USSV Rhino GX Offers the Ultimate Ride

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Remember the original Hummer, the military vehicle that AM General converted for consumer use? And remember when GM made consumer-friendlier versions of the Hummer in the form of the H2, H2 SUT, H3 and H3T that maintained that military look?

Things didn't work out so well for GM and the Hummer brand, but there are still many who think a ruggedly refined and muscular-looking big SUV or pickup truck has a consumer base. And if U.S. Specialty Vehicle has its way, it will be providing those potential customers more choices, one of them being the Rhino GX 4x4.

We first saw the monster truck in a basement booth at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show; we'd never seen anything like it before.

U.S. Specialty Vehicle is one of a growing number of boutique automotive customizers that are finding a niche in the U.S. and the global marketplace building custom vehicles not available from the big automakers or military defense suppliers. We should note that these companies - American Expedition Vehicles, Icon 4x4 and Legacy Motors are among USSV's competitors -- are not building are not dumbed-down versions of military project trucks. Instead, these are top-quality, luxurious cruisers for consumers who want something unique and dramatic.

From what we experienced during our short drive in a Rhino GX in the suburbs outside Los Angeles, it's no wonder USSV is selling 200 of these luxurious road-warrior people-haulers per year, most of which get shipped to China and the Middle East where price is no object.

The Foundation
The Rhino GX starts it life as a Ford F-450 two-door chassis-cab dualie with either the gas V-10 or Power Stroke diesel V-8 for motivation. It's worth noting that since the underpinnings are from the Ford factory chassis cab, the optioned Power Stroke turbo-diesel is the de-rated version producing 355 horsepower and 670 pounds-feet of torque rather than the current max-rated Super Duty Power Stroke available with 440 horsepower and 860 pounds-feet of torque.

Underneath the truck, USSV keeps the stock front suspension and axle, using the factory coil springs and shocks. In the rear, however, it's a little different. To provide the most comfort in a ginormous vehicle like this, USSV replaces the Ford factory dualie live-axle-and-leaf-spring setup in favor of a multilink military-grade live axle that uses hydraulically controlled heavy-duty struts that can adjust to any road condition or input in micro seconds. In addition to providing load-leveling and a kneel setting, this active rear suspension also helps deliver a factory-rated 14,000-pound gross vehicle weight rating to the GX, which calculates to about 5,000 pounds of payload capacity on a fully loaded model. Towing capacity is 20,000 pounds.

The wheelbase of the truck is just more than140 inches with an overall length close to 19 feet, making the GX just a touch shorter than a half-ton Ford F-150 SuperCrew short bed. The GX is taller, wider and heavier than a normal 4x4 half-ton.

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The Look
USSV makes the angular steel shell of the Rhino GX body at its Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., headquarters, creating a unique body shape that emulates the look of F-117A Night Hawk and SR-71 Blackbird fighter jets, both of which have stealth capabilities. The truck also is meant to look like a Desert Storm troop carrier with its lower footholds and upper grab handles built into the body.

For now the truck can be ordered only in SUV configurations in Stealth Black, Tactic Green or Desert Sand with seating for four to six. But USSV provides a huge list of standard features and special options that cater nicely to Rolls-Royce or extreme adventure/survivalist enthusiasts. Our favorite view of the truck is from the rear where the full-size spare sits on a heavy-duty tire carrier, which can swing out of the way to open the troop-carrier-styled rear access door. You can even order the Rhino GX with bulletproof glass.

As you might have guessed, this vehicle can get expensive, with prices starting at $194,000 and easily climbing to $250,000 with all the special-order boxes checked.

The Rhino GX will be sold throughout the U.S. at select high-end automotive dealerships; Lamborghinis, Bentleys and Range Rovers are among the vehicles that usually get cross-shopped with this type of rig.

The Drive
During our short test drive, we found the Rhino GX to be surprisingly nimble for its size and even quick off the line. Visibility from the driver's seat is tricky given the smallish rear window, but the decently sized Ford towing mirrors do a good job of minimizing blind spots.

Our test truck was equipped with 38-inch Mickey Thompson Baja MTZ tires (on 10-lug 20-inch alloy wheels), which looked properly proportioned but delivered more road noise than we like. Still, the aggressive tire tread is a perfect fit with the "wide-mouth" Jeep-like fender flares and tall stance. Although our test truck didn't have them, we recommend ordering the auto-retracting side steps to make entering and exiting the vehicle easier.

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We performed several emergency brake tests and found the stopping power to be strong, smooth and predictable, especially with just three adults inside. Checks of the factory computer trip readout (reflashed for the new tire size) revealed numbers in the low teens with the V-10 gas engine when comfortably cruising through city streets. On the highway we saw those numbers jump, averaging between 15 and 16 mpg. During a long-distance drive of their own, USSV employees said a diesel-equipped Rhino GX averaged more than 17 mpg, delivering just less than 19 mpg when cruising interstates.

