Russian UAZ just came up with the toughest overlander van

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UAZ SGR Expedition front three-quarter UAZ

Founded in 1941, Russia’s Ulyanovsk Automobile Plant (UAZ) made a name for itself by building 4x4s that will work in the most punishing environments, including the frozen swamps of the tundra. Teaching Lada Nivas a lesson or two in basic off-roading, the short-wheelbase UAZ-469 that’s known today as the Hunter has been around since 1971. 

However, for a real Cold War icon on four wheels, look no further than the UAZ-452 “Bukhanka” van. Known in Russia as the “a loaf of bread,” the 452 originates from 1958’s 450 design and is still available as a 4×4 minibus with 6–11 seats, a van with plenty of cargo room for all your crucial radio equipment, a pickup chassis for farming, or even as an remote ambulance.

UAZ 450 vintage ad
UAZ

Now, as Motor 1 discovered, UAZ came up with an even more impressive 452 variant called the SGR Combi Expedition. “Ready for everything” is how UAZ describes it, and being a six-seater van with a locking rear differential and plenty of factory upgrades, this UAZ Combi shouldn’t disappoint off-road.

UAZ SGR Expedition orange side-view
UAZ

Still powered by a trusty 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine producing 111 horsepower and 146 ft-lb of torque, the Combi comes with a five-speed manual and a two-speed transfer case. On top of that well-proven standard part-time 4×4 gear, the SGR Combi Expedition also has 16-inch BF Goodrich All-Terrain tires, Spicer axles from Dana, extra instrumentation and wiring preparation for satellite radio, a thick tubular skid plate protecting the oil pan and steering rack, a heavy-duty roof rack, equally beefy bumpers front and rear, an integrated winch, heated seats, and a folding table for the passengers, located above that always warm engine cover.

This old-school overlander is also sold in orange, in case olive green is not your style. Back in the day, people had the same color choices regarding Nikonos V diver cameras, which were also designed to work literally everywhere.

UAZ SGR Expedition front three-quarter
UAZ
UAZ SGR Expedition front three-quarter
UAZ

UAZ SGR Expedition front three-quarter
UAZ
UAZ SGR Expedition wheel
UAZ

UAZ SGR Expedition rear three-quarter
UAZ

While hardly comparable, at times when what used to be the all-capable Geländewagen is a long-wheelbase luxury SUV with an independent front suspension, and when the Land Rover Defender is reborn as a unibody SUV based on an aluminum platform, one thing is for sure: UAZ is allowed to keep the nomad spirit alive by simply upgrading a recipe almost as old as a Jeep DJ’s. The resulting van calls for great adventures while costing the equivalent of $15,432. Quite the offer.

UAZ SGR Expedition interior front
UAZ
UAZ SGR Expedition interior seating
UAZ

UAZ SGR Expedition wheel shifter dash
UAZ
UAZ SGR Expedition dash components closeup
UAZ

UAZ SGR Expedition rear three-quarter
UAZ
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