Adventure seekers: what can “expeditionary” SUVs

These cars are bought primarily by off-road enthusiasts. Especially for those who intend to go in search of adventure into the most impassable wilds, automobile plants in Ulyanovsk and Tolyatti have created “expeditionary” versions of their all-wheel drive vehicles. What the special versions of UAZ Patriot and Lada Niva Travel are capable of, Izvestia found out.

No hassle

– So, do you have a winch, a trunk with a ladder and pipes on the thresholds are certified? Why are they not listed in the documents for the car? Are you aware that any changes to the design of the vehicle must be approved? Let’s get into the patrol car – we’ll figure it out! – The inspector of the State traffic inspectorate, who stopped the UAZ, which was on its way to take pictures, was adamant.

Downshift and center differential lock on the Niva are switched on by a separate lever

Photo: Izvestia/Boris Ulzibat

The control of the all-wheel drive system on the UAZ is assigned to the controller, with which you can connect the front axle and activate the downshift. Differential lock is turned off by pressing a separate button

Photo: Izvestia/Boris Ulzibat

The snorkel is included in the standard equipment of the Lada Niva Travel Off-Road

Photo: Izvestia/Boris Ulzibat

A metal roof rack with a folding ladder is installed on the Patriot at the factory

Photo: Izvestia/Boris Ulzibat

– This applies to you too! What kind of pipe sticks out from under your hood? – he pointed to the snorkel (a device that is installed on the air intake of SUVs, and allows you to force water barriers without the risk of water entering the engine. – Izvestia), stopping next to the Niva.

“Wait, lieutenant!” These are not “home-made”, but factory versions, – his senior colleague cooled the inspector’s ardor.

Salon Lada Niva Travel does not shine with special design delights and has some ergonomic miscalculations

Photo: Izvestia/Boris Ulzibat

The captain turned out to be right: a winch, an expeditionary trunk with a folding ladder, protection of thresholds and steering rods on the Patriot, as well as a snorkel on the Niva (special mud tires are also included in the standard equipment of both models, however, the test cars were shod with ordinary winter studded tires) are installed by the automakers themselves. After all, many owners of conventional UAZ and Niv vehicles equip their cars with these off-road gadgets on their own. However, in this case, following the requirements of the law, they are required to obtain a conclusion from the testing laboratory for such tuning – these improvements are considered “changes in the design of the vehicle.”

The absence of this conclusion threatens with a fine of 500 rubles with the obligatory dismantling of all “alterations”. Otherwise, traffic inspectors have the right to prohibit the operation of such a car and even cancel its registration.

Noise isolation “UAZ Patriot” leaves much to be desired

Photo: Izvestia/Boris Ulzibat

Buyers of UAZ Patriot Expedition and Lada Niva Travel Off-Road are free from these problems. Since additional off-road equipment is included in the standard equipment of these versions of cars and is installed directly at the factory, no additional permits and approvals from testing laboratories and the traffic police are required.

Skeletons in the closet

Both cars trace their ancestry back to 50-year-old models. For example, the Patriot is based on the design of the UAZ-469, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, while Niva Travel has learned a lot from the classic Niva, which appeared in 1977. Of course, both SUVs have gone far from their ancestors, the cars received modern comfort elements, such as air conditioning and a multimedia system (the Niva even has a touchscreen display). However, the historical roots in the design can still be traced very clearly.

On the Patriot, the USB connector is located in the glove compartment.

Photo: Izvestia/Boris Ulzibat

The armrest of the driver’s seat on the “Niva” at the same time performs the function of a cup holder for rear passengers

Photo: Izvestia/Boris Ulzibat

It’s a bit crowded in the back of the Niva …

Photo: Izvestia/Boris Ulzibat

… while the rear passengers of the Patriot will not feel cramped

Photo: Izvestia/Boris Ulzibat

Trunk volume Niva Travel ¬— 320 liters

Photo: Izvestia/Boris Ulzibat

The cargo compartment of the “Patriot” is noticeably larger – 1130 liters

Photo: Izvestia/Boris Ulzibat

The classic off-road architecture of the UAZ Patriot with a frame and rigid axles front and rear makes the driver constantly “be in good shape” when driving on the highway. If there are potholes under the wheels, and even more so a rut, the car begins to scour the road, requiring active correction of the trajectory. Despite the fact that a 150-horsepower 2.7-liter gasoline engine will allow you to accelerate an SUV weighing more than 2 tons to 150 km / h, you simply don’t want to go faster than 90-100 km / h even on a wide highway.

With increasing speed, the amplitude of yaws increases exponentially. In addition, already at 90 km / h, the tachometer needle approaches 3000 rpm, and the interior of the car is filled with a low-frequency hum of the engine, which is accompanied by a howling transmission. The fuel level indicator in the tank, falling almost before our eyes, makes the pressure on the accelerator pedal loosen.

Up to 100 km/h Lada Niva Travel accelerates in 19 seconds

Photo: Izvestia/Boris Ulzibat

Against this background, Niva Travel is perceived as an ordinary passenger car. Of course, she also “walks” along the road, and the transmission of the car is far from silent. However, it does not feel much discomfort at high speeds. At the same time, the “appetite” of the “Niva” is about one and a half times lower than that of the “UAZ” – an average of 10-11 liters per 100 km.

