The All New TOMCAR TX3
Story & Photos by: Jason Cobb
All of us have that one friend or family member we can’t help but love to death despite their flaws. Similar to those relationships is the one I’ve developed with the TOMCAR TX3. This car is unlike anything I have ever driven in the UTV realm. Not that I haven’t had any experience with the brand prior, as my dealings with TOMCAR go back to 2006. I was impressed at that time for sure, but not in the way I am today. Over the years, I’ve stayed in touch with the U.S. factory located just outside Phoenix, AZ, and not much has changed with the brand. They had a niche that worked for them, and they have continued to make the same old car with pretty small changes from year to year—at least until the TX arrived…
Scrubbing it back to when Haim Yanai from TOMCAR pulled into our parking lot with the TX3, I was instantly amazed at how different this version looked than those I’ve seen in the past. The esthetics had dramatically altered but overall, it maintained a familiar silhouette. Dare I say it actually looked cool and modern, but clearly TOMCAR. After a few moments of admiring the new look, Yanai started going over the features of the car, and the bell just kept ringing. Already checking the “update exterior” box, they went on to check the “more horsepower” box with an inline-four, 1.5L engine that makes 107HP and a pretty strong 80 ft. lbs. of torque—double the horsepower of the factory racer!
The features do not stop there. The TX3 has much better shifting between gears. It slides into 4WD complete with air lockers front and rear that can be engaged in and out whenever you desire, even if moving. Electronic power steering makes this thing effortless to maneuver. Race-proven 2.5” ADS shocks with improved spring rate make this suspension work! The biggest OEM wheel and tires in the industry with 265/75R16 General Grabber X3 tires. Coupling these attributes with a new digital dash, this car is vastly improved and that is still not all. They now offer PRP Seats, BFG Mud-Terrain KM2 tires, LED lighting, and so much more as factory options. Intrigued by all the added ingredients, it was time to see what this machine was made of.
As I hopped in for a ride and buckled up, all the sensations came flooding as the TOMCAR ergonomics are very distinct. The main cab is the same offered on the first version of the U.S. TOMCAR and is surely ready for some love from the engineering department. I understand that I am bigger than the average man, but it’s apparent the cab needs significantly more room or a better layout. The throttle pedal angle is not complimentary. If you are tall, you’d be hard-pressed to drive more than 30 minutes without having to rest your right leg muscles from the throttle pedal. The gear selector hits my already battered leg when in the “High” position. Not only that, but this car needs a sway bar as the body roll is considerable, even with the wider stance. Strange noises can be heard while driving, and because of the front and rear windshield, the dust swirls in the cab. Lastly, the center console cup holders do not hold anything but the smallest sized refreshments.
What I recall from fourteen years ago, the geometry up front was never an issue. There was zero bump steer and back in the day, nothing had power steering on it, and this car did not need it. Not wanting to get left behind, the company added power steering and it is magic upon first feel. You never get the electronic servo feeling that is vague or without connection. It has the feel of a true “rack to tire” system and it is effortless—a nice upgrade for sure. Controlling wheel travel and keeping the wheels on the ground is the most bizarre front A-Arms ever produced. They look like they should at least flex and possibly break, but they do not. They are just ballistics-grade tempered steel plates, and let me tell you, they are tough. Not sure why I think everything has to be boxed or triangulated but these are simple, improve strength and clearance, and are much less expensive to build. The low center of gravity lets you push as hard as you want regardless of how tight the turn is and how much speed you are carrying—once you get used to the body roll sensation. The front end will push a little until it finds softer traction or something firm to push off of, but that goes away entirely with a quick slip into 4WD, and you become a WRC rally driver without the 500 HP horsepower.
If you have never seen the RWD system on a TOMCAR, it is quite ingenious. The main shaft from the engine drives directly into a gear in the top of the rear trailing arms, which turns a triple stack of chains inside the arm to the lower sprocket and drives the rear wheels. It’s incredibly strong, has no CVs, no axles, 17” of ground clearance, and because of the design, the torque actually makes the car lift upon acceleration, which forces the wheels down to the ground to increase traction. Once you get used to it and feel the weight transfer to traction, there is not much you will hesitate to climb out on the trail. The rear ADS shocks are amazing at 0-75% driving pace. Once they start to get pushed past that point, they bottom on occasion and the shock shaft speed is a little too quick. If you continue your rapid tempo, you will need to adjust your driving style to transfer the weight forward or slow for the big hits to avoid bottoming. This, of course, gets worse with added bed weight but not as much as you would think. It still is a very controlled ride. It just gets soft as the speed increases.
The inline-four engine is smooth and has a good grunt down low. It lacks a little roll-in speed from 35-55mph but that could be the CVT clutch rather than the engine. Access to the drivetrain is easy with the flip-up rear bed and the transmission is smooth. As mentioned before, the shifting between high and low is improved, and even though the final drive ratio in high gear is a little tall and lethargic to get moving, it sure is nice at cruising speed. The dash has a high RPM warning light and it comes on after a sustained 67 mph, so we backed out of it even though it was still pulling. Slide the military-grade handle into position to start the front end pulling and if you need more help, flip the two switches on the dash to activate the air lockers. This car is amazing in 4WD, and just might be my favorite 4WD system on the market.
The bed is huge with a size of 70” X 69”, which means over 33 sq. ft. that will hold just about anything up to 1,000 lbs. If that is not enough storage, there are two, huge metal tubs. Plus, the front nose/hood area has large storage capability as well. In the rear is a truck-sized 2” receiver hitch that will tow a whopping 5,400 lbs. in case you could find something that did not fit on the bed or in the bins.
We threw everything we could at this thing in the short period of time that we had it. We worked it, towed with it, hauled with it, even raced it around the desert, and could not find much we did not like about other than the few quirks mentioned. Down in the river bottom, which was taboo for the old TOMCAR, I got the jump on an X3 and General, and both could not believe how bad I left them. Not with horsepower, just a great overall package. This car is not cheap at an MSRP of $35,900, but it will do so much that it will take the load off your work truck and your sport UTV. This is the first car I hop into when we go for a ride. I am just drawn to it and I know I will be able to excel on the trail or at the ranch with this platform. It does so many things right and is so fun and different to drive. It is a great value for what you get.