The Best Communist-Era SUVs

Illustration for article titled The Best Communist-Era SUVs

The communists had many issues. One of them was the bad road conditions. Of course the peasants in Siberia probably didn't care about that too much in 1938, but while everybody was equal, some were more equal than others, and therefore needed better transportation than what horses could offer. A few decades on the Soviets mastered the 4x4 technology so well that some of those Cold War cans are are still in production.


"Deliberate development" is what a loyal communist would say when asked about their methods. While nowdays the imperialists try to protect their automotive industry through regulations like the American Automobile Labeling Act, the Soviet Union was more into recycling old technologies to save on development costs. Everything was from the CCCP, so foreign produce was not an issue. The results were rolling bricks you could fix with a hammer. A rather large hammer.

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Máté Petrány

Best for last. Although it is easier to roll a Niva while driving on tarmac then to do the same with a joint, once you're offroad, very few obsticles can stop it. Using unibody construction, it was AvtoVAZ's first development without Fiat's help. Being built since 1977, it's independent front suspention and light weight made it an instant success across Russia. Export modells soon followed with better engines and a bit more luxury, but the main characteristics remained. As someone who drove a brand new Niva just last year, I can tell you that while the steering is still rather terrible, and the windnoise and the materials are also reminding you of the Cold War, the offroading capabilities are fantastic with the 1.7-liter injected engine, as long as you remove the catalic converter. It wasn't made for these holdbacks of modern times...