third world country, there are bureaucrats in those places that want to drive new Mercedes. It's a status symbol so you do find good Mercedes infrastructure throughout the world and I think the five seven actually has a couple advantages. The biggest disadvantage is fuel economy.. If you were to get the, the VDJ 200, which is the twin turbo 4.5 liter V8 diesel that is going to have about 40% better fuel economy
Matt Scott: It's significant.
Scott Brady: And it can be tuned to even better than that, while also gaining performance. So you can get very close to the same acceleration performance of the five, seven. Out of that diesel while also maintaining much better fuel economy, but we don't get that. We don't get it. That motor
Matt Scott: And that diesel is an ultra low sulfur engine.
Scott Brady: Yeah, it is. And so even if we got that diesel, it would be more limiting for international travel than the five seven would be. So I think we're at this crossroads where we just kind of got to accept [00:06:00] gasoline engines for awhile and maybe even for long-term, if you look at how efficient the new ranger is with turbocharging-
Matt Scott: A 2 liter engine, that's almost 300 horsepower.
Scott Brady: That's right. Turbocharging 10 speed, automatic transmissions. All of that is really also improved fuel economy and reduced emissions and it's funny. People will often say "Oh, you always want diesel because it's the fuel that's going to be available everywhere". In my experience as a traveler, that is true to some degree, but I've never found gasoline to be less available. And the reason for that is because all of the locals ride motorcycles. Motorcycles don't run on diesel! Little scooters in the middle of the jungle in Vietnam. You know, you're not going to, you may not see an over the road truck. You may not even be able to access a village by a truck.
Matt Scott: Like land cruisers are luxury vehicles, even when they're used in a utility sense in the less fortunate country. Gas, you know, people are driving Kias, they're driving, you know, Chinese cars that we [00:07:00] haven't even heard of most of them. And generally they're all, they're all gasoline Engines.
Scott Brady: A lot of them are, and so fuel availability has never been an issue when I drove across the silk road in that little JimNy, that was a gasoline truck. I mean, in the middle, the deepest, darkest to GICA Stan, I still could find.
Matt Scott: Oh man we have a JimNy on this list.
Scott Brady: Yeah. Oh yeah. I know.
Matt Scott: They are really space efficient but we don't get them I guess.
Scott Brady: We don't get them. I know.
Matt Scott: I guess, yeah, that's tough for internationalists
Scott Brady: Yeah we'll have to talk about them.
Matt Scott: But back to that 200, I mean, you're looking at something, I mean, Scott, I remember a while ago you told me you were talking with the land cruiser engineer and they said that the 200 was the strongest land cruiser that they had ever made.
Scott Brady: That's true. It was actually the lead engineer for land cruiser when I was at the Nagoya plant. And he just, he reinforced the fact that the land cruiser is their pinnacle truck. It's the one that's the most durable, the front end, even though it's independent suspension is significantly stronger than a 70 series. And I would say that for me, it's the 200 series is the one vehicle that I've [00:08:00] literally, flip-flopped my opinion on. If I, when that vehicle first came out. In 2008 I appreciated it for what it was, but it was still, we were still in the era that the 80 series was the answer to everything. And you could still buy low mileage 80 series land cruisers and, they would've only been 10 years old when the 200 came out and the a hundred series is obviously a very excellent vehicle as well. But I remember when the 200 came out, it felt round and it felt soft and it felt-
Matt Scott: It felt like a Highlander.
Scott Brady: It felt too big and, and it felt. Somewhat soulless, but a lot has changed in the market in the last 10 years. A lot of those vehicles that were boxy and cool have, have changed, they've gone away. And when you look at it now, the 200 series is like, yeah, that would absolutely be a vehicle I would buy and leave and drive around the world.
Matt Scott: I think it's a smart purchase. They're obviously quite expensive. I want to say they're 88 or 90 now, but, you're getting something that will have great resale. [00:09:00] You'll drive it around the world and it'll still be worth something, you know, I think there's some vehicles out there that just won't put up with the lifetime of punishment and you know, you kind of touched on the 80 and the, and the 100. We're not saying that those aren't bad choices, but. You know, what we're saying is that, you know, the 80 series is almost a classic car. Like I have one, I love it. That's the car. That I'd take on, on my serious trips, but you're a Toyota dealers not going to stock parts for a, you know, a 25 year old car.
Scott Brady: No, and they're going to be hard parts to find. And you'll start to get outside of the operational window of even a land cruiser. Land cruisers are designed to be reliable at that half a million mile mark. Once you get over 20 years or so all the wiring becomes brittle all of the rubber and the seals and the ASCII heater hose, and all that other stuff.
Matt Scott: And the parts are not cheap. They're not, I mean, they're great vehicles, but yeah I would just take a 200 now. [00:10:00] They're very capable.
Scott Brady: And it's not to discourage anybody from buying or driving what they want. I just think that we have to get out of that mindset, that the 80 series is the solution for driving around the world. There are better choices today for that exercise. And at the top of my list personally would be the 200 series.
Matt Scott: Yeah. I think push comes to shove out of everything we're going to talk about today. Yeah. I would still choose G wag.
Scott Brady: Yeah, so why would you pick the G wagon? I mean, you and I, we both drive cars like that. And what's your thought on the G wagon?
