Crawling into 2018 with Hot Rides and an Aftermarket Wish List

Crawling into 2018 with Hot Rides and an Aftermarket Wish List

Story by Stefanie Galeano-Zalutko, photos courtesy of the manufacturer

Life is good at the top of the food chain. For years, the off-road market has experienced unparalleled growth. Classics like the Suzuki Samurai, Toyota Land Cruiser, Isuzu Trooper, and Land Rover Discovery were crawling Canada’s vast terrain long before Jeep JK blueprints spawned a contemporary 4×4 movement. Though the hardcore performance and no-frills styling of yesteryear command a loyal following, product development for the modern off-road aftermarket has elevated the entire segment beyond expectation. And now, it’s time to double down.

An attractive lineup of 2018 4×4 vehicles will serve as the muse for new product development in off-road accessory categories such as suspension, wheels, tires, lighting, recovery, cargo management, and exterior vehicle protection, but eager enthusiasts will need to hold out until after this year’s SEMA Show for more detailed product specs.

“One obvious front-runner is the all-new 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL. The Jeep Wrangler is by far the most accessorized and modified 4X4 in recent history and has made a huge financial impact in the aftermarket segment. For Fab Fours, the Wrangler has provided the opportunity to develop over 70 products, including the industry’s first Grumper and ViCowl. We anticipate the JL will be equally as successful as the JK, and plan to develop as many, if not more, products for it,” said Jason Bukolt, Marketing Director at Fab Fours.

Whether for a banged-up off-road rig or a clean Street Jeep, companies like Flowmaster, aFe Power, DynoMax, Borla, and MBRP are masters of their craft who engineer personalized sound and performance. “We produce cat-back, axle-back, down pipes, mufflers and even off-road specific kits to ensure the power and durability to hit any trail,” continued Kathryn Reinhardt, Marketing Manager at Magnaflow.

From performance to practical, companies like Undercover have always produced premium truck bed covers, most recently the sporty Ridgelander. But the historic success of the JK platform spawned the development of their Nighthawk Light Brow and Grilles. Likewise, companies such as Rugged Ridge and Smittybilt have been quick to market with creative upgrades that are useful in helping off-roaders maximize every cubic inch of space, from roof-top tents to LED and Hi-Lift jack hood-mounting solutions. We suspect similar “Aha!” innovations to come out of this year’s SEMA Show.

But the Wrangler won’t be the only 4×4 seeing off-road action in 2018. General Motors is no stranger to success in the Canadian market. Their trucks consistently perform well, with the GMC Sierra and Canyon accounting for seven out of every ten GMC sales and the Chevrolet Silverado holding tight in the top three. But an all-new Chevy Colorado ZR2 off-road package is positioned to cause some chest pain for equally impressive performance rigs like the Ford Raptor, Ram Power Wagon, and triple threat TRDs—Tacoma, 4Runner, and Tundra.

Insiders tell us that advanced shock technology, level kits, and even high-end vehicle styling products will be front and centre on mid- and full-size truck platforms such as these for 2018.

And, they’re prime real estate for brands like Thule, Yakima, and Undercover to house those prized lifestyle products like mountain bikes, camping gear, and powersports equipment.

But the 4×4 elephant in the room is a compact ride with a price tag to match. Recently, we completed a two-part editorial segment about the side-by-side’s rise to fame in the 4×4 community. As Mint 400 sponsor Odyssey Battery discussed, powersports models like the SSV are taking the industry by storm and letting the entire family take part in the fun. Adrenaline junkies have no shortage of units to choose from, and the aftermarket is ripe with products from the likes of K&N Filters, Maxxis tires, FOX Shocks, Rigid Industries LED lighting, and TrailFX recovery items.

So, there’s really only one thing left to do. Wait, wait, and wait some more. The SEMA Show will come and go soon enough, leaving consumers with a long wish list. With anticipation such as this, you’d think it’s Christmas morning.

Categories: Features, Off-Road Plus