OPTIONAL SIX-SPEED AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION FOR TWO-PEDAL ADVENTURING
We love the little Mahindra Roxor, which matches (somewhat contentiously, as it turns out) the rugged charm of an old CJ-5 with extremely stout build quality and darn-near-unstoppable off-road capability. Its old-school simplicity has always been a big part of its appeal, at least for us; while Mahindra offers a few different packages and trims for the Roxor, there’s been only one powertrain: a 2.5-liter turbodiesel four paired with a five-speed manual transmission (with a two-speed transfer case).
Until now. In an exuberantly punny series of press releases (“Shift happens!” “Holy shift! We’ve gone automatic!”) the Indian manufacturer, which operates an outpost in Auburn Hills, Michigan -- that’s where Roxors are assembled -- announced that it is adding a six-speed automatic transmission to the mix. The goal here is to make it “easier to multitask for those sipping a latte watching a secluded sunrise or for the rancher racing the sunset while navigating a back 40 with multiple gates,” according to Mahindra.
Lattes in the back 40? A lad can dream…
The new Roxor A/T starts at $18,999 -- a substantial price bump over the $15,999 starting price of a manual Roxor, but still reasonable compared to other UTVs/side-by-sides on the market. A limited-edition launch version gets you the auto transmission, plus a tube-frame rollover-protection system and two rear passenger seats (along with other aesthetic sundries like a hood wrap), for $19,599. Like the manual Roxor, the Roxor A/T can tow 3,490 pounds.
The new automatic transmission and rear seats are just two additions to a long and growing list of options buyers can add to what is, at its core, a very basic 4x4. Depending on what you plan to do and how much you want to spend, you can check the box for everything from a snowplow mount to solid doors to a Lexan windshield to a full hard cab enclosure with heat and air conditioning -- all this on a vehicle that, remember, has a 55-mph top speed and is not fully road-legal (you can drive them on the roadside in many rural areas; check local laws).
This all smacks of modern decadence. And if you’re planning on using your Roxor as a weekend toy, sure, it's probably overkill; in that case, we’d stick with the manual because it’s fun. But the Roxor is also well-suited to farm and ranch work. Anyone who uses one to earn their bread will no doubt appreciate the convenience of an auto on long workdays, and creature comforts like a conditioned cabin seem a lot less frivolous on hot summer afternoons or cold winter mornings.
You may recall that the Roxor has run into legal trouble with Jeep, which accused Mahindra of “trade dress” violations due to the Roxor’s similarity to Jeeps past and present. Basically, Jeep accused the Roxor of copying a number of visual elements that, while not necessarily patentable, have been long used on Jeep vehicles (think round headlights, a trapezoidal grille, flat fenders, and so on), and that this might might confuse buyers.
There’s some truth to the notion; Mahindra did, after all, start off building Jeeps under license over 70 years ago. But there have been no public developments on the case for over six months, and we can only assume its working its way through the sausage-maker that is the legal system.
In the meantime, Mahindra keeps on selling the Roxor, which we can’t imagine is stealing any market share from the new (and fully road-legal) Wrangler JL.
For our part, we can’t wait to hatch another wilderness boondoggle, so we can give the Roxor A/T a spin.
*Photos/article courtesy Autoweek/Mahindra