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Is Four Wheel Drive Silly?

It's hard to discuss four wheel drive fairly. Since the 1980s it has been common and hackneyed to ridicule the owners of four wheel drive SUVs and pickup trucks as being turned on by the image of their machine, while in fact they have little, if any, use for four wheel drive. Indeed, if car loans weren't so easy to get, they would be forced to be more sensible.

My own view is the American male is so emasculated by feminism, political correctness, and traditional wife-ish henpecking that a giant truck -- with big ol tars, 2 feet of ground clearance, and a throaty exhaust system -- is the only macho stupidity that society still permits him. But this discussion isn't about aspirational brontosaurus drivers in the suburbs; nor is it about jeeping as a "sport"; it's only about RV camping in the outback, and whether you need four wheel drive to do it.

No doubt there are campers, such as avid hikers, who benefit from four wheel drive. But I never needed it as an RV boondocker and mountain biker. This was a pleasant surprise because, as a newbie, I thought I'd really be hurting with a rear wheel drive cargo van pulling a lightweight trailer (4000 pounds loaded).

As it turned out, camping "way up there" is a nice escapist fantasy for vacationers or newbie RV campers, but it is not desirable long term: there is no flat place to camp, the forest is too thick and blocks your solar panels, running errands to town is too expensive, you lose the cellphone signal, etc. If you camped above tree-line the lightning would freak you out. I would usually camp on the boundary of pinyon-juniper or ponderosa forest, about 5-8 miles away from town. I never got stuck.

Of course a mountain biker has no reason to drive a motor vehicle over rough dirt roads that go over mountain passes; he'll pedal them, and his distance range is three times that of hiking. The whole idea of camping up really high became a non-issue for me.

Still, I'd like to be a pickup shopper these days who can take advantage of the "thinking man's" four wheel drive: traction control. I'd like to hear the experiences of someone who has it.


I have regular four wheel drive because that was on the used truck when I needed a truck. It has not been necessary but a few times nice. Traction control is a different animal. The vehicles with it that I have seen in iffy situations seemed to handle the troubles much better than 2 wheel or 4 wheel drive. I personally would like to have it on my next vehicle.
Glad to hear of the traction control success stories.
1 More Mile! said…
I use the 4x4 feature of my truck often in support of our off-road racing efforts and also, on the old shelf roads in Colorado that I love to explore every summer. See my post on the "Alpine Loop" at