Matt Scott: You know, I don't know exactly. It's hard to pinpoint. I think that of all of the vehicles on this list that are actively being used by, you know, the G wagon is the only one that's actively being used by militaries. It's the only one that has international, like true international serviceability in a lot of countries, you know. Here, the G wagon is that Post Malone wrote a [00:11:00] song about it. Like it's, it's kind of a hippity hop Kardashian car, but underneath it's the same thing that the Canadian military is using. It's the same thing that the Australian military is using. The same thing that a lot of European militaries use. It is legitimate and there's four different body coatings that go on to the body of that vehicle before it's painted. And they're all hand assembled. They've been in production for so long. And they're built in Austria. Yeah. I mean, it was a vehicle. I'm a car guy. I'm a car guy. I'm a traveler first, but I am still a car guy. And the G wagon to me is like, it's the best restomod vehicle ever made. When you have something that predates, was sold at the same time as the FJ 40, that you can get with a twin turbo V8 if you want, you know, with a warranty, you know, we have, I've always had these sugar pumps in my head that I drive around the world. And like when a Jonathan awards icon FJs, but what's actually better than that. Is a [00:12:00] new G wagon. You have that classic shape. That classic is how you sit in the car. An 1800 pound payload, factory winch, bumpers available, factory snorkels, factory roof, racks everything. I just think, you know, to be honest, the other vehicle that would really be on my list would be a Jeep Wrangler, but that roll cage inside makes the inside so space and efficient.
Scott Brady: In a very low payload. I mean, if you took a new Rubicon, like Dan, Greg's a great example. He's someone that used a Wrangler appropriately for long distance travel. Most of the people that I see preparing Wranglers for Overland travel overbuild the car, they overweight the car and then they ended up with a lot of problems., and we've talked about this before in the podcast, but if you're driving across Australia in an overloaded vehicle, they're gonna impound your truck.
Matt Scott: I mean they in very remote places, they have a waystation. You will get defected, your [00:13:00] vehicle will get towed and they're not going to care if it's registered in another country.
Scott Brady: Yeah, they won't. I mean, you're just going to have to find, you're gonna have to find a dumpster and start unloading stuff. That's making your vehicle, including the rear bumper and the rock sliders and all that other stuff you have to, even with the Jeep Wrangler, is the Wrangler even worth talking about now that the gladiators are available? I think that's, I think if you were to look at... I mean, I guess to wrap up on the, on the G wagon, the downside of the G wagon is it is extremely expensive because of the content that they've chosen to include in the North American market. And that's the one thing that's disappointing about the G wagon in other markets of the world, you can get a 350 BlueTech. Diesel model still with cloth interior and where it's D content. And it's the same exact car, same exact diff blocks. You know, all of the robustness that comes with a 463 G wagon, but it's D contended where it's not only more affordable, it's more efficient. It's easier to work on [00:14:00] because it's not so complicated. In North America, we get very complicated up contented versions of the G wagon and that, and that is certainly a downside. So you have to make a huge investment. If you look at a new 2019 G 550, you're going to spend 160 to 180 grand. If you're lucky, if you can find one, you might have to even pay over MSRP.
Matt Scott: Yeah. I've heard people paying $50,000 over sticker because since that vehicle has that international warranty, they can be exported.
Scott Brady: Yeah. And that's why they do export them.
Matt Scott: Yeah. The used vehicles that we buy. So the United States is the largest market for G wagons. We're also the cheapest place in the world by a G wagon. You're talking about the professional edition that, you know, there's no carpet. It's, it's very utilitarian. That vehicle is more expensive in Euros converted than at least for the 463. In 2019 the USA made an update to the G wagon [00:15:00] added independent front suspension, which. Still fully locked, honestly, a better vehicle.
Scott Brady: Yeah. So it's like we've gone through Toyota pinnacle vehicle, 200 series for sure. Mercedes G wagon easily, because it's the only option. With Toyota you could say what about the 4runner or what about, and, and it's not to say that a 4runner isn't appropriate to go around the world, it's that the land cruiser is more robust. It's also available in nearly every country of the world. And that's why it wins. It doesn't mean that a GX 460 isn't a great vehicle. It absolutely is and that platform, the one-fifty platform is used just in many countries around the world.
Matt Scott: I think there's more of an argument for the 460, then there is for the Forerunner. You know, I go back to really simple things. What happens when somebody breaks into your car and you need a new driver's side window. That's right. What happens when you are driving down a dirt road and a truck kicks up a massive rock into your windshield and it's spidered and you can't see, like you can't. [00:16:00] Like you're not going to find a windshield or a side window for a four, a Forerunner. Anywhere outside of North America. I mean, even in Mexico, I think he'd struggle. But again, I mean, that's why those vehicles, you know, they're notable there. They're not a terrible choice. They're just not like if you're setting out to spend a long time on the road, I mean, you are a legitimate Overlander that wants to go experience countries. You don't want to spend a week of your time finding a windshield cause it's going to happen. I mean, you know, I remember when you guys did the E7 trucks and they first came over and we were building them, there were multiple windshields in them and I'm like, and that's what occurred to me. And I'm like, yeah. Cause if, if you bust a windshield in the US or Canada,
Scott Brady: How do you get a new one?
Matt Scott: How do you get a new one? And I know people think that those details are small, but it is the small details that really make things. I mean, jeep gladiator, you know, the Jeep Wrangler is sold. I mean, I don't want to say everywhere.
