Forget practicality! When it comes to off-roading your main objectives are fun and adventure.
If you’ve ever driven a vehicle off-road before, you’ll know that the handling is much different than regular driving and you want you vehicle to display different attributes than you would for on the road driving.
Off-road technology has improved and is continuing to improve all the time, so the more new “stuff” they come out with, the more enjoyable off-roading will be.
Here are 12 off- road vehicles you should know about starting with the best performer.
1. Hummer H2
The Hummer H2 is annoying at best to maneuver on the road and the handling isn’t the best.
However, off-roading is its specialty. The H2 has a wide range of gear ratios, which mean a lower crawl ratio. The heavy-duty suspension and steep climbing abilities, the Hummer H2 is the best on the market for off-roading.
The tire grip on the H2 is amazing as it you can climb up to 20 inches of vertical rock effortlessly.
Other good news: The Hummer H2 has a great exterior appearance and owning a Hummer holds a great amount of status and it’s got to be the absolute toughest vehicle out there.
The bad news: First, as you’re probably aware, is that the gas mileage sucks. It’s so bad that the EPA didn’t even rate it, but I think you might get around 10 mpg.
The next bad point is the steering maneuverability. The Hummer H2 is a big box on wheels and it steers like it. You should also know that an H2 is on the expensive side for off-road vehicles, but it’s a Hummer, so you have to expect that.
2. Land Rover LR3
In a close second is the Land Rover LR3 with 4WD and an Electronic Traction Control (ETC) system.
One of the coolest things is its center console system which allows you to choose five different types of terrain: grass/gravel/snow, rock crawl, mud/ruts, sand, and normal highway so that the powertrain and suspensions calculations can be altered to suit the desired driving conditions.
Other good news: The overall performance of the vehicle, even on the road is good and the interior and exterior appearance is very stylish.
The bad news: First and foremost, the Land Rover isn’t really known for its reliability. As matter of fact, it’s been known not to be very reliable overall. The gas mileage is on the low side of moderate for off-road vehicles and the price is on the low side of upscale.
3. Volkswagen Touareg 2
What gives the Touareg 2 its edge over a lot of off-road vehicles is its 4XMotion four-wheel- drive system, which allows for automatic power adjustment ratios if the vehicle needs extra traction.
It can travel easily through the roughest of terrain and is a blast to drive!
Other good news: Overall, this SUV ranks very high among other SUV, even with on-road performance.
The interior is stylish and the exterior of the Touareg 2 is gorgeous, but the best feature about this vehicle is its safety. It’s rated among the highest in its class. Also, the gas mileage is moderate for that of an SUV with off-road capability.
The price is on the high side of moderate or even possibly on the low side of upscale, but because it’s so versatile, it’s worth the money.
The bad news: The only bad thing I have to say about the Touareg 2 is its reliability. According to J. D. Power & Associates, there were a lot of owner reported problems in the first three years of ownership.
4. Jeep Wrangler
If you’re going to get a Jeep Wrangler specifically for the off-road capability, you’ll want to get the Rubicon version, which is equipped with the Rock-Track 4WD transfer case.
You can also choose to separate the front stabilizer bar, which increases your pivot to the front axle by 28 percent.
If you want a Wrangler that’s a little more versatile and has better performance on-road, but is still great off-road, you’ll want to go with the Unlimited model.
Other good news: Of course, the appearance of the Wrangler is a plus with its rugged, sporty exterior. This vehicle is rated very high in safety and the Wrangler is very reasonably priced. In fact, the price is on the low end of the spectrum for off-road vehicles.
The bad news: The interior isn’t exactly the most stylish of comfortable and the Jeep is only rated “fair” in reliability. The gas mileage is in the moderate range for off-road vehicles, but the overall handling is rather rough when you’re on the road.
5. Toyota Land Cruiser
This massive SUV is equipped with a lot of off-road “helpers”. Along with being a 4WD vehicle, it’s also equipped with the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS), Crawl Control, Active Traction Control, and Vehicle Stability Control.
With all of these systems, it decreases your ability to slip or roll. In addition, the Crawl Control will allow you to maintain a speed ranging from less than 1 mph to a maximum of 3 mph.
Other good news: The overall performance of the Land Cruiser id rated as very good and the interior is very welcoming with a lot of extra amenities and extreme comfort. I think the best thing that the Land Cruiser has going for it is its reliability.
Did you know that the Land Cruiser hasn’t had a single recall on its vehicles since their 1993 models? That’s impressive!
The bad news: The gas mileage is low to moderate for off-road vehicles, which is expected due to its size. Also, the Land Cruiser is priced high among SUVs, which if you have the money to spend, it would be money well spent and worth every penny. Nonetheless, the price is upscale for off-road vehicles.
6. Mercedes-Benz G-Class
Due to its immense crawling and climbing capabilities, the G-Class SUV by Mercedes-Benz is among its best off-roading attributes. It’s said that this SUV can go places that most off-road vehicles can’t. To top it off, it’s got a high ground clearance.
