NEWS

Best Cars for Off-Roaders 2016

By Mark Williams

December 29, 2015

To trailblaze, we choose from SUVs and pickups, and consider dirt-crawling prowess, a pliable suspension and a comfortable interior.

16Land-Rover_Range-Rover_OEM.jpg 2016 Land Rover Range Rover; | Manufacturer image

Best Car for Off-Roaders

Always a strong contender in our luxury and off-road categories, the Land Rover Range Rover has off-road technology that puts the Range Rover in a class by itself. It offers a choice of supercharged V-6 or V-8 gasoline engines as well as a new 3.0-liter turbo-diesel. The fast-reacting adjustable and active air-ride suspension is coupled with a terrain select transfer case that allows the driver to choose the type of weather or obstacles anticipated; we like that each terrain select choice adjusts throttle response, traction control and transmission shifting to keep everyone safe. Great ground clearance and excellent traction all wrapped up in a luxury interior. What more could anyone want?
 

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16Jeep_Renegade_OEM.jpg 2016 Jeep Renegade; | Manufacturer image

Best Deal for Off-Roaders

This baby SUV has been surprising quite a few people with its function and capability. Many know that it's the first Jeep to be built outside the U.S. (it's built in Italy), and it shares much of its platform with the Fiat 500X. But did you know that the Renegade Trailhawk feels quite large inside and offers a huge amount of storage space? Like most other Jeeps, the sophisticated all-wheel-drive system and flexible continuously variable transmission effectively offers a 20:1 1st gear ratio for good slow-go maneuverability. Jeep engineers have modified just about every piece of this chassis and suspension to make it the most trail capable vehicle in the micro-SUV segment.

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Used
2016 Jeep Renegade Latitude
60,483 mi.
$18,883 $449 price drop
Good Deal
Home Delivery
Virtual Appointments

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16Land-Rover_Evoque_OEM.jpg 2016 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque; | Manufacturer image

Recommended for Off-Roaders

The smallest of the Range Rover offerings, the Evoque offers a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system and comes in either two-door or four-door configurations. We like the 8-inch touch-screen and seemingly endless number of multimedia choices, but the single feature we want to see on all crossovers and SUVs is the gesture-controlled power tailgate that will make clumsy loading of groceries and boxed packages a thing of the past. We also like the newly standard safety equipment on the little crossover, including the drowsiness monitor and auto emergency braking. Our only complaint is the price, consistently pushing above its direct competitors.

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15Range-Rover-Sport_Awards.jpg 2015 Land Rover Range Rover Sport | Manufacturer image

Recommended for Off-Roaders

A clear step below the more expensive and larger Range Rover, the Land Rover Range Rover Sport is a key player in the three-row, seven-passenger luxury segment. It offers a tremendous amount of sports-car-like dynamics for those who want their off-highway-capable SUVs to out-carve a pony car or two on the race track or running from stoplight to stoplight. Offering a new 550-horsepower, supercharged V-8 (called the SVR), the new Range Rover Sport will also allow buyers to choose the same turbo-diesel 3.0-liter V-6 (rated at 254 hp and 440 pounds-feet of torque) that the bigger brother Range Rover offers.

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16Mercedes-Benz_OEM.jpg 2016 Mercedes-Benz G-Class | Manufacturer image

Recommended for Off-Roaders

The perennial off-road favorite with the sizable trust fund class, the G-Class (or G-Wagen, as it is often called) is not only a retro-looking top-dollar offering for those wanting one of the most capable 4x4s anywhere, but the chassis and suspension are almost 40 years old; many of its engineering roots date back to the late 1970s. Although entrenched in the luxury segment due to its substantial price tag (ranging from $120,000 to $220,000), the platform and ride quality are more like a sturdy pickup than a premium sedan. If you can afford it, we suggest opting of the twin-turbo V-12 AMG engine.

