That off-the-lot SUV might feel like it’s ready head to the mountains and take the road less traveled. But if you are serious about going where no 4x4 has gone before, you’re gonna need some serious upgrades.
To learn how to max out an SUV for the true off-road experience, we tapped the experts at East Coast Defender, who do custom retrofits of Land Rover Defenders to meet every owner’s exact requirements — whether that’s loading up a large family (read: nine seats) for a weekend in the sticks or handing a restaurant valet the keys to the sexiest ride he’ll park all night.
Don’t let the pretty exterior fool you, though: their builds are created to take a beating. Here’s what ECD say a man needs to upgrade a run-of-a-mill SUV to full adventure status.
Why you need them: “Bigger tires equal better grip on varying surfaces.” Think hiking boots vs. sneakers.
Why you need it: “Lifted suspension gives more ground clearance, making it easier to surpass obstacles that would damage the undercarriage of a normal vehicle.” That maddening scrape you hear when you traverse something you thought your vehicle could clear: that’s what we’re trying to avoid here.
Why you need it: “Roll cages are for extra safety and protection for you and the occupants.” Hopefully you’ll never need this to perform what it’s intended for — but if you’re gettin’ serious about off-roading, fortune favors the prepared.
Why you need it: “To pull yourself out of any really sticky situations. In reality you will probably end up helping others out of sticky situations in their Jeeps.” A win-win situation. Either you get yourself out of a bind or you get to play the bad a** hero who saves the day for someone with a sub-par set of off-roading wheels.
Why you need it: See Roll Cage.
Images via East Coast Defender