With spring beginning to push through the cold weather, warmer days mark a great time to head into the wilderness. There’s no better way to see plants emerge from the ground and trees grow new leaves than going off-roading. In addition to giving you an up-close-and-personal look at nature, off-roading is a great way to unwind.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, off-roading continues to be remarkably popular, and automakers have responded by offering a range of capable off-roaders. Whether it’s a luxurious SUV or a compact pickup truck, there are tons of good off-roading vehicles to choose from today. If you want to go off-roading, these are the 10 best off-roading vehicles on sale today.
Until Ford puts the Bronco into consumers’ hands or we see a direct head-to-head comparison, the Jeep Wrangler is the king of the castle. If you want the best of the best, look toward the Rubicon trim. While every Wrangler can go off-roading, the Rubicon is the most capable. With front and rear Dana 44 axles, 33-inch all-terrain tires, rock rails, steel bumpers, a 4:1 gear ratio, and electronic locking differentials, the Rubicon is the Wrangler to get for serious off-roading.
The Toyota 4Runner is an oldie but a goodie. The SUV’s V6 may be ancient, as is its five-speed automatic transmission, but doing things the old way helps if you’re looking to go off-roading. While the 4Runner’s powertrain, platform, and design might be antique, everything else is modern. The TRD Pro comes with 2.5-inch TRD-tuned Fox shocks, TRD springs, thick skid plates, and Nitto all-terrain tires. You also get an electronic locking rear differential and Toyota’s multi-terrain select system.
While the 4Runner TRD Pro is the most off-roading-oriented trim in the 4Runner lineup, the cheaper TRD Off-Road is available with Toyota’s trick Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) that can disengage the front and rear stabilizers for improved off-roading.
While other markets get the Ford Ranger Raptor, America doesn’t – at least for the time being. That might change in the future, but at the moment, Ford offers three off-roading packages for the Ford Ranger. The three “Ford Performance Levels” range in capability from jalapeño to habanero – if Ford does bring the Ranger Raptor to the U.S., that would undeniably be a Carolina Reaper.
For the current Ranger, the Ford Performance Level 3 is the most rugged one. It combines the features from the other two packages and adds a few unique touches. An off-road suspension, Ford-tuned Fox shocks, tow hooks, off-road tires, a 40-inch light bar, an ARB winch-capable front bumper, and a sport exhaust system are all included. The Ranger’s turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder gets a boost in performance, too, producing 315 horsepower and 370 pound-feet of torque.
Before the Mercedes-Benz G-Class became a must-have for celebrities, the rugged SUV started life as a capable military vehicle. While the G-Class has slowly become more and more luxurious over time, it’s still a capable off-roader at heart. You might find G-Class SUVs lined up at Starbucks, but with a two-speed transfer case, three locking differentials, and a G Mode for non-AMG models that alters the powertrain, traction control, and stability control systems, the G-Class is highly capable. Throw in the G-Class’ absurdly powerful V8 engine into the mix and you’ve got an excellent recipe to go on an adventure.
The Toyota Land Cruiser is an icon. Since the 1950s, Toyota’s Land Cruiser has been a vehicle that’s aimed at going anywhere and doing anything. Sure, the new Land Cruiser is far more luxurious than it’s ever been, but it’s still plenty capable off-road. Nowadays, the Land Cruiser uses more technology, but that’s par for the course. The SUV comes with a high-tech multi-terrain monitor that provides all sorts of angles out of the vehicle. Toyota’s nifty KDSS system, a limited-slip differential, crawl control, and off-road turn assist are also included with the Land Cruiser.
While the majority of off-roading vehicles on this list are all about hitting trails, the F-150 Raptor is more interested in high-speed off-roading. That’s why it comes with a 450-horsepower twin-turbocharged V6 engine and Fox Racing dampers that offer 13 inches of travel in the front and 13.9 inches at the rear. The Raptor also has a Baja mode that helps it hit absurdly high speeds in the desert and soar over jumps. Owners also get to play with Rock Crawl and Mud/Sand modes to tackle different types of terrain.
In 2019, Toyota gave its TRD Pro lineup of off-roaders a substantial upgrade with the addition of Fox Racing shocks. The internal-bypass shocks get progressively stiffer as the suspension compresses, providing better off-roading performance without negatively affecting daily comfort. At the back, the shocks in the Tacoma TRD Pro have remote oil reservoirs to get through really bad terrain. Toyota’s five-mode Multi-Terrain Select system is standard, changing all sorts of settings to ensure the pickup always has grip.
The Land Rover Defender nameplate for the 2020 model year has been resurrected, bringing back one of the most capable off-roaders ever envisioned in a modern luxury vehicle. While the Defender might not have a body-on-frame setup or solid axles, the SUV can still go anywhere and do anything. With up to 11.5 inches of ground clearance, the Defender can ford through 35.4 inches of water and has a Wade Sensing Drive mode to ensure that it isn’t damaged. Other high-tech goodies include All-Terrain Progress Control and ClearSight Ground View, which is like cruise control for off-roading and involves a live feed of images in front of the Defender. Of course, Land Rover offers a whole bunch of accessory packages to make the SUV more capable.
Jeep has made a name for itself by offering nothing but rugged off-roading SUVs, but 2020 saw the automaker come out with the Jeep Gladiator, giving consumers a pickup that’s just as capable as the Wrangler. If you want to go off-roading through rocky terrain and sand, there’s the rugged Rubicon. If you’re all about off-roading through the desert, the Mojave is a better option.
The Rubicon features 33-inch tires, Fox shocks, locking front and rear differentials, a disconnecting front sway bar, a two-speed transfer case, and a low crawl ratio of 77.2:1. A unique Off-Road+ mode is included with the Rubicon as well, which adjusts the pickup’s stability control, transmission, and throttle for maximum performance. The Mojave is slightly different, coming with an extra inch of lift, different Fox front hydraulic jounce bumpers, and upgraded Fox shocks with external reservoirs. Either way, you’re getting an incredibly capable pickup.
When an automaker names a vehicle after an animal, you know it means business. To come out with the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison, the American automaker partnered with American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) to make the Colorado ZR2 even more capable. On top of the ZR2’s goodies, the Bison adds an AEV steel bumper with fog lights and a winch mounting plate, unique 17-inch wheels, enormous fender flares, steel skid plates, 31-inch tires, and Bison decals. These come in addition to Multimatic remote-reservoir dampers, cast-iron control arms, locking differentials on both ends, a 2-inch lift, and a 3.5-inch wider track. Together, the parts make the ZR2 Bison look and perform like nothing else from General Motors’ lineup.
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