Modern trucks and SUVs have gotten more comfortable on a day-to-day basis, but they have also gained considerable off-road capability as technological and engineering advances have helped to create virtually unstoppable four-wheel drive systems buttressed by electronic driver's aides. You don't have to spend a lot of money to sample some of the best off-road vehicles currently available, but if you want to there are certainly top-dollar models out there that happily pair up luxury and a go-anywhere attitude.
Let's take a look at 10 of the best off-road vehicles that money can buy.
The 2013 Nissan Frontier PRO-4X mid-size pickup truck is a great all-around package for those who are interested in leaving the asphalt behind. The Nissan Frontier PRO-4X package includes Bilstein shock absorbers, skid plates to protect delicate components underneath the chassis, a locking differential out back, 16-inch knobby tires, and of course four-wheel drive. A first aid kit is even included as standard equipment to take care of any bumps and bruises out on the trail. All versions of the PRO-4X Nissan come with a robust 4.0-liter V-6 engine that generates 261 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque, yoked to either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission.
Best Off-Road Vehicles - 02 - 2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser
The 2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser is a retro-themed take on the brand's iconic FJ series of off-road SUVs. The Toyota FJ Cruiser features a unique set of rear-hinged doors behind the front two entry points in order to add versatility to its passenger compartment, and it can also be equipped with features such as an electronic locking rear differential, Bilstein shocks, all-terrain tires, and a more rugged traction control system. Two different four-wheel drive systems are optional with the FJ Cruiser (part-time and full-time), but a 4.0-liter V-6 is standard, and it produces 260 horsepower and 271 lb-ft of torque. Depending on which four-wheel drive system is installed, the SUV can be shifted via either a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission.
Best Off-Road Vehicles - 03 - 2013 Jeep Wrangler
The 2013 Jeep Wrangler is the undisputed kind of off-road SUVs, with even the base model's solid front axles, excellent ground clearance, and standard four-wheel drive making it a formidable trail master. Upgrading to the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, however, introduces the vehicle's most capable four-wheel drive system (Rock-Trac), the strongest available axles front and rear, locking differentials, and the ability to disconnect the front sway bar electronically in order to improve suspension articulation. Power is derived from a 3.6-liter V-6 that puts out 285 horses and 260 lb-ft of torque, and buyers can choose between either a six-speed manual transmission or a five-speed automatic.
Best Off-Road Vehicles - 04 - 2013 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor
The 2013 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor is a purpose-built desert racer that features a suspension system that is radically different from the standard F-150. Intended to take serious punishment off-road, the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor also comes with a locking rear differential, standard four-wheel drive, and trophy-truck looks that set it apart from other full-size pickups. The Raptor comes with a 411 horsepower, 6.2-liter V-8 under the hood, and this unit is also capable of producing 434 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic is the only transmission offered with the SVT Raptor.
Best Off-Road Vehicles - 05 - 2013 Land Rover LR4
The 2013 Land Rover LR4 is a staple amongst families shopping for a luxury suv, but the mid-size vehicle does far more than just coddle occupants. The Land Rover LR4 is a formidable trail weapon thanks to its relatively short wheelbase and its advanced full-time four-wheel drive system, which comes with Land Rover's Terrain Response feature that can automatically adjust a wide range of vehicle parameters to specifically handle mud, snow, gravel, and rocks. A locking rear differential can also be added to the LR4's list of features, and the vehicle's air suspension system is adaptable to the driving conditions that the Land Rover is facing. All versions of the SUV are powered by a 5.0-liter V-8 engine that is good for 375 horsepower and 375 lb-ft of torque, and a six-speed automatic transmission is standard.
Best Off-Road Vehicles - 06 - 2013 Nissan Xterra PRO-4X
The 2013 Nissan Xterra PRO-4X is frequently lauded for combining a tough, full-frame, off-road ready platform with the kind of daily driving manners that make it a viable commuter option. The Nissan Xterra PRO-4X enhances the mid-size SUV's prowess by way of installing special tires and wheels, adding hill start assistance and a hill descent control feature, providing a locking rear differential, and offering additional exterior lighting. Four-wheel drive is of course a major component of the PRO-4X's personality, and a 261 horsepower, 4.0-liter V-6 (that is also good for 281 lb-ft of twist) is included free of charge with the Xterra. Transmission choices include a six-speed manual and a five-speed automatic.
Best Off-Road Vehicles - 07 - 2013 Toyota Land Cruiser
The 2013 Toyota Land Cruiser is another high dollar off-road contender. The Toyota Land Cruiser is the priciest vehicle in the Japanese brand's fleet, and it comes with no options (everything is standard), but in addition to its three rows of cushy seating it also offers a full-time four-wheel drive system, excellent ground clearance, an adaptive suspension system, the Multi-Terrain Select feature for handling a range of different driving conditions, and a crawl control system that allows the vehicle to creep forward while negotiating tricky situations. Off-Road Turn assist is also available, which uses the brakes on the inside wheels during a tight turn to help better rotate the big vehicle. The Land Cruiser is outfitted with a 5.7-liter V-8 that is good for 381 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque, and a six-speed automatic transmission is standard.
Best Off-Road Vehicles - 08 - 2013 Ram 2500 Power Wagon
The 2013 RAM 2500 Power Wagon is a serious three-quarter ton full-size pickup that makes use of an extremely aggressive rear axle ratio, locking differentials, a tough four-wheel drive system, a factory winch, skid plates, tow hooks, off-road tires, and the ability to disconnect the front swaybar from inside the cabin. The Ram Power Wagon is a throwback to the days when one could spec out a heavy-duty truck to tackle the great wide open. A 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 is the only engine available with the Power Wagon, and it delivers 383 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque with a six-speed automatic transmission handling the gear-shifting duties.
Best Off-Road Vehicles - 09 - 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee
The 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee is not only a comfy people mover, but it also maintains Jeep's high standards for off-road capability. The Trail-Rated Jeep Grand Cherokee comes with the choice of three different four-wheel drive systems, although hardcore drivers will want to go for the Quadra-Drive II edition which offers Selec-Terrain (for configuring engine, transmission, and stability / traction control parameters for a particular type of driving situation) as well as an air suspension with adjustable ride height and a pair of locking differentials. The Grand Cherokee can be equipped with either a 3.6-liter V-6 putting out 290 horses and 260 lb-ft of torque, or it can be had with a 360 horsepower, 5.7-liter V-8 that also generates a respectable 390 lb-ft of torque. The former comes with a five-speed autobox, while the latter gains an additional forward cog for its automatic transmission.
Best Off-Road Vehicles - 10 - 2013 Mercedes-Benz G-Class
The 2013 Mercedes-Benz G-Class is the most expensive vehicle on this list, and it's also the only one that was originally based on a military transporter. The Mercedes-Benz G-Class looks like a big box on wheels, and its upright charm conceals a host of serious off-road features, such as three locking differentials, a full-time four-wheel drive system with low-range capability, and exceptional departure and approach angles. The luxury-laden G-Class makes use of a 382 horsepower, 5.5-liter V-8 engine that also develops 391 lb-ft of torque, and it comes with a seven-speed automatic transmission.