Scott Brady: It's very [00:17:00] popular. Yeah now once they came out with a four-door, it became a solution for a lot of folks. They still haven't been widely adopted in places like Australia, because it really is Toyota country, but they're very popular in Europe and they're reasonably priced. I actually think that, you know, I think Dan Grech has done a great job of reinforcing why a Jeep is still a good solution. He had very little issues with his vehicle in Africa, no matter what. Fuel he encountered, he knew he was a gas model, of course. But if you look at the gladiator now, the gladiator solves all the problems, because you could put any version of a camper or a, or just a topper on the back. You can have a 1700 pound payload, which is, which is about 600 pounds, more than a typical Wrangler. 700 pounds in some cases as well and a lot of capability. And it's not... it's a big vehicle, but it's not an overly wide vehicle.
Matt Scott: It's within a foot of length of my 80 [00:18:00] series. Yeah. And, and that's just because, you know, I can fit a 37 inch spare underneath the factory position. If I want to fit a spare, that's larger on my 80 series, I've had to buy a Kmar bumper, which sticks out and the tire sticks out more. You know, like if you want to add a winch, you have to have a winch bump, which means that the front bumper sticks out a little bit more. They're not, and don't quote me on a foot, but they're not that much different.
Scott Brady: Yeah. I mean, they are a long vehicle, but they're still going to fit in a container. They're still gonna go down most roads and colonial cities because they're not overly wide. Once you get up into full size truck territory, once the width becomes a consideration. Like if you, if you look at most small villages in the world, or even cities, crowded cities in the world, they still need to have service and infrastructure brought into those cities in those villages. And that's where you see the Mitsubishi Mitsubishi Fuso FG. You see these medium duty trucks, [00:19:00] cab over and they're very narrow. They have a huge payload. But they're very narrow vehicles are actually narrower than a full size domestic pickup. And that's where the gladiator actually becomes a great choice. Like right now you can buy a 36 gladiator with, you know, a great transmission, 1700 pound payload, Dana 44 axles, front and rear. It's designed to tow a considerable amount of weight if you chose to tow something around the world. I think a gladiator would actually be a great choice to leave.
Matt Scott: Yeah. I mean, I think vehicles, you know, if you would've asked me to drive a very early JK around the world, maybe I would have had a little bit of anxiety, but Dan Grech. Didn't have a single issue.
Scott Brady: Nothing, yeah.
Matt Scott: 11,000 miles on mine. I mean, in fact Laura, my partner she's out in New Mexico with the thing right now, and you know, if I don't drive aggressively, I can get 17 miles to the gallon on 37s with a camper.
Scott Brady: That's amazing.
Matt Scott: Using cheap fuel. And I don't [00:20:00] have to worry about diesel exhaust fluid. I don't have to worry about any of those things. It did just come out with a diesel Wrangler and we will see that engine in the gladiator, but other than additional range, I don't know. I mean until we solve this problem with ultra low sulfur diesel, which is going to happen faster than you think-
Scott Brady: It will happen quickly. And also, you know, diesel's just, they drive great off-road too. I mean, they develop so much torque at low RPMs throttle modulation, and that ability to kind of effortly cross terrain. I remember just testing the difference between a Bison with the diesel and the ZR2, with a gas motor. It is a lot different, the tip in with a gas motor is a lot more aggressive. It's not, when it's in low range, it's a lot more difficult to modulate. Diesel's are just a pleasure to drive, especially small displacement, turbo diesels which are just a type [00:21:00] of motors that I've come to love personally. And you know, it's a little bit sad. We've got the Chevrolet bison now, which has front rear lockers is fantastic suspension, you know, a 1500 pound payload and a diesel motor. And you'd kind of think for a second, like, Oh, is that actually the best choice to drive around the world? And for like this hot minute, it's probably not, you're probably better off getting a gas version of the same truck, but,
Matt Scott: But here's the cool thing is in five years when the entire world this is hypothetical it's on ultra low sulfur diesel. Because it's happening eventually. You'll hit a critical mass where the refineries. Well they just, they won't have the economy of scale to make these countries, I mean, you know, Venezuela and that kind of stuff. They're going to, they're going to do their own thing, but you know, imagine in five years when that license is 20 grand.
Scott Brady: Yeah and such a great choice,
Matt Scott: Buy it and go, I mean, you know, the, the sprinter, I so wish a sprinter could be on here. But you know, they have-
Scott Brady: They're worth talking about for sure.
Matt Scott: You know, I'm [00:22:00] sure there's a solution from the factory to, to get rid of that requirement for the ad blue and or the deaf, you know, that. The sprinter is great. Cause you have interior living space, which is huge and I think they're a realistic look at the capability you'll actually need for a four wheel drive system while you're overlanding. You know, I think there's specific trips that require, you know, maybe something a little bit more technically capable. But for most people, 90% of the time you're going to be on roads. You're tackling roads that people are driving in regular cars every day. I just think that sprinter is super realistic. I think if I was to do it all over again and I wasn't going to do a gladiator and it was just a North American truck. I think I would do a sprinter and I do one of those Winnebago rebels. I know there's some things I'd have to fix on it. But you know, I know people that are trying to get their sprinters built by independent companies in there. $200,000 on a two year wait list. [00:23:00] I can go buy a brand new rebel right now for 120 grand.
