2010 Mitsubishi Outlander Off-Roading Back to LA
November 29, 2010
Roughly 8 miles outside the outskirts of the middle of nowhere west of Phoenix, they are doing construction on a bridge. To do so, they have closed I-10 down to two lanes, which essentially brings the freeway to a complete halt. I drove on Tuesday and Saturday, so I can only imagine the horror show it caused Wednesday and Sunday.
On Tuesday, I sat in this traffic and it mercifully only robbed me of about 15 minutes. Coming home, though, I was in a hurry and figured there had to be another way. I scanned the navigation system and sure enough about 2 miles north of and running parallel to the 10 was something called the Tonopah Salome Hwy. Traffic was coming to a complete stop right where I needed to exit and I bailed. I followed my nav map two miles until I came upon the "hwy" and turned left. A half-mile later, I came upon a sign...
"Pavement Ends Ahead"
Without slowing down, thoughts ran through my head of whether I should keep going. 'Well, I'm in an SUV, I have all-wheel drive, it is called a highway.' The Honda Accord following a pickup and camper trailer ahead sealed the deal. As the light gravel of the road began to ping against the wheel wells, I charged forward, quickly passing the tepid, glacial Accord and trailer, leaving them behind in a trail of dust. For 7 miles, my journey looked like this ...
Until it became paved again on the west side of a dried out wash (pictured above), where dirt bike riders were doing something. Possibly dirt bike riding, I couldn't be sure.
Tonopah Salome Hwy was hardly the Rubicon Trail, but it still added some added excitement to an otherwise dull journey consisting of straight roads, dull desert terrain and an endless caravan of Caravans and Tahoes. Plus, I was able to easily and safely maintain about 50 or so, which is 10 times the speed I would've managed on the 10.
The Outlander really came up big here, not only because it's an SUV and had better damn-well be able to handle terrain like this, but its navigation system (which nevertheless should have something indicating a highway is unpaved) has a fairly rudimentary but ultimately affective traffic feature that told me exactly where the snarl ended and thusly allowed me to plot my course back onto the freely-moving highway.
So, I'm glad I didn't take the GTI ... well, for the off-roading and the immense amount of stuff I brought home.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 9,688 miles