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There's nothing like the freedom of getting off the paved highway and into the wilderness. However, to do so with confidence, you need something tough and capable. A great off-roader comes from the factory with a strong engine featuring plenty of torque, a rigid and robust chassis, four-wheel-drive, and suspension that can take rough ground in its stride. There's plenty of choices out there, whether you want something just for the weekends, a workhorse that can tackle anything you can throw at it, or something luxurious but adventurous. Whatever their flavor, the off-roaders on this list are ready to tackle arduous conditions from the high desert to snow-covered mountains, and anything they need to cross to get there.
If all you want to do is go off-road, then the Jeep Wrangler has that as its core competency. Every Wrangler comes with four-wheel-drive, a pair of solid axles, plenty of ground clearance, and steep approach and departure angles. There's no looking cute around town trim. People can drone on all they like about the old models, and the lineage is strong, but the current generation of Jeep Wrangler is the most capable yet. The 3.6-liter V6 that puts out 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque isn't guaranteed as the best choice, as the 2.0-liter turbo-four makes 270 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque in a smaller and lighter package.
The Defender has a history of off-roading ability on par with the Wrangler in Europe, the difference being it was a workhorse as much as it was an off-roading beast. The second generation is finally here and it's coming to America to challenge the Jeep. There are two models, the two-door 90 and the four-door 110 with a choice of two engines: a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 296 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque and a 3.0-liter turbocharged mild-hybrid inline-six producing 395 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. Four-wheel-drive is standard, the approach and departure angles are steep, and the ground clearance is tall. The new Defender is built on a unibody chassis, but don't underestimate it. Land Rover has been using a unibody design on the all-conquering Range Rover since its third generation.
Any 4Runner will get you off the road competently, but the TRD Pro model will get you almost anywhere you damn well want. Building on the 4Runner's existing ability is 2.5-inch Fox internal-bypass dampers, an electronic locking rear differential, and underbody skid plates. The 4.0-liter V6 develops 270 hp and 278 lb-ft of torque and is relentlessly reliable. As far as we're concerned, the fact the 4Runner is aging just means its entering into well-proven territory, which is essential when you start getting way out into the wilds.
When Ford decided to create the Raptor, it wasn't for slowly crawling across rocks or deftly navigating tight muddy trails. No, it was designed for screaming across open deserts and bouncing over bumpy dirt trails. Its 450 hp twin-turbo V6 engine makes it fast, and its terrain-management system and purpose-built Fox internal-bypass dampers make it dynamic. 34-inch BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires are standard, as is a rear electronic-locking differential and Torsen limited-slip front differential. This is a different kind of off-road truck.
Plenty of trucks offer an off-road trim, but the Gladiator doesn't need anything extra bolted on. For all intents and purposes, it is a Wrangler with a truck bed, but it's a well thought out Wrangler with a truck bed. Like a Wrangler, the roof and doors can be removed, but the only engine option at the moment is a 3.6-liter V6 making 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. FCA's EcoDiesel making 260 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque will be the next option available and bring a whole new level of practicality and ability to the Gladiator.
If you need to cross a war-torn continent, deliver aid to remote desert areas, or find peace and tranquility in the hills, then Toyota's more than well-proven Land Cruiser is something that can be relied upon. Its blend of comfort, practicality, reliability, and sheer ability when the going gets rough is unmatched. It may not carry the style or luxury appointments of a Range Rover, but the Land Cruiser doesn't put on airs and graces, and there's a reason people that need Toyota reliability choose the Land Cruiser over the Range Rover. It comes in one trim, options for some unique paint and wheels, and with the stout 5.7-liter V8 we've come to love, but dread pulling into a gas station with.
If you need to get stuff done, and sometimes that stuff is inaccessible to a normal work truck, the Ram Power Wagon has your back. A 6.4-liter Hemi engine is standard, as is Bilstein gas-charged monotube shocks, a front disconnecting sway bar, front and rear axle lockers, a 4.10 Axle Ratio, and a 12,000-pound Warn winch mounted on the front. It's big, it's brutal, and it's surprisingly agile.
If you don't need a big truck, then there's always the humble little Tacoma. However, in TRD Pro trim, it packs a big punch off-road. The four-wheel-drive system comes with an electronically controlled dual-range transfer case and an electronic locking rear differential, so if you get stuck, then that's on you. It also comes lifted on bigger springs that are controlled by 2.5-inch Fox internal-bypass dampers. Topping it off is a set of Kevlar-reinforced Goodyear Wrangler all-terrain tires, and a monotonously reliable 3.5-liter V6 engine developing a healthy 278 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque. If that's overkill or too pricey, then the TRD Off-Road comes with Bilstein shocks, an off-road traction system, and a lockable rear differential.
For the last word in luxury off-roading, and until you start looking at ridiculous money, the Range Rover is as cosseting inside as it is adept at dealing with rough conditions. There's a range of engines that top out with a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 making 557 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, but that would be nothing without Land Rover's four-wheel-drive system. Grass, gravel, mud, ruts, snow, sand, and rocks are all thought of ahead. It'll go anywhere you want, depending on your level of comfort and where you're prepared to take it.
If you need your light-duty full-size truck to get into remote areas for work or play, the Ram 1500 Rebel will get you there. It can be fitted with either a 3.0-liter diesel engine making 260 hp, a 3.6-liter V-6 with eTorque, or a 5.7-liter V8 delivering 395 hp. As standard, it comes with an electronic locking rear differential, upgraded dampers, hill-descent control, 32-inch tires off-road tires, and skid plates. If that's still not enough, options include height-adjustable four-corner air suspension and a BorgWarner two-speed transfer case.
This list wouldn't be complete without the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen. What started out as a military vehicle designed to go anywhere and withstand anything has become one of the most sophisticated off-roaders around. Three locking differentials in the four-wheel-drive system tells you exactly what the G-Class's real purpose is, and it isn't Instagram hearts. Standard, it's powered by a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 making 416 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque, but go for the AMG fettered version, and the power ratings go to 577 hp and a brutal 627 lb-ft of torque.
Check out all Off-Road SUVs.