Scott Brady: Yeah. I like the idea of getting the sprinter and then doing some off-road modifications to it and then slowly building out the interior, based upon what I find my needs really are. I think I would probably go that route. And I think part of it is because I love the idea of being able to load a motorcycle up in the back. So like, or anything go to Home Depot or whatever. It's kind of what I use the defender for now. It's like my home Depot truck, but, you know, it is really practical and I do like the sprinter. It's funny. You know, the more that I travel, the more I realize, like the idea of being able to retreat from bad weather is appealing. And that's where, that's where the camper, at least for me, as a, as a traveler starts to make a lot more sense, you know, having been in really crappy weather in Iceland for days and [00:24:00] days and days at a time or in any other country It, it is fatiguing when you can't get away from that. And something like a sprinter is a pretty awesome way to do it.
Matt Scott: Yeah. I mean, close the door. You're done. You can park it in a city. You know, people are gonna know. I mean, guys that- like I used to live in Fruita Colorado. It's like a mountain bike van life mecha. And. No, they are, they all kind of roll in and they're like, Oh, I'm in my white sprinter. People think it's just a delivery van.
Scott Brady: Like a delivery van with like brand new BFGoodrich all-terrains and a winch bumper. Yeah.
Matt Scott: Like delivery- yeah. There's no such thing as a $200,000 custom delivery van. But I think the idea of the stealth campaign where nobody really knows, you know, unless you're putting Bob's plumbing on the side.
Scott Brady: That ship has sailed.
Matt Scott: Ship sailed.
Scott Brady: Especially 10 years ago, you could get away with it. But there's a bit a lot of like counter movement in this like boondocking and. People just camp wherever they [00:25:00] want and tell your ride right on the street. I mean, but a van is a great way to do that because it is much lower profile once you set up rough tenants.
Matt Scott: Yeah and I think it's probably like if you're going to do it the most respectful way to do it, as long as you know, you're, self-contained you know, people, Oh, what's the, what's the problem with me being there. Well, there's no problem with you camping there. It's just the fluids that have to find a way.
Scott Brady: Yeah, that's right.
Matt Scott: You know, somewhere. So...
Scott Brady: But I do like the idea of the sprinter and they are very popular all over the world. They're sold in most countries, there is good dealer infrastructure and support. And you do, especially in, in other countries, you will fly a little more under the radar when you're just driving down the road, it's not going to be this like, amazing gladiator on 37s. It's going to be-,
Matt Scott: That's the problem. That's my biggest problem with the G wagon, I think is, I mean, I could imagine driving like a lot of flat black twin turbo, G wagon or something in Uganda, and [00:26:00] maybe that's not the nicest thing to do.
Scott Brady: Maybe not, maybe not, but it's also very effective too. I mean, anyone in Uganda that drives a matte black G wagon. Is someone that no one's going to mess with. Like, like even someone that doesn't know what a G wagon is knows what a truck like that means. Like if you go into Russia, I mean, I guess the only problem you'd have in Russia is that the other guy with a matte black might think you're encroaching on his territory. *Laughs* but there is, at times there is an advantage to driving a vehicle that's highly disruptive. Where, because- and I'm not advocating for the display of wealth or luxury, that's not at all what I'm saying it's about being disruptive as a traveler when you come into an area with high security problems like what we did with expedition seven is we had several identically placarded vehicles that looked like an NGO, or it looked like an [00:27:00] ambulance. You know, it had a large Chevron on the door. It had chevrons down the side that looked very much like an ambulance. The whole idea, it's not to be deceptive. It's just to be disruptive enough to the local criminal. Doesn't try it. They don't even make an effort to do a carjacking or a break into your vehicle.
Matt Scott: Yeah, definitely. I mean and I think we should talk about the Tacoma and like the frontier too. Like these aren't bad choices. I will not consider them pinnacle choices. I know I'll have a million people on the internet yell at me. If I don't say that the Tacoma is an option.
Scott Brady: And it has been an option for a lot of people. They are still popular to use for international travel and their gasoline engine is a very reliable platform overall. There are some functional issues with the vehicle that make it perform at a standard that I consider below pinnacle now. Primarily the transmission ratio choices that Toyota went with. Once you start to [00:28:00] load them up I would actually almost say that they're dangerous. You know, because they just don't, they don't respond properly when you're trying to make a left hand turn, for example, if they're totally stock, they accelerate fine and you don't even notice it, but once you start to put them at, at payload at maximum payload they respond much differently. Even with stock diameter tires.
Matt Scott: I think nitro recommends like 488s for them. I think they have three 73s, I mean, that's a significant jump in gearing.
Scott Brady: And that's what it needs, and all Toyota really needs to do with the vehicle is just adjust the first and second gear ratios. You know, the first gear ratio on the Tacoma transmission is in the high threes. And whereas the gladiator is a five to one first gear. It's an enormous difference and that results in driver confidence. Like manufacturers there, I think they've lost the way [00:29:00] on how the vehicles interact with the driver. When a vehicle does certain things, right? It gives the driver confidence and that gives the person, it inspires them to buy another one. It gives them a good experience while they're driving it and that first and second gear ratio choice, on the newest model Tacoma was a miss.
