Which SUVs are Best for Off-Road Drive?

In today’s world where crossovers dominate, there aren’t many genuine SUVs left. Although there are hundreds of vehicles that look rugged and aggressive, not many of them are actually capable enough to go off-road. Moreover, the number of body-on-frame SUVs is pretty small these days and even among them, you won’t find too many capable off-roaders.

Still, great off-roaders can be found and a good thing to know is that, although their number is limited, you can find such models in different classes, in a wide price range. Therefore, we’ve decided to make a shortlist of some of the most capable off-roaders you can buy new today:

2023 Toyota 4Runner

2023 Toyota 4Runner current generation

The current generation of Toyota’s legendary SUV is old and outdated in many aspects but it is also more popular than ever. The main reason is the model’s rugged nature, which is something you can’t get from modern crossovers. Of course, the off-road performance is amazing.

Although base models come with rear-wheel-drive, they are still pretty capable off-roaders, because of 9.6-inches of ground clearance. Moreover, the approach angle is 33 degrees, while the departure angle goes up to 26 degrees. Skid plates are also part of the standard equipment.

Of course, picking the AWD version is a much better choice, not only because of much better traction. These models also come standard with a two-speed transfer case. For ultimate off-road performance, it’s best to go with TRD Off-Road and TRD Pro trims, which offer some pretty serious hardware. You may count on upgraded suspension, additional skid plates, a low-speed crawl control system, and a locking rear differential. Moreover, there is also the optional Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, which can do many things, including disconnecting sway bars for more suspension travel.

The 4Runner starts at around 38.000 dollars.

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2023 Jeep Wrangler

2023 Jeep Wrangler

The Wrangler has always been one of the best off-roaders around and the current generation is no exception. All models come standard with four-wheel drive, as well as goodies like high- and low-range gearing, multiple skid plates etc. Also, you may count on a pretty impressive 9.7 inches of ground clearance.

The range-topping Wrangler Rubicon is arguably one of the best off-roaders in the world. This version comes with lots of upgrades, including locking differentials, upgraded suspension and massive 35-inch all-terrain tires. Moreover, this version is available with the lift kit that raised the ground clearance all away up to 13 inches.

The Wrangler features solid axles on both ends, which make it super sturdy. On the other hand, that’s also a handicap when you’re on the road. In that case, you won’t get much of a comfort. Also, keep in mind that the Wrangler is available in two body styles. The two-door model features a super-short wheelbase, which makes it a perfect off-roader. On the other hand, the Wrangler Unlimited is a four-door version, which compromises between off-roading and interior comfort.

The two-door Wrangler starts at around $30.000, while the four-door model is available at 33.500 dollars.

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2023 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro

2023 Toyota Sequoia render

Full-Size SUVs usually aren’t great off-roaders, due to their huge dimensions. However, there are some exceptions and Sequoia is one of them. The large SUV is about to get come completely redesigned for the 2023 model year and we expect that the off-road-oriented TRD Pro model will be offered once again.

Just like the outgoing version, the new Sequoia TRD Pro should also come with all kinds of upgrades. This includes things like FOX shocks, TRD Pro skid plates, 4WD, locking center differential, and a two-speed transfer case. Also, we expect that the new model will feature more than 10 inches of ground clearance.

It’s also worth mentioning, that lower Sequoia trim levels are also capable off-roaders. All 4WD models come standard with a two-speed transfer case and locking center differentials. Also, the next-generation Sequoia will get a completely new powertrain, a hybrid system that combines a V6 engine with an electric motor and a 10-speed automatic transmission. The total output goes around 437 horsepower and 589 pound-feet of torque.

We estimate that the all-new 2023 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro will cost around 68.000 dollars.

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2023 Ford Bronco and Bronco Raptor

2023 Ford Bronco

The comeback of the legendary SUV was one of the most important things that happened in the automotive market last year. The new iteration is designed as a super-capable off-roader, to compete directly with Wrangler. Therefore, it’s no wonder it also comes in two body styles, either as a two- or four-door SUV.

Of course, off-road capabilities are excellent. Four-wheel drive is standard, while you may also count on a full load of standard and available hardware, which includes locking differentials, multiple skid plates, an on-demand sway bar disconnect, low-speed cruise control etc. Also, there is the new G.O.A.T. system that includes various traction modes, such as Normal, Eco, Sport, Sand, Slippery etc.

With the Sasquatch package, you may count on 11.6 inches of ground clearance. Also, keep in mind that the Bronco Raptor is coming. This model won’t just feature a capable twin-turbo V6 engine with 400 horsepower, but also a full load of mechanical upgrades, as well as massive 37-inch tires. This version will feature 13.6 inches of ground clearance.

