Get off the pavement with these top-rated SUVs purpose-built for off-road adventures.
Over the years, SUVs have moved further away from “sport utility” and more toward comfort and space. And though hauling the family in comfort is definitely important, some of us want a vehicle that’s still comfortable and capable off road.
Luckily, there are still some SUVs that stick true to their heritage and more than a few that come with off-road packages. So if you’re looking for an SUV that you can drive daily and explore the backcountry in, these 10 best SUVs for off-roading will get you on the path less traveled.
Go ahead, get these rugged vehicles dirty — they were made to play in the dirt.
The 10 Best SUVs Off Road
If you’re looking for the most luxurious option on the market and don’t mind shelling out some serious dough, the Mercedes G-Class is one of the top-rated SUVs for off-roading. The “G” stands for “Geländewagen,” which is German for “all-terrain vehicle.”
First created in the ’70s for the armed forces, the Mercedes G-Class has a long history as a workhorse of a vehicle. Over the years, the now-iconic model has received modern upgrades while staying true to its roots.
And the G-Class is certainly more than capable off road thanks to its four-wheel drive and three lockable differentials. The Mercedes G 550 has an independent double-wishbone front suspension and rigid rear axle. The multimode suspension settings mean you can adjust the ride to fit the terrain. And the nine-speed transmission pairs with a two-speed transfer case, giving you plenty of gears to choose from to control the 416 horsepower, 4.0L V8 biturbo under the hood.
True to Mercedes form, you can expect plenty of technology and luxury inside. Lurking beneath all that wood, leather, and posh extras, you’ll find a German-engineered off-roading monster ready to break loose.
To jump in a new Mercedes-Benz G 550, get ready to open your wallet to the tune of at least $139,900. Movers and shakers interested in the 577 horsepower, AMG G 63 shouldn’t flinch at the $179,000 starting price. Also, expect big dealer markups, as the G-Wagon is in high demand.
Land Rover Range Rover
After more than five decades as a favorite of the royal family, the Land Rover Range Rover sits at the pinnacle of SUV extravagance. It’s no accident that the new Range Rover and the Range Rover Sport can handle themselves off road with skill and dexterity.
These modern Land Rover off-roaders have locking differentials, air suspension, low-range transfer cases, hill descent control, and hill start assist. They are also equipped with Land Rover’s Terrain Response system to optimize traction on varying terrains.
At its full ride height, the Range Rover has an approach angle of 34.7 degrees and a departure angle of 29 degrees. The adjustable air suspension sets up this luxury SUV with 11.6 inches of ground clearance and a wading depth of 35.4 inches.
The combination of full-time four-wheel drive and collection of mechanical and electronic off-road hardware delivers an impressive level of capability, enabling this SUV to scramble over obstacles and through terrain where most vehicles this opulent would fear to tread.
Under the hood is a mild-hybrid 3.0L inline-6 that makes 395 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque.
If your budget allows, you’ll want the 5.0L supercharged V8 engine that marshals 523 horsepower for your best off-roading Range Rover. With power like this, you are looking at a 0-60 mph time of 4.4 seconds.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Land Rover Range Rover unless fully adorned for luxury. The sleek profile combined with the lavish interior is a Range Rover trademark. With that said, you won’t see too many owners actually taking them off the pavement. Maybe the starting price of $104,500 has something to do with that.
We say, if you’re going to buy an off-roader this fancy, you might as well take it out to play. Based on our firsthand testing, it’s quite a capable off-road machine.
After decades of global adventures, the Toyota Sequoia has more than earned its reputation as one of the best SUVs for off-roading. In particular, the Sequoia recently got a complete makeover. Ready for new adventures, the redesigned Sequoia sits on a modern, fully boxed frame and a 3.4L twin-turbocharged V6 hybrid shared by the Tundra, LX600, and world-market Land Cruiser.
The old V8 is history, but the improved 437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet of torque from the new V6 mild-hybrid powertrain fill the void. It also has a limited-slip lockable center differential, Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS), Multi-Terrain Select, and Crawl Control.
If luxury is what you’re after, you won’t be disappointed with the wall-to-wall leather, wood trim, and soft-touch surfaces throughout many Sequoia trim levels. The most rugged and sporty interior is, of course, on the most off-road capable Sequoia model: the TRD Pro.
