Columbus Day has come and gone, and with it came images of exploration and adventure.
And what better place to find that than the auto industry?
For years, automakers have pushed out massive SUVs with incredible off-roading capabilities that are ultimately used exclusively for the school run. With the spirit of discovery fresh in the air, we’ve prepared a list of the greatest off-roaders you can buy that still retain their hardcore wilderness roots, so that you can venture off the beaten path as well.
5. Mercedes Benz G-Class
Used by the militaries of 36 different nations, including the U.S., United Kingdom, Germany, and Egypt, the G Class means serious business. Not only is it the longest continuously produced vehicle under the Mercedes badge, but it packs a serious punch. It employs three fully locking differentials to boost its off-roading capabilities and its engine pumps out a massive 500 bhp, just shy of that made by the V-8 in a Ferrari 458, which has the highest output of any naturally aspirated road car. Reliability and safety a concern? The Popemobile, the specialized vehicle that protects the pope on parade routes and certain public appearances, is a converted G-Class.
Toughness offroad a major selling point for you? This car made up a large part of British convoys in the most violent areas of the Iraq War. It can take almost anything you throw at it.
4. Ford F-150 Raptor
The F-150 is not only the world’s best-selling pickup, it’s also the best-selling vehicle in the entire nation for just shy of 20 years. The SVT Raptor took everything that was great about the F-150 – affordability, torque, power, and off-roading prowess –
and turned it up to 11. It stands a full two inches higher than a standard F150 and features customized springs and shocks that allow the truck to ride comfortably over any obstacle. The Raptor comes with a unique Off-Road Mode, which allows the driver to maintain relatively high speeds and drive aggressively over extremely rough terrain.
3. Toyota FJ Cruiser
Similar to a hardcore performance coupe, this vehicle was designed with a very specific objective in mind: making off-roading a remarkably simple process. The interior is incredibly Spartan and utilitarian, designed to withstand mud, dirt and general abuse. The suspension was specifically designed to provide long travel for off-road use, on-road body roll be damned. The FJ Cruiser has been completely and totally embraced by the off-roading community, not only for its simplicity and supreme performance, but also for its willingness to accept modifications and adjustments designed to further improve off-roading capability.
2. Range Rover Sport
The Range Rover Sport offers what is perhaps the best comprehensive package in all of modern motoring. It comes with the sumptuous luxury that one would expect from the Range Rover marque, but it also boasts remarkable off-roading capabilities. The truck comes with Land Rover’s famous Terrain Response 2 system, which offers five different terrain settings: general, grass/gravel/snow, rock crawl, mud/ruts, and sand. Each setting is designed to optimize the delivery of power from the Sport’s enormous 390 hp engine through its famous locking differential and to its wheels. This vehicle allows its driver to go anywhere on the planet, while retaining all of the comforts of home.
1. Jeep Wrangler
There really couldn’t be anything else at the top of this list. The Wrangler has been the most ubiquitous and prolific off-road vehicle in the world for several generations. Its ancestry can be traced directly back to the WWI Willys MB Jeep, used for everything from reconnaissance to supply drops and troop movements. The modern-day Wrangler can be equipped with everything from unique off-roading axles to removable doors and a fold down windshield. While most cars are designed to give maximum performance on the road or track, the Wrangler is purpose-built to conquer the wilderness, earning it the top spot on this list.