The Cartel Cruiser (alternatively as the Cartel's Cruiser or the Cartel Bobcat) is a high performance four-wheel-drive crew cab pickup truck and the gang version of both the Bobcat and Patriot. It is used exclusively by the Colombian Mob in Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories. This car is related to the Sandking, high performance off-road vehicle in later games.
In general, the Cartel Cruiser is a 4-door pickup truck, with the rear end resembling a 2001-2004 Australian Toyota Hilux Vigo, but featuring frontal styling of a generic 1990s Ford F-Series pickup truck and the front is reminiscent of Chevrolet LUV. The Cruiser also features a roll bar in the back, side runners, a blue paint job, and foglights on the grill. Similar to the Forelli Exsess, Sindacco Argento and Yardie Lobo, it does not have a non-gang variant, but its closest non-gang counterpart however is the Bobcat. It is one of the only two 4-door pickup trucks in the 3D era.
At one point of game development of GTA III, the Cartel Cruiser was known as the Columbia, which is possibly a reference to the Colombian Cartel's name. The old name is still evidently used in a showcase of the truck at the official Rockstar North website. In the beta, the car was also black.
With a muscle car-style V8, it is powerful enough to send its all wheel drive system into slides, which is unusual for the GTA III engine. It is also turbocharged, but suffers from turbo lag, where the car has poor acceleration from a standing start, until the turbo cuts in. This can be heard, when the engine noise becomes louder and more aggressive. At higher revs, it can outrun a Patriot or a Sentinel in a straight line drag race. However, its high center of gravity causes the body to roll in corners. Strangely enough, it has the engine sound of a turbocharged vintage engine (the same as BF Injection, Diablo Stallion and Sabre Turbo), which is unusual for such a large vehicle.
In GTA Liberty City Stories, the Cartel Cruiser is considerably a bit slower and heavier than in GTA III, but the engine sound has been changed to suit better for a pickup truck and still maintains much of its predecessor's design and accessories, with a noticeable change in the grill mounted spotlights (from white to red). While possessing poor acceleration, it's handling is reasonable, and it's top speed is moderate. The GTA LCS rendition shares the same performance as the Landstalker, rather than the Bobcat.
- Two of them can be seen and obtained during the mission Bomb Da Base Act II (the only time it will spawn in Portland).
- In the construction site in Fort Staunton, Staunton Island (only until Grand Theft Aero).
- In the Cartel mansion in Cedar Grove, Shoreside Vale.
- Near D-Ice’s phone in Wichita Gardens, Shoreside Vale.
- Driving around Fort Staunton and Cedar Grove .
- Six Cartel Cruisers can be found during the mission The Exchange.
- Can be found as one of the burning vehicles during Firefighter missions.
GTA Liberty City Stories
- Driving around Cedar Grove and Francis International Airport in Shoreside Vale .
- Can be obtained during the Panlantic Land Grab and Love on the Run.
- It has been speculated that in GTA Liberty City Stories, the Cartel Cruiser was meant to have a same engine sound as the Leone Sentinel and the Sentinel XS, but it is changed to the typical engine sound of SUVs like Patriot and the Landstalker, as Leone Sentinel's engine sound are considered too speedy for a pickup truck.
- The GTA III rendition's performance seems to be reused for the Sandking.
- The car is apparently inspired from the stereotype of Latin Americans and Middle Eastern, which is typically associated with off-road cars and pickup trucks.
- According to the engine sound, it is strange that in GTA III the car has a vintage engine (carburetor), but in Liberty City Stories it has a modern fuel-injection engine, despite LCS passing in 1998 and III in 2001.
- In GTA III, it is possible that the Cartel Cruiser is manufactured by Vapid, as the truck is similar to their Sandking XL.
- Cavalcade FXT, a somewhat similar SUT in HD Universe, but with more luxury design and larger engine.
- Patriot, a four-wheel-drive crew cab truck that shares the same vehicle polygon model as the Cartel Cruiser, but different textures, accessories (bumpers and trunk rack), engine, and handling characteristics.
- Contender, another truck in GTA IV which has a similar body design, but not crew cab and is based on a newer model Ford F150.
- Gang Rancher, GTA Vice City Stories counterpart which shares an almost similar performance.
- Sandking, GTA V counterpart, which is a modified Sadler.
- Bobcat, closest civilian version.