Depending on where you’re driving, it might not be the most practical off-roader with its immense size, but it can carry seven adults or 86.9 cubic feet of adventure gear when the second and third rows are folded down. That in itself is a feat.
It comes packed with high-tech gadgets and innovations that make it great for off-roading, but it will also cost a pretty penny. MSRP for the Sequoia TRD Pro, loaded with off-road extras, starts at $76,000.
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Jeep, a brand synonymous with outdoor adventure, has enjoyed great success for over 30 years with its SUV champion, the Grand Cherokee. Earning its place as one of the top-rated SUVs because of its status as an all-around family, friends, and gear-hauling adventure machine. It masters dirt, mud, and all types of obstacles in its path, on and off road.
The Grand Cherokee offers three four-wheel-drive systems to choose from and a rear electronic slip differential. Jeep’s Quadra-lift air suspension raises ground clearance to 11.3 inches from the standard ride height of 8.4 inches. Specific Grand Cherokee 4×4 models get Jeep’s Selec-Terrain traction management system, which includes modes for Auto, Sport, Rock, Snow, and Mud/Sand.
Some of the Grand Cherokee’s notable amenities include a roomy back seat, an expansive airy cabin, impressive front- and rear-visibility, and a big, very useful center console. Additionally, the latest Grand Cherokee offers a full range of safety and security features that aid confidence while driving everywhere.
The Grand Cherokee is perhaps the perfect balance if you want an on- and off-road SUV.
The 4×4 Laredo offers an entry-level price point of $43,530. The uber-capable, top-shelf Summit Reserve (4×4 only) is loaded with off-roading tech and premium amenities that ring the bell with a $68,685 starting price tag.
If you’ve ever owned a Toyota 4Runner, you know that its reliability and ruggedness aren’t overstated, in addition to being one of the best SUVs for off-roading. For the most off-road capable packages, check out the trims with TRD in the name, which include the TRD Off-Road, TRD Off-Road Premium, and TRD Pro. Look for features like Toyota’s Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS), Multi-Terrain Select, and Crawl Control.
The best choice for off-pavement adventures goes to the TRD Pro grade that packages together all the extra off-road goodies, like the high-performance oversize FOX shocks with rear remote reservoirs and TRD-tuned front springs. Along with the quarter-inch-thick aluminum front skid plate and 17-inch rims with Terra Grappler tires, you’ll find yourself ready to tackle any terrain.
There’s more to know if you need convincing of its off-road capabilities. The 4Runner has a solid, locking rear axle, a low-range transfer case, and 9.6 inches of ground clearance.
Its standard engine is a fuel-efficient 2.4L turbocharged four-cylinder. For heavy-duty work such as towing, opt for the 270 horsepower, 4.0L V6.
The 4Runner’s inherent capabilities make it a better choice than the Toyota RAV4 crossover or the more conventional Toyota Highlander. If you need a larger people hauler, the new Toyota Sequoia can also be outfitted with the TRD Pro package to give you the same capability with a few extra seats.
The entry point starts with the 4Runner TRD Sport with a $38,805 sticker price. Leveling up to the hardcore TRD Pro grade comes with a starting MSRP of $53,270.
Land Rover Defender
Hearkening back to the original 1950s Land Rover Defender, this modern update on the classic off-road icon is a highly capable off-roader with lots of modern perks. You can opt for the two-door Defender 90, the four-door Defender 110, or the eight-passenger Defender 130.
All versions are offered with adjustable air suspension and locking differentials. The 90 and 110 have three engine packages on offer: a turbocharged four-cylinder, a mild-hybrid six-cylinder, or a supercharged V8. The 130 is only offered with the mild hybrid.
The updated Defender has a unibody construction and fully independent suspension. The base model comes with coil springs, but you can upgrade to air springs for an adjustable ride height. With 11.5 inches of ground clearance, you should be able to tackle plenty of rough terrains. Similar to the Range Rover, the Defender can tackle water crossings up to 35 inches in depth.
Though the interior is a bit more utilitarian than the posh Range Rover, this is still a Land Rover through and through. From the 12-way heated, power-adjustable front seats to the available 11.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system and an onboard Wi-Fi hotspot, you won’t be roughing it too much.
Plus, the Defender starts at a more budget-friendly price point of $53,500 for the 110 base model, but the price quickly rises with options you’ll likely want, like the air suspension.
