Brad and Michelle rose to the sound of chirping birds, the cool Calgarian air entering their house. It was test drive day. 10 different dealerships were marked down for the couple to visit.
“Offroad testing, how are we going to do that?” Michelle asked,
“We trust the reviews, that’s all! The offroad fun comes once we’re touring the world. Speaking of which, we accidentally rerouted ourselves into North Korea instead of taking a ferry into South Korea. We gotta change that.”
“Anyways, yes! Let’s get testing.”
“I’m worried already…”
@MrChips - Rebel Overland 1500 SuperCab 2WD
The Rebel was the first vehicle up. The couple visited the humble Crowfoot dealership where they were greeted by a young fellow in a cowboy hat. Stampede was long over though, wasn’t it?
“Howdy! What brings y’all in today?” The salesman asserted himself on them right when they walked through the sliding doors.
“I wanna try one of your Overlands! SuperCab, base model.” Brad requested
“Right away sir! Yeehaw!”
A blue Overland sat outside the parking lot. It looked even more charming out in the sun. Brad looked under and noticed its rather high-end use of materials, yet the brakes caught his attention. Quite a large drum brake sat in the rear. Interesting.
Michelle sat inside the vehicle and noticed that the interior was rather barren for its $40 000 price tag. Brad instantly got to testing the build quality of the interior, and to his surprise, everything was quite solid.
“Take ‘er for a rip bud! You got the most badass truck in the lot. She got offroad tires, Apple Carplay, work-rated seats-”
“Does it have any parking sensors or blind spot jazz?” Michelle asked,
“None of it. Gon’ be a pain in the ass tryna park!” Brad interjected. The salesman immediately chimed in.
“It does however, have a great backup camera! That should help you a ton when-”
Before the salesman could say anymore, Brad started the truck up. The monstrous roar of its 6.8 litre V8 echoed across Crowchild. Brad immediately threw the lever into reverse to verify the salesman’s rhetoric.
“It’s all pixelated and there ain’t no trajectory when I move the wheel…”
The salesman, all out of ideas, left them to give the vehicle a spin. Driving the truck on some rougher local roads was a bit of an uncomfortable experience. The seats were nothing special and barely bolstered them in as they whipped around yield lanes with might. Surprisingly, the truck was able to handle it. It was then time to merge onto Crowchild, in which Brad stepped on it to do so. The rear end of the Overland kicked out, the sound of the tires screeching accompanying it. The poor rubber just couldn’t keep the car gripped under heavy throttle inputs. Afterwards however, the truck chugged onto the busy road like nothing.
“Woah!! This thing is quick!” Brad said, trying to speak over the roar of the engine. Going over potholes was a different story. Any significant bump and the truck would throw its passengers up in the air, then back down. This got especially bad when driving through the rougher roads leading to Stoney. The Rebel shook side to side as it tried to venture over the bumpy terrain. Suddenly, a beige Corolla cut in front of the large truck, forcing Brad to slam on the brakes. As the horn sounded, the Rebel got unstable, sliding its tail out to the side. Brad fought the Overland for control, eventually coming to a stop.
“What the hell, did the front brakes not lock up?”
Just like that, the couple turned around back to the dealership, where Brad read the gauge and found out he got a whopping 16 miles to the gallon on his test drive. They hopped back into their sputtering Jinhe and drove to the next dealership.
@Cheeseman - KAG Loadstar Westfalia Camper XTrek 2.7 i5 Turbo
The couple’s next stop was the KAG dealership somewhere around Northland. A Jaju sat at the front, catching Michelle’s attention.
“Hah, it’s a cute little car!”
An Asian salesman welcomed them.
Michelle, to her confusion, responded on a whim, bowing afterwards.
“What may we locate for you today?”
