TOMCAR TX4 TRAIL TEST
— Testing something a little different —
By the staff of Dirt Wheels
Lines can easily be blurred when deciding what machines should be considered UTVs. We can take that acronym in two ways—ultimate terrain vehicle or utility terrain vehicle. We can easily categorize the high-horsepower, long-travel offerings from Can-Am, Polaris, Yamaha and Honda in the former. Yet, many more machines seem to fit in the latter category. One vehicle we struggle to categorize is what we call the “Trail Tank,” or its real name, the Tomcar TX.
The Tomcar TX is the most heavy-duty UTV currently in our industry. The chassis and roll cage are built out of steel, and expertly welded together to withstand massive amounts of abuse to make sure the Special Operations teams (that it was originally designed for) complete their missions. There are three versions of the TX. The TX5 is the shortest model with a wheelbase of 106 inches. It has seating for two and a cargo platform behind the cab. The TX4 has a 120-inch wheelbase with seating for four and a smaller cargo platform. Finally, the TX3 is the most work-oriented of the group with a 120-inch wheelbase, two-seat format and the largest cargo platform. The cargo beds can all be flipped open to reveal the engine.
Powering the Tomcar TX line is generally a 1.5-liter gasoline engine. The four-cylinder powerplant has a 16-valve head and is liquid-cooled. The engine produces 107-horsepower and 80 pound-feet of torque. It isn’t the spriteliest engine we have experienced, but it has plenty of gusto to get where you need to go. The transmission of the TX is a fully automatic Continuously Variable Type with high, low and reverse gears. The transfer case has on-the-fly switching of the two- and four-wheel-drive system, and the differentials are both independently lockable through a pneumatic locker system.
You can also purchase the customizable Tomcar TX with a 96-volt, three-phase dual-AC electric motor. Max power output is 120 horsepower. A hybrid version can include a Diesel Range Extender engine. If you stick with the standard gas engine, there are two fuel tanks on board that you can switch between.
HANDLING THE ABUSE
The TX is one of the toughest machines we have driven so far, and it has some great qualities. The front and rear independent suspension has 14 inches of wheel travel. The front suspension is a dual-A-arm type, but it differs from most conventional setups. The arms are made from flat steel instead of a tubular construction. The components are heavy duty, but they have to be to handle a vehicle weight of 2,650 pounds. The rear suspension utilizes a trailing-arm setup that also differs from most conventional systems. Instead of using shafts to drive the rear wheels, Tomcar designed the TX to have a chain-drive setup (powered from the rear differential) that is inside the heavy-duty trailing arms.
A benefit to this setup is that there are less external moving parts that can be damaged while operating the Tomcar over very rough terrain. Valuable ground clearance in the rear is gained through the design. The machine has a generous 17 inches of clearance. A width of 72 inches benefits the handling characteristics of the TX by providing a stable footprint. Electronic power steering is a standard feature on the entire TX line to help turn the large 16-inch wheels and large tires.
Tomcar offers their TX lineup in base-model formats. You get a 10,000-pound winch, EPS, dual fuel tanks and a 2-inch hitch receiver in stock form. Suspension seats, half or full doors, a cabin canopy and an automotive glass windshield with wipers can be ordered for the cab. An LED light bar, spare wheel and tire setup, and rear-suspension-load compensators are the rest of the upgrade options. The rear-load compensators help maintain a smooth and proper ride out of the TX when the cargo bed is loaded down. If you are looking to get a Tomcar for hunting, ranching or work purposes, the large cargo beds in the rear have rack sides to help tie equipment down. You have a 2,500-pound minimum, and 5,000-pound towing capability, depending on the model and the front cargo rack is a great feature to bring everything you need with you.
TRAIL TANK TEST
Getting into the Tomcar TX does not resemble most UTVs we have piloted. Everything feels tough and war-worthy. The TX is built with purpose and not simply for looks, so there isn’t any stylish plastic paneling surrounding you. The center of gravity is quite low to the ground, so sitting in the machine, we felt low to the ground. The first test was to side-hill the TX. As most of you know, side-hilling is an easy way to roll over a UTV if you don’t keep your momentum going. The Tomcar allows you to drive at crawling speeds across hills without the machine trying to roll over, and you can even completely halt the vehicle. While all machines have a tipping limit, this one would take a steeper grade than most to tip sideways.
Next, we drove the TX up and down differing levels of rough hill ascents and descents. Some had uneven dirt pockets, while others were filled with deep ruts and boulders. The high and low gearing worked like a charm, and it was easy to switch once you came to a full stop. The Tomcar climbed through some challenging terrain without the need for both front and rear differentials to be locked. We really only locked the front to see if it aided the machine much. It certainly helped but was rarely required. Steering became heavy when the front differential was locked, and you could only lock the front if the rear was locked first.
Once we got into more wide-open trails, the TX showed us that it is capable of some fast speeds, but it won’t be skipping over the tops of whoop sections. The 14 inches of travel seems to disappear quicker when speeds increase. However, the ride was smooth and very controllable at the speeds the TX liked going. Back into the rocks and it felt as happy as can be. We imagine it feels like crawling with a Jeep that has a much lower center of gravity. The Tomcar is more composed at slow-speed off-cambers and crawling than any other UTV we have piloted. The 72-inch-wide footprint adds stability.
The four-cylinder engine in the TX is the biggest powerplant offered in a CVT-equipped UTV, but it certainly isn’t the fastest. It has plenty enough power though and can reach speeds over 80 miles per hour. Technically, it is the only UTV in production that doesn’t require the use of a helmet in California, but we dislike that fact and always side on proper protection for off-roading. One downside we have found to the Tomcar is that the CVT belt is open to the elements. That means you can’t submerge the car more than 17 or so inches of water. without risking getting the belt wet, which will cause it to slip, and all momentum forward will cease.
ROUNDING IT UP
It is easy to tell that the Tomcar TX has military DNA in its design. Sturdy, tough and capable are all appropriate terms that apply to it. The ride is smooth, stability is far beyond other UTVs, and the drivetrain is strong and worthy of work and play. The towing capacity and cargo-holding capabilities shine for hunters, ranching and a hard day’s work. The three different versions of the TX line offer a setup for anyone. The price could be a hard pill to swallow for some, but we feel it’s worthwhile for what the machine is meant to handle. This isn’t going to beat your buddies racing through the dunes and desert, but you can literally put a two-seat RZR 900 on the cargo bed of the TX3 and take it back to camp. What other UTV on the market could do that? Go to www.tomcar.com to find out more!
Tomcar isn’t well-known in our industry. The company’s production lines have been contracted out to military services, but now it is finally able to dip its combat boots into the recreational market. The Tomcar TX is very unique and unlike any other UTV we have tested.
SPECS TOMCAR TX4
Engine In-line four-cylinder, liquid-cooled
Bore x stroke 77.4 X 79.5mm
Fuel system EFI
Fuel capacity 14 gal.
Transmission Automatic CVT
Final drive Shaft/triplex chain rear
Front Dual A-arms w/ 14”
Rear Trailing arm w/ 14”
Front Hydraulic disc
Rear Hydraulic disc
Ground clearance 17”
Curb weight 2,650 lb.
Payload capacity 2,500 lbs.
Cargo bed capacity NA
Towing capacity 2,500-5,000 lbs.
Colors Desert Tan/OD Green
Price Starting at $37,300