As impressive as the Rhino GX looks on the outside, it's really the interior that puts this big truck in a class by itself. Due to the height of the chassis-cab platform, the rear floor of the GX sits higher than other full-size SUVs, but the unique shell allows for extra headroom so passengers don't feel restricted or confined. Additionally, sitting up a little higher provides a more commanding view for all passengers. Our test truck came with two custom rear bucket seats (with tons of legroom) with a center pass-through to the cargo area in back; however, you can order a pair a removable flip-and-fold third-row seats to accommodate two more passengers to carry a full family.

The Deliberation
There's no doubt unique vehicles like Rhino GX will catch the eye of wealthy car collectors and "Duck Dynasty" types around the world, but to make the 4x4 more accessible to a wider audience, USSV has created a smaller, less expensive model that starts at $75,000. Called the Rhino XT, it looks like a cross between a Toyota FJ Cruiser, Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and a tank; it will be lighter, will seat four and will offer a Pentastar V-6 gas engine. It will be available later this year.

For now, USSV doesn't have any plans to make a pickup truck version of the GX, but then Hummer didn't plan to make the H2 SUT or H3T at its startup. Don't be surprised if you see more customized full-size ultra-luxury pickups in the future. If Ford, Ram and GM can sell thousands of fully loaded one-ton dualie diesel premium pickups each year, you can bet smaller companies are going to want some of that market. Our guess is it won't be too long before one of the one-ton pickup makers is selling their top-of-the-line haulers for $100,000. And it likely won't have the world-class rear suspension setup the Rhino GX offers. photos by Mark Williams

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Poor break over angle...

No skid plates underneath? What about mine protection? RPG protection?

Where's Arnold when we really need him? Note the absence
of info on the dash. Only 2 gauges? Idiot light city.

For 1/4 of a mil, I'd expect this thing to monitor my blood pressure as well. They'll be able to use this thing when they
shoot the next Mad Max movie. Just needs some hanging
body parts,flames, blood and Meagan Fox in a 2 ounce 2 piece
and the ensemble is complete...

And paint it in camo !!!!!

they go to a lot of trouble making it look tough and bullet proof like it can drive thru a brick wall , BUT they ruin it by using cheap F-250 plastic headlights!
ha-ha-ha what a joke!

If you are driving a 6 figure vehicle, it should have only 2 doors!

The only people I see in Austin with chauffer's are old widows.

A prosperous real estate agent driving a potential buyer to a property turns to her and asks:

"Have you ridden in a Rolls' before?"
The buyer replies, "Not in the front.".

Thank goodness a Pentastar V-6 gas engine!
I was afraid it would be an Ecobust!

Why is the rear floor leveled with the seat? or is the back seat made for kids? kinda ruins the whole purpose of this thing!

When I first saw the picture I thought it was a Cadillac Escalade...LOL

Seemingly poor 3/4 vision, Off Road ability seems limited as well. Guess this is to make a statement, more than be practical

I like to read about stuff that 98% of us will never be able to buy. There is a market and they are supplying it- I'm just not in it. But for those that are, I think I would demand a fully independent suspension and a military grade diesel (Duramax) like Oshkosh uses in the new troop carrier.

If I was in the market for such a rig,this would be my first choice over any

I'm surprised that Roadwhale hasn't chimed in with "it's too big!"

Where are all the FE weenies today? They must be out riding their bicycles.

@hemiv8 and Rico suave, who the heck is responsible for locking your cage door???? They need to be fired!! You can make some of the most stupid comments on here. A distant second is Ram and gmsnotsogreat. There are others but wont name them now. You can look up any truck you want on google and watch it burn. Whats up with you?? Still smoking cause your Mustang burnt and you didn't have insurance to cover it or what?? That's your fault. Some people just never learn and you and your aliases are a prime example of that. Stay in your cage!!

It's just too darn big for me. What is the fuel economy by the way?

I'd rather be reading about the Honda Ridgeline.

@Fred- if by "leveled" you mean the high rear floor, its because it sits on a C/C- the frame comes up right behind the original "cab" to its flat, high level.
No way does that thing only weigh 9000#.

Hey its for the Hummer crowd.

Like the Hummer its not a HMMWV.

Its a roided out Expedition/Suburban for those with money to burn, who whom image is everything and function follows form.

If you want practical, that ain't it. If you want to look bad-azz, it's even better than a Hummer.

@ Ford orgullosa de ser Mexicana

If that was a 2015 and up Aluminum Ford, it would be melted and no truck but the frame would be left, check those out.. Aluminum F-150's melt like plastic, its unreal when you see them..



There is a Canadian armoured truck made on an F650 chassis. That would be the Terradyne Gurkha RPV/MPV/LAPV.

Just what your local drug dealer ordered.

This is what your well heeled paranoid's buy for the zombie apocalypse. The rest just overload Toyota Tacoma's.

It's just too darn big for me.
Posted by: Jeff | Apr 10, 2016 5:56:36 PM

That's what Fed up's wife said to me!

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