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First Drive of the USSV Rhino GX

Driving the Luxury SUV With Assault Vehicle Attitude

John Lehenbauer
Oct 28, 2016
Photographers: Manufacturer, John Lehenbauer
The first glimpse of US Specialty Vehicles’ (USSV) Rhino GX presents the image of an armored urban assault vehicle that easily blasts through roadblocks and other barricades. The more we absorbed its rugged, tactical feel during the day we spent driving this behemoth, the more our imaginations had us playing the role of Secret Service or CIA agents (dressed in all black with dark sunglasses, of course), jumping out and taking control of a situation. OK, maybe all those action movies have influenced our thoughts just a little bit, but the Rhino GX definitely has a very distinct, almost ominous, presence that makes people stop and take notice when it is rolling down the street.
Photo 2/20   |   The front of the USSV Rhino GX is functional and refined, with plenty of attitude. There is an abundance of LED lighting for nighttime excursions.
Photo 3/20   |   The extra steps built into the doors and roofline-mounted grab handles (above the doors) are security-team ready, while the LED lights keep the perimeter well lit.
Driving the Rhino GX is exhilarating. It gives the feeling of being large and in charge and wanting to shout, “Look out, I’m coming through!” But don’t let the larger-than-life appearance and oversized tires fool you—it does not handle or ride like an overweight truck. The ride and handling are on par with any modern, large SUV.
USSV achieves this excellent handling and ride quality from a Ford F-450 chassis by enhancing the front suspension with an oversized sway bar and performance shocks and by using Liquid Spring Technologies’ Compressible Liquid Adaptive Suspension System (CLASS) in place of the truck’s conventional rear-suspension setup. The CLASS hydraulic suspension continuously adjusts itself to different road and driver inputs via a microprocessor. So, no matter what the driving conditions are or the total amount of the vehicle’s load, the suspension stays level and planted to the road. The system also allows drivers to change ride settings between Sport, Normal, and Luxury at the touch of a button using the vehicle’s driver interface.
Photo 4/20   |   The USSV running boards are as rugged as they look. Fabricated from steel, they also function as side-impact guards.
Photo 5/20   |   The spare 38-inch Toyo tire and 20-inch aluminum wheel combination are mounted to a swing-away tire carrier to provide easy access to the rear door. Notice the two solid-mounted anchor points on the bumper for recovery operations. The Rhino GX also features a Class IV tow hitch.
Photo 6/20   |   Side View Spare Tire Rear Bumper
While traveling in Luxury mode, the Rhino GX’s ride quality is comfortable and consistent. Switching to the Normal setting improves control and handling, providing a feeling of solid contact with the road. But, when the Sport mode is turned on, there is definitely a distinct difference. The stiffer Sport setting improves the SUV’s cornering and high-speed abilities, giving the vehicle a much more nimble feel.
Photo 7/20   |   Here’s a look at the hanger and arms of Liquid Spring Technologies’ Compressible Liquid Adaptive Suspension System, a five-link rear hydraulic setup. Not visible are the struts that support the rear suspension and are key to the selectable ride.
The platform’s excellent driving characteristics and the power of the Ford 6.7L Power Stroke diesel make for a well-balanced vehicle. Keeping up with freeway speeds is no problem with the engine and six-speed TorqueShift automatic transmission combination. During our drive, accelerating to merge into freeway traffic or to pass was a breeze, and the engine did not notice ascending grades.
Bringing the Rhino GX to a stop is also not a problem. The retention of the factory F-450 brakes makes bringing the vehicle to a stop feel more carlike than large SUVs. The 38-inch Toyo tires have no affect on the vehicle’s stopping ability and track very well when decelerating on uneven terrain.
Photo 8/20   |   The black-and-tan leather power seats are comfortable, and the Rhino GX’s plush leather-trimmed interior provides a very luxurious feel.
Photo 9/20   |   Interior Rear Seats
Photo 10/20   |   Interior Rear Door Driver Side Looking Forward
The interior of the Premium model Rhino GX is very comfortable and ergonomic and offers good visibility as well. All the seats are dressed in black and tan leather with premium padding for a plush, cozy fit. While the power driver seat is six-way adjustable, the front passenger seat is far less adjustable, with no power operation. The two rear power seats have eight-way adjustability and a center console that houses the rear A/C controls, cupholders, and electronic ports. The two sunroofs toward the rear of the vehicle provide a roomier, open-air feel to the rear seating.
The two-tone leather of the seats also wraps the steering wheel and covers the dash, door panels, and other parts of the well-coordinated interior that features a senses-pleasing combination of colors and textures. The tan headliner helps to brighten up the interior, while the black carpet that runs throughout makes a formal statement.
The dash area is very organized (Ford attributes) with all the controls easily accessible and seen. Electronic gadgetry is well suited to the vehicle and not over the top. The App-Tronics SmartNav system made finding our way simple. In parking lots and tight areas, the backup camera system made navigating the Rhino’s size much easier. The music in the vehicle is crisp and engulfing thanks to an Alpine stereo system. For those VIPs in the rear seats, the Alpine Media XPander Pro provides a variety of multimedia entertainment options.
Photo 11/20   |   The massive 38-inch Toyo Open Country tires give the vehicle an aggressive look, and they are well matched to the Rhino GX’s size and stance.
Ford’s F-450 cab and chassis platform is a very stout foundation for the Rhino GX. Starting with the cab, steel and composite body panels are assembled around a dual-layer, cold-steel body structure. The finish work is first rate, and there is no flex or give in the body, which results in a very quiet ride, save for a slight hum from the 38x15.50R20 Toyo Open Country tires at highway speeds. Although the sharp-angled steel body looks armored and bulletproof, sadly, it is not. But, according to the manufacturer, it could be—for the right price.
USSV did an excellent job building a very stout, high-end SUV for people who are looking for the luxurious feel of a limousine with the off-road prowess of a Hummer.
Photo 12/20   |   Passenger Side Front Sunset
Photo 13/20   |   Rear Driver Side Sunset

