Everyone wants to take their own SUVs off the road into places which are otherwise tough to approach via a normal vehicle. However, one must keep in mind the capabilities of their SUV and most importantly, the set-up it comes with. There are different ways in which power is transferred to the road in an SUV and this will have an impact on its off-road credentials. This is clearly seen in the video below.

This video was shot in Goa during Apollo Tyres’ #BadRoadBuddies event. All the three SUVs seen in the video were fitted with Apollo Apterra tyres and attempted the same off-road section. The vehicles are being driven by off-road enthusiasts, but not experts in particular.

Types of SUVs

An SUV can have four different ways in which power is transmitted to the wheels. These include RWD or rear wheel drive, FWD or front wheel drive, AWD or all-wheel drive and a proper 4×4 set-up. The cars you see in this video include the Nexon which is a FWD, Hexa which is an AWD and the Fortuner which is a proper 4×4. Do note that while the Hexa AWD comes with 19-inch alloy wheels, this one wore 16 inch rims that allow for a taller side wall and hence comfort. Back to the video, as you can see, the Nexon struggles a lot while climbing the uphill section which has a lot of sand that further reduces traction. The driver eventually has to give up and reverses out.

The Hexa comes in next. The car is in ‘Rough Rode’ mode which is apt for off-roading. It is a heavy vehicle and takes a while gaining traction but finally makes it out. The absence of low ratio, understandable in a cross-UV, does make it hard for the driver to push the vehicle out of the section. And finally the Fortuner drives in. It is slotted in 4×4 low which means oodles of torque low down in the rev range. The Fortuner makes it look so easy, doesn’t it? We believe it was in the 2nd gear and required a gentle input from the accelerator pedal to climb the section.

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Lessons to be learnt

Indians loves SUVs and the popularity of models like the Brezza, XUV300 and Harrier is a testimony to this fact. But owners should keep in mind that these are not ‘real’ SUVs and have their limitations when it comes to tackling off road sections. Further, if you own these cars, never venture out in the unknown alone as if the car gets stuck, it can be difficult to get help in remote areas. Unfortunately, compact SUVs in India are not offered with optional AWD or 4×4 and the most affordable model comes from Renault in the form of the Duster AWD. The Thar has a proper 4×4 but lacks creature comforts.