(ISEECARS.COM) — Turn on your television for perhaps 20 minutes and chances are you’ll see at least one commercial for sport utility vehicles.

And chances are, in some portion of the commercial, they’ll show the SUV bounding over hills, through the desert, or speeding up to a mountain campsite.

And perhaps you think, “I’m getting an SUV. Maybe I’d like to do that stuff.”

And you can if you get the right SUV. But many of today’s SUVs are basically cars with SUV bodies – they lack the features to do even basic off-roading, and if you attempt some of the serious stuff they show on TV, these car-based versions could easily be damaged beyond repair.

That’s because the vast majority of sport-utes never (intentionally) leave the pavement, yet there remain plenty of SUV customers who take the first word in SUV – sport – seriously. For true off-pavement enthusiasts we’re providing this guide to the best SUVs for off-roading.

First, you’ll need an SUV that has either all-wheel-drive or, for the more rustic stuff, four-wheel-drive. AWD vehicles are typically front-wheel-drive in most circumstances, with some power going to the rear wheels when needed, such as on slippery pavement. AWD vehicles, with some exceptions, are not as well equipped for off-roading as 4WD SUVs. Those are mostly called “crossovers” and that’s important because non-crossover, 4WD vehicles are more rugged. They utilize primarily rear-wheel-drive power distribution until you shift them into four-wheel-drive, when you anticipate either rough weather or an off-roading opportunity. 

4WD vehicles are also more likely to feature dedicated all-terrain tires, a locking rear differential, and advanced off-road driving modes that include features like hill descent control and crawl control. While several automakers produce extremely capable off-road SUVs, you may have to select a specific trim level to get all of the best off-road features.   

We’ve compiled a list of vehicles that, ranked in order of off-road capability, will ensure some S in your SUV. Those lower on this list are best used for basic, cow-trailing-type off-roading. You’ll need something higher in our rankings to ford streams and plow through serious mudholes.

Keep in mind, too, that some of the top-ranked off-roaders may ride more roughly, deliver lower fuel efficiency, and forgo some common luxury components you’ll find lower on the list, all while generating more tire and wind noise than you may find acceptable. You should carefully consider your wants and needs to better find a happy medium between on-road refinement and off-road prowess.

The Top 28 SUVs for Off-Roading

1. Jeep Wrangler

iSeeCars Quality Score: 9.2

  • Reliability Score: 8.5
  • Retained Value Score: 9.8
  • Safety Score: Not Available

Average New Car Price: $42,754

Average 3-Year-Old Used Car Price: $40,178

The Jeep Wrangler is the king of the off-road adventure, though it finally has competition with the introduction of the Ford Bronco. Unlike the Bronco, the Wrangler has “straight” axles like most pickup trucks. Take a pencil and hold it horizontally and press down on one end – the other end moves up. That’s how a straight axle works; it’s all connected. A vehicle with independent suspension is just that – one side of the suspension works independently of the other side. The Wrangler is the only new SUV sold with a straight front axle, which works great off-road, but will provide a slightly rougher ride on pavement. The Wrangler’s construction is body-on-frame, and it comes in two- and four-door models. Power is from a four- or six-cylinder engine, with an optional Hemi V-8 also offered. A plug-in hybrid has just been added to the model line, providing instant torque and quiet off-roading when desired. Models such as the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and the Sahara contain all the off-road equipment you will ever need, including the all-important tow hooks, front skid plates and rear skid plates, and there’s a wide range of additional off-road equipment offered by Jeep dealers.

2. Ford Bronco

iSeeCars Quality Score: Coming Soon

  • Reliability Score: Coming Soon
  • Retained Value Score: 6.6
  • Safety Score: Not Available

Average New Car Price: $51,874

The long-awaited, new-for-2022 Ford Bronco takes a model name from the 1970s, and despite its traditional, angular body style, the Bronco is entirely up-to-date. It is aimed squarely at the Jeep Wrangler, and its presence in the market should generate some genuine competition between the two off-road kings. A turbo four-cylinder is standard; a turbo V6 engine is optional. Like the Jeep, the Bronco is offered in two- and four-door configurations; and like the Jeep, the roof and doors come completely off. Plenty of safety features are standard and more are optional. As with the Jeep, the price can rise quickly according to the features you want. And also like the Jeep, we predict that the Bronco’s resale value will be very high. Thanks in part to the independent front suspension, the on-road ride is better than the Jeep’s, but nowhere near as comfortable as some of the less aggressive SUVs. The Bronco is not to be confused with the smaller, Escape-based Bronco Sport; check it out at number 28.