Matt Scott: Yeah. I mean, the thing that I hold out for the Tacoma is that that is the first-generation I guess, of, of the third generation, even though it's really close to the second generation, I think that's also a failing Toyota had you know, there's always the glimmer of hope they'll go to a world model because the high Lux internationally, when that received its update that was essentially you know, a re body of the previous generation. So, you know, Toyota through an eight speed in that instead of a six speed. They probably would solve a lot of their problems, you know, if they added 20 horsepower. Problem solved, I mean-
Scott Brady: 20 foot pounds of torque is what I take personally.
Matt Scott: Yeah. I mean, this is going to happen. I think that's where I'm excited for the [00:30:00] Tacoma, it is inevitable. And they're going to have to give it a little bit more power in there. They know that they may have an issue, but they sell like hotcakes. So do they actually have an issue?
Scott Brady: They sell 200,000 units a year. It's a, it's a very logical choice for a lot of people. I think it's curious because people who are listening to this podcast that own a Tacoma will probably feel like we're being critical of their car. What's actually happened, the thing that's changed is that we have options now. So, the third generation Tacoma. If it was out five years ago, it would still be like we would have it on this list. We would say it's a pinnacle truck, but if you were to compare it against the new bison, the new bison is a better vehicle. If you compare it against the gladiator, the gladiator is a better vehicle. Now I'm not saying that they're more reliable, even though there are a lot of reliability indicators that do [00:31:00] speak very positively of the GM products now. I think that the Tacoma just now has a lot of competition and Toyota's an incredible brand. They're going to figure it out. They're going to be like, all right, sales are starting to shift towards our competitors. We're losing market share. We have an opportunity to tune the vehicle in a way now that addresses those competitive pressures.
Matt Scott: And I think that they're very expensive.
Scott Brady: They are. Says the guy who just bought a gladiator.
Matt Scott: Okay. Yeah. That's what everybody says to me. So my full disclosure, my gladiators have all the leather it's loaded with, whatever. I'm not saying this to gloat just as a position thing. It was 62.
Scott Brady: I think it was the only model you could buy the early.
Matt Scott: It was the only model that I could buy that early, but I have a winch compatible steel front bumper that has wings that can be removed. I have afforded one low range. I have locking differentials, front and rear. You know, it came with Fox shocks that have sliders. It has a steel rear bumper [00:32:00] with sliders. You know what, and it came with four 11 switches for up to 35s is totally sufficient. What would it cost you, if you're going to go down the more modified four wheel drive route, what would you know... and this is the Rubicon, so it has the appearance stuff. It has a hood. What would it cost for you to put a TRD pro, which is 45 grand and they're, I believe still selling for over sticker for some reason.
Scott Brady: They're great trucks.
Matt Scott: They're a great truck, but 45, 50 grand. And then you add what's a bumper cost. What's a slider cost? What does a rear bumper cost? Cause you're going to have to mount that tire somewhere and then you're going to have to regear. The gladiator becomes valuable.
Scott Brady: Yeah, it does. And I think the only, the only thing that gives it a little bit of a challenge is the bison cause the Bison is about $7,000 less. And it does have front and rear lockers and even a diesel engine, the gladiator will come out [00:33:00] soon enough. But you know, when we think about these pinnacle vehicles when you look at a pickup, I would be really inclined, you know, if I was going to look at a mid-size truck, I'd be really inclined towards a bison with a gasoline motor right now. And that would probably be what I would take around the world. And, and another option I would seriously consider would be a frontier. I mean they're so affordable.
Matt Scott: They're a global platform.
Scott Brady: Yeah, they are. I mean, a lot has changed with the Nevara and other markets and yeah. And I know that Nissan is, is right at the doorstep of a model change for that vehicle as well. But it is the most reliable vehicle of its class in the U S right now it's more reliable than the Tacoma, has fewer problems per thousand vehicles. It is a much better choice for reliability.
Matt Scott: It mystifies me why the new Navara over overseas is not sold here. Cause there, you know, the D 40, I want to say that what we're still getting is something that hasn't been sold overseas for sometime. I went to the press launch for the new [00:34:00] Nevara in Australia in 2015. You know, I was told there would be in the U S and you know, a year or so, but that chassis is phenomenal. It's coil sprung in the rear. It's really well balanced. I mean, it's so good. It's actually, what, what Mercedes chose to base their X class off of and Mercedes is. Crazy crazy particular with, with dynamics. Yeah, I mean, there's a lot of really good choices out there.
Scott Brady: I think the interesting thing about that frontier when I was talking with some of the program managers recently is they're selling more of them than they have even three years ago. So like they sell, they sell almost 80,000 frontiers. A year. That's a lot. That's a lot of trucks.
Matt Scott: On a car that they did their tooling 15 years ago.
Scott Brady: Yeah. They sell twice as many frontiers as Ford sells Rangers. And that's because they. They come across as very, as a great value. They come across. As very honest, they come across as very capable. You can get a pro Forex with a rear locker and a, a [00:35:00] large diameter tire. It has a larger displacement engine that has the best torque in its class. And these are, these are a lot of things that compel people to buy them. And if you go onto the website and you look at the MSRP, that is, they sell for much less than that. Yeah. You're going to pay a sticker for it to come. You're gonna pay three to five grand off stickers for a frontier. And that starts to be very, very compelling as far as the value. Well, let's talk about full-size trucks. What do you think? Is there anything that falls in that category?
