Monday, January 17, 2011

The Sidekick makes it maiden 4WD voyage

I was able to take my project Sidekick on my company's annual snow run this weekend, and I'm happy to report the little 4x4 did great! It's truly amazing how capable a vehicle with a true four-wheel drive system can be. Once things got a bit deeper, I put the Sidekick into 4WD low, and crawled through the snow. I was likely the lowest vehicle on the trail, but I went everywhere all of the larger (and heavier) vehicles went.

That light weight enabled me to, more or less, float across the top of the snow, where others may get stuck. If fact, I only got hung up once (see left). I had initially aired down the tires to 20 PSI for better traction. However, the one time I got hung up, we aired all the way down to 10 PSI—what a difference an additional 10 PSI made. I was able to crawl out of the deeper snow (with a push from a few guys), and up the hill without issue. Pretty awesome.

However, I was not the only small 4x4 on the run. There was another Sidekick/Tracker, too. This vehicle, however, was highly customized with a solid front axle swap, larger wheels, a large lift, and a turbocharged Mustang engine (I think it was a 2.3-liter turbo), which sounded awesome. More pics of that later.

A small 4x4 has its disadvantages, though. The short wheelbase and narrow track can mean—especially in the snow—that the vehicle gets bucked around in the ruts. Plus, when that back end starts to come around, it happens fast. I nearly put it into a ditch, but was able to drive out of it. Again, 4WD low rules.

For anyone that hasn't been "wheeling" before, it's a lot of fun, and a lot more difficult that most might imagine. It can be a very technical endeavor; it's not just thrashing through the woods.

The Sidekick's first outing was smashing success. Looking forward to the next off-highway adventure!


D2M said...

Our Escudo shown brightest during heavy snowfall and driving slick (often icy) roads. It handled just about everything winter could throw out at it. And that 4WD got me out of situations where I would have otherwise been stuck in.

I also recall going over snow that had piled up high and not gotten plowed. Larger vehicles had already driven through it, leaving wheel tracks. The Escudo went over it all like a champ, but I thought my head was gonna pop off my neck from all the bouncing. xD

Andy Lilienthal said...

Yes, the ride is not the smoothest. :-)

Josh M said...

Go Teal Monster Go!