Other good news: Obviously, when you look at the carmaker, you know that this is a luxury vehicle and when you step inside, you’ll know it. The interior is near flawless and is very comfortable.
The bad news: The performance of the G-Class sucks on the road, though it’s great off-road and as far as exterior appearance goes, I think this is one of the funniest looking vehicles I’ve ever seen. It looks like “Herby the Lovebug” and a Hummer got a little too friendly.
Also, you can expect to get really horrible gas mileage in the G-Class, which shouldn’t bother you since you have to be quite wealthy to purchase one anyway. Depending on your optional features, you’ll pay in the neighborhood of $100,000.
7. Toyota 4 Runner
The 4Runner comes standard with a hill start assist feature, which is great for off-roading. When you take your foot off the brake, the system maintains the braking pressure for about a second to prevent rollback.
In addition, the 4Runner contains a downhill assist control (DAC) feature that helps the vehicle stay pointed in the right direction when going downhill and on rough terrain.
These two features and a solid suspension make it an awesome SUV for off-roading.
Other good news: The 4Runner is a great overall performer as it’s just as pleasurable on the road as it is off. In addition, it got great interior and exterior attributes and is reasonably priced for an off-roading SUV. In general the gas mileage is nothing to brag about; however, as far as off-road vehicles go, it’s got one of the best fuel efficiency ratings. With all of this, there’s still more.
The best attribute of the amazing 4Runner is that it’s an extremely reliable vehicle. The best news is that this vehicle isn’t really lacking anywhere and if you’re looking for a vehicle that’s great on the road and off and has practical features too, the 4Runner is your best bet.
8. Toyota FJ Cruiser
The best attribute about the FJ Cruiser’s off-road ability is its solid suspension. It also can go through some pretty rough terrain without a bit of hesitation due to its large tires with great gripping power.
Other good news: This SUV has a solid performance off-road and a good performance on the road as well as being very well known for its safety. The exterior of the vehicle is very well designed and has a very unique, but attractive appearance. I think the FJ Cruiser looks like an oversized toy – which in reality, it kind of is. This vehicle is priced very low and gets among the best gas prices compared to other off-road vehicles.
The bad news: There isn’t anywhere that the FJ Cruiser is lacking. However, the interior is plain and unimpressive, but functional. That’s really the worse that can be said about this SUV.
9. Nissan Xterra
While this SUV does fairly well on the road as well, it’s especially known for its off-road abilities.
It handles rough terrain with ease and it’s a blast to drive!
Other good news: The Xterra is greatly known for its reliability and also has some nice safety features. The vehicle gets good gas mileage as far as off-road vehicles go and the price is low to moderate.
The bad news: It’s kind of difficult to say anything bad about the Nissan Xterra. The performance on the road is only fair and the interior is very plain, but that’s about all I can say. Basically, this is a good all-around vehicle.
10. Land Rover Range Rover
With a 4WD drive train and a traction control system, the Range Rover enters our list at #9. The vehicle is a lot of fun to drive and can tackle off-road terrain with ease.
The Range Rover has the edge over a lot of other off-road vehicles because of its Terrain Response System, which adjusts the traction control, torque ratio, throttle and braking systems accordingly in five different categories: normal driving, slippery conditions, mud, sand, and rock-crawling.
Other good news: The high points of the Range Rover are the interior and exterior features and appearance. It also is a solid performer on the road as well as off-road.
The bad news: Reliability seems to be an issue as there have been a lot of owner-reported problems in the first three years of ownership. Also, gas mileage sucks, even compared to other off-road vehicles.
Lastly, the vehicle has an upscale price tag, which is fine if your vehicle isn’t going to present you with a lot of maintenance and repair issues.
11. Jeep Grand Cherokee
You’ll love the off-road performance of the Grand Cherokee. People rave about its off-road abilities and say that it moves through rough terrain gracefully and with ease. Its specialty seems to be boulder climbing.
Other good news: This vehicle is a great performer on-road as well and has great interior and exterior features. Also its rated among the highest in its class for safety. The Grand Cherokee is in the moderate fuel economy level among off-roading SUVs and the price is in the moderate range.
The bad news: The only thing that’s a problem with the Grand Cherokee is its reliability. It’s not as bad as some, but I would say that it is ranked as fair reliability at best.
12. Hummer H3
If you’re going to get a Hummer H3, make sure you get the Adventure Package, which comes with larger then the standard tires and heavy-duty shock absorbers. With a 9.1 inch ground clearance, the H3 is an awesome off-roader.
Other good news: Of course, with it being a Hummer, it has a great exterior look. Also, you’ll love the price as it’s on the low side of moderate.
The bad news: The only bad thing about the H3 is that the gas mileage is pretty horrible. It’s not as bad as the H2, bur it’s still pretty bad.
Latest posts by Aaron Borland (see all)
- Get Hammered: Tips to Creating the Perfect Handyman’s Garage - April 6, 2012
- Famous Braniacs: Celebrity MENSA Members - March 30, 2011
- The 12 Most Kick Ass Music Festivals of all Time - March 21, 2011