Overlanding is a unique form of outdoor adventure that involves traveling long distances to remote, under-explored locations. The essence of Overlanding lies in self-reliance, adventure, survival, and discovery. The journey can be challenging, involving rock crawling, wading through deep waters, slogging through mud, and crossing dry lake beds.
When it comes to Overlanding, having a dependable adventure vehicle is crucial. While it’s tempting to dream of a pricey off-road build or a fully-outfitted van, sometimes a cost-effective second-hand option with certain vital specs can be the best companion in your Overland journey.
Things to consider when looking for an Overlanding vehicle:
4WD: Four-wheel drive (4WD) is a must for tackling challenging terrains while still managing to provide a smooth drive. It’s beneficial if the 4WD system has a high range as well as a low range.
Ground Clearance: It varies based on the terrain you plan to tackle. Look for a beast with at least 8 inches of ground clearance for rough, rocky, or technical terrain. Ground clearance that falls in the 6 to 8 inch bracket should suffice if you mostly travel on mild dirt roads.
Reliability: During an overland expedition, the vehicle is often your major mode of transportation, and a reliable one is essential, especially when traveling to remote locations. Additionally, it’s helpful if the vehicle has easily available parts at local auto stores in case something breaks while you’re on the road.
Cargo Space: Luggage and gear are pillars of a smooth and enjoyable trip. A larger cargo space allows you to carry more stuff easily.
Compatible Tires: Upgrading tires that support driving through mud or rocks can significantly improve your vehicle’s grip on the trails. Investing in a great combination of these tires is a good idea.
Now that we know about Overlanding and what features should a suitable vehicle have, we are in a perfect position to list the top-rated overland vehicles.
1. Toyota 4Runner
This overland vehicle is now in its 5th generation. It has been a top choice for adventure enthusiasts since Toyota first released it in 1984. 4 x 4 drive with up to 4 passengers seating capacity makes this vehicle a formidable option as an overland beast.
A great thing about 4Runner is its reputation for dependability. You can get sufficient miles out of a used model with proper maintenance and service. Additionally, because of the 4Runner’s popularity, many aftermarket upgrades are available to fully customize your vehicle.
2. Land Cruiser:
If you’re searching for a more advanced option than the previous one, then Toyota has got you covered with its Land Cruiser. It takes all the great features present in 4Runner, combines it with new ones, and raises the bar. Depending on the generation you choose, you’ll likely get a more powerful engine, ample room (up to 8 passengers), and high-end finishes.
This SUV has a lineage that dates to the 1950s, an era where trucks for military purposes covered all the attention. Over the years, it’s been used in many incredible Overlanding adventures worldwide.
In 2021 Toyota announced its discontinuation of Land Cruiser for the US market due to the new emission regulations. Used vehicles could become highly sought after by overlanders, making them a worthy investment.
3. Jeep Wrangler:
This beast is a classic off-road vehicle that is perfect for off-landing. It is an expert at tackling rough terrain and has been around the market since 1987. Expert testing has established its off-road expertise firmly.
One thing that makes the Wrangler such a great Overlanding option is its utilitarian design. It boasts a stripped-down interior with removable panels. You can also modify and enhance it according to your needs, thanks to the broad horizon of aftermarket parts primarily available for this beauty.
In 2021, Jeep introduced a hybrid version called the 4XE, so you can even opt for a more environmentally-friendly Overlanding vehicle. Simply add some solar panels, and you’ll be ready to explore the world in a more sustainable way.
4. Land Rover Defender:
Experts have long considered the Defender 110 with the Defender 90 as prototypes for the most demanding and most versatile 4WDs. These trims have become iconic off-road vehicles, especially for safari drives. The older Defender models give a unique outlook when fully equipped with the latest features. However, the latest Land Rover Defender offers better safety features, greater reliability, and a more comfortable trip.
The latest Defender is in the market as both a four and two-door model. It combines the best features of the older model with modern technology. The spacious and luxurious SUV is comfortable inside and provides an equally comfortable trip on both road and off-road tracks. Additionally, you can also fold down the second row and create more room for passengers or luggage.
5. Land Rover Discovery:
It is considered the more refined relative of the Defender off-roader. This vehicle is more suited for cruising on rough terrains and tackling sharp off-road tracks. However, the 2023 variant merges the luxury and tech-packed spacious cabin with a variety of off-roading features.
