Hardcore 4x4 fans know that clearance is key. Without enough of it you won't get far at all.
On the other hand Toyota Prius owners may not know, or maybe they do?
American company, Prius Offroad, offers a solution for intrepid adventurers who can’t bear to be seen in anything less than a conspicuously enviro-friendly Prius.
Perhaps it was inevitable. After a starring role replacing stretch limos on the red carpet at gala events, the only was was up for the humble Prius. Literally.
Ignoring the RAV4 hybrid range for a moment, what other fuel sipping, light-treading eco cars do you know of that are capable of tackling Los Angeles peak hour one day, and the peaks and valleys of a San Bernardino national forest carpark the next?
Wait. Don’t answer that.
The obvious answer is not a mildly RAV4, Nissan Rogue (sold as the X-Trail in Australia) or Honda CR-V – all of which are, or have been, available with a hybrid version in the US.
What you’re going to need is a second, third, or fourth generation Prius, or a Prius V if you want to bring the extended family, plus one of the Prius Offroad kits.
Regardless of your generation of Prius, the offroad kit promises a whopping 1.5-inches (38mm) of lift and the ability to run tyres up to 27-inches in diameter (with a 215/70 R15 fitment, for a 26.9-inch or 683mm result). Judging by these imagines, some owners maybe have already gone above and beyond.
That’s not huge – the standard tyres on a Jimny are 185/80 R15s and measure 27.3-inches (or 693mm) and real off-road rubber, like you’d find on a Ford Ranger Raptor with 285/70 R17 tyres, stop the measuring tape at 32.7-inches/831mm.
It’s the thought that counts.
Prius Offroad claims to be the only metal (not polyurethane) Prius strut and coil spacer kit on the market that provides camber and caster correction, and leaves all pressed-in factory hardware in place. Spring and damper upgrades aren't a part of the kit, so, potentially a further lift is possible with some mix-and-match components.
That should be enough clearance to get you through that nasty spot of chewed-out hotmix at the entrance to your local Whole Foods, clear the bumper-chewing parking barriers at Home Depot, and still let you U-turn across the grass median or park up on the sand, if you’re feeling really adventurous.
The rest is still Prius through and through of course, so apart from posing for flex-pics the Prius refrains front-wheel drive and an open differential.
On the other hand, kits are priced from just US$299.95 (AU$415) with the option to add a Prius Offroad t-shirt for just US$5 more.
How could you afford to pass up that opportunity?