3. Toyota 4Runner

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.6

  • Reliability Score: 8.8
  • Retained Value Score: 9.0
  • Safety Score: 8.0

Average New Car Price: $46,698

Average 3-Year-Old Used Car Price: $45,844

The midsize four-door Toyota 4Runner is another of the comparative old-school SUVs that are capable of some serious off-roading, especially depending on the model you chose, and whether you partake of dealer-installed optional equipment such as larger tires and wheels. Compared to the Wrangler and Bronco, 4Runner customers give up a bit of off-road capability in return for Toyota’s legendary dependability. Power is from a V-6; standard is a part-time four-wheel-drive system, with the Limited model offering a four-wheel-drive system that can safely remain engaged.

4. Land Rover Defender

iSeeCars Quality Score: Coming Soon

  • Reliability Score: Coming Soon
  • Retained Value Score: 8.1
  • Safety Score: Not Available

Average New Car Price: $76,568

Average 3-Year-Old Used Car Price: $81,960

The boxy, hard-to-get Land Rover Defender is basically the European version of the Jeep Wrangler and Ford Bronco. Engine choices are a turbocharged four-cylinder, a six-cylinder and a supercharged V-8. It’s possible to option up a Defender to well over $100,000, so be careful out there. It’s available as a two- or four-door and can carry as many as seven people. The Land Rover Defender is an excellent off-roader while being nimble and relatively refined on road.

5. Land Rover Range Rover

iSeeCars Quality Score: 7.8

  • Reliability Score: 8.5
  • Retained Value Score: 7.1
  • Safety Score: Not Available

Average New Car Price: $118,526

Average 3-Year-Old Used Car Price: $110,488

One of the best off-road vehicles built anywhere is one that virtually never goes off-road. The muscular Land Rover brand ambassador has maintained its off-road chops while turning into one of Hollywood’s more desirable on-pavement rides. The freshened 2022 model is the first time the Land Rover Range Rover is offered with third-row seating. Another feature is four-wheel-steering, which allows the rear wheels to turn in and out slightly, trimming the turning circle considerably and making it easier to maneuver. Power is from a hybrid six-cylinder and a supercharged V-8, with an electric version coming in the near future. If you can afford it, and can afford to get it filthy and perhaps dented and scratched up a bit, the Range Rover will take you anywhere you want to go.

6. Toyota Land Cruiser

iSeeCars Quality Score: 9.2

  • Reliability Score: 9.8
  • Retained Value Score: 8.5
  • Safety Score: Not Available

Average New Car Price: $91,276

Average 3-Year-Old Used Car Price: $91,976

After 60 years, the heavy-duty Toyota Land Cruiser has been discontinued in the U.S. for the 2021 model year, though it is still sold in many overseas markets. We include it here because it’s sort of a poor-man’s Range Rover, though it’s quite expensive on its own, nearing $90,000 at the end, and maintaining stellar resale value. Luxurious, but never over-the-top like a Range Rover, the Land Cruiser has a reputation as being nearly bulletproof. The thirsty V-8 delivered a dismal 13 mpg city, 17 mpg highway, but had plenty of low-end power to tackle most any terrain, even though it weighed in at nearly 6,000 pounds. Two- or three-row seating was offered. We may see a brand-new Land Cruiser soon, as its corporate twin, the Lexus LX, remains on the market with a thorough redesign and V-6 power.

7.  Jeep Grand Cherokee

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.3

  • Reliability Score: 8.4
  • Retained Value Score: 7.7
  • Safety Score: 8.8

Average New Car Price: $44,700

Average 3-Year-Old Used Car Price: $41,763

Long one of the best compromises between good off-road capability and street smarts, the new-for-2022 Grand Cherokee maintains that tradition. Engines are a six-cylinder or a V-8, plus a turbocharged four-cylinder hybrid model. Rear-wheel-drive is standard, but there are three four-wheel-drive configurations available. True off-roaders might want to select the Trailhawk model, which offers air suspension and sway-bar disconnect. It’s a pretty fancy vehicle to take rock-crawling, but if you ask a properly-equipped Jeep Grand Cherokee to do it, the answer will be “Yes.” Worth noting: The previous-generation Grand Cherokee is also available alongside the redesigned model as the Grand Cherokee WK.

