Tired of going green? Craving a heavy serving of ass-kicking, off-road attitude and maybe some modern supercharger engineering, too? Maybe it’s our machismo showing, but there’s just something awesome about seeing a heavily modified 4×4 up close at an auto show.
We recently attended the press days leading up to the 2017 Chicago Auto Show. While there were plenty of promising production cars on display, it was the plethora of unique off-road options that captured our attention. Working in with a wide array of aftermarket suppliers, automakers were able to display their wares in the hopes of better appealing to the mud-soaked side of the market.
After a few days of checking out the sights and scoring some key information on a number of concepts, we decided a rundown of the show’s top off-road machines was in order. While some vehicles were purely conceptual in nature, others seemed ready to roll off the assembly line. Here are this year’s top off-road trucks from the Chicago Auto Show, complete with a healthy dose of stats and how they came into existence.
1. Tuscany Black Ops Edition Ford F-250
Developed by aftermarket specialist Tuscany to honor the men and women of the United States Armed Forces, the Black Ops edition of the F-Series isn’t just a pickup — it’s a tribute. For every Black Ops truck produced, Tuscany donates $200 to the Wounded Warrior Project. And with a lengthy list of upgrades on its spec sheet, buyers will find plenty to like in this $100,000 F-250.
What starts with Tuscany-exclusive 20-inch black alloy wheels wrapped in BF Goodrich All-Terrain 325/60R20 tires moves on to a 6-inch lift by Pro-Comp, along with heavy duty Pro-Comp performance shocks and black boots. Everything from a front end alignment to tire/speed sensor recalibrations are conducted in order to make sure this pickup drives right, too.
Stylistically, the F-250 gets a black treatment on nearly everything, followed by custom grille surrounds, a dual ram hood, and a powder-coated bull bar with lights and rock guards. There’s also a carbon fiber dash, door, console package, carbon steering wheel, as well as oval Nerf bars, badges, and seat embroidery galore.
2. Nissan NV Cargo X Concept
Completed by legendary off-road builder Ian Johnson, the Nissan NV Cargo X project made its debut at this year’s Chicago Auto Show. Standing over 7 feet tall and powered by a Cummins 5.0-liter turbo-diesel out of a Nissan TITAN XD, this doomsday van sits atop a rigid, fully boxed ladder frame with loads of suspension upgrades and 37-inch General Grabber X3 tires.
Exterior modifications include a custom off-road LED Lighting System, a 10,000-pound front-mounted winch, a tube bumper with a custom skid plate, and a special black-and-white custom wrapped exterior. Interior features include magnetic door stoppers, an on-board air system, fluid containment and storage, a recovery rope, a full-size spare, recovery tracks, a high-lift jack, portable welder, and a tool bag.
3. Mercedes-Benz G550 4×4 Squared
This Mercedes-Benz G550 4×4 Squared doesn’t look all that big in photographs. But stand next to one, and you’ll quickly realize that most full-grown men are about as tall as the front hoodline. Climbing in and out requires some serious agility.
Lifted and outfitted with a tasteful ensemble of LED lights, visible skid plates, and external touches, ground clearance has been increased by nearly 8 inches over the regular model. The front track is now about 10-inches wider, as well. This means approach and departure angles are also greater, as are its water-fording capabilities.
Inside you’ll find features, including carbon-fiber trim on the dash and console, rich leather upholstery, deep quilting, and a race-inspired D-cut steering wheel to go with some aluminum sport pedals. As for those wild fenders and unique roof? They’re also made from carbon fiber.
4. The LEGO Batmobile
It may not be road legal or sport a functional motor, but the Lego Batmobile at the Chevrolet booth was one of the coolest vehicles in Chicago this year. With its knobby tires, raised suspension, and rock crawl stance, this full-size kit is a 4×4 masterpiece like no other.
Coming in at 17-feet long, this plastic beast measures 6.92 feet tall and 9.25-feet wide and weighs a whopping 1,695 pounds. Each of its tires tips the scale at just over 100 pounds apiece, and the total number of bricks used tops out at 344,187. All told, it took Lego Master Builders around 222 hours to design and 1,833 hours to build this life-size Lego Batmobile. We couldn’t be more pleased with the results.
