Deep down inside, I think a lot of us want to be The Rock.
Not necessarily because he’s super jacked, looks good bald, and seems to relate really well to children — although he is all of those things — but because in his universe, everything seems to work out. No matter how many explosions he walks away from in slow motion, or how many times he’s betrayed by the very government he’s devoted his entire life to protecting, at the end of the day, he’ll hug his daughter, help her with her homework, and sleep soundly in an enormous oversized bed knowing all is right with the world.
For a brief moment recently, sitting behind the wheel of the U.S. Specialty Vehicles Rhino GX as it towered above the puny heavy-duty pickup stuck in traffic just ahead of me, I felt like The Rock. Not just because the GX is the automotive equivalent of biceps on top of biceps, but because honestly, after his string of driving increasingly larger assault SUVs in the Fast and Furious franchise, the Rhino feels like the only vehicle out there capable of transporting The Rock’s larger-than-life persona in civilian life.
Please Don’t Shoot
The USSV Rhino GX is what a truck would look like if you were 5 years old and asked to build the SUV version of the neighborhood bully out of bulletproof Legos. Scratch that: Legos that only LOOK bulletproof, because if there’s one thing the GX lacks, it’s actual armor (unless you’re interested in shelling out for additional soft ballistic paneling). The wisdom of piloting a vehicle that only appears as though it could survive an IED is questionable, but it’s also perhaps the only flaw I could find with the Rhino GX during my stint in the driver’s seat.
Based on the Ford F-450 Super Duty chassis, USSV replaces every single body panel save for the door skins, the A-pillars, and the B-pillars in order to create the modern Mad Max prison break machine. The GX features a wider track up front, punched out to match the width of the departed dually setup it left Dearborn with, and its bed has been removed and replaced by a three-row passenger compartment built entirely by hand out of steel and composite materials.
That cabin, by the way, is so big that I had to wait for my boarding group number to be called before I could even open up the door. The interior is more private jet than commercial air, however, with bespoke leather and ample room for six passengers riding in cinema-style raised buckets across three rows. In other words, it’s the perfect mobile command center for tracking down jabronis or unraveling a conspiracy so deep it reaches its tendrils into every facet of the executive branch. Or you can also just chill out watch a movie on an optional big screen LCD if that’s more your thing.
Big, Friendly Truck
For all of its exterior bluster, undisputed visual attitude, and near-10,000 lbs of curb weight (2,500 more than a standard F-450), the USSV Rhino GX largely maintains the status quo when it comes to its Ford-sourced running gear. Anything an HD truck can do, so can the Rhino, according to the USSV rep riding shotgun (or is that minigun?) beside me, which means you’re only really limited by the vehicle’s 38-inch off-road tires, solid rear axle and twin-coil monobeam setup in the front.
And, of course, there’s the size factor. This rig is 8-feet wide, 7-feet tall, and nearly 19-feet long, which makes it more of an open plains cruiser than a trail-duster. Fortunately, the ponderous nature of the Rhino GX had seemingly no ill effect on the ability of its 6.7-liter PowerStroke diesel V8 to get it moving. With 440 horsepower and 860 lb-ft on tap from a completely stock engine (matched with a six-speed V8), the USSV was remarkably quick for its girth on the pavement. In fact, the only real complaint I had about its dynamics — after re-adjusting my internal gyroscope from ‘truck’ to ‘tank’ – was the somewhat vague steering that is part and parcel of any heavy-duty pickup experience.
After putting miles on the USSV Rhino GX, I couldn’t help but be surprised by just how accessible the behemoth actually was. Much like The Rock — or at the very least, how things go in my fantasies where Dwayne Johnson and I are stuck at the same airport gate together two days before Christmas, hemmed in by snow and ice, and bonding over our shared desire to get home and spend time with our families before the yuletide passes us by — once you get past its forbidding image, it really just wants to get along. And stomp all over every other automobile that might get in its way. But mostly the first thing.
For a starting price of $250,000, the Rhino GX offers buyers the chance to star in their own mini-action movie each time they pull past the gates of their palatial estate. This is no war-hardened military surplus rattle can. USSV is selling you all the fun bits of your Vin Diesel-powered fantasy without asking you to deal with the unappealing realities associated with four-inch thick ballistic glass and hardened steel seats.
It’s too bad that the vast majority of these over-the-top Rambo wagons end up being exported overseas to anonymous billionaires because even seeing one sitting at a stoplight is enough to get the adrenaline flowing — and have you checking your mirror for incoming missiles.
this article first appeared on AutoGuide