It’s not often that a machine comes along that’s so unique, your brain can’t quite figure out how to classify it. But this is exactly the conundrum we’re faced with when looking at Vanderhall Motor Works’ 2022 lineup. The soon-to-be-released Vanderhall Brawley GTS EV is truly an off-road vehicle like no other.
Imagine a cross between an upscale sports car and a high-performance UTV, all wrapped up in one luxurious, Jeep-like package.
Struggling to come up with a mental picture? We don’t blame you. To say the Brawley is unique would be an understatement. Today we’re taking a peek at this one-of-a-kind vehicle. What makes it tick? Why is it so luxurious? And how come we can’t just call it an SUV?
But first, let’s start with the Brawley’s roots. In case you haven’t been acquainted yet, allow us to introduce you to Vanderhall.
It’s not a household name by any means, but Vanderhall Motor Works has certainly carved out a spot in the niche “autocycle” market since its inception in 2010.
The American vehicle manufacturer is based in Provo, Utah. Until now, they’ve been known for three-wheeled roadsters that are somewhat of a cross between a car and a motorcycle. (A direct competitor of Vanderhall machines is the Polaris Slingshot, if that gives you a better idea of what autocycles are.)
So what exactly are these things? Cars or motorcycles? Well, we can’t tell you—the answer depends on where you live.
At the federal level, Vanderhall vehicles are classified as a “three-wheel motorcycle,” so they don’t have to comply with the same crash test standards as regular automobiles. As for whether you need a helmet to ride in one or a motorcycle license to drive one, that’s determined on a state-by-state basis.
So now we’ve defined what makes up the current Vanderhall Motor Works lineup (sort of). But now they’re throwing the new Brawley into the mix. What do we call this thing?
The Brawley GTS EV looks nothing like the other vehicles Vanderhall has produced. Actually, it doesn’t really look like anything else on the market.
If we had to draw comparisons, we’d say we’re getting some Jeep vibes—especially when you look at the side profile or boxy front end. So our first instinct is to classify the Brawley as an SUV, but that’s not totally correct.
Although the totally enclosed body makes it look automobile-ish, the four-seater Brawley is being described using phrases like “all-electric off-roader” and “side-by-side ATV.” It doesn’t come with airbags (although it seems those might be available as an add-on) and doesn’t meet federal safety standards. For these reasons, it can’t be classified as an on-highway vehicle—despite how much it looks like one.
According to Vanderhall’s website, their goal for the Brawley was to “revolutionize and create a new category of adventure vehicle.” Were they successful? Let’s take a look at the specs and then we’ll let you be the judge.
The Brawley is powered by four individually controlled electric motors—one for each wheel. That gives this machine a whopping 300V of electric power. That’s incredibly more efficient than other electric side-by-sides on the market, which run on anywhere from 48V to 96V.
All of the important stuff is housed in a single, well-protected unit: the motor, inverter, gear train, brakes, and cooling system. With this design and the use of advanced lubricants and materials, Vanderhall claims the Brawley will require zero maintenance through up to ten years of use.
Advanced battery conditioning extends the Brawley’s cold weather range and increases battery life. Speaking of that, Vanderhall claims the Brawley will be able to cover 200+ miles on a single charge. We doubt you’ll be able to hit that mileage when you’re maxing out this machine’s full potential. But a 200-mile range is still pretty impressive nonetheless.
And when you do start running low on battery, a DC fast charging station can have the Brawley at 80% capacity in less than an hour.
So what do you get when you stick 300V of power in an off-road vehicle? Here are the quick facts:
The Vanderhall Brawley isn’t just powerful and efficient—it also boasts a number of features that you typically don’t find in off-road vehicles.
The Brawley features four comfortable leather seats. The cabin is fully enclosed, heated, and air conditioned, and the roof section is removable. This machine is going to take winter riding to a whole new level. Heated seats will also be available as an upgrade.
For even more of a comfort boost, the cabin is entirely sealed and utilizes a filter to keep dust and debris from getting in.
The first thing that jumped out at us is the Brawley’s ultra-minimalistic interior. The dash is almost entirely bare, save for a few gauges and a simple line of controls. A center console divides the driver and passenger area, and a glove box adds some interior storage. The three-spoke steering wheel is wrapped in leather, which matches the leather seats.
Another aspect that stands out is the doors. Vanderhall strayed from the use of traditional handles—there seems to be some sort of strap in their place, but that functionality isn’t quite clear right now. Something we love is the see-through section on the doors. It adds to the unique look of the Rawley, and extra visibility is always nice on the trails.
According to Vanderhall’s website, a ViDAR optical radar system will be available as an add-on. ViDAR stands for Visual Detection and Ranging and is typically used for maritime applications. Systems like ViDAR allow the vehicle to detect obstacles and other vehicles on the road (or trails), and will send alerts to help the driver avoid accidents.
How could something like ViDAR be helpful in an off-road setting? We’re not quite sure yet. It seems like a pretty high-tech safety feature, and we’re anxious to see what people think about it after the Brawley’s release.
One area where the Brawley seems to be lacking is the entertainment sector. We would have expected to see some kind of fancy touch screen display in a vehicle this futuristic. Customers do have the option to add a Bluetooth-enabled Kicker sound system when ordering, though.
This new UTV/SUV/luxury vehicle hybrid is a unique one, for sure. From the fancy, futuristic interior to the ultra-efficient electric powertrain, we’ve never seen anything like it.
As powerful as the Vanderhall Brawley is (hello, 400+ HP), it’s still hard to imagine it tearing up the trails like other high-performance UTVs. We’re trying to imagine how it would feel to bomb a mud hole in a luxury vehicle, and something about that just doesn’t feel right.
But if that’s your thing, the Brawley sure packs enough performance.
We’d also like to see which vehicles the Brawley will compete with. Something like the Jeep Wrangler EV? Or maybe other electric side-by-sides, like the new full-size electric Ranger? Only time will tell.