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Top Picks for Off Roaders

Getting to your favorite campground often requires some trailblazing — and for many drivers, that's half the fun. We looked at SUVs and pickups that will take owners off the beaten path and then some. Then came the subjective considerations, such as dirt-crawling prowess, a pliable suspension and a comfortable interior. Because many of these cars are not crash-tested, they are not drawn from our list of Best Bets.

 Best New Car for Off Roaders
2015 Land Rover Range Rover
Starting MSRP $84,420

The short- and long-wheelbase Land Rover Range Rover is packed with class-leading capabilities and technologies, not the least of which is an entire body and chassis made from high-strength aluminum. Other favorite details include a choice of supercharged engines (one a 3.0-liter V-6 and the other a 5.0-liter V-8) — the key to its luxurious ride and excellent on- and off-road performance — an active four-corner airbag suspension that gives the vehicle unsurpassed off-road ground clearance and its sports-car-like cornering capability. We know this is the most expensive player in the field, but you get what you pay for.
   
 
 Best Deal for Off Roaders
2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek
Starting MSRP TBA

We've always had a soft spot for Subarus, but we've liked the look and feel of the XV Crosstrek from the outset. Starting at just less than $23,000 and offering a smart, capable all-wheel-drive system, the Crosstrek may look like an average compact wagon, but its elevated stance (with more than 8 inches of ground clearance) and the 2.0-liter flat-four make the Crosstrek a fun-to-drive surprise. We liked both the five-speed manual and paddle-shifting continuously variable automatic transmissions. Inside, there's plenty of passenger room but the trade-off comes in the form of less cargo space behind the rear seats.
   
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Suggestions for Off Roaders
2015 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque  Recommended for Off Roaders Land Rover Range Rover Evoque (2015)
Starting MSRP $42,025

In the world of high-tech powertrains, the Range Rover Evoque has one of the smartest and most adaptable drive systems. It invisibly shifts from front- to all-wheel drive, as well as locking up the rear axle when needed.
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2015 Land Rover Range Rover Sport  Recommended for Off Roaders Land Rover Range Rover Sport (2015)
Starting MSRP $64,275

The Range Rover Sport has an impressive list of 4x4 technologies; however, it's almost as if too much sport was tuned into this SUV and not enough of Land Rover's hallmark luxury feel.
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2015 Mercedes-Benz G-Class  Recommended for Off Roaders Mercedes-Benz G-Class (2015)
Starting MSRP $116,325

In the world of serious off-roading, there is probably no other vehicle with a longer tradition of handling abuse (with bulletproof live axles and locking differentials), but many of those same strengths rely on 40-year-old technology and boxy, retro styling.
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2015 Nissan Xterra  Recommended for Off Roaders Nissan Xterra (2015)
Starting MSRP $26,595

To its credit, Nissan does a great job of making no-nonsense, rugged off-roaders. The Xterra uses a traditional ladder frame, a powerful 4.0-liter V-6 and offers a pretty good PRO-4X off-road package with a locking rear differential.
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2015 Nissan Frontier  Recommended for Off Roaders Nissan Frontier (2015)
Starting MSRP $26,285

Imagine the Xterra with a pickup bed and a much less refined and less comfortable interior — that's the Frontier. Long overdue for a remodel, it offers plenty of rugged capability at a decent price.
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2015 Subaru Forester  Recommended for Off Roaders Subaru Forester (2015)
Starting MSRP $23,045

The Forester has been one of our favorite choices each summer when in need of a family camping getaway. We like that Subaru has added a turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 250 horsepower and 258 pounds-feet of torque.
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2015 Toyota Tundra  Recommended for Off Roaders Toyota Tundra (2015)
Starting MSRP $32,560

Without the Ford Raptor this year, the title for best full-size pickup off-road package goes to the Tundra and its all-new TRD Pro trim. Amazing shocks, suspension tuning, and an aggressive wheel and tire combination round out this unique trim level.
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2015 Volvo XC70  Recommended for Off Roaders Volvo XC70 (2015)
Starting MSRP $37,825

A longtime favorite for bad-weather driving, we've liked the Volvo XC70 for its sport-wagon capabilities, aggressive looks and quick-reacting all-wheel-drive system. The electronic traction control and Haldex differential are just about the best in the segment.
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