Open Road

Side-X-Sides: The next Wrangler?

Will off-road side-x-sides evolve into street-legal vehicles?

The Jeep Wrangler has a huge following, but I've long thought that it is ripe for plucking. And if rumors of a neo-Bronco prove to be true, it sounds like Ford may agree. If a new Bronco does pan out, I hope it's small like the original Bronco, and not a huge F-150-based vehicle. To be a true Wrangler-fighter it has to be small and nimble.

Here's another option
How about developing a slightly larger, but street-legal version of the popular side-x-sides which are so popular with hunters, fishermen, farmers and anyone outdoors-oriented? This, to me, seems to be the next logical evolution of these side-x-sides. Currently side-x-sides have to be either trailered or stuffed into the back a of a pickup to wherever they're going to be used. Offering a street-legal off-roader solves that problem.

There's no shortage of side-x-side makers out there. Any one of them could engineer and market such a vehicle, should they decide to. Plus there are plenty of dealer outlets, although Honda is the only one that currently sells cars, etc.; so they could have an edge in the selling and servicing aspects of such a vehicle. That said, I'm not sure Honda would want to sell such a vehicle in their car outlets. It may be better suited to their dealers that sell motorcycles, ATVs, watercraft, etc., as that outdoorsman type of customer already frequents those dealers. Then again, if the new Ridgeline proves popular, such a vehicle could offer something much more capable and sporting to that customer who is looking for something more extreme.

The Wrangler has its fans, and they love it just as it stands. In fact Wrangler fans would reject any drastic engineering changes to their beloved off-roaders Side-x-sides, on the other hand, offer a completely different take on how to engineer a small but serious off-roader. Both are valid approaches. Currently the only thing missing are street-legal side-x-sides that go head-to-head against the Wrangler. Having more purchase options available is always a good thing; seems like a no-brainer to me.

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