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2023 GearJunkie Adventure Vehicles of the Year

GearJunkie editors and contributors drove and rode a slew of new vehicles over the past year to find the very best adventure vehicles of 2023.

2023 GearJunkie Adventure Vehicle of the Year
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Automakers are finding ways to make our favorite vehicles even more adventure-worthy. Powersports manufacturers also continue to turn up the fun, capability, and utility dials on its adventure machines.

Our editors and writers got behind the controls of several new vehicles that hit the market in 2023, and reviewed many of them. So, as 2023 comes to an end, let’s dive into our list of the best on- and off-road adventure vehicles that hit the market this year.

GearJunkie Best Adventure Vehicles of 2023

Best 4×4: INEOS Grenadier

2024 INEOS Grenadier
2024 INEOS Grenadier; (photo/Mercedes Lilienthal)

While established players in the off-road space have won our Best 4×4 category the past 2 years — Bronco Raptor in 2022 and Wrangler 4xe in 2021 — it’s the very new kid on the block that takes the prize this year, with first North American deliveries happening just as the year finishes out. The 2024 INEOS Grenadier promises all the things enthusiasts love about off-road capable vehicles.

This machine cranks out 282 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque to turn 32-inch tires, and it boasts solid axles and triple lockers. And, above all, it has loads of analog switches and a large greenhouse.

Wrap all that into an iconic shape that gives a nod to the classic 4x4s we all love — Defender, G-Wagon, and Land Cruiser — and you’ve got a vehicle that is not only capable but also exudes the style off-road enthusiasts have been craving from a modern vehicle.

Of course, this is an all-new product from an all-new company — all be it one with deep pockets — so only time will tell if the Grenadier will hold up over time. And, if it will be easy enough to get serviced and get parts for.

Best SUV: Land Rover Defender 130 V8

2024 Land Rover Defender 130 V8
2024 Land Rover Defender 130 V8; (photo/Evan Williams)

Our best SUV pick in 2022 was the Toyota Sequoia and in 2021 the Jeep Grand Cherokee. For 2023, we’re giving the Best SUV nod to the 2024 Land Rover Defender 130 V8.

While not inexpensive or known for reliability, the latest Land Rover D130 is a comfortable and capable vehicle ready for real adventure. Whether that adventure is to the local muddy parking lot at the soccer field with a load of kiddos or a remote trail in remote Africa loaded with the latest overland gear is up to you.

While 2023 is the first model year of the D130, it landed in U.S. dealerships in October of 2022. The 2024 model year sees the V8 as an option under the hood, with models just now rolling into dealerships as 2023 comes to a close.

We’ve driven the V8 in a D90, but not the D130 just yet. We know it sounds amazing, provides impressive thrust, and is super smooth. In the Defender 130, the big engine will no doubt be the best choice, if you can stomach the extra dollar signs at the dealership and the pump.

Our tester, Evan Williams, had this to say: “With the Defender 130, Land Rover has made the retro style and off-road capability of the Defender accessible to families who need more seats and/or more space. It can do nearly everything the D110 can, but with extra cargo space and real third-row room.”

Check out our review of the D130: 2023 Land Rover Defender 130 Review: Off-Road With More Space.

Best Truck: Chevrolet Colorado ZR2

2023 Chevy Colorado ZR2
2023 Chevy Colorado ZR2; (photo/Bryon Dorr)

We’ve awarded trucks from the Ford Maverick, to the Nissan Frontier, and even the Rivian R1T over the years. But, this year, one new truck stood above all others when it comes to adventure, the 2023 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2.

We kicked off this year behind the wheel of the 2023 Chevy Colorado ZR2, driving from Vegas to Reno off-road. It truly impressed over this grueling terrain in most every way — besides the pathetic exhaust note and easily torn tire sidewalls.

“I’m a big fan of this truck and think it’s quite the value at around $50,000. While not inexpensive, this truck is playful on and off road. It also provides all the creature comforts you’d expect in 2023. It’s also just a good all-around size to use on the trail and around town,” GearJunkie motors editor, Bryon Dorr, said

Read the full review here: 2023 Chevy Colorado ZR2 Review: Tested Over Hundreds of Miles of Desert Racecourse.

We, of course, have to also give a nod to the 2023 GMC Canyon AT4X, which is in most ways the exact same truck as the Colorado ZR2. The Chevy version nudged out the GMC because of its value for money, and because the GMC comes with white interior panels that we don’t think belong in an off-road truck.

Do note that the 2024 Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison would have topped our list this year, but it didn’t qualify, as deliveries were pushed back to early 2024 due to the labor union strikes.

Best Crossover: Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness

2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness
2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness; (photo/Andy Lilienthal)

In 2021, the Mercedes GLB 250 AMG won, with the Mazda CX-50 taking the crown in 2022. For 2023, an even smaller and more value-priced contender has won our Best Adventure Crossover title. The 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness is sure to make a lot of adventurous people happy!