8. Mercedes-Benz G-Class

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.5

  • Reliability Score: 8.2
  • Retained Value Score: 8.7
  • Safety Score: Not Available

Average New Car Price: $175,985

Average 3-Year-Old Used Car Price: $212,999

Perhaps the strangest vehicle on the list and one of the priciest ones, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class has found favor with celebrities such as the Kardashians, who – like most owners – are unlikely to do any off-roading anywhere, ever. Known also as the Geländewagen, the G-Class has so many off-roading features you’ll be pulling out the owner’s manual to see which button does what. Powered by a twin-turbo V-8, the G-Wagen has plenty of acceleration and a very good ride despite its militaristic styling. A premium ride, similar to Land Rover’s Range Rover, the G-Class 550 model starts at about $135,000.

9. Lexus LX

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.9

  • Reliability Score: 8.8
  • Retained Value Score: 8.9
  • Safety Score: Not Available

Average New Car Price: $100,382

Average 3-Year-Old Used Car Price: $90,631

As mentioned in the Toyota Land Cruiser summary, the Lexus LX has long been a dressed-up Land Cruiser. The Land Cruiser was discontinued with the 2021 model, but a 2022 Lexus LX 600 has emerged completely redesigned with a twin-turbo six-cylinder replacing the V-8. Still a traditional body-on-frame configuration with a straight rear axle, there’s nothing old-school about the latest advanced technology throughout the LX’s plush cabin, making it ideal for a Saturday night on the town, followed by some dedicated off-roading on Sunday.

10. Land Rover Discovery

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.0

  • Reliability Score: 8.4
  • Retained Value Score: 7.5
  • Safety Score: Not Available

Average New Car Price: $70,824

Average 3-Year-Old Used Car Price: $55,956

A turbocharged four-cylinder engine is standard in the Land Rover Discovery, but off-roaders may prefer the turbocharged six-cylinder engine for its low-end torque. There’s an optional air suspension that will increase comfort and performance on- and off-road.

11. Land Rover Range Rover Sport

iSeeCars Quality Score: Coming Soon

  • Reliability Score: Coming Soon
  • Retained Value Score: 7.8
  • Safety Score: Not Available

Average New Car Price: $95,020

Average 3-Year-Old Used Car Price: $88,327

Sort of the sportier little brother to the Range Rover, the Land Rover Range Rover Sport can be equipped with plenty of off-road equipment, including optional low-range gearing. Power is from a six-cylinder engine or a supercharged V-8. A third-row seat is an option.

12. Nissan Armada

iSeeCars Quality Score: 7.7

  • Reliability Score: 8.5
  • Retained Value Score: 6.7
  • Safety Score: 8.0

Average New Car Price: $63,345

Average 3-Year-Old Used Car Price: $47,077

Nissan has seldom touted the off-road capability of its big Nissan Armada, but properly equipped, it can get the job done. The first thing you need is its full-time four-wheel-drive, an option for the SUV that comes standard with rear-wheel-drive. A two-speed transfer case and hill start assist are part of the four-wheel-drive package. We like its big V-8 that has plenty of torque and horsepower to handle most any challenge, on-road or off. The old saw, “It can pass anything but a gas pump” applies here – the four-wheel-drive Armada is thirsty.

13. Infiniti QX80

iSeeCars Quality Score: 7.5

  • Reliability Score: 7.5
  • Retained Value Score: 6.8
  • Safety Score: 8.0

Average New Car Price: $78,964

Average 3-Year-Old Used Car Price: $59,721

The luxurious INFINITI QX80 is the dressed-up twin to the Nissan Armada, so much of the Armada’s description applies here, including the fact that four-wheel-drive and the computer-controlled transfer case comes as an option. There’s an old-school vibe to the Armada and the QX80, which is not a criticism.

14. Nissan Pathfinder

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.4

  • Reliability Score: 8.3
  • Retained Value Score: 6.8
  • Safety Score: 10.0

Average New Car Price: $42,357

Average 3-Year-Old Used Car Price: $30,225

There’s nothing old-school about the Nissan Pathfinder, thanks to a redesign for 2022. The Pathfinder, properly equipped, has always been a capable performer off-road, and the new model is no different. Smaller than the Armada, the Pathfinder still offers a third-row seat, and is powered by a six-cylinder engine instead of the Armada’s V-8. Four-wheel-drive is an option.

