Road Trip

EarthCruiser Dual Cab FX, EXP overland adventure RVs are the ultimate overlanding rig

The EarthCruiser Dual Cab FX and EXP are designed to move families.

Photo courtesy of EarthCruiser

Earthcruiser has been making land-conquering recreational vehicles for some time, but they've always been missing the capability to haul a family in the cab. No longer. The 2020 EarthCruiser Dual Cab FX and EXP give families new options for hitting the open (and not so open) roads.

"We have been looking forward to the dual cab release since the V8 platform was first conceptualized. For years, our owners have been going farther, and living lives of true adventure. The dual cab platform allows our next generation of owners to share this lifestyle with their children, their parents, and their friends. Never before has true adventure been so inclusive," said Chad Knight, EarthCruiser General Manager.

Earthcruiser Dual Cab FX &  EXPThe models are equipped to handle tough terrain.Photo courtesy of EarthCruiser

The FX is a fixed-roof model. The EXP is a pop-top. Both have a dual cab that has seating for up to four passengers. At the front of the cab are two Scheelman captains chairs. The center console includes four cup holders, a map box with power ports, and a security safe.

The recreational vehicle (RV) has a wheelbase of 168.5 inches and a bumper-to-bumper length of 289 inches. That puts it about two feet longer than a Ford F-450 with a Super Cab and 8" bed. Current models use a Fuso chassis. The company will switch to a Chevrolet chassis in late 2021.

The camper box of both models features 77.25-inches of interior headroom, 87.7 square feet of space, a 166.5″ camper box.

The rig is powered by a 6.0-liter V8 engine that achieves 297 horsepower and 361 pound-feet of torque. The engine is paired with an Allison 1000 six-speed automatic transmission. It has a 60-gallon fuel tank.

Earthcruiser Dual Cab FX &  EXPHeavy-duty tires and underpinnings keep this model going in tough conditions.Photo courtesy of EarthCruiser

Each model has a two-speed transfer case, Dynatrac Pro Series 80 axles, and front and rear ARB air lockers. There are two onboard air compressors to actuate the ARB differential lockers. It also comes standard with Warn hubs, an alloy bullbar, brush guard, Warn front-mounted 16.5ti-s heavyweight winch (16,500 pounds of pull capacity), and radiator skid plate. A Vision X Shocker Dual Action LED light bar gives plenty of illumination up front.

The models' exterior is made of marine-grade materials, the likes of which can be found on luxury yachts worldwide. EarthCruiser has included sound damping material, which also helps regulate the temperature inside the RV.

There are two sleeping areas - three if you opt for the available sky bed. EarthCruiser says that the main full-size bed has 44 inches of headroom above it. The fiberglass molded dinette has leather cushions with under-seat storage. The table swings away and the area converts to a second bed.

There is a full-height shower and a composting toilet on-board. There is also an exterior hot and cold water shower, water faucet, and purified drinking water faucet.

Earthcruiser Dual Cab FX &  EXP: Kitchen

Earthcruiser Dual Cab FX &  EXP

Photo courtesy of EarthCruiser


Clean and purified water comes from an interior-mounted Shurflo freshwater pump and purification system. Water tanks hold water for later use.

Other amenities include a galley-style kitchen that fits an Isotherm 4.24 cubic-foot 12-volt upright stainless steel refrigerator/freezer, casement-style windows, a one-piece fiberglass countertop with induction cooktop and stainless steel sink, and a coffee bar located next to the dinette.

The RV comes standard with a 400 am lithium battery and buyers can choose to upgrade to double that size. To keep charged up, the system uses a Mastervolt DC/DC 50A alternator charger, 3000W Mastervolt Combi inverter/charger, and three 108 watt SUNFLARE solar panels. Up to five solar panels are available.

There are AC, 12-volt, and USB outlets. A master control panel allows for easy access to critical systems. Interior and exterior LED lights vary in brightness and density. A dual alternator charging system is available.

EarthCruiser has equipped the RVs with a gas-powered Webasto Air Top Evo 40, along with a Bosch hot water heater.

