Today’s utility vehicle standards are worlds away from what they were six decades ago. These wheelers now brandish incredible specs and monstrous performance. And yet, the unquenchable nature of consumers cannot seem to get satisfied with the average UTV. Things are about to change with a side-by-side that looks and feels more like a Jeep than a UTV – the Mahindra Roxor.
The Mahindra Roxor is a purpose-built side-by-side vehicle introduced in North America in March of 2018. It features minimalist retro styling, a boxed steel frame, leaf-spring suspension, and hydraulic steering, and perfectly fits the needs of farmers, adventurers, and off-road enthusiasts.
An old-school appeal, a turbocharged diesel engine, and off-road ergonomics add to the charm of this utility-sport vehicle. Conversely, its eerie resemblance to Jeep models has earned an infamous reputation as a class-A imitation of the prestigious post-War icon. Whether or not this is the case is up to your judgment after reading this review.
The Old Made New
The Mahindra Roxor is the third vehicle released by Mahindra from its UTV lineup. It is the industry’s first utility vehicle to sport a four-cylinder turbo diesel and a non-CVT belt transmission. Right from its launch, the 2018 Mahindra Roxor has been quite controversial due to its Willys Jeep lineage and similar design features. Based on the 2010 Mahindra Thar M2DICR (formerly Willy’s Jeep model CJ-2A), it makes perfect sense that the Roxor has a Jeep-like aesthetic and shares some of the former’s mechanical components.
Its 2,500-cc turbocharged diesel engine produces 62 hp and provides 144 ft-lb (195 Nm @ 1,400 RPM) of torque, making it impossible to stall. The motor has a five-speed manual transmission and a two-speed Dana T-18 transfer case. An optional automatic transmission, derived from Chevrolet Colorado’s six-speed automatic, is available, and power is made up of around 3,200 RPM. Furthermore, the four-wheeler can hit 45 mph (top-end speed is limited to 55 mph for 2020 models), even with its body weight of 3,035 pounds. Fuel mileage is 32-34 mpg (6.92 to 7.35 liters/100 km) for a range of up to 350 miles – excellent for lengthy trail rides and explorations.
Externally, the Mahindra Roxor is 1.5 feet shorter and 11 inches narrower than the present Jeep Wrangler, and its steep drop at the rear makes it look smaller. A front torsion bar fights body roll. It has a slightly better ground clearance than a Subaru Outback and a Suzuki Jimny, almost comparable to a Mercedes G-Class. Turning radius helps prevent wheel jerking tendency to roll over but is a work in progress. The front end is equipped with disc brakes and leaf springs and features circular headlights, a five-slat grille, and a protruding steel bumper where you can conveniently mount a winch.
Trims and Accessories
Consumers can currently find a base model and a Limited Edition (LE) model for the Mahindra Roxor. Other models are in the works and should appeal to every off-roader. While the base model is practically bare, the LE model comes with some high-quality bolt-on accessories. Among these are a windshield, Bestop bikini soft top, HD front winch bumper, all-weather MTX AM/FM Bluetooth soundbar (great for long drives), upgraded battery, 40-inch KC HiLites light bar, and side-view mirrors. Locking differential kits, shocks, half doors, seat covers, and EFX tires are available for both versions at an additional cost.
For reference, you can go to the website and get installation instructions for Mahindra Roxor accessories. I love the complete rear cargo/stake box system, as it would be excellent for serious ranch work. A rear ROPS package creates more usable space. The drop-in bedliner provides full coverage for the rear and is contoured to provide seating at the back – a nice touch if you use the vehicle primarily for hauling and transporting goods or animals. But if you intend to use the four-wheeler for off-road explorations, then you need to get rear seats that fit right in the middle of the bedliner. The way those two pieces fit together is quite innovative, except that the design does not seem to maximize the cargo space and may be too narrow for some passengers.
An Accidental Clone?
Despite approach and departure angles like the WWII Jeep, the Mahindra Roxor is slightly less capable than an original Willys Jeep. However, it has a more polished engine and transmission, supplemented by power steering and brakes. Exterior-wise, the Roxor seems to have more similarities with a CJ Jeep. Mechanically, it shares a considerable number of things with its 1947 predecessor. The suspension system and leaf springs with solid axles are reminiscent of the Willys’ original Dana units and the transfer case. Components were too similar that several Roxor parts are exchangeable with the Willys.
To FCA’s point, the Roxor’s design features infringed the Jeep’s trade dress as they were too much like the Jeep’s. Eventually, a U.S. ITC law judge ruled in favor of FCA and issued a stop-sale on the Roxor, including an importation cease on its new models. Mahindra Roxor contested that it is not a direct competition of Jeep and never meant for on-road use. But honestly, it is the Jeep’s popularity with the off-roading community that made it an icon – and this is the very market Mahindra intended to penetrate. The court battle between the two manufacturers continues, as Mahindra continues to challenge FCA to definitively define the Jeep Trade Dress that it is allegedly violating.
