Toyota Mega Cruiser

Only a bit wider and taller than a Toyota Sequoia (and sharing a similarly short length with the Hummer H1), the Mega Cruiser isn't even all that large by what we consider to be a large SUV.

And, as Doug DeMuro entertainingly writes about his H1, these old military-derived beasts aren't all that large—full stop—plus are even more uselessly tiny inside. Toyota says it wasn't looking over AM General's shoulder with this one, but before the Mega Cruiser's 1995 debut, it had about 10 years to study the design of the HMMVW before launching the Mega Cruiser.

That's not to say Toyota didn't do things a bit differently.

Two odd items stand out for me. The first is its engine, an inline DOHC 4-cylinder turbodiesel that made 153 horsepower and 282 lb-ft. of torque. And it was a 4.1-litre beast—imagine that thing clacking away! (Toyota called it the 15B-FTE, just in case you want to find one and drop it between the front fenders of your Terminator: 3 Edition Tundra.)

The second isn't surprising, given that many intersections in Japan are as spacious as a Twister mat. Toyota endowed its truck with 4-wheel steering. At this end of the off-road spectrum, you're buying a complex, technically-advanced vehicle designed to go over just about anything the planet can throw at it.

You may not expect to hear this from me, Keeper of the Stupidly Small Car Flame, but I've actually done a bit of off-roading, and co-drove a Hummer in the Parker 425 off-road race. I've been to Moab, Utah; Silver Lake dunes, Michigan; Hummer off-road track in South Bend, Indiana; and some trails near Ocala, Florida. I also keep saying to Kay that I want an H3 with a 5-speed manual transmission…and am only 53% kidding when I say it.

This doesn't make me an expert, of course, but I'm saying this only because I still remember the intense awe I felt at a vehicle pulling me over a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. 

If you ever get the chance: go off-roading with someone who knows what they're doing. You'll have a blast. Your steed may not be as capable as the Mega Cruiser (just watch the videos below!), but in my experience, going off the beaten path is fun in just about anything.