Navigating perilous terrain while taking in as much of the breath-taking landscape is a skill that’s best reserved to the modern daredevils behind monstrous 4×4 off-roaders with their ginormous engines that churn out ridiculous power outputs to maintain contact with the tricky Earth barely hugging the tires. It’s a different kind of experience that, with today’s off-road 4×4 innovations, almost everyone with a big-sized wallet can hope to tick off in their bucket list. In this list of the best off-road 4×4 vehicles, we’ll be exploring the automotive monsters that can turn any city-loving folk into a certified dirtbag without so much as breaking a sweat.
Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Recon
It’s the epitome of what a true off-roader should be. With its open top design giving you an unobstructed and stunning view of Jurassic Park protected only by a roll bar and cage, the Rubicon Recon is Jeep’s most comfortable off-roader to-date. Premium-quality off-road rock rails, heavy-duty differential covers, black fender flares, fully upgrade Dana 44 axles, and a power dome hood is just some of the remarkable features that never fail to draw attention to the Rubicon. Strong, resilient, and definitely stylish, this premium off-roader is what you’ll ride on when going on an adventure in the Amazon or perhaps bring into the treacherous landscapes of Central Asia. Its electronic sway bar disconnect switch is what you’ll rely on to give you superior wheel articulation. Built to be extra-strong yet with all the fine qualities of a luxury sedan, the Rubicon Recon is the Rolls Royce of the Wrangler brand.
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Land Rover Defender
It was in 1983 when Land Rover started producing the Defender series. And while this all-terrain-hugging, frontier-conquering off-roader already bid its farewell as of 2016, you can still get a topnotch rock crawler and cliff-hugger from reputable dealers of second-hand automotive legends. A special edition of the Defender, known as the Defender Works V8, promises to be an amazing prelude to the next generation of completely redesigned Defenders. The 70th edition of the Defender has all the makings of an off-road legend while retaining its boxy appearance. Featuring a 5.0-liter V8 capable of sprinting to 60 in just 5.6 seconds and topping it at 106 MPH, the Defender Works V8 comes with heavily-improved dampers and springs, upgraded brakes, Sawtooth alloy wheels, and all-terrain tires, making it more responsive in terrains that you’ve never been. It still has the same old Defender look, but with seriously refined luxury and enhanced performance.
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Toyota Land Cruiser
The Land Cruiser is the Japanese automaker’s longest-running series, with the very first Cruiser having introduced into the market in 1951. Most folks don’t actually use it for its intended purpose, more content on driving this sleeping giant around city streets when it’s supposed to be hitting the dirt and shredding the trail. Whether it’s hauling family and friends to your favorite destination or hitting the trail for a no-holds-barred off-road adventure, you can always expect the Land Cruiser to deliver. Its extra-large sway bars – part of the Land Cruiser’s Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System – automatically disconnect, allowing it to hug the road regardless of how moon-like it can be. Technically, the Land Cruiser is intended as a luxury SUV, but it’s more than fully capable of hitting that dirt road. It has the enviable reputation of exceptional reliability even when presented with the harshest possible conditions.
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The “Gelandewagen” of the German and Austrian countryside, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class is a luxury truck that is as efficient on paved roads as it is phenomenal off it. The G-Class owes its existence from the 1970s need for a military vehicle that can conquer any terrain while still delivering MB-luxury to whoever sits inside its boxy, albeit extra-posh cabin. The G550 is quite heftier than its predecessor and comes with a few subtle tweaks that are hardly recognizable unless you’re a true fan of the brand. The new G-Class comes with a stiffer body and frame, making sure your off-road adventures are as smooth as any sedan in the German automaker’s lineup. The steering and front suspension breathe new life into the G-Class’ humongous 22-inch wheels, making for an almost-intuitive driving experience that won’t feel like a chore. And like all Mercedes, the G-Class doesn’t come cheap.
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Chevrolet Colorado ZR2
Chevy has been around for more than a century, designing and producing automotive marvels that have become legends in their own right. It’s not surprising that the Colorado ZR2 is rightfully on its way to legendary status with its impressive array of off-roading technologies. Designed to be as agile on the road as it is off the beaten path, the ZR2 delivers exceptional performance regardless of how the road up ahead opens up. From technical rock crawling to high-speed desert blitzing to navigating a tight two-track trail or even mundane daily drives, the ZR2 comes with the full 4×4 package that includes a unique Multimatic Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve and a class-exclusive electronic locking differential for both the front and rear wheels. Functional rock sliders give the ZR2 excellent performance over obstacles. It’s the Chevy that is as fun to drive every day as it is adrenaline-pumping on weekends.
