If you want to conquer the wilderness, there’s a lot of vehicles at your disposal. Safari 911s serve up speed on pavement and sand. Those seeking a more retro approach can invest in a 90s Mitsubishi SUV, or wait on the Suzuki Jimny or Lada Niva. The Jeep Gladiator has Wrangler capability with extra utility, while those wanting ultimate luxury can pursue the $400k Rolls-Royce Cullinan. Then there’s the legendary Mercedes G-Class/G-Wagen, available with 4 wheels or 6. And if you really need to climb any hill, conquer any trail, the Funmog. But the Sherp puts them all to shame.
What is the Sherp?
Technically, the Sherp isn’t a truck or an SUV. It’s classified as an ATV, an all-terrain vehicle. But when most people think of ATVs, they think of those four-wheeled dirt-bike-looking things. Or a side-by-side, which is the same thing, but with a roof. And really, says Dirt Wheels, most ATVs are really “multi-terrain vehicles.” But with the Sherp, ‘all-terrain’ really means ‘all-terrain.’
The Sherp, Road & Track reports, is to most ATVs what a tank is to most cars. It was first designed in Russia, for use by geologists and people working in the oil industry. Today, it’s assembled in the Ukraine and in Canada (the video below shows a tour of the factory—turn on subtitles for maximum comprehension).
The goal was to make a vehicle that could tackle practically anything nature could throw at it. A goal at which it seems to have succeeded. In 2017, 2 Sherps crossed the whole of Russia—6200 miles, from the western border to the Pacific—without using a single road. All, allegedly, without a single breakdown. Looking at the Sherp’s specs, that claim is very believable.
The Sherp’s specs
The Sherp only comes with a 44-hp, 1.4-liter turbodiesel. Even though it weighs just 2900 pounds dry, its geared so short, top speed is only 25 mph. On land, that is. On water, it can go up to 3.7 mph. And no, that’s not a typo. The Sherpa can drive on and through the water.
That’s mostly due to its 63” tires. 3 psi is all that’s needed to fully inflate them, at which point the Sherp has 23” of ground clearance. That’s more than Mercedes 6×6 G-Class pickup and G550 4×4 Squared, which have portal axles. Those tires also act as the Sherp’s suspension. And in case getting into the cabin is too difficult, the Sherp has a manual deflator valve that can lower load height by one foot. The engine can then re-inflate the tires in 30 seconds.
Speaking of the cabin, to get in, you lift the windshield. The cab is made of high-strength steel and aluminum. It’s waterproof, and protected by a thick skid plate underneath. The cab also holds the engine and 5-speed manual transmission: in case of a breakdown, you can fix the drivetrain inside the cabin. And to round-out the tank comparison, the Sherp drives like one. Two levers operate the wheels on either side, using hydraulic brakes to stop and tighten turns.
But based on what R&T experienced, there’s not much a Sherp needs to stop for.
In his interview with R&T, Sherp guide Josh Copiskey claimed the only way to truly break a Sherp was to keep the ATV in low gear and ram it into a wall. But even at that point, a fail-safe in the transmission would kick in. Copiskey has only had to repair a Sherp’s transmission twice, and both times on the same Sherp. He’s never seen a flat tire, engine failure, or anything like that.
In Matt Farah’s testing for R&T and The Smoking Tire, he ran over Toyota Camrys, cut down trees with the Sherp’s front bar, road into and out of lakes and rivers. The Sherp kept on driving. The driver can, too: the ATV comes with a dual heating system, 12-volt and USB ports, and lots of interior storage.
Fuel also doesn’t really matter to a Sherp driver. The 1.4-liter turbodiesel may not be powerful, but it’s very efficient. With a 17.7-gallon fuel tank, the Sherp could potentially drive up to 2500 miles on a single tank. The wheel covers also serve as extra fuel storage. To quote Copiskey, the Sherpa could operate, “10 hours a day for 12 days.”
Dirt Wheels claims the Sherp could theoretically drive from the US-Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico and halfway back before running out of fuel. It would take quite a while to complete that journey, but you could bring a few of your friends along with you. The Sherp comes with two seats, but the rear cargo area can be ordered with up to 4 beds. The ATV also has a 2204-lb payload capacity.
How can I get one?
The Sherp starts at approximately $100,000 before options. The one Matt Farah drove had a final delivery price just under $120,000. Which, while expensive, is actually slightly cheaper than a new G-Class.
Naturally, the G-Class is the better road-going vehicle. And not just because of the top speed. The Sherp, while sold in the US, isn’t actually road-legal. But then, it’s not like the Sherp actually needs roads.
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