Mahindra Roxor Specs and Features
- Engine – A 2.5-liter, four-stroke, liquid-cooled Turbo Diesel m2DiCR Mahindra Roxor engine powers the Roxor. It has a bore-stroke ratio of 88.9 x 101.6 millimeters. The engine displacement is 2,490 cubic centimeters delivered by a direct injection fuel system, with a compression ratio of 18.6:1. Fuel tank capacity is 12 US gallons/45.4 liters. The same engine configuration applies to the 2019 Mahindra Roxor.
- Drivetrain – Power is sent via a low-range transfer case and a five-speed H-pattern manual transmission inclusive of a reverse gear. Automatic transmission models were made available to consumers from 2019 onwards.
- Ignition – It has a turn-key electrical start system. It requires a 12V/72Ah battery with assembled dimensions of 6 x 3.44 x 5.75 inches (L x W x H – not including wire harness and mounting accessories). A 45-90 Amps alternator powers up the vehicle’s electrical systems.
- Tires – BF Goodrich T/A 235 / 70R16 front and rear tires are mounted on steel wheels. Aluminum rims are optional and help in taking some weight off the Roxor.
- Brakes – The front brakes use automotive 9-inch rotors with hydraulic twin-piston calipers, while the rear uses 11-inch hydraulic drums. The UTV’s 18.6:1 diesel compression braking, five lug nuts, plus a parking brake further strengthen stopping power.
- Suspension – Front and rear suspensions consist of leaf spring with double-acting hydraulic shock absorbers that allow 5 inches of wheel travel.
- Dimensions – The overall dimensions are 148 x 62 x 75 inches (3,760 x 1,570 x 1,910 millimeters – L x W x H). Ground clearance is 9 inches/229 mm. Dry weight is 3,000 lbs/1,360 Kg; GVWR is approximately 3,385 lbs/1,535 Kg – exclusive of passenger weight. Rear payload and towing capacities are 349 lbs/158.3 Kg and 3,490 lbs/1,583 Kg, respectively.
- Exterior – It is composed of a fully-boxed heavy gauge steel frame and plastic body material that is durable and easy to repair, giving the Roxor more strength and firmness. Its steel bumper comes with tow hooks that can pull other UTVs out of the trenches. The spare is attached to the tailgate, which opens sideways. An automotive exhaust system exits behind the right-rear tire, reducing engine noise. The tail lamp cluster includes the brake and reverse lights – you will need to get side indicators separately.
- Instrumentation & Lighting – An analog speedometer with a small digital inset is in the dash’s center, while a passenger hand-hold loop is placed above the 12V power port. Above the ignition key are two switches for headlights and 2WD/4WD. Halogen headlights and taillights provide superior light distribution.
Watch these videos by Off-Road.com and Rexburg Motorsports as the presenters do a review of the 2018 Mahindra Roxor:
Cost of a Mahindra Roxor
The price of the Mahindra Roxor is $15,999 for the five-speed manual variant and $1,000 more for the six-speed, automatic-transmission variant. This price can quickly go past the $20,000 mark with a few add-ons. If you are after a more accomplished and versatile 4×4 that can function both as a daily driver and a weekend wheeler, then you might be better off spending a few more bucks on, say, a Jeep Gladiator. But if you want a small off-pavement truck that is easy to repair and maintain, the Roxor is a superb choice.
Following the legal spat between Jeep and Mahindra, the Indian manufacturer made the following changes to its Roxor line:
- All-new modern honeycomb pattern grille (inspired by the Land Cruiser FJ Series from the 1970s) replacing the Jeep-like seven-slat design
- Racetrack metal slip around the headlights
- Gearing change from 3.73 into a 5:38:1 for improved crawling capability
- A two-speed manual transfer case and a fully floating front axle (semi-floating at the rear axle)
- Standard 16-inch wheels with up to seven color options
- 11-inch front disc brakes and same-size rear drum brakes
- Left-Hand Drive or LHD option offered in the U.S. market
There are also plans of gasoline-fed models, flat-tow options, and the inclusion of a dump bed. Comfort modifications like heated steering wheels, heated and cooled seats, air-conditioning, and block heater systems are currently being tested. The Indian company will eventually chart possible paths onto U.S. roads with either the Roxor or a signature minivan.