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Used
2016 Mercedes-Benz G-Class G 550
64,242 mi.
$87,995
Fair Deal
Home Delivery
Virtual Appointments
Used
2016 Mercedes-Benz G-Class G 550
76,460 mi.
Not Priced
Home Delivery
Virtual Appointments

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16Subaru_XV-Crosstrek_OEM.jpg 2016 Subaru Crosstrek; | Manufacturer image

Recommended for Off-Roaders

The Crosstrek is unchanged for 2016, but it's one of our favorite players in this bad weather/bad terrain category; its lightweight and quick throttle feel make it fun to drive. It was the winner of our first-ever Subcompact SUV Challenge. This is the first year it will get a hybrid variant, but we'd opt for the 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder gas engine because it offers good fuel economy at a reasonable cost. As an off-roader this might not be the best choice, but enough ground clearance, good tire traction and the super-smart Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive make this one of our favorite crossover choices when heading into a tough winter storm.

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Used
2016 Subaru Crosstrek 2.0i Premium
62,920 mi.
$20,999
Good Deal | $391 under
Used
2016 Subaru Crosstrek 2.0i Premium
56,122 mi.
$22,750
Good Deal
Home Delivery
Virtual Appointments

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16Subaru_Outback_OEM.jpg 2016 Subaru Outback; | Manufacturer image

Recommended for Off-Roaders

We've always had a soft spot for wagons, appreciating their flexible capabilities, comfortable ride and solid amount of cargo area (which is especially great if you have dogs), and the Outback has been one of our all-time favorites. Certainly not designed for rutted or rocky mountain trails, the all-wheel-drive system remains one of the smartest, fastest-acting traction systems we've experienced. Although mostly unchanged for 2016 (redesigned last year), the steering setup has been retuned along with the suspension to offer a smoother ride. The Outback now offers the optional EyeSight safety system, which includes lane keeping and collision warning assistance.

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Used
2016 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited
50,398 mi.
$23,650 $300 price drop
Good Deal
Home Delivery
Virtual Appointments
Used
2016 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited
55,000 mi.
$24,261
Good Deal
Home Delivery
Virtual Appointments

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16Toyota_LandCruiser_OEM.jpg 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser; | Manufacturer image

Recommended for Off-Roaders

Although a longtime favorite of the hardcore off-roading community, we've found the Land Cruiser heavy and sluggish, due in large part to its massive size and overbuilt frame. Yet, somehow, the interior manages to feel smaller than you would expect. The big change this year is the addition of a new eight-speed transmission and a host of new safety and convenience features that have worked their way down from its more stylish twin brother, the Lexus LX. Other changes include a 9-inch touch-screen multimedia center, pedestrian detection and a rear-seat entertainment system with two 10-inch video monitors.

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16Toyota_TRDPro_Tundra_OEM.jpg 2016 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro; | Manufacturer image

Recommended for Off-Roaders

The only pickup truck on the list, the Tundra TRD Pro offers a new high-performance suspension and unique interior trim package design for anyone wanting to escape city life in favor of a remote desert. The package includes bigger wheels and tires, unique (and slightly lifted) front and rear springs, four Bilstein high-performance dual-reservoir shock absorbers, a unique retro-style front grille and the TRD Pro name stamped directly into the bedsides. We've spent a lot of time with the TRD Pro and find it to be one of the best factory-offered off-road packages available. Even so, its the interior features and quality details are in desperate need of an upgrade.

Shop the 2016 Toyota Tundra near you

Used
2016 Toyota Tundra SR5:
101,897 mi.
$29,715
Good Deal
Home Delivery
Virtual Appointments
Used
2016 Toyota Tundra SR5
56,161 mi.
$37,495
Good Deal
Hot Car
Home Delivery
Virtual Appointments

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16Volkswagen_Touareg_OEM.jpg 2016 Volkswagen Touareg; | Manufacturer image

Recommended for Off-Roaders

Excluding Volkswagen's issues with diesel and emissions compliance, the Touareg is a surprisingly capable off-road vehicle when optioned correctly. The problem is, in order to make it a top performer in the backcountry, you need to spend a lot of extra cash, which includes an adjustable set of telescoping shock absorbers that will raise it to an appropriate height when needed. The other problem is that as the shocks rise, they get stiffer, offering a more punishing ride — not something you want on a bumpy trail.

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Used
2016 Volkswagen Touareg VR6
55,158 mi.
$29,718
Good Deal
Home Delivery
Virtual Appointments
Used
2016 Volkswagen Touareg TDI Lux
67,949 mi.
$36,495 $500 price drop
Great Deal | $2,864 under

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