These Fun-Size, Jeep-Looking Vehicles Are Like Power Wheels For Adults

The Mini Moke may look like a toy, but it's a toy that adults could drive like kids on Power Wheels. Sir Alec Issigonis designed the original Mini Moke in the 1960s as a more rugged, off-road capable vehicle based on the original Mini. So despite its Jeep-like mug and boxy silhouette, it's not heretical to say the Moke (old British slang for "donkey") and the classic Mini share similar DNA.

Before it became a cultural hit among surfers and the stylish elite, the Mini Moke was supposed to enter service with the British army. It was light enough to be dropped in a parachute in combat zones or training camps, but the military had concerns with the Moke's low ground clearance and lethargic powerplants. Ultimately, the vehicle was deemed insufficient for military service.

Instead, the Moke became successful with the buying public as it entered commercial production in England by 1964. The British Motor Corporation (BMC) and its subsidiaries sold about 14,500 units to British buyers between 1964 and 1968, more than 26,000 units in Australia from 1966 to 1981, and 10,000 units to Portuguese enthusiasts from 1980 until the end of production in 1993.

Moke returns in America

Moke America entered the fray in 2017 to revive the classic Moke, and it did more than drum up memories of forgotten yesteryears. The automaker has re-engineered the Moke: it's now bigger, wider, and heavier (about 2,300 pounds) than before. In addition, it has a taller and more prominent windshield to offer better visibility, and it comes standard with 14-inch steel wheels to add more ground clearance.

However, the most significant change is what's under the hood. Instead of a noisy gasoline engine, the new Moke is a battery-electric vehicle. However, it's not the Tesla kind of electric car. Instead, the new Moke is a low-speed vehicle (LSV) with a 25 mph top speed, numbers that won't impress your bar mates even after a few shots of swish. 

It has a 60V single electric motor pumping out a maximum of 20 horsepower, 70 pound-feet of torque, and about 40 miles of range from its AGM battery pack. When the battery runs dry, it plugs into any 110-volt outlet to fully recharge in eight hours.

Big toy, big money

The new Moke is a four-seat Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) that's street-legal in all 35 mph driving zones. It has decent standard features like power steering, a front bumper, a backup camera, seatbelts, driving mirrors, weatherproof seat upholstery, a rollbar, and a stereo. Most of all, it's available in various paint choices (including a limited camouflage edition), and has a six-month bumper-to-bumper warranty.

Then again, there's a catch. The new Moke EV starts at around $22,975 before adding options like a glorious bimini top or a wood steering wheel, and the waiting time is about six months from production to delivery. You could get a brand new 2023 Nissan Sentra for about the same amount of dough, and we're talking about a proper five-seat compact car with more safety features and a fuel-sipping 2.0-liter engine that delivers 39 mpg on the highway.

However, the Sentra looks half as good as the Moke, so maybe renting is a better idea? Moke America's sister company WeMoke offers rental options to a growing list of locations, including Florida, Hawaii, Tennessee, Georgia, and New York. For around $475 per day, or $125 per hour, you can indulge in vintage glory all day while working on that tan.