There's plenty of storage too. EarthCruiser has designed each model to have flush-mounted and lockable storage cubbies, chassis-mounted storage boxes, an available fiberglass rear-mounted storage box, storage compartments under the bed, under-cooktop and sink-top storage, and under-cabin storage.

Additional options include a a rear-mounted WARN winch, second locking/tilting spare tire carrier, additional sound-deadening materials, bumper-mounted expedition kit, upgraded exterior light packages, microwave, bug screen, air conditioner, composting toilet, and a forward-facing camera.

EarthCruiser can also customize the models for winter use with thermal barriers and redundant freeze protection systems.

Depending on the model you choose, the EarthCruiser FX and EXP will cost you either slightly less or significantly more than a Mercedes-Maybach S 650. With options, you're heading into Rolls-Royce territory.

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The Hemi Orange package brings unqiue style to the Durango.

Dodge

The Dodge Durango isnt the newest or most refined SUV on the market, but it offers great comfort, good tech, and a handful of raucous powertrian options. The long-running family hauler is due for an update, but in the meantime, Dodge has given it a new Hemi Orange package with unique styling touches.

Dodge already offers the Hemi Orange package fo the Challenger and Charger, and now it's available for the three-row Durango. The package is available for the R/T trim, which comes with a 5.7-liter V8.

Dodge Durango Hemi OrangeDodge offers four exterior colors with the package. Dodge

Much of the Orange package's content comes on the outside, where Dodge adds orange and gunmetal hod stripes, black taillights, and grey/orange badging. The SUV rides on black 20-inch wheels, and Dodge offers different black "Lights Out" 20-inch wheels. Four exterior colors are available: Destroyer Grey, Diamond Black, Octane Red, and White Knuckle. Inside, the Durango gets orange sticthing and unique patterns in the upholstery. Dodge says the stitching extends throughout the interior, including to the gauge cluster, armrests, console lid, and steering wheel.

Two upgrades are available for the Hemi Orange Durango. The first is the Orange Plus Package, which adds a power sunroof, a 19-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, and a load of driver aids. The Tow N Go package is available for four-wheel drive models, and brings the 20-inch Lights Out wheels, orange brake calipers, and a Bilstein high-performance suspension system.

The Durango R/T Hemi Orange is available now. It carries a price tag of $1,995. The Orange Plus package costs $4,500 and the Tow N Go package costs $5,095.

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The ZR2 is a beefy off-road pickup.

Chevrolet

Chevrolet has added a beefed-up version of its half-ton pickup to the 2022 Silverado lineup that has more capability and comfort for towing and hauling loads, traveling to hard jobs over a variety of road surfaces and a better 4WD game for backcountry travel. I recently joined the Bow-Tie brand for a 200-mile-long evaluation of the first-ever Chevy ZR2. Our day-long test drive took us from the popular desert playground of Palm Springs, located in a verdant valley surrounded by 5,000 to 10,000-foot mountains, to swaths of nearby desert. There, we traveled along a collection of dirt trails in Joshua Tree National Forest and on a 4WD mining trail to abandoned gold mines, with rugged topography that allowed us to try out the truck’s updated hardware that has been engineered to bring an ease of operation and safety for motoring over tough and technical terrain.

2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2The ZR2 gets several exclusive touches that set it apart from a standard Silverado.Chevrolet

Chevy has made some significant changes to the 2022 Silverado lineup from outside to in and has added Super Cruise, a hands-free drive mode that we were able to try out on local highways in the Palm Springs environs, as we also checked out different trim levels and new technologies. Updates of note are new interior styling, freshened materials and premium trims; a new dashboard and digital displays with a 12.3-inch fully digital gauge cluster and a 13.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system (with Google’s Maps, Assistant and Play Store as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay); and an electronic shifter mounted to the center console. However, our primary task was to focus on the all-new ZR2 that has been set up with a 420-hp 6.2-liter V-8 engine, rides on 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territory tires, boasts a new suspension with Multimatic spool-valve dampers, and has electronic-locking front and rear differentials. Elements of the ZR2 and this moniker have been used previously on a special edition of Chevy’s compact truck.