“You got one of em Loader star camper thangs?” Brad asked
The salesman nodded his head and guided them to the massive van. Michelle’s face started to gleam. She loved how cool the thing just looked. Opening the rear door, she hopped in, entranced by the amount of damn space this thing had. The salesman then swiveled the seat, explaining to the couple how convenient this would be for the ‘long trek’ they mentioned. Brad folded the seat right into a bed and laid down while the salesman talked him through the rest of the features. He was quite impressed. After checking out the infotainment and such, the van was on the road. Although its heated and cooled leather seats were plush, the ride quality was harsh. It had the rear suspension of a utility vehicle, which came to their discomfort. Merging onto the Trans-Canada wasn’t too horrible. The KAG eventually got going fine after a bit of a push. Not too bad, although a bit too large of a vehicle to fit into traffic. Oh yeah, the diff locker didn’t work above 30 km/h to Brad’s disappointment. Michelle eventually drove the KAG van back to the dealership, where she took 5 minutes to park it even with the 360 camera tech. They hopped back into their humble Jinhe SUV, to the next dealership. A very unusual one.
@Keikyun - CAZ (Chernobolskiy Avtomobilniy Zavod) Carpathian
The next dealership was a CAZ one located adjacent to the McMahon Stadium, flanked with Russian flags and a large portrait of Putin. A red Carpathian sat in the front. Brad and Michelle gave it a good look.
“Strange fucken thing eh?”
The salesman then came out.
“Privyet lovebirds! How may I help you guys today?”
“Can we take a look at one of these lil’ thangs?”
The Carpathian was turned right on. The V6 whispered to life. The first thing that caught the couple’s eyes was the SatNav system, booting into its Windows XP-like main menu after its Russian text-clad loading screen.
“God this thing looks old as hell! This a CRT monitor?”
The salesman then chimed in. “If not broken, no fix!”
The Carpathian was shortly on the road after. Brad had already tested the diff lockers. They worked over 30 km/h. Hurray! Driving the Carpathian was a nice comfortable experience, besides the fact that the SatNav was a bit of a pain to work with. On the brakes though, the Carpathian was super touchy. Michelle could never find the sweet spot with it. Furthermore, the steering was numb to her. She couldn’t feel anything when driving it anywhere. Strange. That was followed by Brad’s complaints about wind noise. It wasn’t as bad as the Rebel’s but it was quite significant. After a bit of frustration with the car’s bells and whistles, and some anxiety with the approaching afternoon traffic, the couple drove the Carpathian back to the dealership.
The Levine dealership was conveniently close. A bit of a drive later and they were at the North Hills Shromet. Two new Levines sat out in the lot. After meeting with the salesman inside the glass-windowed office, they were set for a test drive. The first thing they noticed was how massive this car was.
“It’s a tank!” Michelle joked around,
“And a tank it is! A comfortable one! It’s filled with these big comfy seats and an infotainment system you won’t believe!” The salesman turned the Levine on, in which a muffled roar followed. The amount of room in the Levine was indeed very impressive. After a bit of a chat with the salesman about corrosion issues in which she avoided like fleas, the Levine was off. It was a comfy ride. The air suspension did a great job suppressing the Crowchild potholes. It was decently quick too. Nothing super surprising but quick regardless. Immediately however, Brad noticed the lack of safety features. No blind spot monitoring? No parking sensors? It’s going to be hard to throw the vehicle in reverse and park it. Indeed, such happened with Michelle. She spent quite a while trying to back the Levine up into the parking space. There was nothing to help her besides a crappy little backup camera screen that only really existed because the government mandated it. Once the salesman helped her throw it back into its spot, the couple was off again to check out more cars. The salesman was baffled when he flipped to the economy screen and realized they averaged 10 miles to the gallon on the trip.
@CC9020 - Saito Anzen CE
Right beside the Bow River was the Saito dealership. A row of Anzens sat at the front lot, staring. Unassumingly. Brad was already falling asleep. To mitigate that, the couple quickly arranged a test drive for the Anzen. They instantly noticed that the infotainment wasn’t as good as some of the other cars. Fair, it’s probably why it had such a good reliability record, Brad thought. Then, he remembered what he saw outside the vehicle. He had his doubts with the vehicle’s panels, expecting rusting from the untreated alloy panels coming in sometime in the future. He also noted how it didn’t have any form of off-road protection underneath. Concern loomed. Before the vehicle was turned on, Michelle took note of the lack of safety features in the Anzen, as well as the absence of parking sensors anywhere. Although for something as small as this, perhaps it wasn’t needed? The little Anzen hit the downtown core where it moved through traffic like nothing. Kicking it into a dash wasn’t bad either. It was quite peppy off the line and got some insane economy during their thrashing. After a good trip on the highway and back, the Saito returned to the dealership. The couple thanked the salesman and dipped.
