It’s that time of year again! Summer has come, and most of us feel inspired to go out and enjoy nature. Some of us, however, would prefer to enjoy it from behind the wheel of one of the best off-road vehicles around. With that in mind, we’ve put together a guide to the best off-road vehicles, old and new.
What makes the best off-road vehicles different
The best off-road vehicles have a lot in common. First and foremost, they excel on tough terrain. That’s because they ride higher than most other trucks and SUVs and can clear obstacles that would cripple another car. They have rugged, long suspensions and tires made to handle thick mud, big rocks, snow, and other debris. Underbody components are protected by skid plating so when the vehicle does make contact, it’s NBD. Newer off-road vehicles also come equipped with high tech traction management systems that make climbing up and down mountains easier and safer, too.
If you want to be part of one of those lucky families that has an everyday car, a going out car, and a going in the wild car, read on. Off-road vehicles can be the most pleasurable to drive. They bring us to exciting places and on incredible adventures.
So, what are the best off-road vehicles?
The Hummer: the world’s most serious 4×4
One of the most popular vehicles for driving in the mountains is the Hummer. What makes it one of the best off-road vehicles? Its proven ruggedness. The Hummer was first launched in the consumer market in 1993, and these tough trucks designed first for military use have been taken off-road by civilian drivers everywhere. There are different models of this brand of vehicle — the Hummer H1, Hummer H2, and Hummer H3 SUV wagon. Each of these models is well-equipped to take you to pretty much any mountain top, and they are surprisingly fuel-efficient since they run on diesel. Many Americans love it simply because it is America’s Army automobile, and they are intrigued by its power, size, and design.
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The Volkswagen Touareg
The 4WD Volkswagen Touareg is another vehicle made for driving in the mountains. It hit the market in 2004 and since then, has been the preferred choice of off-roading German car lovers. This vehicle is specially made for off-road and mountain driving, and it combines efficiency with comfort. It has been built to give drivers maximum comfort while driving up the mountain, crawling in mud, or ambling over rugged terrains. The Touareg’s body stiffness (aka dynamic rigidity) makes it possible for the car to climb high and go back down with ease.
Jeeps — that’s what they were made for
If you are looking for vehicles that are made for driving in the mountains, then consider buying any of the Jeeps available on the market. This iconic brand started out as the creator of what would become a legendary World War II utility vehicle. Today, the brand produces and sells a full line of SUVs designed to appeal to a wide variety of drivers. In general, all of the 4WD equipped Jeeps are among the best off-road vehicles on the market. They’re especially good performers in bad weather conditions.
There are different models of Jeeps from the Jeep Wrangler to the Cherokee, so you have quite a few to choose from. The newer models are often better, but even an older model will handle perfectly on any road in the mountains. Some newer models have more advanced features like GPS, which in most cases is a must–have when going in the wild. Here are some of our favorite Jeep models:
The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 4×4
This successor to the brand’s original military design retains the fabulous look and higher performance qualities of that first utility vehicle. It’s also one of the most capable off-roading SUVs on the market. The exterior design of the jeep coupled with its body stiffness, upgraded suspension, and the fact that it rides higher than most off-road vehicles makes it good for driving on difficult terrain. The newest versions also offer maximum comfort to both drivers and passengers and are safe in on-road conditions, too.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland 4×4
Jeep has created many of the best off-road vehicles and the Cherokee continues the tradition. While there have been many criticisms of the interior design, it’s important to remember that this vehicle was made to take you over rough roads, not to please the eye. It is a midsize Jeep SUV with a capable 4WD system, electronic stability program, and four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes. For sheer value, it’s hard to beat the Cherokee. You can get a good running used one on sites like eBay for relatively cheap.
The Jeep Compass, Trailhawk model
This model combines a low-range gearing and 4WD system with an off-road optimized suspension, tough skid-plating, super tough tires, and a tow hook, just in case. Every Jeep Compass comes standard with a 180-horsepower four-cylinder engine that will take you up and down your favorite mountain with ease.
The Toyota 4Runner
A lot of people think of the robust Toyota 4Runner as a throwback to the days when most sport utility vehicles were actually used for sport. The truck-like frame leaves plenty of room for cargo on off-road journeys, but your ride will be a smooth one thanks to a locking rear differential, electronic Multi-Terrain Select, the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS), and crawl control. The interior of this off-road beast is relatively spartan, but you don’t buy a 4Runner for luxury.
The Mercedes-Benz G-Class
If we were rating the best off-road vehicles, the G-Class Mercedes models would probably come out on top. Many people choose this off-roader for the name alone, but the fact is that this box on wheels gets the job done. The G-Class is a V8 luxury off-roader. You can easily navigate up to 36–degrees grades in any Mercedes with the G in the front. The G500 has 292 horsepower and the G55 AMG tackles the mountains with a 469 horsepower engine. It is, as Mercedes says, “engineered to overcome virtually any obstacle.”
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The Volvo XC70
When Volvo finally decided to offer the world an SUV, it paid off. This stylish off-road vehicle offered all of the quality you’d expect in a Volvo and quickly became a go-to off-roading favorite among Volvo lovers. The XC70 is an all-season car with plenty of cargo space and a superior reputation for safety. It is a great off-road car with a great look, five-cylinder engine, fully equipped, and ready for riding in the wild.
The Nissan Xterra
The tagline for this off-road favorite is “Everything you need and nothing you don’t.” This is the one off-roader that has become a lifestyle vehicle for many. It can handle off-road conditions as well as (and even better than) many of its competitors. The Xterra comes with a six-speed manual transmission and manual (yes, that’s right) locks and windows. This vehicle will surely help you face nature’s jagged roads and will get you in touch with your hardcore self.
The Subaru Forester
This compact SUV debuted in the late 1990s. According to many, it is one of the best sport utility vehicles coming out of the Japanese market. The Forester is essentially a tall station wagon with AWD that offers SUV features and a car-like ride. Thanks to this duality, the Forester handles most roads better than the average SUV. The newest models are roomier and offer a more luxurious interior. This car definitely stands out among all the Japanese models and in recent years has become a preferred choice when it comes to SUVs suited for both on and off-road traveling.
The Lexus GX 460
The GX shares a platform with the 4Runner, making it a super robust off-roader in a surprisingly luxurious package that boasts a big-time towing capacity. All GX models come standard with 4WD, ample ground clearance, and a two-speed transfer case. For all of its cargo room and superior off-road performance, the GX also offers up a smooth ride when you’re driving on-road.
The Land Rover
This iconic British classic was first produced in 1947 and quickly became a hit all around the world. It was used on safaris, to fight fires, and in military applications. Today’s Land Rovers (which include the Discovery Sport model and the flagship Range Rover) all have superlative off-road capabilities, smooth rides on-road, and luxe interiors. These beauties can go anywhere, and you’ll love every minute of the ride.
So now we’d love to know what you think the best off-road vehicles in the world are. Do you return again and again to the classics, preferring older model SUVs over the more comfortable models of today? Or do you require top of the line tech in your off-road vehicle?
Also, check out our list of the top ten fastest cars in the world.
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