Matt Scott: If we set aside that. That ultra low sulfur diesel thing and the diesel exhaust fluid thing. Yeah, the F-150 is a great choice. I mean, I took mine everywhere. I mean, it's big, but I always said if she fits, she gets. You can put massive tires on those things. They have the drive line, you know, a lot of times, even with large tires, they don't really require gearing. You know, but I think of full-sized trucks and, and then there's the [00:36:00] F-150 I mean, You know a very solid choice would be buy an F-150 throw a four wheel camper in the back and just go. But the Ram's fantastic. I mean, you can actually buy a Ram that I don't want to say bypasses the death, cause it still has death. Mario just bought that it was an ambulance commercial chassis. It will run completely illegally since it is a commercial vehicle. It won't go into limp home mode, which can be. Can be super valuable. You know, it has two fuel tanks and I want to say it was like, I think he paid 40 grand for that thing with the other 50 Cummins diesel. And now you're going to have to do some modification to that. But if you're, if you're going to do a flatbed or, or anything like that you know, those are great yes you can check his out AT Overland, his big boxes on it. That'll be an interesting project to watch. I mean, You know, going back to SEMA, my favorite truck at SEMA was AEVs new 2,500 and that [00:37:00] cool green color, that bumper, they finally did a little bit more brush guard style, which I liked for animal strike protection. And that was really cool.
Scott Brady: Totally agree. New rear bumper spare tire Mount. That thing looked literally ready to go around the world.
Matt Scott: You know, the thing I say about the full-size trucks. Yeah, in comparison to my gladiator where do you put that tire? You have to have a bumper or something. It's funny that my gladiator will fit a 37 underneath and a full size truck well, you know, a friend of mine has a, you know, a wedge style camper on his 2,500. Now he's a six and a half foot bed. I have a five foot bed on my gladiator, but I have completely vertical walls and I don't have to have my tire inside the bed. So, you know, granted you could do a swing away, but Swing aways are kind of few and far between for full-sized trucks.
Scott Brady: There's a lot of details in the gladiator that I, I really respect and it shows, I mean, Mark Allen, obviously it comes, comes back to the guy that's in charge of design and Mark Allen is an Overlander.
Matt Scott: He does it.
Scott Brady: He does it, like, he's been a subscriber to Overland [00:38:00] journal since the very beginning. So he, you know, and he looks at all of that. Like, how do I fit a 37 in the stock location? How do I make sure that it has the right payload? How do I make sure that the vehicle can be easily modified? And when you've got an organization that has people in charge that get it. You end up with vehicles like the gladiator, which were awesome choices.
Matt Scott: Yeah. Like I was just on that. I probably mentioned this was on the Rubicon maybe a few months ago with Mark and some of the engineering team, like you can't fake driving skill. Like I've, you know, we've both been on a lot of trails with designers and, you know, some are in velvet shoes, selling four wheel drives and. Some are in hiking boots spotting you. Yeah. And I think that's what's cool about Jeep.
Scott Brady: Totally, totally. All right so I guess the other elephant in the room is we haven't talked about land Rover yet. Does Land Rover currently sell a vehicle that you think is a pinnacle vehicle? Something you'd drive around the world?
Matt Scott: You know, we'll find out cause obviously we're going to drive the [00:39:00] defender soon in Namibia, which I think is why you don't send a car to Namibia if you're not trying to make a statement that it i s worthwhile. But I don't know. I don't think there's anything wrong with, with, or with Land Rover. I think they make fantastic vehicles for normal people. That's the problem is they're for normal people. It wouldn't, would I love to drive a Range Rover around the world. Yeah. Would I actually choose that over you know, some of the other pinnacle vehicles we've mentioned. I don't know. I Think I've lost a lot of confidence in Land Rover as, as far as you know, an international vehicle. There's just so many systems, you know, like the, the 200 series and the G class, those are luxury vehicles.. But underneath they're being used on a mine somewhere, a Range Rover is not being used as a mine foreman's truck or a military vehicle anywhere. I mean, maybe it's some general's vehicle out of the country, but sure. No, he's an army [00:40:00] behind him to fix it. Right. They're, they're great vehicles. They're, they're insanely capable off-road for what they are. But I feel like they're more like an X five these days and I wouldn't drive an X five around the world.
Scott Brady: Yeah you can definitely see that the, the priority for the organization has shifted towards making a premium luxury SUV.
Matt Scott: And their sales have skyrocketed because I mean, that's the thing.
Scott Brady: Can you fault it for them for it?
Matt Scott: I always give land Rover enthusiasts a little bit of grief. I mean, I love land Rover. We're both into this because of Land Rover, right? Like I've owned a bunch of them. They're some of the most emotional vehicles I've ever driven around. But land Rover enthusiasts don't buy new cars. Yeah. Like, I don't know. I, I don't know a single person with a discovery five right now that has taken it off road. I know a lot of people with and back in the day, I knew a lot of people with . But they bought them used for their second, third, fourth owner vehicles. And [00:41:00] unfortunately like for Land Rover owners, they don't come out of the factory with a hundred thousand miles for 10 grand. They're expensive cars. They depreciate rapidly. I mean, you can certainly argue that finding a used Land Rover is the only way to buy a land Rover. I mean, you can buy it but...
