Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Off Roading at the Medina River Ranch in Texas Hill Country with Nissan

I don't get to off road nearly as much as I'd like.

Most years I'm invited to a couple of manufacturer events involving taking some all-new or redesigned 4x4 off pavement. It's not enough.

For nearly 25 years, I lived in South Florida where the highest peak in three counties was the Broward County Landfill -- not exactly the sort of off-roading I have in mind.

Now that I am in South Carolina, I'm sure there are off-roading venues vastly superior to a garbage dump, but I don't know where they might be. From time to time I do get a 4x4 to test for a week that I could take off pavement if I knew where to go.

I guess I need to attach myself to a four-wheeling club of some kind and find out where its members go. Just something else to put on my to-do list.

In the meantime I must settle for manufacturer programs that include off roading.

I am recently returned from a Nissan off-roading event in Texas. The actual location was the Medina River Ranch about 50 miles outside of San Antonio in what is called, Texas Hill Country.

For lack of a better description, the Medina River Ranch is an upscale hunting resort. Testosterone virtually drips from the rafters. My room was awesome with a bed that could have been lifted right out of a Four Seasons hotel.

Nissan didn't have a new 4x4 to show off; rather it featured its current lineup of 4x4s on a course spanning about 4 miles of the ranch's 12,000 acres.

Until this event, Nissan wouldn't have jumped to mind if you asked me about off-road vehicles. I would have waxed on about Jeep Wrangler Rubicons, Toyota Land Cruisers and Land Rover Range Rovers. Nissan? Not so much.

This little exercise in Texas opened my eyes to a couple of very competent Nissans.

We drove 4x4 versions of the full-size Titan and Armada -- decent off roaders both. But it was the smaller 4x4 Xtera and Frontier that really impressed me.

Smaller and more maneuverable than the big, honkin' Titan and Armada, the Xtera and Frontier proved nimble and athletic, able to easily negotiate the tight turns sprinkled around the trail.

On a course populated with hills, rocks, mud and water, the Xtera and Frontier never balked, never hesitated. Passing herds of deer, wildebeests and even a couple of zebras, these Nissans mastered every hazard the course could muster.

Both are real trucks. They feature boxed frames, as well as body-on-frame construction. This means they are tough and capable of taking a real pounding.

Opt for the Pro-4X upgrade that was available on a couple of our test trucks and you get bigger, more rugged off-trail rubber, an electric rear-locking differential, extra skid plates to protect the undercarriage, and Bilstein shock absorbers.

If you want to know what a great day is like, spend some time in one of these Nissans bumping over the toughest terrain Texas Hill Country offers.

Nope, I just don't get to do enough off roading.

1 comment:

  1. I don't think anyone could ever do enough off roading. It really is so much fun. Pretty cool to see more and more people are going out with pick up trucks. I always liked the dynamic of off roading in a pick up. I just picked up one of the new Rocky Ridge Lifted Trucks and have been having so much fun out on the trails.