We get asked questions every day that vary from the impossible to answer to some that are much easier to explain.
Today I am going to revisit one of those questions that are not impossible but are certainly not easy to answer. “What is it like to drive a lifted vehicle?”
The answer to this always ends up trying to use an analogy of some other vehicle or sensation that approximates the experience. I have said things like “Imagine steering a large ship in a storm” or “Have you ever tried to walk in a heavy wind while wearing a rain slicker?”. There just isn’t a great way to describe it to someone who hasn’t experienced it. There’s also the other side of the coin, “I feel in command of the road”, “I can see everything”, “Potholes, what potholes?”.
Let’s talk about something that almost everyone agrees on. Lifting a vehicle makes it less stable, more susceptible to crosswinds, and it definitely takes any vehicle and makes it even less aerodynamic. Your mileage may vary but it will definitely go down.
Driving lifted. (The upside.)
Driving lifted is probably the greatest automotive experience, other than driving actual race cars, that you can have on public roads. I have driven a lot of vehicles, both two and four-wheel varieties and a lifted truck or Jeep is right at the top. No matter the road condition you don’t have to worry about it. Speed bumps, rough pavement, dirt road, snow, none of that matters.
I find myself dodging manhole covers, potholes, and other road hazards when I drive a car. I don’t even think about them in a lifted vehicle.
Being able to see traffic ahead, behind, and all around the vehicle is awesome. Having people see me is even better. The roads and highways near DC and Baltimore are some of the unfriendliest in the nation so visibility is paramount.
What else is there to know? (The downsides.)
Most people will think you are texting and driving. It isn’t because you are texting, it is because the vehicle wanders and needs constant course correction. It’s not scary, it’s not even worrisome, it is just how things go with your newfound uber-capable lifted wonder vehicle.
There is more maintenance with a lifted vehicle. You need to make sure the parts and pieces all stay torqued properly so not only do you stay safe but the other drivers stay safe. It also saves money on the wear and tear of those new parts. Nothing worse than hitting that pothole or manhole cover that wasn’t an issue and experiencing steering wheel shake due to a bad or failing part.
Stopping takes more distance. You are higher, heavier, and your wheels and tires weigh more when you go bigger. Acceleration also gets worse for the same reasons.
No matter how much you want to you cannot just drive through the median to avoid traffic, you cannot drive over the little economy car that just cut you off, and you can’t just make a road anywhere you want to. That last one is one I struggle with all the time.
People will talk to you constantly. If you are an introvert by a Mazda 3 and fly under the radar. lifted vehicles can be polarizing to some folks and to others they are a magnet for ogling.
But what’s it really like?
Let’s be honest, at the end of the day, it’s really awesome. You survey the plebeian drivers beneath your mighty rig. You look down on all but the biggest of trucks, people scamper out of your way, and merging is now a joy. OK maybe merging isn’t a joy but the rest is true. Driving a lifted vehicle is one of the seminal driving experiences of your life. Like the first time you drag race or that moment your dad lets you take the wheel. It is something everyone who appreciates cars should do at least once in their life. Not just on the road but take it into the dirt and play!