Tomcar: Tough, Little-Known ORV Sets the Bar for Rugged Capability
Eve Flanigan 10.01.20
It was at Felix Canyon Ranch, a demo site for the product as well as the training site for some of North America’s deadliest snipers, that I first met the all-terrain vehicle with a funny name: TOMCAR, as it appears in commercial form. This is an off-road vehicle (ORV) like no other. The rocky washes and boulder-strewn hills of Felix Canyon in the southern tail of New Mexico’s Sacramento Mountains are an ideal ORV proving ground.
My first clue about the Tomcar’s unique toughness, with a smooth ride unlike any 4×4, came when I first hitched a ride to the long-range target platform at Felix Canyon Ranch. It is sited atop a hill that is basically an acres-high pile of large, pointy rocks. A rough two-track marks the way from the main road. On the way up, I rode in a perfectly nice, modern 4WD pickup – and felt thoroughly beaten at the top, having struggled to keep my head from hitting the window and my rifle case from flopping around. The other occupants of the pickup were similarly fatigued on arrival. As we got out, unloaded our gear, and shook off the jarring experience, the chugging sound of a smaller engine drew near. It was the Tomcar, and unlike us, its occupants wore big smiles and showed no apparent struggle as they approached.
Many years, events, and miles later, I have come to love the Tomcar for its nimbleness and fatigue-saving ways on work days. The ranch has had several gas-powered editions, and I have been fortunate to drive them enough to note the similarities and differences. Something they all have in common are remarkable stability on terrain that would cause most other off-road vehicles (ORV) to roll – and that is only with the 2WD models. The Tomcar’s independent suspension system not only handles moguls, stumps, and precipitous drops or climbs with ease, it hauls loads that are only rarely dislodged in the process. Every one has had more than adequate power to do tough climbs with numerous steel targets and posts on board, and I have never been dissatisfied with speed – if the terrain can take it, it goes up to 65 mph. Tomcars are not street legal in every jurisdiction, but that is not a concern on the expansive ranch.
These American-made ORVs are not for everyone. All but one model has no power steering. Every Tomcar I have driven has been moody on occasion about shifting into reverse on its automatic transmission – they have always gone, but sometimes with an audible grind. Luxury accessories like a vinyl roof and Plexiglas windows are expensive. Base prices range from $20,000 to $36,500 depending on the model. Keeping with the times, electric motors are now offered in addition to gas and diesel. If you want an extremely rugged utility vehicle for hauling gear, game, or friends (aside from the two-seater) a Tomcar is worth a look.