Scott Brady: Yeah, I think, it's just a different, they have a different goal. And if you look at a Range Rover now it is very much a luxury. You know, the discovery is very much like this family, and they're doing well. They're actually selling quite well, but you know, they're, they're like, It's this family truckster that has really good snow capability and you could take a camping trip and everything like that.. But it, they, it does seem like they're, they're trying to make a statement around utility and durability with the new defender. Now, you and I have seen the vehicle in person. We spent a lot of time with the car. We spent a lot of time with the engineers, so we know their intentions behind it, and I think their intentions are, at least, of the engineering team I think are quite good. I think they missed the mark [00:42:00] on some of the styling with the front end, but you know, the, the engineering for a modern vehicle, their intentions are good. But once we get it out in the deserts of Namibia, we'll have a much better idea.
Matt Scott: I think the vehicle in softer terrain will perform fantastically. You know, that much power in San deans with. What is phenomenal suspension for, for something like that, it's going to be really cool. A low center of gravity, you know, they have a roof tent that will be available for at high roof load. I would love a high payload. I would love this time next year to revisit this. And I'm rooting so hard for land Rover to be on this list. I just, you know, underneath. You know, I kind of drilled one of their engineers on this. Okay. How is this different from a discovery five? And they told me that the ball joint was five millimeters larger on the lower control arm. Okay. Discovery five wouldn't work for me. It's going to take a lot to convince me that, you know, the, the [00:43:00] changes that they have made.
Scott Brady: Yeah. What I'm trying to do is, is look at, look at the defender as an entirely new model. I think once you attach the name defender to it, it brings all of this heritage and legacy and passion that came with the original car. And for me, it starts to take my judgment on being able to assess the vehicle. You know, because I have a defender and I've driven defenders all over the world and I have a lot of passion for that model. So I'm trying to come into it with fresh eyes, but let's see, let's give it, let's give it some time and see where it goes.
Matt Scott: I mean, if it was the new discovery, it would be the world's best discovery.
Scott Brady: I know. It kind of reminds me of cause I owned a mark three range Rover and it was an, it was one of my favorite vehicles for what it was. And it reminds me of like, I just got a super utility version of a mark three range Rover, which to me seems exciting. And it seems, it seems honest and it seems appropriate. As a defender, time's going to tell if it's going to be a good [00:44:00] replacement for that vehicle.
Matt Scott: I had somebody say to me recently, it looks cool. What does it do for me that an LR4 doesn't for 15 grand. You know, and that's that repetitive cycle of the land Rover thing is why would, why would you buy one? Anyway.
Scott Brady: Well, that'll be an interesting one to see as the, as time develops. Right?
Matt Scott: And then, you know, internationally, we kind of touched on it. You know, there's some obvious choices for pinnacle vehicles, 70 series, you know, we put the defenders on that list with the new Puma motor. It drives great. I think it has a Mustang transmission now it's kind of. Cobbled together from Ford
Scott Brady: Was the last year of that cartoon.
Matt Scott: 16.
Scott Brady: Yeah.
Matt Scott: Yeah.
Scott Brady: So you can, I mean, one of our thoughts with this pinnacle vehicle, this was vehicles that were available within the last 10 years. So relatively new and you can find a 463 G wagon, which is what we'd recommend a four, six, one G wagon. Another great recommendation. Why 61 patrol?
Matt Scott: Highly underrated.
Scott Brady: Yeah highly underrated. You can find [00:45:00] that vehicle, they're still being sold in Saudi Arabia. They're were being sold as the, as the gazelle and as the Falcon, and other other models that are-
Matt Scott: Massive like gas engines and supercharged and turbocharged and do all kinds of things too,
Scott Brady: That's right. Yeah. So the Y61 patrol is still a great consideration. Obviously, any variant of the 70 series is going to be really worthwhile. And particularly if you buy it with the 18Z now I like the motor, the VDJ a lot. But the 18Z is a motor that's under stress all the time. If you're driving by yourself-
Matt Scott: It's really slow and you're not....
Scott Brady: Yeah, you're just not, you're not going to be in a rush.
Matt Scott: But we had one. I mean, that was what was in my 70 and my troopy I should say our troopy And it was fine. I wouldn't want to drive one in the United States,
Scott Brady: It would be brutal on the interstates,
Matt Scott: But I think once you get out of the U S like, it doesn't really matter. It's just, you're not going as fast.
Scott Brady: It just doesn't matter.
Matt Scott: You know, and, and just to touch on why we're, why we're focusing on things that are in the last 10 years is as one. I think [00:46:00] we want to reward companies for making, you know, we want to give them a nod for continuing to make these vehicles, but, you know, Vehicles are quite reliable right now. You know, again, we talked about the 80 series. Yes. The 80 series is very reliable. So is the 200 series, but you're not going to find an 80 for under 15 grand that has under 200,000 miles right now. Like, like you, you are at the point where it's, even if you find a low mileage vehicle, you still. You've timed out on things, like you said, the rubber, the gaskets, that kind of stuff.
Scott Brady: Electrical wiring.
Matt Scott: They're just not going to be as reliable. I mean, you have to want to drive that vehicle. It's my choice. Yeah. I mean, that's when I'll actually do it in but I've, I've spent a gladiator and refurbishment and purchase price on, on that vehicle and-
Scott Brady: There's a lot of advantage to leaving on a big trip. That's important to you. I mean, if you, if you think about most people that are doing a big Overland journey they call it the trip of the lifetime, right? And that's because in many cases that's the [00:47:00] only trip that they will do like that in their life. So you want, you want to pad the experience in as many ways as you can. Modern vehicles are more safe. They have airbags, they have better handling. They have better stopping performance. They have advanced abs. They have vehicles, stability control. And it's very easy to like the commercial. Curmudgeonly like an old timer to say, Oh, you don't need those systems. Well they say you don't need those systems because they don't understand how well they work and how many lives that they save.