In addition to its functional features, the new Silverado ZR2 stands apart from its stablemates by a collection of unique design cues, including a distinctive front end with a new black hood insert; a large-sized grille with a hollowed-out ‘flow-tie’ emblem for increased air flow and integrated lighting; wheel moldings, ZR2 badges, unique 18-inch wheels and an exclusive Jet Black/Graystone leather-trimmed interior matched with an appealing dark trim. Overall, the truck looks slightly aggressive and fit. The 2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 competes with other full-sized desert-running and off-road trucks from Ford and Ram. It’s only offered with a crew-cab body style and either the short- or standard-length cargo boxes with an optional Multi-Flex Tailgate. On sale now, it starts at $67,600 (plus $1,695 destination and delivery)

Chevy’s flagship off-road pickup can tow 8,900 pounds with a conventional trailer hitch and haul up to 1,440 pounds of payload, with more comfortable ride as a result of the spool-valved dampers and specially-tuned springs that bring increased wheel travel when compared to the Trail Boss trim, for instance. This also translates to improved control and greater safety on the road, which we found impressive during our highway driving. The truck has a number of new standard safety features, as well.

2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2The off-road can tow up to 8,900 pounds and haul up to 1,440 pounds.Chevrolet

Added to Chevy’s in-house testing of the truck in everyday driving and extremes, we learned that the new pickup has been put to the test over the past three years by Chad Hall, who is a highly-respected off-roader and noted desert racer. The production truck and Hall’s prototype race truck share most of the major chassis and drivetrain components, including the robust ladder-type frame; the 420-horsepower V-8 and 10-speed automatic transmission; transfer case; front and rear differentials; plus the front and transfer case skid plates, says Chevy. (See below for more info on Hall’s racing success in this truck.)

We sampled a number of the truck’s technologies during our day-long drive, checking the boxes for both high-speed desert-running and slow-speed rock crawling. Overall, there was good power on tap with plenty of torque to move the half-ton’s 5,800-pound mass, smooth shifts from the 10-speed transmission, good brakes to slow our momentum when needed, and a comfortable ride- even over rugged roads and washboard.

I was excited to experience the ZR2’s talents on some isolated backcountry roads including the Old Dale and Black Eagle Mine Roads 4WD trail, where posted signage warned “Proceed at your own risk: Deep sand and rocks-- stranded drivers have died from heat exposure on park roads.” Truth is, this is just the kind of picturesque and formidable place that 4WD enthusiasts love to explore with a truck that can take you there—and bring you back safely.

2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2Chev updated the Silverado's interior with better tech and upscale luxury features.Chevrolet

What makes the ZR2 with its rear leaf-spring set-up abona-fide off-roader? In front are tow hooks and a skid plate underneath the high-mounted steel front bumper, with a 31.8-degree approach angle. Other numbers of note are the: 23.4 breakover angle; 23.3 departure angle; 11.2 inches of ground clearance; with 9.84 inches of suspension travel in front and 10.62 inches in the rear. Its width is 81.2 inches, which helps compared to some of its competitors, as it is more “parkable” in many garages and we found it maneuvered well when navigating through narrow sections of rock. Engineers have also repositioned the dual exhaust for added protection.

One of the truck’s top cool new features is the selectable Terrain Mode that allows for one-pedal driving; this cruise-control-like technology is particularly useful for motoring over rocks and up and down steep slopes. To engage, we locked the ZR2 into 4WD Low, set first gear and let the engineering do the driving, using the throttle to increase speed and the brake to decrease speed, when needed. A forward-facing camera provides visibility to the front and sides, as well as to the back which is another great feature for navigating technical terrain.

*Fuel economy estimates sit at 14 mpg in the city, 17 on the highway and 15 combined. the 24-gallon ZR2’s 360-mile range.

**FAST FACT: Chad Hall Racing also helped test the Chevy Colorado ZR2 off-road technologies in competition — and is still going strong with them. The Colorado ZR2 has been racing since 2017 in the Best in The Desert series and is the only truck in its class to have finished every race entered. It has accumulated more than 22,500 miles of racing experience.

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