5. Blackened Nissan Titan Pro 4X
Nissan Motorsports built this Titan XD project exclusively for the 2017 Chicago Auto Show. The team took a wide array of Nissan Genuine Parts and Accessories, some aftermarket accessories, and a series of prototype components to build the truck, with the focus being on OEM goods. Touches include polished exhaust tips, a tailgate guard, a rear bumper step, sliding bed extenders, and a sliding bed divider.
Off-the-shelf and prototype aftermarket parts, on the other hand, include an ICON Vehicle Dynamics suspension system and a front grille that has been outfitted with camera mounts and light bars courtesy of Rigid Industries. There’s also an N-Fab front bumper that feature rock rails, EGR fender flares and Titan branded sport bar, and Method wheels wrapped in rugged Hankook rubber.
6. Rockstar Hyundai Santa Fe 4×4
Hyundai and Rockstar Performance Garage teamed up to develop this nitrous-fed Santa Fe CUV for SEMA 2016. Key modifications include an AEM cold air intake, Nitro Gear gears, Mishimoto cooling system, nitrous-oxide injection, Nology wires, an Odyssey battery, and a one-off Magnaflow exhaust.
For brakes, there are R1 6-piston calipers up front, with 4-pistons in the rear, 2.0 KING coilovers in the front and 2.5 KING shocks with finned reservoirs in the rear, 17-inch KMC XD 301 Turbine bead-lock wheels, and Mickey Thompson Baja Claw 35-inch tires. Finishing things off is a Kicker audio system, a Warn winch, rock sliders and bumpers, a custom roof rack, headlamps, taillights, Bulldog LED lighting, and a Roadwire custom leather interior.
7. Ram Rebel TRX Concept
A staggering 575 horsepower is what makes the Ram 1500 Rebel TRX the most powerful factory-engineered half-ton pickup in history. With its custom front grille, steel bumpers, vented hood, massive fenders, recovery hooks, and Baja-inspired bed accouterments, it’s a pickup that’s perfect for duking it out with Ford’s Raptor. That’s if it ever goes into production.
Custom front control arms, internal bypass shocks, massive 37-by-13.5-inch tires, six-piston calipers with 15-inch discs at the front and 14-inch discs at the back, as well as a large sport bar make the concept the real deal. But the custom suede seats with six-point racing harnesses, paddle shifters, and loads of custom touches ensure the TRX would be plenty attractive to performance enthusiasts with deep pockets. It also features a link coil rear system and utilizes five terrain modes to make it one of the most insane 4×4 machines from Chicago this year.
8. Kia Sorento snow tank
This custom Kia Sorento was built by LUX Motorwerks for SEMA and is 100% engineered to tackle wintry weather — autonomously. The Sorento “Ski Gondola” is a self-driving Korean snowmobile like no other. It features a Dominator Rubber Tracks setup that has been powder-coated orange.
With its custom metal roof rack on top, rear suicide doors, black, silver and orange headlamps, and LED light bars, the Sorento Ski Gondola stood out amidst all the production cars around it. Inside, custom door panels, dash, and center console with a personalized tablet start things off, finished with loads of black and orange leather and waterproof Line-X floors.
9. Jeep Wrangler CJ66 Concept
Concocted with components from the CJ, TJ, and JK series, Jeep’s CJ66 made its debut at the 2016 SEMA show as one of the most unique Jeep Wrangler TJ frame builds in history. Based on a 1966 Jeep CJ Universal Tuxedo Park body, this Copper Canyon finished monster rides high on 35-inch BFGoodrich all-terrain tires that cling to Jeep Performance Parts 17-inch wheels with matching beadlock rings.
There’s also a dual-pass air system that eliminates manually airing the tires up or down, a 2-inch lift kit for additional clearance, and a HEMI V8 that attaches to a six-speed manual gearbox. Power gets sent to a pair of Mopar Dana 44 axles, and bolt-ons include a Mopar short-ram air intake as well as a cat-back exhaust to name a few.
10. Star Wars-themed Nissan Rogue
Our final badass truck from the Chicago Auto Show is none other than the X-wing-inspired Nissan Rogue. First spotted at the L.A. Auto Show in November 2016, this fun little CUV comes complete with thrusters, blasters, side mirror Rebel logo projectors, and an astromech droid. Outside of sporting full Rebel Alliance livery and some scorched blaster marks on its hull, the X-Wing Rogue features some nice off-road upgrades. With its bulging black fender flares, Goodyear Wrangler all-terrain tires, and raised suspension, there’s a lot to like in this CUV, regardless of what galaxy you come from.