15. Toyota Sequoia

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.7

  • Reliability Score: 9.4
  • Retained Value Score: 8.0
  • Safety Score: Not Available

Average New Car Price: $64,466

Average 3-Year-Old Used Car Price: $64,510

Full-time four-wheel-drive is an option for Toyota’s big three-row SUV, which is powered by a healthy, and thirsty, V-8 engine. If the Toyota Sequoia feels a little dated, that’s because it is – an all-new model is coming for 2023. Instead of the V-8, the new third-generation Sequoia will be powered by a twin-turbo V-6 hybrid powertrain. The four-wheel-drive system is part-time and controlled through a transfer case.

16. Jeep Grand Cherokee L

iSeeCars Quality Score: Coming Soon

  • Reliability Score: Coming Soon
  • Retained Value Score: 8.5
  • Safety Score: 9.5

Average New Car Price: $51,878

Jeep has never had an SUV large enough to seat three rows of passengers comfortably, so it created one by extending the Grand Cherokee by nearly a foot, adding considerably to the interior space. All the off-road componentry available in the Grand Cherokee is available in the L version, but the extra length will make the L a bit more challenging to drive on tight trails.

17. Jeep Wagoneer

iSeeCars Quality Score: Coming Soon

  • Reliability Score: Coming Soon
  • Retained Value Score: 7.7
  • Safety Score: Coming Soon

Average New Car Price: $72,845

As the Jeep Grand Cherokee L is the company’s solution for three-row seating, the Wagoneer and premium Grand Wagoneer answer the need for something to counter vehicles like the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, with the Grand Wagoneer aimed solidly at the Cadillac Escalade. Being Jeeps, the Wagoneers have some sophisticated off-road equipment, but they’re too big for serious off-roading. Power isn’t a problem, though, as both come with muscular V-8s.

18. Subaru Outback

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.8

  • Reliability Score: 8.4
  • Retained Value Score: 8.0
  • Safety Score: 10.0

Average New Car Price: $36,679

Average 3-Year-Old Used Car Price: $34,433

One of the most capable car-based crossovers, the Subaru Outback doesn’t have the ground clearance of some of the more capable SUVs, but there is a new Wilderness model that sits up higher and is more adept at cow-trailing than the standard model. With the optional turbocharged four-cylinder, the Outlander can hold its own, and still manages to serve as a daily grocery-getter and car-pooler.

19. GMC Yukon/Yukon XL

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.1

  • Reliability Score: 8.7
  • Retained Value Score: 7.5
  • Safety Score: 8.0

Average New Car Price: $73,293

Average 3-Year-Old Used Car Price: $59,353

GMC’s Yukon models, essentially the same as the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, are traditional body-on-frame vehicles, and as such are inherently more rugged than a unibody crossover. With optional four-wheel-drive, the Yukons have the power and adequate ground clearance for off-roading, but their weight and length makes them less nimble than smaller, lighter competitors. A new independent rear suspension helps smooth out the on-road ride and handling, and V-8 power makes serious towing possible.

20. Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban

Chevrolet Tahoe

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.2

  • Reliability Score: 8.7
  • Retained Value Score: 7.8
  • Safety Score: 8.0

Average New Car Price: $64,551

Average 3-Year-Old Used Car Price: $54,766

Chevrolet Suburban

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.0

  • Reliability Score: 8.8
  • Retained Value Score: 7.2
  • Safety Score: 8.0

Average New Car Price: $67,883

Average 3-Year-Old Used Car Price: $57,792

What’s said above applies to the Tahoe and the longer Chevrolet Suburban. As with the Yukon XL, the Suburban’s extra length – nearly 226 inches total – makes tight, curving off-road trails a challenge, as does the weight of nearly three tons. The Z71 package is the best choice for an off-road capable version.

21. Ford Explorer

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.5

  • Reliability Score: 8.4
  • Retained Value Score: 7.1
  • Safety Score: 10.0

Average New Car Price: $46,563

Average 3-Year-Old Used Car Price: $43,243

The Ford Explorer started out life as a smaller, more agile off-road-capable vehicle, but grew into the present alternative to the family sedan, leaving off-road pretenses behind. That said, the Timberline model has such off-road accouterments as steel skid plates, a terrain management system and a limited-slip rear differential that make the Explorer a genuine trail boss. Four-wheel-drive is optional on the Explorer. The standard engine is a four-cylinder EcoBoost.