SPECIFICATIONS:

Vehicle: US Specialty Vehicles Rhino GX
Vehicle Type: Fullsize four-wheel-drive luxury SUV
Base Price: $204,000
Price as Tested: $240,000
Engine Displacement: 6.7L Power Stroke
Configuration: V-8
Horsepower: 440 hp at 2,800 rpm
Torque: 860 lb-ft at 1,600 rpm
Head Material: Aluminum
Block Material: Compacted graphite iron
Compression Ration: 16.2:1
Valvetrain: OHV, with four valves per cylinder
Fuel Injection: High-pressure, common-rail
Induction: Single variable-geometry turbocharger
Aftercooling: Air-to-air intercooler
Emissions Rating: EPA, CARB
Emissions Equipment: EGR, DPF, SCR
Transmission: TorqueShift six-speed SelectShift automatic
Drive Type: Four-wheel drive
Steering Type: Power hydraulic
Front Suspension: Solid axle with twin-coil and 1.38-inch shock absorbers
Rear Suspension: Solid axle with Smart Hydraulic Suspension
Braking System: Four-wheel vented-disc ABS
Wheels: 20x10 Custom aluminum; 10-lug
Tires: 38x15.50R20 Toyo Open Country
Body Structure: Dual-layer, cold-steel, steel and composite panels
Final Assembly Point: Rancho Cucamonga, California
Weight and Capacities
Oil Capacity: 13 quarts
Fuel Capacity: 40 gallons
Curb Weight: 5,400 pounds
Tow Capacity: 10,000 pounds
Exterior Dimensions
Overall Length: 225 inches (without spare tire)
Overall Width: 96 inches
Overall Height: 88 inches
Wheelbase: 140 inches
Interior Dimensions
Seating: 5 (optional 7)
Headroom: 40.8 inches
Front Legroom: 43.9 inches
Rear Legroom: Varies by model
Front Shoulder Room: 66.7 inches
Rear Shoulder Room: Varies by model
Luggage Capacity: Depends on seating options
Pricing
Standard Model: $204,000
-Power windows (front only), Power locks, Power telescope side mirrors
-Front and rear A/C system, independent rear blower control
-Interior trim accented with black/tan, dark wood/silver/chrome
-Black and tan leather front seats, power driver seat with side airbags; manual passenger seat with side airbag
-Middle row seating; two black/tan leather eight-way power seats
-USSV running boards
-Alpine 24-Bit DAC, amplifier, subwoofer, and Media XPander Pro
-App-Tronics SmartNav 5 navigation system
-Backup camera with Ultrasonic Parking Radar
-Securilock Passive Anti-Theft system
-Leather -wrapped steering wheel and dash with dark wood accent
-Leather -wrapped front and rear door panels with USSV logo
-Interior carpet with custom-embossed floor mats
-Leather Interior side walls
Optional Equipment:
Select Model: $224,000
Standard Model plus:
-Ambient lighting
- Alpine audio system (car play option)
- Alpine drop-down DVD system
- Push-start Smart Key system
- Second-row luxury center console
- Off-road wheel package
- Heavy-duty tow package
- Front, back, and side LED lightbars
Premium Model: $239,000
Select Model plus:
- Third-row power seats with center armrest
- Sunroof
Executive Model: $315,000
Select Model plus:
- Dual alternators
- Sunroof
- Intercom system
- Partition with 40-inch television
- Premium entertainment system
- Premium leather luxury power seats with heat control and footrests
- Exotic wood/leather/chrome trim, luxury center console and central armrest with controls
- KVH TRAC Vision A9 satellite receiver
Warranty Coverage
New Vehicle Limited Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles
Corrosion Perforation: 3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain: 5 years/60,000 miles
Safety Restraint System: 5 years/60,000 miles
6.7L Power Stroke V-8: 5 years/100,000 miles
CLASS Hydraulic Suspension: 3 years/12 month labor
Pros & Cons
Pros: The Rhino is very easy to drive. The handling is on par with other large SUVs when driven with the hydraulic suspension set to Luxury mode. When the suspension is switched to Sport mode, there is a much more aggressive, confident change in the vehicle’s handling. The combination of four-wheel drive, the large Toyo tires, and an abundance of ground clearance make it at home in the dirt or on the blacktop. The Rhino GX’s angular body styling enhances its dynamic appearance, and the interior’s top-grain leather seats are plush and comfortable.
Cons: Large size makes finding a parking spot difficult at times.
Our Take: The assault vehicle styling gives the Rhino GX a very tough, “don’t-mess-with-me” attitude. Unfortunately, we did not have a chance to evaluate its off-road capability, but, based on the touring we did on the streets of Los Angeles, we can confidently say the USSV Rhino GX is perfect for attending any black tie event in comfort no matter the weather or location.

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