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The $200,000 Hummer Eater: USSV’s Rhino GX

It takes one hell of a vehicle to drive up to a car show and render a bunch of jaded enthusiasts speechless.  But that’s exactly what happened at Supercar Sunday just a few weeks ago.  We were all walking around chatting when this thing rolls in and immediately shuts us all right up.

“What…Is…That?’ the guy next to me mutters to himself, dumbfounded.  Without even thinking, the words “I have no idea” shot from my mouth. As it parked towards the far reaches of the lot, I stood there pondering the possibilities: Russian military? A high tech security company? A wild concept vehicle? I had no idea where this thing came from, but was determined to find out.

Driving Line – USSV Rhino GX pulls into Cars and Coffee

Now, this is not the world’s most approachable vehicle.  It’s not like a VW thing or a vintage Mini Cooper, both of which invite a friendly dialogue with its owner. The guy that drives a vehicle like this doesn’t want small talk, he doesn’t want to pose for your selfie, and he sure as hell doesn’t want some golden retriever of a female automotive writer bounding up to his vehicle with a bunch of questions.  But, because I’m an idiot, I ponied right up to find out everything about this crazy looking car. 

Driving Line – USSV Rhino GX

So here’s everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask. No, it’s not bulletproof.  Not bomb proof either.  Your SWAT team need not apply. No, it’s not Russian. Not North Korean.  And yes, it’s expensive. How expensive? It starts at $194,000.  Yup, “starts at” meaning it goes up from there.  So if you’re a less-is-more, nothing-too-flashy, just point A-to-B kind of person, you’re gonna wanna stop reading right about now.  Because this is the SUV that Ford would build if its board of directors included Schwarzenegger, Chuck Norris & Ted Nugent. This is the Rhino GX.

The Rhino GX is the first truck from USSVUS Specialty Vehicles, a boutique automaker in Rancho Cucamonga, CA.  Built on a Ford 450 chassis, the Rhino has a distinctive beehive-metal shell that modifies the ubiquitous pickup into a monstrous, magnificent luxury SUV.  Billed as “hand built detail in a rugged road warrior”, the Rhino sits on 38” wheels, so it’s not messing around.  Its height maxes out at 88”, so don’t blame me if you mistake a Smartcar for a speed bump or a Prius for a pothole, drive this at your own risk. Available options include CLASS suspension, dual alternators and a satellite receiver – not your average add-ons.

Driving Line – USSV Rhino GX dashboard

The Rhino GX interior is as ridiculously luxurious as the exterior is formidable.  The standard model includes some pimp 8-way power back seats, with leather, wood and chrome accents all over the place.  The Premium model pops in a sunroof and a third row. If you’re feeling Executive, that model removes the second row and drops in a 40” tv and entertainment system that converts what was once a truck bed into an over the top screening room on wheels.  Oh, but don’t worry, there’s an intercom system so as you drive up to Vegas, you can alert your entourage that it’s time to turn off the porn and get ready to party.

Who would buy such a thing?  The Rhino is, of course, big in China.  A reported 800 vehicles have been shipped overseas to date under the name “G. Patton” at a reported $500k a pop.  But as its Chinese name suggests, a big part of the appeal of the Rhino GX is that it reminds us of a time where cars weren’t just about electronics and fuel efficiency.  The Jeep Willy and the M998 Humvee took the best of the American military and, in spectacularly American fashion, made a badass commercial vehicle for civilian consumption.  No, the Rhino GX wasn’t born out of the military, (although it looks pretty close to the Buffalo MRAP vehicles we saw out of the Iraq war). But it succeeds at what every great military adjacent American vehicle has done in the past—made us feel like anything was possible and left our friends speechless along the way. 

Would you drive one?

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