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An Off the Grid Tale: Going Offroading in Two Japanese Trucks

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A chilly night in Anna, TX. Temperatures were entering the high 50’s— a cold front for North Dallas in April. Coming from a previous excursion, we’re out enough to the point where the stars are visible sans Dallas’ abysmal light pollution. We strayed far enough from the concrete multi-lane highways to the double-yellow single lane roads, and eventually to the dirt roads that led up to a dead end. Usually when you think offroading you envision lifted jeeps and tires that are bigger than your future. Not this trip. All we had was a Honda Ridgeline with a radio and a Toyota Tundra with one of the most glorious exhausts I’ve ever heard.

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Record scratch. Before all of that, I had my Corvette. I just chose in good spirit and common sense not to take it. My insurance would’ve personally came to my house and slapped me into next year if anything happened. Now lets take a look at the trucks. We have an AWD Honda Ridgeline— reliable? Yes. Offroad worthy? To most, no. Painted in a green, earthy color, it wasn’t the regular SEMA build that gets taken out here. All it was fitted with was an aftermarket radio and a dream, isn’t that enough? The Tundra on the other hand just had its exhaust done. It’s roaring V8 had no trouble making its presence heard at nearly every stoplight in McKinney. This one was RWD and did nasty burnouts at every intersection he could. Destroyed tires and differential behind, these trucks gave the Corvette a hefty escort to its resting spot at the Bucee’s in Melissa.

After that we got to witness the roads go on a Weight Watchers program, slowly dwindling in size and material all the way up until a dirt road. While all this was happening, one of us was not silent. The Ridgeline complained very noticeably. Groans and moans filled the silent night up with a lot of strange sounds. Me and my driver looked at each other in awe… “How is this thing still alive?” one of us mentioned. As we approached the creek we were going to it became apparent that it would take a lot out of these trucks. A steep drop off welcomed us to the start of our journey. Right off the bat the Ridgeline became apparent it may struggle— or not. Right after that steep drop with the Tacoma leading the way, the Ridgeline excelled. Having no issue overcoming some treacherous terrain. The water wasn’t too deep, after all it was a creek. The Tundra led the pack, forcefully crawling over anything and everything. That old first generation facelift Tundra wasn’t going to let anything get in its way. Following close behind, the Ridgeline heaved over some tall rocks as we took a different spur from the Tundra. The Ridgeline— also a first generation didn’t seem to care much for the rocks. Other than the occasional groan and the possibility of the power steering going out intermittently, nothing went wrong.

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As the trail ended and we looped back around, we were faced with a multitude of problems now. The trail down was a lot more beastly than the way up. The Ridgeline didn’t care however, until it did. After a couple puddle splashes we bottomed out. And I mean it was loud. The transmission straight up kissed the rock underneath and it didn’t faze it one bit. Its AWD system kicked in multiple times and not once did we ever think we were gonna get stuck. Sitting on stock tires, stock everything, the Honda, the world’s most hated truck killed our offroad course. The Tundra didn’t get knocked either, sitting pretty and dirty with its new dual tips gleaming out the back.

Two non-American, brute force trucks with nothing on them at all going offroad, is something that goes against the stigma of the car community. You truly don’t see it anymore especially at the hands of the media. With new pickups hitting the market like the Hyundai Santa Cruz and the resurgence of the old Ford Maverick, sometimes ol’ reliable is all you need to have a good night and some fun.

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