The Jeep Wrangler, especially the Rubicon, has long been hailed as an off-roading king. Though it might be a bit lacking in cargo space when compared to the Jeep Grand Cherokee, just remember, we’re talking about off-roading, not getting groceries.
The Wrangler uses a rear ladder frame that can withstand quite a beating. The Rubicon also has skid plates to protect mechanical components, plus a trick system to easily disconnect the front sway bar. If you want more, upgrade to the even more decked-to-the-nines Jeep Wrangler Unlimited.
Even as a stock model, the Wrangler holds its own with the best SUVs for off-roading. Many people find this SUV is the perfect base to start from for making further off-roading modifications, as time and money allow. And perhaps the best part is that you can go topless while exploring the great outdoors.
The top-of-the-line Wrangler Rubicon starts at $47,890. For insane power and off-road adventure, the Hemi-powered Wrangler Rubicon 392 starts at $84,290. However, the environmentally responsible adult can get into the 4xe electrified hybrid for as little as $54,735.
Though you might not think “rugged-off roader” when you think Lexus, perhaps you should. Despite its unassuming exterior, the Lexus LX600 comes with low range, Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS), Multi-Terrain Select, plus a ground clearance of 7.9 inches — which isn’t too shabby for a big SUV. It also has a 27-degree approach angle and a 26-degree departure angle.
To keep all those wheels turning, Lexus installed a more potent version of the new twin-turbocharged 3.4L found in the 2022 Toyota Tundra. With a bit of tweaking, the LX gets an additional 20 horsepower to peak at 409. And again, you get complete luxury with this model with everything from heated and ventilated leather seats and wood trim to top-of-the-line tech.
Much like the Range Rover and G-Class, you can expect this luxury to come with a hefty price tag. The base model of this Lexus starts at north of $86,000. With seating for up to eight, it’s geared toward everyday driving but equally capable of off-road adventure. And if you don’t need quite that much space, the slightly more compact Lexus GX460 is also a great off-road SUV option.
The Ford Bronco is back and better than ever. Now you have your choice of a two- or four-door Bronco, in addition to the pint-size Bronco Sport. The big Bronco offers body-on-frame construction, and 4×4 is standard. It’s also decked out for off-road adventures.
Opt for one of the higher-end packages to get even more off-roading add-ons from Ford’s new G.O.A.T Modes terrain response off-road driving mode system, Trail Control off-road cruise control, and even 360 aerial view and front camera systems. With coil-over shocks at all four corners, a detachable sway bar, and front and rear e-lockers, the new Bronco is great in all terrain conditions.
You can custom-pick the Bronco from 10 different models to match your adventurous preferences. Into chill off-roading and want a stylish daily driver? Check out the Big Bend or Outer Banks models. Looking for extreme off-roading or outrageous power on the dirt? The Everglades, Badlands, or Raptor editions should more than fit the bill.
Base trim levels for the two-door Bronco start at $32,295. MSRP for the four-door Bronco, in the same base trim level, begins at $36,445. Prices skyrocket from there for the more off-road-oriented models, with the top-spec Bronco Raptor starting at $68,500.
Much like the Sequoia, the Armada is built as a body-on-frame SUV. This helps it to be pretty much unstoppable off the pavement. And though you might not be as familiar with the Armada as one of the best SUVs for off-roading, the rest of the world is — as it’s based on the world-market Nissan Patrol.
The Nissan Armada relies on a monstrous 5.6-liter V8 engine that produces 400 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque. In addition, the advanced four-wheel-drive system sends the majority of the grunt to the rear wheels while on the road for better fuel economy. It transfers power back to the front axle when extra traction is needed.
The Armada is well-equipped for group adventures in town or far away from the crowds. Starting prices of the Armada come in at $50,400, which is a lot of SUV for a lot less than half the price of the Range Rover or G-Class.
Choose the Best SUV for Your Off-Road Adventures
Our list of the 10 best SUVs for off-roading highlights some of the best off-road SUV packages on the market. Depending on your budget and your needs, there are plenty of other SUV options to choose from, not to mention the world of camper vans and decked-out trucks that can also get you to all the remote places you want to go.
Don’t discount all crossovers either, as many of them are pretty darn capable, provided you’re driving them right.
But, if you’re looking for the best of the best you can get off the beaten path in luxury and style with, these 10 coveted off-road-ready models are your ticket to adventure.