“It’ll rust fast. We’d have to undercoat ‘er.” Brad whispered to Michelle.
@thecarlover - Cascadia Hashima EH 4x4
The couple found themselves down at the Tower Cascadia dealer now. A Hashima was parked on a boulder, with multiple others lining the massive front yard. They really know how to show their cars eh? The salesman saw the beat-up Jinhe and already knew what they were after. She lead them towards the Buff Hashima.
“You read our minds, fuck yeah bud!” Brad said.
Brad took a look under the vehicle. Solidly-built parts all around. He also noted the live axle at the rear. Once they hopped into the vehicle, the couple immediately recognized why it was renowned for its reliability. It was nothing much but cloth seats with only the driver’s side adjusting, and a humble little infotainment system sitting in the middle. What was impressive however, was how much safety equipment was thrown into this thing, if, a little bit on the excessive side. Michelle appreciated the high-res 360 degree camera, but admitted she really didn’t need it for a car of this size. Brad, on the other hand, loved the simplicity of the interior. Nothing too too fancy, just pure reliable solid parts. Turning on the Hashima sprung the 3.5L V6 into life. The lack of a reverse flow muffler made it sound like a sports car. Unsurprisingly, Brad was excited. On the road, the Hashima was rough. It took the Macleod bumps harshly, rocking the car a little every time they hit one. The seats too started to get uncomfortable after a little while of driving. That offroad capability does come from somewhere. Same applied to its cornering ability. It chirped its chunky tires as Brad threw it onto Anderson at max load. Once Brad stepped on it too, he was a tad disappointed. The Hashima took its sweet time off the line, but once Brad got to passing cars on Deerfoot, it wasn’t too too awful. They eventually returned to the dealership, where the physical key was returned to the confident saleswoman.
@Ezdmn - Mondo EB8 Catra
The Indonesian Mondo was next in line to test. The dealership was situated in Douglas Glen. The styling of the Catra instantly caught the attention of Brad. It looked like an old Saturn at the front, but it definitely looked a lot better in real life than in the pictures. Michelle instantly noted the spare tire, which would potentially cause her grief while backing in. The ground clearance also wasn’t the highest of the few. The interior was to the joy of the couple. It was nice inside, with a good sound system. In fact, it almost made Brad forget to check the underside of the vehicle, which he wishes he never had done. The same alloy panels were on the vehicle, with a steel chassis at the bottom with a galvanized coating. To get the thought out of his head, he hopped back into the vehicle with the salesman and off they went. The ride was comfy, although the couple noticed some inconsistencies with its brakes. The blind spot monitors as well, would go off at random times even when no vehicle was there. With the approval of the salesman, Brad threw it around a corner and punched the throttle. The Catra was quick to 100, but on the highway, it felt a bit slower passing cars. The vehicle was driven back to the dealership, where something caught Brad’s attention.
“Ey bud, the locker eh? Does it deactivate over 30 kilos?”
“Yep. In fact, most of these lockers on all wheel drive cars will do that, but there’s not much need to use it over 30 kil-”
“Alright thanks for the info. We’ll think about it for a sec eh?”
@Xepy - Kuma KO Turbo EXT Premium
A Kuma dealership was just a block away. Multiple KOs sat at the front lot, where the couple met their salesman and got a test drive handy. The KO was much larger and wider than it looked in the pictures. Brad noted the cheap undertray and hopped right into the truck, which admittedly was a bit difficult. The interior was impressively solid. Good materials all around, and a good sound system for the 40 thousand dollar price tag. Fortunately, all the safety bells and whistles were there to make it easy for Michelle to back in and back out. She was already loving it. On the urban roads, both parties were quite impressed. The KO was damn comfortable, like really really comfortable. Bumps felt like absolutely nothing, this thing was perfect so far. That was until they tried to merge onto Deerfoot, where the KO struggled immensely. The thing just would not move. It was slower than the van, slower than the Hashima, it was just too slow. Sure it was nice and comfy inside, but god did they hate its gutless acceleration. The Kuma was returned to the dealership.
