2017 Ram 150
Mary Conway's picture

Colorado Off-Roading fun with Ram, Jeep, Toyota and more

While off-roading is often done for fun or thrill-seeking, the latest technology could have life-saving implications.

The Rocky Mountain Automotive Press held its track/off-road event and this time I focused my attention on off-roading. It is always fun to play in the mud but this year’s event really stood out because of the dynamic vehicles featured. Camp Jeep helped set up the obstacle courses at Colorado Off-road Extreme and it gave all of the vehicle makers the chance to demonstrate their capabilities. Vehicles like the 2017 Ram Power Wagon, 2017 Ram Rebel and Toyota Tacoma TRD OffRoad are designed for days like this.

Hill Descent technology changes the landscape

I was most impressed by the number of vehicles that now offer automatic hill-descent technology. It is similar to the parallel parking technology, in that you can totally let the vehicle handle driving or backing down a steep hill. It takes a definite ‘leap of faith’ to take your foot off the brake and let the vehicle crawl its way down a hill or rock pile and I was surprised that vehicles like the Land Rover Discovery have technology similar to what is offered in the heaviest duty off-road vehicles. It is important to know exactly how your hill-descent technology works and what gear you have to be in to use it. It may take some practice but it is a significant tool that could be important if you are ever stuck in unfamiliar terrain.

Jeep is known for its off-roading prowess and the 2017 Rubicon, Compass, Renegade all handled the course as you would expect. The Volkswagen Golf performed admirably. The Land Rover Discovery was amazingly smooth on the off-road portion.

Huge safety implications in rugged terrain

To me, the biggest game-changer is in the technology that improves the safety of having to handle uneven terrain. Some people choose to go off road for the excitement and challenge as well as the thrill-rides and laughs. Nothing is more fun than playing in mud.

The hill-descent features however really stand out for the people who have to work in unpaved areas and rugged terrain. Farmers, ranchers and construction workers may find themselves stuck in harrowing circumstances. The features could also be real life-savers for people who live off the beaten track or in mountainous territories, like Colorado. Mudslides, rockslides and heavy snow mean that a driver could be stranded at any given time, hill-descent could help a driver navigate out of a dangerous situation long before a tow truck could ever find them. That is especially true in areas where there is poor phone reception.

On a spectacular Colorado day, it was nice to be able to contemplate the importance of new technology, for both fun and safety.

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