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Land Rover Range Rover
Unlike its boxy cousin, the Defender, the Range Rover comes off as a sexier and beefier SUV that is as nimble on paved and open roads as it is earth-hugging on the treacherous and unforgiving terrain. Equally at home in posh neighborhoods, as it is making its way in the netherworld, the Range Rover is beautiful and luxurious, comfortable and capable. It has a really lame exterior, but its interior is something that is truly decadent for its class. The V6 under its hood is often sufficient for average off-roaders, although some adrenaline junkies will always want the V8s for its raw power. While it may look tame on the roads, the Range Rover’s true colors show the moment it leaves the asphalt for gravel and dirt. Its full off-road capabilities are limited only by one’s courage as there’s virtually no terrain that this Land Rover will not conquer.
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Ford F-150 Raptor
Going from the comfort of paved roads all the way to the most unforgiving terrain is a cinch for the F-150 Raptor. It may be perfectly at home in highways, but its true calling is in the wilderness where it can show off its extraordinary capabilities that start with its high-output 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine that is ingeniously mated to an equally insane 10-speed automatic. For its off-road performance, the Raptor features the 3-inch FOX Racing Shox system that comes with a blistering bypass technology allowing you highly variable damping rates. Whether it is the concrete roads you’re trying to conquer or the uneven and perilous frontier that needs to be mastered, the Raptor easily glides along. And if in case you’re not really confident about your off-roading skills, a simple switch on its Terrain Management System should do the trick. The Raptor still embodies the ideals of its F-150 forebears, but it’s been redesigned in such a way that it now has a character of its own.
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Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro
Standing alone in the modern era of unibody SUVs and curvaceous crossovers that are best defined by sports modes rather than utility features, the 4Runner TRD Pro is an old-school off-roader that has seen only quite a handful of improvements ever since it first started rolling out from showrooms in 1984. But, don’t get it wrong. It is still one of the most dependable off-roaders you can get. It’s like the Great White in the great depths of the ocean having survived, unchanged and unscathed, with the passage of time. Forming the core of its 4×4 capabilities include the A-TRAC limited slip technology that’s mated to its ABS, a Multi-Terrain Select system, a rear locking differential, and a unique Crawl Control. There’s very little in what Mother Nature can throw on the TRD Pro’s path that can act as a formidable obstacle.
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Dodge Ram 2500 Power Wagon
The Grizzly Adams of modern pickups, the Dodge Ram 2500 Power Wagon is primarily intended to clobber challenging and intimidating terrain while conveying passengers in complete luxury. With the Ram 2500 Crew Cab providing the base for this terrain-conquering 4-wheeled monster, the Power Wagon comes with an anti-roll bar that automatically disengages the moment it senses that the situation is getting gnarly. While it pales in comparison to the Ford F-150 Raptor in terms of desert racing performance, it was never its primary mission anyway. The Power Wagon was designed to slog through mud bogs and navigate over rocks. Featuring the Articulink system, the Power Wagon easily crawls over rocks more like a local bighorn sheep nimbly maneuvering over toothed sandstone rocks. It’s a gentle highway giant on most days and a conquering rock climber on some.
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It’s the Land of the Rising Sun’s double-duty SUV, fully capable of pulling loads up to 8,500 pounds while comfortably sitting 8 inside its spacious and elegantly curated interior. The second generation of Armada owes many of its improvements from the Infiniti QX80 and the Nissan Patrol, giving it better power and torque as well as overall improvement in fuel economy. The Armada clearly has the foxiness of the QX80 and the ruggedness of the terra firma-conquering Patrol. Its off-road capabilities are distinctly Patrol-ish including its truck-like stiffness and ruggedness. It also comes with a power-assist steering technology that is quite sensitive to engine speeds, allowing it to negotiate extra-rough terrain with relative ease. It’s the Lunar Rover on Earth complete with high ground clearance and a powerful V8 that’s also, unfortunately, a prolific fuel-guzzler.
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Whether it’s enjoying a quiet cruise on the world’s highways or meticulously planning your attack on a terrain that you’ve never been to before, these best off-road 4×4 vehicles can get the job done rather splendidly.