Our reviewer, Andy Lilienthal, had this to say about the Crosstrek Wilderness: “The 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness takes everything people like about regular Crosstreks and elevates it, besides the power. The added off-road ability, solid AWD system, and more daring looks bolster the company’s go-anywhere attitude and is a solid value — but more horsepower would’ve been a welcome addition.”

Read our full review here: 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness First-Drive Review: Properly Rugged, Needs Power.

The 2024 Mazda CX-90 was also in the running for Best Crossover of 2023. One of our testers said, “This thing has the same chassis layout as a BMW M5 and it drives phenomenally for a three-row crossover.” It, however, was edged out by the Crosstrek Wilderness’s affordability and off-road prowess.

Best Fun Car: Toyota GR Corolla Circuit Edition

2023 Toyota GR Corolla Circuit Edition
2023 Toyota GR Corolla Circuit Edition; (photo/Toyota, for GearJunkie)

While the two-door 2023 Nissan Z won this category last year, the tiny four-door 2023 Toyota GR Corolla Circuit Edition hot hatch takes the Fun Car crown this year.

Our tester Paul Eisenstein had this to say: “While it’s a compact mainstay, I’ve never been a big fan of the Corolla. But, the GR has demonstrated all the potential packed into that little car. And the Circuit Edition takes things to the next level.”

You can read our full review of the GR Corolla family, including the Circuit Edition, here: Commuter Car Turned Proper Hot Hatch: 2023 Toyota GR Corolla Review.

Also in the running this year for Best Fun Car were the 2024 Ford Mustang GT Performance and 2024 Acura Integra Type S. Robin Warner, who tested the Integra Type S, said, “I know it’s front-wheel drive, but it is so easy to get to and play around the limit, it’s an absolute joy!” The nimble little GR Corolla hot hatch edged out both of these contenders for smiles per dollar fun, however.

Best Dream Car: Lamborghini Hurácan Sterrato

2023 Lamborghini Huracan Sterrato
2023 Lamborghini Hurácan Sterrato; (photo/Michael Van Runkle)

While the 2022 Porsche 911 GT3 took our Adventure Dream Car award last year, this year’s winner offers up similar performance while making a lot more dust. In an age where automakers are ruggedizing and releasing off-road-oriented trim levels of all its vehicles, the 2023 Lamborghini Hurácan Sterrato elevates itself above the crowd.

Our test driver, Michael Van Runkle, had this to say: “The Huracán Sterrato might just be the greatest supercar ever, entirely unexpected but undeniably exciting. Playing with too much power and not enough grip harkens back to an earlier era of supercar performance, with a healthy dose of rally-style slip-and-slide thrown in for good measure. Fair warning: Your cheeks will ache from grinning so big.”

Read our full review here: Lamborghini Huracán Sterrato Review: The Most Fun (A Lot of) Money Can Buy.


2024 Polaris XPEDITION
2024 Polaris XPEDITION; (photo/Derek Mau)

Our Best Adventure UTV category is always hotly contested, with the Can-Am Commander XT-P 1000R winning in 2021 and Polaris RZR Turbo R in 2022. This year’s winner is a totally different type of machine — dare we say an all-new category of UTV. The all-new 2024 Polaris XPEDITION is our 2023 winner. It is a machine designed for long-distance touring comfort, versus pure utility or sporty driving dynamics.

Our reviewer, Derek Mau, took the XPEDITION all the way to the Grand Canyon, and had this to say: “Get ready to buzz the trails and traverse adverse terrain with loads of power in a lightweight nimble machine. The all-new 2024 Polaris XPEDITION UTV can transport up to five people comfortably — AC and heat comfort — has a range of over 200 miles, and has numerous accessories to adapt to any number of overland and adventure sports activities. Extended middle-of-nowhere outdoor adventure is what this machine is all about, but it does come with a big sticker price.”

Read our full review here: Forget Car Camping, Welcome to UTV Camping: 2024 Polaris XPEDITION Review.

The 2024 Can-Am Maverick R would gone toe to toe, although a very different kind of machine, with the XPEDITION for our best 2023 UTV pick, but no one on our team got a chance to get hands-on with one in 2023. We’ve heard nothing but good things so far, however, and look forward to taking one for a rip soon.

Best Motorcycle: Honda Transalp 750

2024 Honda Transalp 750
2024 Honda Transalp 750; (photo/Seiji Ishii)

In 2021, the KTM ADV 890 took our Best Motorcycle crown, with the Yamaha Tenere 700 taking it in 2022. For this year, another middle-weight adventure bike takes the win. The 2024 Honda Transalp 750 is our 2023 Best Motorcycle winner.

Our resident cycling, climbing, and motorcycle expert, Seiji Ishii, had this to say after a romp on the bike in the woods of Pennsylvania: “The 2024 Honda Transalp 750’s dual purpose matched its dual personality. It was extremely easy to ride, allowing me to traverse more challenging sections without hesitation. The pairing of these alter egos made the Transalp a bike suitable to a wide range of abilities and styles, making the bike an appealing choice for the ADV masses.”

Read our full review here: 2024 Honda Transalp 750 Review: Value-Packed, Confidence-Inspiring Middleweight Adventure Bike Contender.

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