As in many things in life, when it comes to overlanding vehicles, bigger is often seen as better. Obviously, few off-road campers want (or can afford) something as massive as an EarthRoamer, but if you’re going to go to the trouble of creating a vehicle that serves as rock-crawler and residence in one, you probably want to cram as much capability and convenience into it as possible, right?
Thing is, bigger isn’t actually always better. Generally speaking, the larger the vehicle, the more fuel it burns, the fewer trails it can squeeze down — and the more it costs. Offering a strong argument in favor of the Lilliputian overlander: German camper maker Lux Form’s small Lada-based off-road sleeper.
Now, if the carmaker Lada doesn’t ring any bells for you, don’t feel bad; it’s a Russian carmaker that started out building cheap, simple cars in the Khrushchev era of the USSR and has stuck around ever since. (It’s currently owned by Renault.) Today’s cars are still recognized by their low prices and simple-yet-strong construction, which makes them ideal for this sort of duty. Lux Form chose one of the tougher Ladas, the
Bronco Bronto, for the basis of its build; as New Atlas points out, it’s outfited from the factory for off-roading, with a taller ride height, stronger suspension and more-terrain-capable tires than other Ladas. Power comes from an inline-four that makes just 82 horses, but thanks to a low range and front and rear locking diffs, it should be capable of crawling over most obstacles, albeit slowly.
But you didn’t click this story to read about a tiny Russian SUV; you came to hear about a tiny SUV that’s also a very small residence. To that end, Lux Form’s camper shell — which replaces everything aft of the B-pillars, and stretches above the driver’s compartment — packs a surprising number of the comforts of home into such a tiny package. Inside, there’s a pull-out queen-sized bed, dinette seating for three, a single-burner stove and stainless steel sink, an 18-gallon fridge and a full wet bathroom. A separate air heater keeps things toasty inside (and with the roof standing at just 5’1″, you don’t have to worry about heat rising too far), while a water heater zaps the 18-gallon water tank’s contents up to a comfy temp.
If you’re looking to park one of these in your own backyard for your personal weekend sojourns, well, that might be tough. While the package starts at about $33,000 and rises up towards $45,000 depending on configuration, according to New Atlas, it’s gonna be tough to bring one of these Stateside. Lux Form is actually importing these Ladas into Germany to work their magic, so moving them across the Atlantic would likely open up a whole nest of legal issues. Still, if you’re looking for reasons to move to Europe, we’d say this is one more addition to the list.
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