Cars are not only for a daily commute to the office but can also be used for outdoor recreation and fun. Certain vehicles are designed for exploring the outdoors and have the characteristics needed for this rugged terrain.
1. Land Rover Defender
Land Rover has been dominant in providing rugged outdoor adventure vehicles from the days of the Series 1, 2, and 3 models, but the Defender is the model that became iconic for outdoor adventures.
The Defender shape and style in the 90 and 110 models became synonymous with overlanding in Africa, which developed the reputation for these vehicles.
These older models had no frills and luxuries, but they would get you where you needed to go. Land Rover stopped producing the box-shaped Defender 90 and 110 models and totally revamped the Defender range.
The new-look Defender has brought this iconic vehicle into the modern motoring age. It features a V8 engine, electronically assisted 4WD, climate control, and all the dashboard electronics and screen displays you expect in a modern luxury car.
The new Defender range includes the 90 series, 110 series, and a new series in the range, the 130 series, which can seat up to 8 people. You can configure your Defender when you purchase it by choosing from the various configurations that best suit your needs.
Land Rover offers an Explorer pack, an Adventure pack, a Country pack, and an Urban pack, each with different configurations.
2. Jeep Wrangler
The Jeep has become a car brand synonymous with outdoor adventure in the USA, and the Wrangler is designed for exploring the outdoors.
The Wrangler is designed with features to take on the outdoors with ease. Its rugged construction and relatively short wheelbase give the vehicle excellent approach and departure angles.
The 100:1 crawl ratio allows for aftermarket customization of the Wrangle to fit larger tires without limiting performance.
The 50/50 split of traction between the front and rear axles when the transmission is in 4×4 high mode gives the Wrangler its legendary traction, which enforces its popularity as an outdoor adventure vehicle.
The Wrangler is available in several configurations, from hardtops to soft-tops, but comes standard with sealed electrical connections and moisture-resistant openings on the body to allow traversing water 33.5 inches deep.
Underbody skid plates and excellent ground clearance are features that contribute to the ongoing popularity of the Wrangler as an outdoor adventure vehicle.
3. Mercedes-Benz G-Class
Mercedes-Benz is a car brand more commonly associated with luxury sedans than rugged offroad vehicles.
The Mercedes-Benz G-Class breaks the perception that Mercedes is all about urban street driving. The G-Class has a boxy shape, similar to the Jeep Wrangler, and can often be mistaken for this vehicle at a distance.
Mercedes has combined luxury with ruggedness in the G-Class to produce an exceptional vehicle on urban streets and on overland trails.
The interior sports every electronic gadget you could want in a modern car, while the exterior is designed to handle any off-road terrain.
The G-Class has a V8 powerhouse engine, a 9-speed transmission, and permanent AWD, making this vehicle extremely capable in a wide range of off-road driving conditions.
4. Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro
Toyota’s prowess in manufacturing excellent offroad vehicles is globally accepted, and the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro continues the manufacturer’s legacy for vehicles to tame the outdoors.
The Tacoma is a double-cab truck with ample space in the passenger cabin and a 5-foot or 1.5 meters, providing plenty of carrying capacity for all your outdoor gear.
The Tacoma is powered by a reliable 3.5 liter V6 motor with an electronically controlled automatic transmission. The on-demand 4WD drive train can be engaged when the terrain requires it and is electronically assisted for maximum efficiency and performance off-road.
The electronics also provide hill ascent assistance and rear differential locking to assist in muddy conditions.
The ground clearance on the Tacoma is a useful 9.4 inches, and the suspension is made to be rugged to handle any rough outdoor adventure.
5. Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro
The Toyota 4Runner is another excellent outdoor adventure vehicle from Toyota. The 4Runner is based on the same chassis and technology as the Tacoma double-cab truck but comes in an SUV format.
Crawl control is an advanced off-road feature on the 4Runner, which takes control of the throttle and brakes on difficult terrain so the driver can focus on steering the vehicle across the difficult ground.
The LCD in the 4Runner has a multi-terrain monitor function that gives the driver an onscreen visual of the terrain n either side and in front of the vehicle via cameras.
The 4Runner has high-performance shock absorbers designed to handle any off-road experience and features a ¼ inch aluminum skid plate under the front end of the vehicle to protect the engine and components from rough ground.
The attractive, rugged-looking 4Runner can seat up to 5 people, 2 in the front and 3 in the back seat, and the 4.0 liter V6 engine has more than enough power to handle a full-capacity load.
The 9.6-inch ground clearance and capable part-time 4WD drive train make the 4Runner an excellent choice for any outdoor adventure.
