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Damn you, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and your “safety standards” that prevent Russia’s UAZ from selling its SGR Combi Expedition in the United States. Sure, the SGR offers minimal front impact protection for either passengers or pedestrians, and, yeah, it appears to lack any sort of modern safety items short of seatbelts and anti-lock brakes, but a few bumps and bruises are a small price to pay to own a van that exudes this much personality.

The SGR Combi Expedition is an overlander’s dream machine, too, thanks to its burly bull-bar bumper, winch, roof-mounted storage basket, and knobby BFGoodrich all-terrain tires. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the van’s mechanicals have what it takes to putter it past major obstacles, as well. Credit a locking-rear differential and a four-wheel-drive system replete with a two-speed transfer case.



Goading the Combi Expedition onward is a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine that mates to a five-speed manual transmission. With a little more than 110 ponies packed in its proverbial stable, the Combi Expedition isn’t particularly powerful. Then again, at less than 2,100 pounds, it’s not particularly heavy, either.

What does all this capability cost? About $15,500 at current exchange rates. As far as off-road-ready machines go, the SGR Combi Expedition strikes us as a steal of a deal. Then again, given the van’s dearth of safety or technology features (there are heated front seats, though), it may strike others as a total rip-off. (Consider that a base 2020 Nissan Versa costs $15,655 and includes a touchscreen infotainment system, Bluetooth, front and rear automatic emergency braking, automatic high-beam headlights, and a lane-departure warning system. But it also can’t go wandering in Siberia wherever it damn well pleases.)

So maybe the UAZ SGR Combi Expedition isn’t the best value out there and maybe it is incredibly unsafe–we don’t care. Give us liberty or give us death, NHTSA. Better yet, give us the liberty to own an SGR Combi Expedition so we can risk death while driving the thing.



The post We’d Kill to Overland in This Russian Van, Even if It Kills Us First appeared first on Automobile Magazine.

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