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Suzuki Jimny, The Overlander We NEED.

"You need a 4x4 with 6 inches of lift and at least 35" tires" HA! If you only need room for 4 people. I have another option for you..........

In a world where everyone is drooling over big lifted trucks and "overland lifestyle" you would not be laughed at for thinking you need a 4runner, Tacoma, Jeep Wrangler or Gladiator. How else does one travel the world and gain millions of followers on #instagram with a #FYP or #overland?

Let's go back a second to the middle of 2021. I get a call from Peter in Japan who is at a dealership looking at units for our channel on YouTube and is falling over himself with excitement. "A JIMNY!!!!!!" he says. "Oh, a JimMy?" I said, foolishly thinking they sold the GMC SUV in Japan for some reason.

About 2 minutes later we both realized neither of us is getting the other, and a video call ensues. "Hmmm, Peter, I don't know what we can do with that in Canada, it's tiny". Ignoring my ignorance Peter remarks "That's the point Rob, it's a Kei car". I never knew that the pokey little SUV existed until that moment. Background: First brought to the masses in 1970 as an LJ10, much resembling the old 70's LandCruiser the Jimny was a hit. Selling over 5,000 units in the first year, it has continued strong ever since, but never really made world-wide press. The amount of Jimny variants is staggering. Special models, or being sold as other vehicles (Dutton Surf, Mazda AZ-Offroad) has also likely muddied the waters and perhaps, limited fame for this little Landmaster. No, that is not just clever wording, it was also sold as the Landmaster, Gypsy, Santana, Sierra, Fox, etc....etc. This car has had every name under the sun. More on that later perhaps. Fast forward a week, we got it, for a reasonable price in order to test the waters with some new content. While owning it we also found there is a niche market for them in North America, sold in both 1.3L and 660CC (Kei) variants, the Jimny is actually quite well loved and for good reason.

Our JB23 Jimny

You see, the Jimny is a great alternative to any North America SUV with AWD or 4X4. It is fuel efficient in both 1.3L four cylinder versions, and the 660CC three cylinder, the one here, was a 660CC. During ownership we averaged about 5L/100KM which is better than a almost any new hybrid.


What about EV? "Can't compare to that!" you say. Well, no. You would be correct. The trouble is with an EV, you cannot bring electricity with you in a NATO spec Jerry can, can you? No. You cannot. While you might have a small functional 4X4 for pure city use, our use for four wheel drive is to get out to the middle of nowhere. Sometimes driving in excess of 50KM from the main road, hundreds of kilometers from a service station.

An example of where we went with our Jimny during ownership

So fuel efficient is a resounding yes. How about space? Thanks to the specific rules in Japan on selling a car in the KEI class, the Jimny is small. Just 63 inches wide, and 135 inches long. It will fit in the smallest of spots, without sacrificing much interior room for the passengers thanks to smart design and...wait for it.......less crash protection. Yes, you read that correctly, there is less crash protection in a typical Kei car that any normal North American vehicle post Y2K production. Something to consider when purchasing. Especially for those with small children.

The Jimny offers ample room for occupants. At six foot two, 275lb's I did not expect to feel so comfortable in a Jimny. There is miles of headroom, more than ample for me, and enough room in the back for 5 bags of groceries, enough for a family of 4 to do a weekly shop, with the full family. This FIS edition (International Ski Federation, and yes it is FIS not ISF) has a wonderful blue limited interior. It is tough wearing fabric with a thicker weak, not so great on the skin in summer perhaps, but great functional performance for high use. If you are searching for a Jimny, I recommend the FIS or Wild Wind models purely for the interior if nothing else. Rear seats fold almost entirely flat for days when you need more space and less people. You can also fit a hitch and pull a trailer, or use the roof rack. I cannot recommend a hitch on anything less than the 1.3L engine. Just not enough torque.


So you have space for 4, a roof rack and optional towing ability for your gear. What is there that a Jeep or Tacoma offers that you cannot get from a Jimny? Left Hand Drive? NOPE. The Jimny is available in LHD from the Philippines and France, amongst others. The only things you are really missing is the additional space that I honestly think we want but don't need. You can fit the essentials in, on, and behind a Jimny, especially for two people. It has lift kits available and a low and high range 4X4 system. It is easy to park and commute in the city, and those small dimensions, plus some reasonable ground clearance contribute to excellent approach, breakover and departure angles. There really is no good reason the Jimny isn't a good choice for the masses who want to begin overlanding, or just those who want a fun, functional 4X4. Perhaps it never came to fame quite as it should have thanks to the plethora of names it had, unlike Toyota who has basically had the 4Runner since the dawn of time. Perhaps nobody thought it would sell here. While I do not think any less of those who choose a Jeep, Ford, Toyota or other product for adventure driving (I myself have an Xterra) I cannot honestly say that the Jimny is not a suitable alternative for many. Let us know what you think in the comments and check out our multi-episode series on YouTube.




Fore a more detailed review and full coverage, see Peter's video here:






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