6. Land Rover Discovery
The Land Rover Defender series are serious outdoor adventure vehicles, but the Discovery provides a classy option that does not look out of place on a suburban roadway or an outdoor 4×4 trail.
The interior design is what you would expect in an executive sedan rather than an off-road capable SUV.
The Discovery features 7 full-size seats, making it an excellent family outdoor adventure vehicle. It has a wading depth of 35.43 inches, an approach angle of 34 degrees, a departure angle of 30 degrees, and a ramp angle of 27.5 degrees.
The fairly boxy shape of the Discovery gives comfortable interior space and headroom. The motor is a little on the light side, being a 2.0-liter engine, but it performs well with the electronic management included in the vehicle.
The Discovery has a permanent AWD drivetrain with electronic air suspension, electronic terrain response, and adaptive dynamics.
The Discovery will allow you to enjoy your outdoor exploring and adventures in comfort and style with a vehicle that is off-road capable with Land Rover’s typical quiet flair.
7. Toyota RAV4 Adventure
The RAV4 is a crossover SUV from Toyota that offers versatility for urban and outdoor adventure motoring.
The RAV4 comes in electric and gas models, but the best option for an outdoor adventure is the gas model. Charging stations have not yet reached rural outdoor trails to make recharging electric vehicles easy on outdoor adventures.
The RAV4 has a front skidplate to protect the sensitive underside components from rough terrain and has off-road tuned suspension to smooth out the bumps in the trail.
The AWD gas-powered models have an 8-speed transmission with a mode selector to choose adaptations for different terrain. The four modes are mud and sand, rock and dirt, snow, and normal, which provide electronically controlled traction to maximize performance in these terrain types.
The RAV4 Adventure TRD Off-road edition has a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder gas-powered engine offering good performance for this relatively light vehicle in off-road conditions. This model has a respectable 8.6-inch ground clearance and hill assist for tricky off-road driving.
The RAV4 is a smaller, compact off-road adventure car, but its size belies its exceptional off-road performance.
8. Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk
The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk is an SUV model from Jeep that provides an urban vehicle capable of taking your family or friends on an outdoor adventure with equal versatility.
A 3.6-liter V6 motor and 8-speed automatic transmission with 4WD capability power the Trailhawk. The 11.3-inch ground clearance will give you confidence that this vehicle will be up to your outdoor exploration in rugged terrain.
Improved suspension articulation helps to keep all four wheels of the Trailhawk in contact with the ground to enhance stability and maintain traction. The electronically assisted 4WD manages the traction applied to each wheel and automatically adjusts to changing conditions.
The center console screen gives a ground-level view of the trail ahead using a forward-facing camera on the car. This advantage helps to gain a better perspective of the obstacles ahead.
As with all other off-road oriented vehicles from Jeep, the Trailhawk is engineered to be exceptional for outdoor adventures.
9. Subaru Outback
Subaru is a car manufacturer that has learned to build outstanding outdoor vehicles through the experience gained in the international rally circuit.
Subaru carries this knowledge through to all their vehicles designed for outdoor adventures. The Subaru Outback is true to form with its offroad capabilities and has a reputation for being extremely fuel efficient no matter the terrain.
The Outback features advanced technology usually only found on luxury road cars, such as driver assist technology, which is a collision avoidance system. The Outback features steering-responsive headlights and full multimedia integration via the Subaru Starlink system.
The Subaru Outback has 8.7-inches ground clearance, fog lights, and a raised roof rack with integrated tie-down points.
The AWD system has hill descent and electronic traction control, and the wheels have independent suspension. The Subaru Outback is available in different configurations with varying-sized motors.
10. Toyota Land Cruiser
Toyota has long been a go-to vehicle for outdoor adventures, and none are more accomplished on rugged terrain than the Toyota Land Cruiser.
From the harshness of Africa to the Australian Outback and the unforgiving Death Valley in the USA, the Land Cruiser is up to the task.
The Toyota Land Cruiser has proven itself as a reliable, robust vehicle for the outdoors in its 70-year-plus history.
The Land Cruiser is available in a variety of configurations, from Enclosed cabin versions to truck versions with different size load beds.
The full 4WD capability, rugged construction, and powerful, reliable engine make the Toyota Land Cruiser a top outdoor adventure car.
If you enjoy exploring the outdoors, you need a vehicle that is up to the task and improves the enjoyment of your activities.
Always look for a vehicle where the manufacturer has included design features for off-road exploring to ensure your car is up to the outdoor challenge.