Simple, straight forward off-road vehicles are tougher to find in these days of sophisticated technology, but one Russian brand has the answer.
The UAZ Hunter Expedition is based on the military-spec UAZ-469 which was introduced in 1971. Back then, the transport had a 75 horsepower, gas four-cylinder engine that made around 147 lb-ft of torque. It hasn’t changed much. The whole purpose of the UAZ-469 and its subsequent updates is to be rugged, reliable and utilitarian.
Not only has the Russian military driven this vehicle for years, other military and civilian buyers have driven this vehicle for decades. There have been a few notable versions of the UAZ-469, including soft-top versions and a later model that was sold to the public.
The 2020 version:
The UAZ formula remains about the same with a few upgrades including some comfort touches. It still has a short wheelbase of 94-inches (the current 2-door Wrangler has a 96-inch wheelbase). It also has about 9.5-inches of ground clearance and a water-fording depth of around 20-inches.
The UAZ Hunter Expedition now has a 2.6-liter four-cylinder gas power plant that makes 128 hp and 150 lb-ft of torque. The only transmission is a five-speed manual and it has a locking rear differential.
The UAZ Hunter Expedition has a few additions including an all-new folding tailgate design. The older version had a swinging rear door which limited some functionality. Also, this newest model has heated front seats and all seating surfaces are covered in a strong water repelling fabric.
On a personal note: I drove one of these in the Middle East for a few days and, while it’s not as comfortable as a CJ5, it is extremely capable in the rough. Even with skinny, military-spec tires. This new one is riding fancy on BFGoodrich T/As!
Wish we could get one here.
Speaking of vehicles we wish we could drive…