The base two-door model is available at around $30.000, while the four-door model costs $3.500 more. The Bronco Raptor is expected t cost around 70.000 dollars.

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2023 Ford Bronco Sport

2022 Ford Bronco Sport

Along with the revived Bronco, the Blue Oval company also brought a completely new model called Bronco Sport. This is a more civilized SUV, which features similar styling but rides on a car-based unibody platform. As a result, it sacrifices a lot of off-road performance in order to provide a car-like driving experience.

However, this can still be a very capable off-roader, especially if you pick a version called Badlands. This variant of the Bronco Sport comes with a full load of off-road features. Some of the highlights are things like the locking rear differential, multiple skid plates, a low-speed cruise control system and a forward-facing camera, various traction modes etc.

It’s also worth mentioning that the ground clearance is 8.8 inches, while you may count on pretty impressive approach and departure angles, which go around 30.4 and 33.1 degrees, respectively.

The base Bronco Sport is available at around 27.500 dollars, while the Badlands trim starts at around 35.000 dollars.

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2023 GMC Yukon AT4

2022 GMC Yukon AT4

Although primarily designed as a spacious and capable hauler, with tremendous amounts of cargo space, the Yukon can also be a pretty decent off-roader. This refers to the AT4 trim level, which offers a couple of pretty interesting upgrades over standard models. It brings off-road upgrades like standard four-wheel drive, two-speed transfer case, hill descent control, upgraded tires, skid plates etc.

Some sources speculate about the AT4X version, which could come already by the end of this year. We presume we would see similar kinds of upgrades we saw in the new Sierra AT4X, which comes with electronic-locking front and rear differentials, upgraded suspension, upgraded tires and many more.

The AT4 also comes with a lot of exclusive styling details, which make it look more rugged and more aggressive than the rest of the lineup.

The AT4 currently starts at around 67.000 dollars.

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2023 Land Rover Defender

2023 Land Rover Defender

The new generation of the legendary off-roader has been around for a while and we can now say that the British carmaker did an excellent job. The new Defender is impressive in nearly every aspect. Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is off-roading, but the on-road ride is equally impressive. This is probably the only SUV on the market that can conquer any terrain but can offer a super-smooth ride at the same time.

When it comes to off-roading, the Defender comes with a full load of features. Standard models feature a pretty impressive 11.4 inches of ground clearance. Furthermore, four-wheel drive is standard, as well as a two-speed transfer case and hill descent control.

The list of standard equipment also includes the Terrain Response system, which offers a full load of drive modes – Grass, Gravel, Snow; Mud and Ruts; Sand; Rock Crawl; and Wade. Also, you can opt for the optional Terrain Response 2, which can automatically find the most appropriate mode.

The new Defender goes in a pretty broad range when it comes to price. Base models are available at around 52.000 dollars, while the most expensive versions go deep into the six-figure territory.

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2023 Toyota Land Cruiser

2023 Toyota Land Cruiser

The new generation of the iconic SUV has just been launched and we can tell that improvements are significant. This refers to both off-roading and comfort, as the new generation brings significant suspension upgrades that make the ride smoother than ever.

Still, we are more interested in off-road features here and from what we can see, there are many of them. The first thing we’ve noticed is that the new generation comes with three locking differentials – front, center and rear. Furthermore, you may count on a two-speed transfer case, crawl control etc.

Furthermore, you may count on Toyota’s well-known Multi-Terrain Monitor and Multi-Terrain Select systems, as well as on the updated KDSS, which is now called E-KDSS. This system uses hydraulic pressure to modify the resistance of the anti-roll bars or effectively disable them, improving both on-road and off-road performance in real time.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that the new generation is available with new engine options, such as a 3.4-liter twin-turbo V6, or the new 3.3-liter V6 turbodiesel.

Unfortunately, the new Land Cruiser is not available in North America, but you can get its close sibling, Lexus LX, which starts at around 88.000 dollars.

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2023 Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen

2023 Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen

The legendary G-Wagen has been evolving for decades, while the full redesign finally happened in 2019. The new generation has brought significant improvements, though we can say that essentials remained the same. This is still a super-capable off-roader, which combines its performance with luxury, refinement and ride quality.

When it comes to off-road performance, this SUV offers pretty much everything you need. You may count on standard four-wheel drive, three locking differentials and a two-speed transfer case. The ground clearance is 9.5 inches.

The North American version of the SUV is offered with a highly capable 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine, which comes in two output variants. The base one is called G 550 and it features 416 horsepower. On the other hand, the AMG G 63 version comes with 577 horsepower and needs just 4.5 seconds to hit 60 mph.

The starting price goes around 133.000 dollars.