22. Ford Expedition

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.6

  • Reliability Score: 8.8
  • Retained Value Score: 6.8
  • Safety Score: 10.0

Average New Car Price: $66,814

Average 3-Year-Old Used Car Price: $61,716

The much larger Ford Expedition, like the GMC Yukon, is too big for confidence-inspiring off-road trails, but the turbocharged six-cylinder engine has the power to make it work. That said, the Expedition, like the Explorer, has a Timberline package with items such as a “Rough Road Suspension” that helps off-road handling and ground clearance.

23. Hyundai Palisade

iSeeCars Quality Score: Coming Soon

  • Reliability Score: Coming Soon
  • Retained Value Score: 6.8
  • Safety Score: 10.0

Average New Car Price: $45,911

Average 3-Year-Old Used Car Price: $44,893

The rear-drive Hyundai Palisade, like its stablemate, the Kia Telluride, is offered in all-wheel-drive, but until now makes little mention ofoff-road capability. That changes with the Palisade’s XRT model, which has 20-inch tires, “skid plate design elements” and other features to at least look like it’s ready to go to the mountains.

24. Dodge Durango

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.1

  • Reliability Score: 8.5
  • Retained Value Score: 7.7
  • Safety Score: 8.0

Average New Car Price: $49,264

Average 3-Year-Old Used Car Price: $41,300

The Dodge Durango has never touted its off-road ability, leaving corporate cousin Jeep to that role. But with optional four-wheel-drive, the Durango, which shares a platform with the Jeep Grand Cherokee, could be called upon for occasional off-roading, though it doesn’t offer a specific model for it. Six-cylinder- and V-8-power are offered. New Car Price Range: $34,320-$66,275

25. Cadillac Escalade

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.3

  • Reliability Score: 9.4
  • Retained Value Score: 7.5
  • Safety Score: 8.0

Average New Car Price: $98,638

Average 3-Year-Old Used Car Price: $75,412

The full-size Cadillac Escalade luxury SUV has a lot in common with the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, but its more elegant nature would preclude getting too down ‘n dirty. It would not preclude life on a horse ranch, with the ability to drive from one pasture to another. A big V-8 is standard, and ground clearance is adequate.

26. Volvo XC60

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.2

  • Reliability Score: 7.9
  • Retained Value Score: 6.8
  • Safety Score: 10.0

Average New Car Price: $53,538

Average 3-Year-Old Used Car Price: $43,896

Designed for an “all-road experience,” the Volvo XC60 has inadequate ground clearance for lively off-roading, but with all-wheel-drive, it can certainly hand23le muddy, rutted roads with little problem. Hill descent control is offered.

27. Porsche Cayenne

iSeeCars Quality Score: 8.4

  • Reliability Score: 8.4
  • Retained Value Score: 8.3
  • Safety Score: Not Available

Average New Car Price: $126,711

Average 3-Year-Old Used Car Price: $108,113

A dark horse here, the Porsche Cayenne was partly developed in off-road situations that make it more capable there than you’d assume from a vehicle with a “Porsche” badge. With air suspension, there’s a healthy maximum air suspension of 9.6 inches, and the approach and departure angles are in the ballpark of serious off-roaders. That said, few are likely to take the Porsche off road, but it offers genuine capability if needed.

28. Ford Bronco Sport

iSeeCars Quality Score: Coming Soon

  • Reliability Score: Coming Soon
  • Retained Value Score: 7.3
  • Safety Score: 10.0

Average New Car Price: $33,093

The Ford Bronco Sport is an Escape-based SUV, a little brother to the bigger and very off-road-capable Bronco. But it can be a good off-roader in its own right, albeit in more delicate situations. It has, Ford says, “standard 4×4 capability, G.O.A.T. Modes (Goes Over Any Type of Terrain) and a HOSS suspension system, [so] Bronco Sport is your gateway to the great outdoors.” There’s 8.8 inches of ground clearance on the Badlands model with the optional off-road tires. 

Bottom Line:

Not all SUVs are created equal when it comes to off-road capability. Whether you want the occasional off-road adventure, or if going off the beaten path is part of your daily driving pursuits, there is a capable SUV to suit your needs.

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This article, 28 Best SUVs for Off-Roading, originally appeared on iSeeCars.com.

(Information from iSeeCars.com via the Nexstar Media Wire)