UAZ Expedition: Icons of rugged Russian utilitarianism

(Photos: UAZ)
Established in 1941 in the midst of the Soviet Union’s war effort against German invasion, UAZ (Ulyanovsky Avtomobilny Zavod) came to be part of the eastwards relocation of industry away from World War II frontlines. A prolific producer of Soviet (and later Russian) commercial and military trucks, off-roaders, and vans, UAZ passed into private ownership in the post-Soviet era. The manufacturer’s current roster includes updated civilian versions of its iconic SGR and Hunter models and the more modern Patriot SUV, all of which are offered in highly capable, factory-modified Expedition variants.اضافة اعلان

UAZ SGR/Classic Combi Expedition
A robust and utilitarian product of Soviet engineering, Russia’s iconic SGR off-road minivan was first launched in 1965 as a practical, low-cost, effective vehicle for Russia’s harsh winter conditions. Affectionately known as the “Bukhanka” for its resemblance to a bread loaf, UAZ’s iconic cab-over-engine SGR has been in constant development since, and has spawned multiple variations including a panel van, mini-bus, ambulance, pickup, and chassis cab, for civilian use and military service.

Known as the UAZ Classic in its latest iteration, the Bukhanka has gained a few updates and improvements over the years, including a comparatively more modern 2.7-liter four-cylinder petrol engine positioned between the front seats and developing 112HP at 4,250rpm and 198Nm at 2,500rpm. That said, it remains as rugged and utilitarian as ever in its engineering, efficient packaging, and effective low-tech solutions, including tough body-on-chassis construction and live axle and leaf spring suspension.

Decidedly low-revving and torque-biased for progress over inhospitable terrain, the Bukhanka drives the rear wheels under normal conditions, but can only attain a 127km/h top speed. It is, however, in its element while driving off-road with standard four-wheel-drive engaged. Low gear ratios and a rear differential lock can be deployed for especially demanding conditions, while generous 205mm ground clearance, 500mm water fording capability and 27-degree approach and 30-degree departure angles make short work of off-road obstacles.

For more adventurous, professional, and lifestyle purposes, the mixed-use cabin version is available in Expedition specification. Seating seven passengers in its Spartan interior, the Combi provides generous seating for five in its middle compartment, excellent front visibility, and 2,000-liter volume in its panel van rear section. For more extreme use, the Expedition specification adds 225/75R16 off-road tires, a rear-mounted external spare tire, a roof rack and ladder, underbody protection, a bull bar, and a front-mounted winch.

UAZ Hunter Expedition

Introduced in 1972 as the 469, UAZ’s second most iconic vehicle has been adapted for civilian use as the Hunter. The Hunter has been little altered over time in fundamentals, but has seen continual updates and improvements, and now features a modern 2.7-liter petrol four-cylinder engine, mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. It develops 135HP at 4,600rpm and 217Nm torque at 2,500rpm, of which 90 percent is available throughout a broad 2,000–4,500rpm band, and can attain 130km/h.

Thoroughly capable off-road with rigid body-on-chassis construction, the Hunter rides on rugged live axles, with rear leaf springs and front coil springs for better refinement and wheel travel. It meanwhile drives the rear wheels on-road, but features four-wheel-drive and low gear ratios for more difficult, low-traction off-road conditions. With excellent 50-degree approach, 36-degree ramp, and 39-degree departure angles, and 500mm wading depth in standard guise, the even more capable Hunter Expedition features improved 241mm ground clearance.

Utilitarian, and practical inside like out, the Hunter’s compact dimensions allow it to easily traverse trails, while its functional and unadorned cabin can accommodate up to 1,830 liters of cargo with rear seats folded. Offered in either hard- or soft-top versions, the current Hunter model line includes the militaristic-style lifestyle and adventure Expedition variant, which includes two-tone paint, 235/85R16 off-road tires, an electric winch, a bottom-hinged tailgate, modified wheel-arches, a bull bar, and reinforced bumpers and running boards, with two crossbeams.

UAZ Patriot Expedition
A larger, heavier, and more modern SUV introduced in 2005, the UAZ Patriot features a more refined cabin, more mod cons, and contemporary exterior and interior features. Developed for civilian use but adapted for military and commercial use, including pickup variants, the Patriot nevertheless rides on a similarly rugged body-on-chassis platform. It employs live axles with coil spring front and leaf spring rear suspension for a combination of comfort and capability, and features a five-speed gearbox.

Driving the rear or all four wheels, with low ratio gears for extreme off-road driving, the Patriot’s version of UAZ’s 2.7-liter engine meanwhile develops 150HP at 5,000rpm and 235Nm at 2,650rpm. Highly capable off-road, the Hunter features 210mm clearance and 500mm water fording capability, and 35-degree approach and 30-degree departure angles. The more capable Patriot Expedition meanwhile includes larger 245/70R16 off-road tires, a towing hitch, a winch, a roof rack and ladder, and additional options including a roof-mounted tent.

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