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: Interior Storage

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 concept has been extensively modified for a life lived off the beaten path.

GMC

Overlanding has become a world of its own, with several parts and vehicle customization companies, media publications, and guide services popping up all over the place. GMC realizes this, and to capitalize on the overlanding craze, the automaker built a Canyon AT4 OVRLANDX off-road concept to show off at the Overland Expo Mountain West 2021, which took place last week.


GMC Canyon AT4 OVRLANDX Concept The OVRLANDX concept carries a kitchenette, solar panels, and more.GMC


Some of the upgrades on the truck include:

  • Cast-iron control arms
  • A heavy-duty front bumper with winch
  • Front and rear electronic locking differentials
  • An off-road jack and mount
  • Multimatic DSSV dampers
  • Off-road rocker panel protectors


Listing the rest of the upgrades would take more words than anybody cares to read but rest assured that they are plentiful and impressive. GMC says that the concept truck gained legitimate capability from the upgrades. The approach angle is 27.7 degrees, and the truck can ford water up to 32.1 inches, which come thanks to a ground clearance of 10 inches and a custom-built snorkel system. The truck rides on 17-inch wheels wrapped in 33-inch BFGoodrich KM3 mud-terrain tires.

Since it's an overlanding concept, the truck needs the ability to support its passengers well off the beaten path. To do that, GMC gave the Canyon AT4 OVRLANDX a cooler and kitchenette, solar panel, and a truck bed storage system with drawers.



GMC Canyon AT4 OVRLANDX Concept You can build something similar to the concept with off-the-shelf parts.GMC


As a concept truck, it's unlikely the AT4 overlanding rig will make it into production as it sits. That said, it's an interesting idea for an intrepid Canyon owner to use as a blueprint. Outside of the chassis work, most of the parts and upgrades can be purchased and installed without a major hassle, but if you're in the market to build a rig, it's best to research your truck's payload capacity and capabilities before overloading for overlanding.

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Family driving

Can your family live with a convertible?

Convertibles are fun, but can your family handle the size and driving experience?

BMW

Testing convertibles is always great fun, but they sometimes show up when the weather isn't ideal. Here in Maine, our drop-top driving season is fleeting, which can make for a tricky time driving with the top down. This year, however, a 2021 BMW 430i Convertible showed up in early August and I had an entire week of sun to soak up in the open air. I have two children, however, and own a three-row SUV to haul them, their friends, and all the accompanying gear. Squeezing into a convertible is possible and even fun at times, but it got me thinking: Could a convertible be a car we could live with on a daily basis? The answer for me is no, but there's more to the story, and I'm certainly not ruling out a drop-top purchase for my family at some point in the future.

Of course, none of this came as a surprise to me. Last year, I tested the BMW M850i Convertible, and while it was a blast, there was nothing about it that screamed "family car." This BMW is no different, but my younger daughter's shift to a booster seat from a full-size harness car seat made the back-seat fit for both of my kids much easier. Now, it's a little easier to see how the 430i Convertible could be a perfect weekend or summer car for a family that is already set with roomy daily drivers.

Here's how owning a convertible might play out for your family.


2021 BMW 430i Convertible The BMW 430i Convertible is premium, inside and out.BMW

Open-Top Fun – At a Cost

This BMW's price tag lands in the mid-$50,000 range with a few desirable options, which is about right for a premium brand convertible. There are much cheaper options to be had, however, in the Ford Mustang or Chevrolet Camaro. Both cars come in a convertible format and can be found for around half the price of the BMW. There are performance and luxury penalties when moving to the less expensive options, but for most people the draw of a convertible is the open-top experience itself. You don't absolutely need screaming performance or a top-notch interior to get the full convertible experience.

Good in Small Doses

My kids are over the moon about riding in a convertible for a while, and then spend the rest of the time complaining about noise, bugs, and wind. Rolling the side windows up helps, and models with a retractable rear windscreen are even better, but the reality is that some kids are not the best at dealing with outside-the-norm car experiences. More often than not, we'd end up driving for half an hour or so with the top down, a few more minutes with the windows up, and then the rest of the time with the top closed. That's no fun in a small car that feels even smaller with the top up.


2021 BMW 430i Convertible If your kids are like mine, the open-top experience comes with some tradeoffs.BMW

Weather Woes

I get that most of you don't live in Maine like I do, and that your spring, summer, and fall months extend longer throughout the year. You're able to enjoy the open-top driving experience more often than those of us in New England, but there will still be times that driving a convertible is less than enjoyable. If you live in Florida, for instance, how often are you going to want to drive with the top down when it's 90 degrees with 80 percent humidity under the bright sun? Even with the wind in your hair, that will get old. Keep this in mind if you're shopping for a convertible.

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