Matt Scott: How much fatigue is reduced by radar cruise control. No compromise on my Jeep, for example, like. You know, we just drove to Overland expo East and back that was almost A 7,000 mile road trip. If I was in my land cruiser, I would have been able to do half the distance by maybe not half, but you know.
Scott Brady: A significant impact to the distance, right. That you can drive in a day. So driver fatigue is really important for the safety of yourself and your family members or your loved ones that you have along with you or your best [00:48:00] buddies that you've got along on this amazing trip. Why not make it safer? Why not make it more fuel efficient? Why not reduce the impact to the environment because of emissions, all of those things that modern vehicles have. It's easy to just take this puritanical approach of like, ER, it's, you know, it's not an 80 series, so I don't want it. I don't think that that works anymore. I think we have to, I think we have to be open-minded to the fact that technologies have changed. Vehicles have gotten better in many ways. You know 2019 a Wrangler is the most capable Wrangler ever made. You know, you can look, I can look back at my CJ seven that I had and a new, a new Rubicon would run circles around that tractor center who had run. Absolutely-
Matt Scott: That's the cool thing with the Wrangler. It's the only vehicle I know of that each year becomes more capable.
Scott Brady: It just gets better and better, you know, it just gets better and better.
Matt Scott: Obviously people get stuck on their model and JK guys like, Oh my jail's soft. Well, Stop saying that, cause it, in five years you're gonna be driving a jail and you're gonna be stoked about it.
Scott Brady: In most cases, what they're saying when they're being critical of a new [00:49:00] model is that they can't afford it. So now I've got to pick it apart so that I feel better about the fact that I can't afford it. But those are, like you said, those are the folks that in 10 years they'll be buying that vehicle because it'll be within their price range. And it isn't, it doesn't mean that new vehicles don't have. Faults. They certainly do. But if you look at the bison, it's the most capable mid-sized truck that GM has ever produced and it's available today. The gladiator is the Jeep pickup that we've always wanted, of course inspired heavily by AAVs brute. But the gladiator is it's the most capable Jeep pickup ever produced. And it's available today. The G wagon, the new model G wagon still has triple differential locks. The 200 series is still. One of them, as the engineer said, the most durable land cruiser they've ever made. So it's, it's really easy to be dismissive of modern vehicles. But I think in many cases they're listening to consumer needs and they're responding with trucks that people are passionate about.
Matt Scott: People are going to have car companies they're going to have to [00:50:00] specialize. Yeah. Will people like the need for a Hyundai Elantra, a launch? I dunno, whatever that thing, whatever it is, whatever the cheap Honda or the cheap Kia or whatever. You know, that's just going to be absorbed by ride sharing. It's going to be a commodity rental car or that kind of thing. So I think if these car companies want to exist, I think a lot of them are on the right path, jeep in particular.
Scott Brady: Build vehicles that people are passionate about, build vehicles that solve problems. And we've talked about a lot of those today. Those exist, these pinnacle vehicles are still available to us and we encourage them. Doing some research and don't just listening to what Matt and I are saying. This is based on our own experience, but a vehicle like a 200 series. When you look at the aftermarket options that are available for it and the global service, it's a very compelling choice.. Right on man. Well, we, yeah, we got a couple trips coming up. We got Africa.
Matt Scott: Yeah, I'm, I'm spending about a month in Baja and a few weeks in Africa. And I think we're going to try and do something, maybe Botswana, South Africa, February.
Scott Brady: Yeah. Go do some [00:51:00] adventure.
Matt Scott: And then Alaska, Yukon or learned territories for me probably two months next year, hopefully leaving right after Overland expo to avoid some of the mosquitoes.
Scott Brady: There you go. I love it. I love it. Well, thank you all for listening. Thank you for spending time with us on the Overland journal podcast. I'm your host, Scott Brady. You can find me on Instagram @Overlandjournal. You can find me at, @globaloverland and then we've got Matt Scott, where can people find you?
Matt Scott: Yeah, so you can find my sarcastic ramblings on Instagram at @Mattexplore. Follow me or don't or not. Now you're going to see, you're going to see a lot of cool trucks and also a lot of pictures of my Greyhound. So, you know.
Scott Brady: Tell people about your Greyhound, I think it's important.
Matt Scott: Yeah. So this is little Dakar. He's, he's actually, he's silent. He's just been hanging out here. You probably didn't even know he was here. Yeah. Super passionate about, about rescuing greyhounds. I can't tell you how much of a positive influence this dog has been in my life. It's been a great experience. There's dogs out there that need homes. You know, this guy is a little bit of separation [00:52:00] anxiety and that kind of stuff, but social. He's never, never chewed anything up. You know, we had them for two months and we took him to Baja for three weeks in the back of a Land Cruiser. I think these dogs are just there. I don't know. I would say greyhounds are very appreciative dogs.
Scott Brady: Yeah. They need homes.
Matt Scott: They need homes.
Scott Brady: So you take a look, take a look at that. When you look at your, yeah. When you look at your 200 series, switch over to another browser window and start looking for greyhounds. All right, everybody have a great week.
Matt Scott: Take care guys.