Another thing is that you still need to gain high speed. In this nomination, both UAZ and Niva with an 80-horsepower 1.7-liter engine cannot boast of special results: an Ulyanovsk SUV accelerates to 100 km / h in 20 seconds, for a Togliatti car the same process takes a second less .

“UAZ Patriot” exchanges the first “hundred” in 20 seconds

Photo: Izvestia/Boris Ulzibat

The machines have flaws in terms of ergonomics. Despite the electric drive of the mirrors, it was possible to adjust them on the Niva only on the third attempt. The joystick for controlling them is located at the base of the gearshift lever, you have to reach for it, and having taken your usual driving position, make adjustments to the settings a couple of times.

The “Patriot” is all right with this, but he also has his own oddities. So, we managed to find a USB socket for recharging the phone … in the glove compartment! Moreover, the designers carefully brought a cord with a connector at the end from the bowels of the front panel into the glove box.

Clearance “Niva” – 22 cm

Photo: Izvestia/Boris Ulzibat

Ground clearance “UAZ Patriot” – 21 cm

Photo: Izvestia/Boris Ulzibat

Both cars can meet forgetful owners with a dead battery. Neither the Patriot nor the Niva automatically turn off the headlights after removing the key from the ignition: the cars only remind the driver to turn them off with a buzzer. It is not clear what prevented the designers from Tolyatti and Ulyanovsk from introducing a simple relay into the electrical circuit, which, when the ignition was turned off, would cut off the current supply to the lighting equipment (and in Lada Niva also to the multimedia system).

off road kings

All these features fade into the background when the “Patriot” and “Niva” move off the asphalt and find themselves in their element. Off-road capabilities of cars make you forget about everything. However, if the Lada Niva with permanent all-wheel drive is always ready for battle, then on the UAZ, before off-road sorties, you should turn the washer on the central tunnel to connect the front axle. This feature of the Ulyanovsk SUV almost led to an accident when, when trying to get out of the icy rut in a tight parking lot, the rear wheels slid along the icy chute and the Patriot miraculously did not hit the cars standing nearby.

As soon as the wheels of the “Niva” come off the ground with diagonal hanging, the car freezes. The situation is saved by a forced differential lock

Photo: Izvestia/Boris Ulzibat

Short overhangs in front and behind, coupled with a decent ground clearance (22 cm for the Niva and 21 cm for the Patriot) allow you to confidently storm the cold virgin soil knee-deep. However, if the UAZ with an “oak” suspension mercilessly shakes passengers on any bumps and sways on potholes, then Niva Travel better dampens shocks and fights body buildup.

Pleased with “Niva” and impressive suspension moves: when hanging diagonally, it clung to the ground to the last with all four wheels, confidently crawling along the parapet. However, as soon as the wheels hung out, the Niva stood on the rise, “dangling its paws” in the air. The situation was saved by a forced locking of the center differential, which is activated by a separate lever on the central tunnel. And the downshift activated by the same lever allowed the car to drive until the gripping capabilities of the “non-standard” winter tires were exhausted.

“Patriot” strikes suspension moves

Photo: Izvestia/Boris Ulzibat

But on the Patriot, the suspension travel is even greater. The same hill on which the Niva failed during the first assault attempt, the UAZ passed, confidently “standing on the ground” with all four wheels. The bridges of the car intersect at such angles that the car is too tough for half a meter long ditches and high chilled parapets. As in the case of the Niva, the capabilities of the Patriot turned out to be limited only by the grip properties of the tires.

The last “line of defense” on the expedition “UAZ” is an electric winch that develops a force of up to 5.4 tons. A remote control with a long cord will allow you to pull out the car, even while driving. The main thing is that within a radius of 20 m there is something to hook the cable to, and also do not forget to connect the remote from the winch to a special connector under the hood in advance.

Electric winch “UAZ” develops a force of up to 5.4 tons

Photo: Izvestia/Boris Ulzibat

On many foreign crossovers and SUVs, in which a multi-plate clutch is in charge of all-wheel drive, there is a tendency for the transmission to overheat during prolonged slippage. As a result, there is a risk at the most inopportune moment to be left with a drive on only one axle. Domestic jeeps are devoid of this drawback: the distribution of traction is assigned to them on the transfer case. As a result, despite the long “swimming in the snow” and numerous assaults on obstacles, neither Patriot nor Niva Travel complained about transmission overheating.

Similar but different

“UAZ Patriot Expedition” for 2.13 million rubles, of course, is better prepared for sorties into the impassable jungle. A roof rack allows you to take more things with you for off-road travel, and a standard winch will allow you to get out of the most remote places. However, you will have to pay for this with mediocre behavior of the car on ordinary roads and decent fuel consumption.

Photo: Izvestia/Boris Ulzibat

For those who are not ready to put up with this, but also crave adventure, the Lada Niva Travel Off-Road will do. A car worth 1.4 million rubles is also capable of off-road exploits, but it does not require much sacrifice during normal operation and is more economical on the owner’s fuel costs.

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