“How was it?” the salesman asked.
“It’s slow as hell! This thing probably can’t tow much either fuck eh?”
“Nearly 5300 pounds.”
Brad lifted an eyebrow. They thanked the salesman and off they were to the BT Motors dealership, conveniently at the Calgary Auto Mall.
@EddyBT - BT Motors Capra XHO Whistler SP
The Capra was next.
“By god this thing is pretty!” Michelle’s eyes were fixated on the tough-looking Capra.
“The diff is gonna disengage at 30 though isn’t it?” Brad asked.
The salesman avoided his question entirely.
The interior was lined with soft touch and rather comfy leather. The infotainment system was however, a bit more no-frills. Probably where all that reliability came from. The lack of blind spot monitors, parking sensors and a decent backup camera was also evident, leaving Michelle a bit disappointed. To save themselves from any more, they took off in the Capra with the salesman.
“Ya see, this is why B.C. has to toughen up on things. This is fucken disappo-”
“Just hit the throttle sir”
At the request of the salesman, Brad gave it a good kick and the Capra was off in a blitz. This thing was quick for a pickup truck, very quick in fact. The inline-6 provided a whopping 343 horses out of it. At their surprise though, the Capra was also surprisingly comfortable. The seats hugged them in well and the infotainment, well, not too bad. After an enjoyable time conversing with the salesman about the NDP, and enjoying the even economical Capra, they were back to the dealership, where Michelle once again took a total of 5 minutes to park the large vehicle.
“These things gotta have a decent backup camera man!”
The Yaman dealership was located next door. The couple wondered. Is the brand Turkish? Indian? Who knows. The Shaus sat at the front, humbly, unassumingly. Deep down inside though, Brad knew that he was getting himself into something very nice. Once the couple got up close, the intricate details came out. A lot of very subtle and modern tricks were present within the SUV’s design language, which impressed Michelle quite a bit. Hopping into the interior was just as impressive too. It was crafted absolutely wonderfully. Soft touch in all the right areas, comfortable, elegant seats, and a wonderful infotainment system as well. Brad was already getting stoked. The amount of rock he can blast through these O&B speakers! All the safety features were present too. Parking sensors, blind spot monitors, a decent backup camera with… get this… trajectory? The BT didn’t have that!
“Fucken sofa this interior eh?”
“It is won the many awards! Best interior 2018!” The saleswoman replied.
“Fuck yeah hun! Let’s take ‘er for a rip, bud!”
This time around, Brad was at the wheel. The large inline-6 roared to life at the push of a button.
“Three hundred thirty eight horsepower!” The salesman chimed in
“Damn fucken punchy eh? Girthy.”
The Shau was off. Almost instantly, the cloud-like ride quality was noted by the couple thanks to the Activetronik dampers. It was quite an enigma this system, it moved the vehicle up and down whenever it sensed bumps later on in the road, and stiffened itself up around corners. Brad then remembered the article’s comment about its reliability.
“These things’ll break eh?”
“If they do break, they do not cost the wallet to service! People have spend around 910 just service in year.”
Brad took the off-ramp towards Anderson, in which rush hour traffic started to back up. Parked beside a curb on the slip lane, Brad had a sinister idea. Out of nowhere, he started steering right into said curb. The Shau’s springs and dampers adjusted accordingly and the capable Yaman climbed right over it like nothing. A smirk emerged on Michelle’s face. Brad looked over and started chuckling, the salesman too had a good laugh. The Yaman was just. Something. Else. From a standstill, it wasn’t super quick, but that was okay with Brad. He then gave it a punch to pass a 40 foot semi truck, and just like the article suggested, the Yaman did so swiftly and cleanly. The blind spot sensor beeped as Brad cut the semi off. This thing was too awesome. Although it ended up being a bit of a slump under hard cornering, the couple accepted it for what it was and drove back to the dealership very satisfied.