Mahindra Roxor Reviews
- Huge aftermarket support. Aftermarket companies jump on the Roxor due to the many areas where the vehicle can be easily improved. These include the suspension, wheels and tires, light guards, flush mount kits, and performance upgrades. Do not forget to include accessories like roof racks, cooler tie-down systems, and other offerings.
- Tons of space. Riders will enjoy plenty of elbow and legroom and cargo space (the bed has 349 lbs payload capacity). The tailgate hinges on the right and swings out of the way, making loading stuff on the Roxor convenient. To add, you will see no tie-down points or bodywork between the bed and seats, except for a bedliner that coats the cabin floor.
- Unfazed by rock and mud. Since the Roxor leans more towards exploration and adventure, it is great for rock crawling and fording streams. Its rigid steel frame and open built gives off the same message, so expect mud and debris to fly onto the hood and inside the cab during your outdoor adventures. You can opt for a windshield, half doors, and a full roof or bikini top for protection from the elements.
- Hefty price tag. The Mahindra Roxor starts at $15,999 and goes up from there. You need to pay a premium to get an automatic transmission, bringing the Mahindra Roxor price up by another $3,000 for the 2018 model. Throw in the rest of the accessories, and the mini truck’s list price is easily doubled. It does not seem worth it for several customers, considering they cannot make the Mahindra Roxor street legal. They would rather spend that same amount of money on a Wrangler build to drive on the road legally.
- Rugged suspension. Given its body weight and heavy axles, expect plush suspension only at slow speeds. The vehicle’s limited 5-inch wheel travel makes it prone to bottoming when hard-pressed.
- Transmission problems. Testers find the automatic Roxors with a 3.73 final-drive ratio to be problematic in this aspect. Downshifting with a full-throttle application feels like waiting for a snail to cross the finish line. Similarly, getting the vehicle’s revs up over rough terrain causes the knobbies to slip and spin. This triggers the Roxor to change to the next gear. Upshifting and downshifting concerns have prompted Mahindra to release an automatic 5.38 final-drive ratio. It is meant to fix 3.73-unit weaknesses and improve both the engine control and integration with the transmission.
- This vehicle is not beginner-friendly. It takes a deft right foot and proper gear selection to drift the car into corners or steer it with the throttle. Familiarity with a manual automotive clutch and five-speed, H-pattern transmission, along with another high/low transfer case, is required.
- Untrained for uneven terrain. You can drive easily on trails, dirt roads, and flat surfaces with the Mahindra Roxor. But on rutted, muddy clearings, it flutters and jostles around, and is instinctively against carrying a power-slide. Riders cannot help but fling from their seats. Thanks to car-style seatbelts, these undulations add to an exhilarating high-speed off-roading experience.
- What oil does a Mahindra Roxor take? 7.4 quarts/7 liters of a full synthetic SAE 5W-40 engine oil with an API classification of API CJ-4 or higher is recommended. For other lubricant types, refer to page 76 of your owner’s manual.
- Can you make a Roxor street legal in Texas? UTVs/ATVs are currently banned from public roads in Texas, except for ranchers and licensed golf carts. However, you can take the route of declaring your Roxor as a replica under Texas custom car rules. You need a Mahindra Roxor street legal kit that includes turn signals, windshield and windshield wipers, and a rear license plate light. You will also need to complete and pass a simple inspection, paperwork process, and prove you have a CJ-3 replica.
- How fast is a Mahindra Roxor? The Roxor tops out at 45-55 mph, depending on the model year. But with a quick flash of the Bosch engine controller, top-end speed can increase. The right diesel upgrades – turbo, exhaust, injectors, and so on – would go a long way in optimizing the small diesel engine.
The presenter in this video by Duramaxtuner shows how he brought the Roxor from 52 to 200 hp:
Mahindra & Mahindra Limited is the largest manufacturer of tractors globally and is the maker of Mahindra Roxor. This Indian corporation is headquartered in Mumbai, and its subsidiary, Mahindra Automotive North America (MANA), is based in Detroit, Michigan. It is a new player in the all-terrain vehicle scene, but it is an old-timer producing military-themed mini-trucks. Since being contracted to produce military vehicles, it has ventured into massive SUVs production, saloon cars, pickups, lightweight commercial vehicles, heavyweight commercial vehicles, and two-wheeled motorcycles.
Conclusion – Mahindra Roxor Specs and Review
The entry of the Mahindra Roxor into the U.S. market should not devalue vintage Jeeps but rather enhance their appeal with consumers. Similarly, the Willys look-a-like should not be looked down upon as a mere knock-off from the legendary icon. While Mahindra’s plans of turning the Roxor street-legal is becoming common knowledge, do not let this detail overshadow the capability of the Roxor. It is a highly efficient off-road utility vehicle – one that you can happily tinker with and, more importantly, enjoy outdoors.