Off-Roading

2020 Mazda CX-30's all-wheel drive makes confident off-road adventuring possible

Mazda has employed an all-wheel drive system in the CX-30 that makes off-roading possible.

Photo courtesy of Mazda

At first glance, the 2020 Mazda CX-30 doesn't look like a vehicle you'd take off the beaten path. Its features are that of a city-focused crossover designed for strong fuel economy and chic style, not a vehicle that an owner would take it camping or fishing. Yet, the 2020 CX-30 is designed to do just that, thanks to a new setup for the vehicle's all-wheel drive system.

Under normal situations, the all-wheel drive system works as you'd expect it to. Power is shifted to the front or rear of the vehicle depending on conditions and driver input. Traction control maintains full alert, and the driver's aids are on standby in case they need to intervene. It's pretty normal stuff.

When the driver activates the off-road setting from the dash, the computer changes the parameters of the vehicle to make better use of the all-wheel drive for the non-road conditions.

To begin, the computer automatically sends 90-percent of power to the rear wheels. From there, it'll shift power forward if necessary. Additionally, the all-wheel drive system has a brake-based torque vectoring system that can apply the brakes to a spinning wheel to send power to the wheel that has traction. This prevents freewheeling off road.

Additionally, when on two wheels, power ends up going to the two wheels without traction – often the opposite corner of one wheel without traction – so the system will grab the brakes on those wheels to help regain power.

The traction control system stays active in the off-road setting, but the system doesn't intervene is quickly as it would on normal pavement. In sand and mud, a little traction is actually desired in order to keep the vehicle's momentum up. Understanding this, the engineers programmed in some slip to compensate.

While it's not as sophisticated as the all-wheel drive systems on some dedicated off-roaders, the system is there to make sure that the driver doesn't get stuck on the way to a campsite or can't get back up a hill that they found themselves down.

This is important because Mazda expects buyers of the CX-30 to be folks who want to go kayaking or mountain biking on the weekends. They may have a favorite campsite they want to visit. Because off road conditions can change, they want a vehicle that can adapt with it.

It's not a dedicated off-roader, like a Jeep Wrangler, but it should be able to handle most of what the typical customer will throw at it.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The Lexus J201 Concept will be put to the test in the Rebelle Rally this year.

Photo courtesy of Lexus

It's lifted. It's blacked out. And it's ready to hit the trail (and beyond). Meet the Lexus J201 Concept, a LX 570-based concept car that's the result of a partnership between Expedition Overland and Lexus. It's basically the LX 570 on off-roading steroids.

The concept model takes its roots in the off-roading community, a community that is known more for their acquisition of the LX's little brother, the GX, than the LX itself.

The concept didn't happen upon its name by some random luck of the draw. It takes its moniker from the code for the Lexus LX platform: URJ201. That's the same platform the Toyota Land Cruiser uses, however, the LX is rarely thought of as being as capable as the Land Cruiser.

Lexus J201 Concept

Photo courtesy of Lexus


With the design of the J201, Lexus and Expedition Overland strived to make a model that is both tasteful and capable. The concept had to be "always on" and ready to take on terrain in a better way than the standard LX. It also needed to be human-focused.

At the front is a CBI off-road bumper, Warn Zeon 10-S winch, and a 30-inch Rigid Industries RDS SR-Series Pro light bar. The rig rides on 17-inch x 8-inch EVO Corse DakarZero wheels wrapped in General Grabber X3 tires. It has drilled front and rear rotors, Super Sport performance brake pads, and color-matched calipers from StopTech.

The drivetrain has been improved by the addition of a Magnuson supercharger that helps the SUV deliver 550 horsepower and 550 pound-feet of torque. It has front and rear performance differentials and ARB air lockers. A TJM Airtec Snorkel helps with air flow. There's also an ARB high performance twin on-board compressor that is mounted using a Slee Off-Road system.

CBI Offroad rock sliders and skid plates protect the underside of the J201, which includes an Icon Vehicle Dynamics upgraded suspension. With the new suspension, the LX 570 has received a 2-inch front lift and a 1-inch rear lift in Normal Mode. With four settings, the suspension can provide up to 4.8 inches of lift at the front and 4.1 inches in the rear.

On top os a Prinsu Design roof rack system and a 40-inch Rigid Industries SR Series Spot Midnight light bar.

The rear of the car features a CBI Offroad rear bumper system with a rear ladder, dual swing-outs, spare tire, and Baja Designs S2 Sport lighting. Sceptor 5-gallon water can complete the exterior enhancements.

On the roof console there's a new ARB Line accessory interface to digitally control lighting, air lockers, and the compressor, as well as monitor the status of the battery and angle of the model.

Goose Gear drawer models are in the cargo area an house the car's Warn Epic Recovery Kit. Zero Halliburton has provided Pursuit Aluminum travel cases.

The J201 Concept will be put to the test by defending Rebelle Rally champions, Rachelle Croft and Taylor Pawley of The X Elles as part of the 2020 Rebelle Rally.

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