Sport utility vehicles were originally designed for off-roading, but over the years many models have transformed to be best suited for daily driving. However, there are still a number of SUVs that can handle dune bashing, mud bogging and other off-road adventures. You may need to install a few truck mods to these SUVs to make sure they can handle everything you throw at them, but it's a small price to pay to protect the vehicles when you veer off the beaten path.
The Wrangler is perhaps the No. 1 SUV that comes to people's minds when they think about off-road driving. The core of this machine is rugged, with standard four-wheel drive on all trim levels, and heavy duty parts like front and rear axles that are designed to take a beating in the wilderness thanks to a unique axle ratio. According to AutoTrader.com, the Wrangler is also a favorite among off-road enthusiasts because of the sheer multitude of Jeep modifications that can be made to the vehicle, so drivers can fine-tune their rides to their exact liking.
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Unlike the Wrangler, the Grand Cherokee has become moreand more civilized over the years, with numerous features that provide luxury and creature comforts rather than focusing on off-roading truck mods. However, it hasn't lost its edge entirely, even if it has gotten a bit soft, which is why U.S News and World Report ranked it No. 1. While they don't come standard on every model, the available off-roading features, like the Quadra-Trac II AWD that makes it easy to traverse any terrain, give Jeep lovers plenty of reasons to consider the Grand Cherokee.
Toyota FJ Cruiser
Tying with the Toyota Land Cruiser and Land Rover Range Rover Sport for fourth place on U.S. News' ranking, the FJ Cruiser is a great choice for drivers who want to pick up an SUV made for the wilderness without breaking the bank. The FJ, which has a starting MSRP of about $27,000, was made for the wild. Consumer Reports indicates that even though it leaves plenty to be desired on the road, the FJ Cruiser shines as soon as it leaves the pavement. It can traverse waters up to 28 inches deep, and its undercarriage is built to protect the SUV from damage caused by boulders, tree roots and anything else that lies in its path.
Land Rover Range Rover
Most people think of the Range Rover as a luxury SUV, but they are forgetting that this behemoth is built to get dirty. Second only to the Grand Cherokee, according to U.S. News, the Range Rover packs a punch. Its brethren, the Range Rover Evoque and Sport models, came in third and fourth, respectively, highlighting just how versatile the luxury SUVs can be. Largely due to the sophisticated technology, the Range Rover is more than ready to splash through the mud. The only problem is that after spending upwards of $80,000, drivers might be less than thrilled by the prospect of potentially damaging the ride.
Plenty of other SUVs are capable of holding their own in the wild as well. The Land Rover LR4, Suzuki Grand Vitara, Toyota 4Runner and other models have plenty of available options to turn them into off-roading champions. Plus, there are countless aftermarket truck mods that you can install on virtually any SUV to enhance the off-roading experience no matter what you're driving. Many truck modifications, like adding a Toyota lift kit or modifying a Jeep suspension, can take your ride to a whole new level the next time you head to your favorite off-road spots.