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 &  EXP The 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 &  EXP Heavy-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

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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Updated compact SUV

2022 Nissan Rogue gets new VC Turbo engine

The Rogue was fully redesigned last year.

Nissan

Nissan refreshed its best-selling vehicle, the Rogue SUV, in 2021 with a grown-up new look and plenty of new tech. Changes the year after a major overhaul are usually minor, but for 2022 Nissan's giving the Rogue a new powertrain. A brand-new 1.5-liter variable compression (VC) Turbo engine is on board, producing 201 horsepower and 225 pound-feet of torque.

2022 Nissan Rogue The new VC engine can change its compression to adapt to driving conditions.Nissan

Power is up 11 percent and torque is up a staggering 24 percent with the new power plant. The variable compression engine is capable of adapting to changing driving conditions. When the driver needs more power, the engine shifts to higher compression, which delivers better acceleration at the expense of fuel economy. When efficiency is best, the engine changes its compression again. The VC engines made their debut in 2019 in both the Infiniti QX50 and Nissan Altima. It's trick engine technology, but it doesn't always deliver on its promise of efficiency gains. Nissan's continuously variable transmission is still in place, though it has been improved with 17 percent wider gear ratio coverage and 32 percent lower friction. The automaker says it helps deliver better acceleration and fuel economy.

2022 Nissan Rogue Top Rogue trims get upscale finishes and a handsome cabin.Nissan

Pricing for the 2022 Rogue S FWD starts at $27,875, including a $1,175 destination charge. Adding all-wheel drive pushes the price by $1,500. Nissan offers three packages for the SUV as well, including a $2,660 SV Premium Package, a $1,320 SL Premium Package, and a $400 10.8-inch head-up display for the top Platinum trim.

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New compact pickup truck

2022 Ford Maverick: A small truck with big ability

The Maverick can tow up to 4,000 pounds when properly equipped.

Ford

Pickup trucks are big. And, over the past two decades as sales have skyrocketed in this segment of the automotive market, mid-sized, full-sized and Super Duty-sized trucks have grown more popular and larger in nearly every dimension. Bigger was better. However, for Ford and many buyers now, the option of a pickup with tidy dimensions is . The 2022 Ford Maverick is the revitalization of the compact truck and this all-new model is filled with a host of surprises and appealing features. Among the surprises are clever design and storage solutions, with the built-in opportunity for DIY customization, as well as a long list of available accessories.

2022 Ford Maverick The Maverick's bed can swallow 4x8 sheets of plywood.Ford

The Maverick starts at $19,995 and comes standard with a hybrid powertrain. A 2.0-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost engine is available. Ford says over 100,000 customers have already ordered the entry-level pickup that comes with a 4.5-foot bed and a crew cab body style only. Both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive versions are available, although AWD can be optioned with the gasoline engine. The mini-truck comes in XL, XLT and Lariat trims, with an available FX4 package that adds toughness and technology for off-the-road terrain. The package adds different suspension tuning, underbody protection, all-terrain tires, and backcountry drive modes, like Mud/Ruts and Sand, as well as Hill Descent Control. A First Edition Package offered for the first model year only comes on the Lariat trim and brings unique graphics, trims, and wheels. Sized like Ford's Ranger and other compact trucks of the past, Maverick is the solo offering in this reborn segment, although some might cross-shop it with the all-new Hyundai Santa Cruz that has a truck bed, but is pitched as a sports activity vehicle.

The Maverick is built on the same unibody platform and high-strength steel subframe as the Ford Escape and Bronco Sport. In the right light, it even looks a bit like the "baby Bronco" from the front with an upright body style, an eye-attracting front face and Ford's drop-down side windows. Standard LED headlights flank the grille while bed rail caps are vertical and extend from the bed to the top of the back window. One of the most appealing features of the truck is Flexbed that offers many different ways to organize and stow cargo within the bed's box 54.4-inch back end that can accommodate 4 x 8 sheets of plywood and has low sides for easy access along with a multi-position tailgate. Of note, Maverick has standard built-in 12-volt electrical power prewired on both sides of the bed at the rear to help with DIY electrical projects, plus two available 110-volt 400-watt outlets (one in the bed and one in the cabin) to power phones, laptops, small TVs and small corded tools. Fun features are under-the-bed stowage and a tailgate cleat that serves as a bottle opener.

2022 Ford Maverick An eight-inch touchscreen is standard. Ford

The base powertrain's hybrid is motivated by a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder that is shifted through Ford's PowerSplit CVT transmission; the internal combustion engine joins with an electric motor to improve fuel economy and bring a power boost. This Maverick version has 191 combined horsepower sent to the front wheels and 155 lb.-ft of torque while the 2.0-liter EcoBoost directs 250 horsepower and 277 lb.-ft of torque to either the front wheels or all (for the AWD) and is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Drive modes include Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Tow/Haul. The hybrid has a payload of 1,500 pounds that can accommodate an ATV in back and a tow rating of 2,000 pounds, which will allow the truck to tow a pair of personal watercraft or small camper. The EcoBoost-powered truck equipped with the optional 4,000-pound Tow Package can tug a 21-foot boat.

We sampled a few different trucks and performed some towing and hauling exercises on roadways in the Nashville, TN environs. Top of our "likes" list is the hybrid powertrain that garnered great fuel economy and moves quickly when motivated by the throttle, as a result of good torque-on-tap. We were impressed by the backcountry prowess of the FX4 model that we motored on a dirt tow track that included a modest uphill climb and a section with a small rock ledge. The truck performed well with no slippage or drama. Of note, the AWD set-up has a more sophisticated rear suspension, a multi-link configuration in place of the front-driver's torsion-beam design.

2022 Ford Maverick Two powertrains are offered, including an incredibly efficient hybrid.Ford

The Maverick interior is somewhat simple and utilitarian, with materials and surfaces that favor function over form. The doors have large pockets that can hold a one-liter water bottle, and there are cupholders to hold up to 18 beverages, plus store a tablet or notebook. Base trucks are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto-ready with a 8.0-inch touch screen for infotainment and ride on painted 17-inch steel wheels. Uplevel trucks get a few extra goodies, with wheel options that include 18-inchers. The five-passenger, four-door truck has a clever and deep stowage well under the rear seat that can even hold a fully-inflated basketball. The compact truck is projected to get better fuel economy than a Honda Civic; Ford says the hybrid can achieve up to 40 mpg city and has a 500-mile-long range on a single tank of gas. During our day-long drive exercises, we actually had a slightly higher rating.

There are a number of standard safety features onboard with Ford Co-Pilot 360, such as Pre-Collision Assist with Emergency Braking and Automatic High Beams Headlights and a list of optional safety technologies that includes Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go, Blind Spot Information with Cross Traffic Alert and more.

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