“So what do you folk think?” The salesman asked.
Epilogue (Michelle’s blog ‘McIver’s Travels’)
Instagram photos were now scattered all over Michelle’s feed. Shallou played on her speakers as she reminisced.
We never thought we’d end up doing this, Brad had the craziest idea that one night. Travel the world? I thought he was crazy at first, but after a bit I remembered. Life just wasn’t satisfying in cowtown recently. In fact, it was quite a bit depressing. I think I made the right choice to agree with him, albeit a bit of regret at first, but let me tell you. What a journey. What an absolutely wonderful journey. Nothing compared to what I experienced on this trip. From joy, mesmerization, stress, frustration, the whole range. We set off around 8:00 in September, the wonderfully engineered Shau loaded with all our stuff in it (a couple sleeping bags in the back too, just to sleep in). We first visited Sarah down in the Okanagan, kissed her goodbye for our long journey and set off. Let me tell you, the drive was never a single bit tiring. The scenery whizzing by us always gave us a treat, from the palm trees of California, to the mystical temples that Kolkata blessed us with. The people we met, from all the different cultures was just such a gift, and something I will never forget. The group we hit the trails with down in Moab who were strongly impressed by our car, the Icelandic locals who guided us to our hostel after running out of fuel in the middle of nowhere, the villagers in Tibet, Albertans we met in Bangladesh, there was just so much to cover. We struggled a lot, having to sleep in our car for 3 days in a row down in barren, unforgiving Tibet with only a translator and a power stove in handy. We laughed a lot, seeing Brad attempt to communicate with the Korean locals just to ask where the washroom is. We slumped to the lowest too. India gave us some of the most unforgiving weather we could ask for, and we were desperate and low on supplies, hoping that the Yaman wouldn’t hydrolock on us in the flooded, muddy streets. At the same time though, despite all the struggles we went through, we learned a lot on this trip, about ourselves, about the world. We learned how fortunate we were, and that being laid off was absolutely nothing compared to what some had to deal with in the world. We learned that we’re a lot weaker than we think we are. The humbleness of the people around us, the absolute hospitality we received moved us to tears from time to time. We ourselves, grew immensely with this experience. We fought for fulfillment, and in fact, so did our Yaman Shau. The Shau went through the deepest mud, the wettest monsoons, the most unforgiving boulders, the most crowded roads, the hell that existed on Earth along with us, and in the end, became part of our family. Just like us, the Yaman didn’t throw in the towel once, because we knew that all of us would be just as strong together.
I’ll miss this time. I’ll miss everything, from the Aurora Borealis in Reykjavik, the unreal orange plateau of Utah, the crowded rowdy streets of Time Square, the eeriness of Moscow’s historical buildings, the mesmerizing Nepalese villages, the image of Everest towering over us, the rush hour traffic of Bangkok, the high-tech skyline of Shanghai, the nights in Beijing where I was drunk out of my mind with the locals, the nights in Seoul where I would repeat the exact same thing, or the nights in Tokyo, surrounded by the romantic lights, knowing that everything was okay. Everything was absolutely, absolutely okay. By the end of the journey, on our long flight home, I thought to myself; this is a lot like that one Dr. Seuss book. Everything clicked now. I knew exactly what I wanted to say. By Seuss’ words,
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
Any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
And when things start to happen,
Don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.
Oh, the places you’ll go.
Congratulations @Navara! you have made the best of the best. The Shau will stick with the family forever.
Thank y’all very much for participating in such a fun challenge to run! I had it in the back of my mind for a while, and now it’s a thing. All of you guys did great.
And an honorable mention to @Dragawn for making a vehicle that although ugly, was absolutely unstoppable in reliability and many other fronts. Good shit man.
And as always, trip link in case you missed it.
And the final spreadsheet, open once again
So tired now. hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh