One of the most iconic off-road vehicles is the Jeep, but even Mercedes Benz makes an off-road model, the Unimog (who knew!). In fact, many automakers make at least one vehicle capable of mudding even if the model isn't specifically marketed for such adventures or even sold here in the United States. In fact, off-road vehicles have been around just about as long as there have been cars, with the first off-road capable vehicles being customized for Czar Nicholas II of Russia in the early 1900s. The vehicles, a Rolls Royce and a Packard model, were modified by inventor, Adolphe Kegresse, with what was then known as the Kegresse track, a rubber track that used a flexible belt. Kegresse took his invention to France in 1931, and the rest is history. Off-road vehicles became popular after World War II because of the surplus of Army Jeeps flooding the automotive market. Once consumers got a taste of getting a little mud on the tires, the rest was history.
If offroading one of your favorite pastimes? Do you think you know the name of every vehicle used to mash the mud - by sight? Take this quiz to find out just how much you really know about off-road vehicles!
Produced between 1988 and 1991, the Chevrolet K5 Blazer was a capable off-road vehicle. Blazers offered four-wheel drive with either a 5.7-liter or 6.2-liter small block Chevrolet engine. The suspension came in the form of leaf springs, both front and back, which helped the Blazer’s frame-on-body design, adding much stability.
Regarded as one of the best off-roaders ever produced by Jeep, the Rubicon’s compact nature means it can often go where bigger off-roaders can’t. Those tucked away, tight trails – this is where the Rubicon will excel. It offers excellent tires, a six-speed gearbox with a 4:1 transfer case and an inline six engine capable of producing all the torque you will ever need.
Designed by the man who brought us the Land Rover, Maurice Wilks, the first Defender was produced in 1983. Defenders are tough as nails and excellent off-road vehicles. They are a particular favorite of farmers in the United Kingdom.
The G Wagon, a luxury SUV, is not something that you would normally associate with the Mercedes brand. That said, there clearly is a market for it, although if we are honest, it’s not the prettiest car ever made. When taken off-road, the G Wagon benefits from three differentials that can be fully locked. Better still, this monster won’t need any modifications before you hit the open tracks.
Designed by Soni Honegger, the Scorpion was released in 1997. This off-roader can go just about anywhere thanks to its pivot suspension and is often used in wilderness rescue. Power is supplied by a Chevrolet V8 engine.
Made for US forces during the Second World War, the CJ8 was used in many roles, including as a fast reconnaissance vehicle as well as a battlefield ambulance. This is one of the first off-road vehicles ever made.
OK, so it's not going to take you over the toughest terrain ever but the nostalgia of a Baja Bug is simply worth more than the ability to take on the most technical off-road trails. Yes, it is a rear-wheel drive, but it's cheap and easy to fix. Take it out on some dunes and you will have the time of your life!
The Nissan Titan has a few different loadouts. One of these, the Pro-4x option, was a specifically designed off-road package that turned the Titan into a more than useful off-road vehicle. The Titan also has a very effective 5.6 liter V8 engine that produces excellent torque.
The first 4x4 Bronco hit the trails in 1966 and between that year and 1977, proved to be a more than capable off-roader. Blessed with a turning circle of just 33.8 feet, thanks to a wheelbase of 92-inches, later models of the Bronco also included a Ford V8 engine with incredible torque.
Also known as the Bighorn, the Trooper was produced over two generations from 1981 to 2002. The off-road credentials of the Trooper are borne out by the fact that these models won a number of international off-road races, including the marathon section of the 1994 Paris-Dakar rally.
Northwestern Auto Parts Company, or Napco, was a company established in 1918 that specialized in making 4 wheel drive systems for vehicles. One of these projects was for Chevrolet pickups from 1942 to 1956. This gave the vehicle moderate off-road capabilities.
Produced between 1960 and 1999, the 454 was one of Chevrolet’s and GMC’s main pick-up truck models. It’s ability to handle tough off-road tracks greatly increased in 1989 when the new fourth generation model received a full independent front suspension.
Released between 1976 and 1986, Jeep’s CJ-7 was one of the most popular off-roaders available during those 10 years. It had a large, 93.5-inch wheelbase which coupled with a three-speed gearbox, meant the Jeep went places other 4x4s had trouble getting to. The top of the range CJ-7 was powered by a 304 cubic inch V8.
Largely acknowledged as one of the best off-roaders ever, the FJ40 Land Cruiser was produced between 1974 and 1993. And the best part? Well, the Cruiser was able to tackle the toughest terrain straight out the box, with little need for modifications.
Also known as the Super Scout II, this American off-roader was a direct competition to the Jeep CJ. Much like the Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser, the Safarai II could hit the trails with any modifications of any kind. It has a massive wheelbase – 106.5 inches – as well as a V-8 motor with a manual transmission.
The Power Wagon is one of the first 4x4 off-road vehicles and was produced in the States from the 1940s onwards and was originally based on trucks used by the US military. This vehicle was an excellent off-roader, so much so that the design changed little right until production stopped in 1970.
The ZR2 model of the Colorado makes this Chevy pickup one of the best off-roaders currently available. With larger tires, more ground clearance, better suspension and shock absorbers, the Colorado also benefits from the 390 pound-feet of torque generated by the 2.8-liter turbo-diesel engine.
The Ford Super Duty is an excellent choice as an off-roader, particularly when you might be pulling a heavy load or even hauling extra equipment. With a solid beam axle, it offers better axle articulation and has superior durability. Another plus is the ability to put on larger tires. The differential also locks the rear electronically which means the Super Duty handles even the toughest terrain. And then there is the 860 pounds/feet of torque cranked out by the 6.7-liter engine for the top of the range models.
The Cayenne, a luxury crossover SUV, certainly raised eyebrows when it was released in 2002. It produced a number of firsts for the company in that it was the first four-door vehicle ever produced and the first off-road machine designed and built by Porsche.
Not the cheapest option available, but you do get the sophistication of a Volkswagen along with some plus points that make this a decent off-roader while remaining a great driving vehicle. The Touareg has an excellent pedigree and is built on the same platform as both the Dakar-winning Touareg racer as well as the Porsche Cayenne.
A small off-road option, the Jimny has been produced by Suzuki since the 1970s. It offers either two-wheel or four-wheel drive and a range of power plant options with the 1.4 liter, the biggest. Look, a Jimny is not going to be able to take you on the toughest off-road tracks, but it’s fun and small and more than capable.
Also known as the Pajero in parts of the world, this Mitsubishi model has excellent off-road pedigree and won the Paris-Dakar rally on its third attempt in 1985. The current models are powered by a range of engines, including a 3.8 Liter V6.
A civilian version of the Humvee military vehicle, the Hummer H1 would then obviously be more than capable as an off-roader. And it is, but with limitations. In fact, some H1 owners went as far as changing out the standard 6.5-liter diesel engine and replacing it with something to provide more speed. Another disadvantage is that the H1 is a massive vehicle. You need a large, open off-road track for this behemoth.
With a bolt on frame body, the Armada is powered by a 5.6-liter V8 Nissan engine. This produces 390 horsepower and 401 pound/feet of torque. It offers a unique 4-wheel drive system that will only send power to the back wheels on flat surfaces. In off-road situations, all power is fed through the front wheels.
Produced by Japanese auto manufacturer, Mazda, since 2006, the BT-50 is related to the Ford Ranger. The current model comes with two power plant options, either a 2.2 liter or 3.3-liter diesel engine.
With its large interior, smooth ride and above-average off-roading abilities, the Range Rover is the perfect off-roader when partaking in the sport in a group. The stock Range Rover comes with a supercharged V6 but for a few dollars more, consider one of the two other supercharged V8 options.
Certainly one of Toyota’s better off-roaders, the 4Runner is powered by a 4.7-liter V8 engine. Not only is the 4Runner a very capable off-road machine, it has that excellent Toyota reliability. One negative, however, is the limited clearance which can be overcome by thoughtful, clever driving.
The Super Duty was first introduced into the pick-up market by Ford in 1999. Currently, it is in its fourth generation. The Super Duty has two engine options, a 6.2 liter V8 and a 6.7 liter diesel V8 producing 440 brake horsepower and 900 pounds/feet worth of torque.
The Sierra is geared towards off-roading in many ways. It features an excellent V8 power unit, has a differential that can be locked and also includes the Z71 off-road suspension. All of these combined give the Sierra a fun factor worth testing out on the beaten trails.
Produced between 1962 and 1971, the Jeep Gladiator was available in both a 4 wheel drive and rear wheel drive option. Obviously, the 4 wheel drive was far more capable off-road. Suspension options also varied with either a solid front axle or an independent front section. And power plant options changed a number of times through the years.
Blessed with excellent off-road capabilities, the Nissan Frontier entered the market in 1997 although it is known as the Navarra in many parts of the world. It has a range of petrol and diesel powerplants. Blistein shocks and a rear locking differential help it immensely when out on off-road trails.
You would not normally associate a luxury vehicle like a Lexus with some off-roading but don’t let the GX fool you. It is based on the same platform of two of Toyota’s excellent off-roading options, the 4Runner and the FJ Cruiser. The GX offers a dynamic suspension, crawl control and is powered by a big V8. It is certainly more than capable!
Subaru makes amazing performance cars noted for their incredible handling. So, how does their off-roader fair? Well, it’s pretty awesome. Not only is t a good value for the money, the Outback offers symmetrical all-wheel drive, excellent ground clearance, and an impressive power plant.
Wagoneers were produced for a period of 28 years, from 1963 to 1991. This was the first luxury 4x4 sold by the company. Even though it was a massive vehicle, the 4x4 performed admirably off-road and even won the Sno*Drift Rally of 1974.
Known for their sports cars, the LM002 was a massive departure for Lamborghini. It was built between 1986 and 1993 with 328 made. Pirelli was commissioned to make custom tires for the vehicle.
A great off-roader thanks to its super 4-wheel drive system, the Liberty is something that wants to be out on the trails -it is a Jeep after all. And it’s a looker to boot.
The H3 model of the Hummer was introduced in 2005 and is by far the smallest of the Hummer models. Three engine options were available for the H3 with most the powerful a 5.3-liter V8 which produced 300 brake horsepower.
First and foremost, the Suburban has an incredible legacy and was first introduced in 1935. Current models are capable off-roaders and they are powered by a 5.3-liter V8 engine coupled to a six-speed gearbox. This is a big vehicle, so will struggle on tighter off-road sections but it has ample ground clearance, around 8-inches and can handle pretty rocky terrain.
Almost instantly recognizable, the Willys Jeep was produced for American armed forces during World War II. Of course, after the war, Jeep went on to become a very successful commercial brand in its own right.
The generation 2 model of the Tacoma specifically is ranked by many as one of the top off-roaders ever made. Not only are they excellent in tough terrain but they are reliable, an important factor when you are far from the nearest mechanic when something goes wrong. One concern about the Tacoma is that the stock suspension is not as good as it could be and this is often the first thing that owners modify.
The Power Wagon uses some excellent ideas from its bigger brother, the heavy Duty Ram truck, including solid front and rear axles and a coil link suspension. It also uses a device called an Articulink to ensure tires are kept on the ground at all times in rough terrain while both the front and rear differential can be locked.
With a 4.6 liter engine, a central differential with the ability to lock, and some of the best visibility available, the 2004 Discovery II quickly became a popular off-roader. It was more than capable of taking on fairly rough terrain with any major modifications.
Not only an exceptional 4x4 off-roading vehicle but easy to drive and with tons of comfort, the Grand Cherokee Overland has large 18-inch wheels as standard. Two engine options are available, either a 2.4-liter producing 184 brake horsepower or a 3.2-liter V6 belting out 271 brake horsepower.
First released in 1948, without a doubt, the F-Series by Ford is the most iconic pick-up in U.S. motoring history. Over the past 30 years, the F-150 has outsold every other competitor each and every year. And it's not difficult to see why. Now a thoroughly modern brand, the F-150 keeps the incredible personality of its predecessors.
The Rebel combines comfort and off-road abilities thanks to its full-frame front suspension, a solid rear axle as well as air suspension all round. Not only can ride height be adjusted for the toughest terrain but it can benefit on the highway as well with lower gas mileage. The Rebel also has an excellent eight-speed gearbox.
The Silverado 1500 Z71 is an excellent off-roader, thanks mainly to it purpose-built off-road suspension, a locking differential and, of course, some V8 Chevrolet power on demand. The Z71 package can be added to any 1500 Silverado, turning this popular pickup into an off-road beast.
This Lexus SUV has been in production since 1995. Currently in its third generation, over the years the vehicle featured a number of components that have made it a more than capable off-roader. These include crawl control and an anti-locking system for multiple terrains and hill-start assists.
The Xterra has some excellent off-road credentials and comes standard with a two-speed transfer case, a rear locking differential as well as a boxed ladder frame. It is powered by a 4.0-liter V6 engine that produces 265 brake horsepower.