Q: What is an Off-Road Vehicle?

December 17, 2013 12:53 PM

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Off-road vehicles have become popular because they can be used for transportation, sightseeing, racing and many other purposes. Their ability to drive on nonstandard terrains makes them an interesting option for many drivers. Simply put, an off-road vehicle is any type of vehicle that can drive on gravel, pavement, and other surfaces that cars usually can't be driven upon (e.g., over sand or rocks).

Off-road vehicles often have similar features such as:

* Large tires with deep treads

* High ground clearance

* 4-wheel drive

* Generous car suspension travel

Historians believe the first off-road vehicle was built in Russia for Czar Nicholas II in the early 1900s. Designed as a half-track (front wheels with continuous tracks in the rear) by French military engineer Adolphe Kegresse, it featured ruggedness with increased mobility. Now off-road vehicles are used for various purposes. The military often uses these vehicles to traverse areas where roads don't exist. If you've seen war movies where military personnel are driving a jeep through enemy territory, you've probably seen an off-road vehicle. However, civilians use off-road vehicles as well. Off-road vehicles are used in motorized sports events like monster truck rallies, desert races and demolition derbies. In addition, popular vehicles with off-road capabilities like SUVs (sports utility vehicles) and 4x4 pickup trucks are often used for both transportation and recreation.

If you plan to purchase an off-road vehicle that will double as road transportation, you need to consider various factors. Generally, these vehicles are more expensive because of purchase price, maintenance, fuel, and insurance. They tend to be larger than standard-size cars, and they have the capability to perform tasks like hauling and towing. They can be used to reach remote areas that aren't accessible to regular cars, making them very useful on hunting, fishing, or sightseeing trips. However, their high clearance can make them more unstable during stopping and turning maneuvers.

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