The base-level Discovery S starts at $60,000, and for the 2023 model year, Land Rover is introducing a better Metropolitan Edition with a price tag of around $80,000, which arrives with a wealth of desirable features.
It has a built-in Terrain Response system. This system allows the driver to select from various driving modes that optimally configure the vehicle’s adjustable air suspension and traction for the current terrain, or it can automatically adapt based on a live driving response. The vehicle can also be equipped with a two-speed transfer case to further increase its off-road capabilities.
6.Mercedes Benz G Class:
G Wagon is an iconic SUV that has earned a reputation for luxury off-roading over its legendary history. Since its introduction, the G Wagon has been known as the best rugged, affordable, rugged Mercedes vehicle that money can buy while also offering the luxury and refinement expected from a Mercedes-Benz vehicle.
The G-Class is unique in its design, prioritizing power above aerodynamics while maintaining a luxurious interior. It finds its basis in the German military as a testament to its off-roading capabilities, symbolizing power, wealth, and, most importantly, capability.
It’s a no-nonsense, textbook off-roader that stands out among its competitors for its adept blend of performance, ability, and luxury. For off-roaders who are serious about their adventures, the G-class should top your list when considering a vehicle that can take you around all terrains while still being equally comfortable.
The Lexus GX460 is a luxury 4WD SUV that people generally overlook while finding a vehicle companion for their overland expedition. Nevertheless, it’s a capable vehicle that offers numerous same features as its Toyota counterparts. The GX460 has ample interior space with third-row seating, apart from its ability to haul gear, which makes it ideal for Overlanding trips.
Customers might complain of a higher price tag than the Toyota Land Cruiser, but they should consider that it offers plenty of the same reliable and off-road-ready features, with the added luxury and comfort of a smooth ride and quiet interior. This makes it a suitable option for both off-road adventures and highway driving. The older generation of GX470 also shares some similarities to the GX460 and may also be worth consideration.
8. Ford Bronco:
The Ford Bronco is an iconic SUV that has been the apple of the eye of Overlanding enthusiasts for many years. The sixth generation is the latest addition to the Bronco lineup that caught the public eye in 2021.
It seems affordable when you compare it to other options on this list. It also offers six separate trims. Each trim level corresponds to different intensity of overland driving. It ensures that every off-roader has something in the Bronco lineup to pique his interest.
In addition to the various trim levels, the Bronco can also be upgraded with heavy-duty aftermarket parts. If you prefer the classic look, you can also find used models of the original Ford Bronco from 1966 to 1996, which are often available at a lower price.
The Volkswagen Touareg, despite its luxurious appearance, is a formidable off-road vehicle known for its ability to tackle rugged terrain with ease. The awards it has won, such as Overlander’s ‘4WD of the Year’ and Motor Trend’s ‘Sport/Utility of the Year,’ serve as a testament to its capability.
Volkswagen has profusely used advanced technology such as articulated suspension and a sophisticated drive system. This makes the Touareg a top pick for true off-road enthusiasts. Additionally, its shared basic structure and floorplan with the Porsche Cayenne and its range of luxury features, such as a stereo system, climate control, and leather-wrapped steering wheel, make it an excellent option for those who value both off-road capability and comfort.
10. Mitsubishi Pajero (Mitsubishi Montero for US and Spain market):
The Pajero also referred to as the Montero or Shogun in some markets, has a long history of off-road success, making it a popular choice among overlanders. The SUV offers a good balance of off-road capability and on-road comfort. The Pajero has a solid reputation for durability, reliability, and a tremendous 4WD system. It also has a spacious interior that can seat up to seven passengers.
One of the best things about the Pajero is its availability of modification parts and upgrades. You can easily modify the Pajero to suit your Overlanding needs, from lift kits to winches to bull bars. The Pajero’s off-road capabilities are enhanced with its high-low range transfer case and its Super Select 4WD II system, allowing on-demand engagement of all four wheels. So, if you are tight on budget but not in the mood to compromise on the classics, this should top your list of all overland vehicles.
With the Mitsubishi Pajero, you’re getting a proven off-road champion that can handle the most challenging terrain and keep you and your passengers comfortable and safe on your adventures.
Now that we have looked at the best SUV options let’s move to the best overland trucks in the market. These are great options for people who want a top-notch experience and enjoy the overland trip to the fullest.
11. Ford Raptor:
This name needs no introduction in the automotive world. First glance at the vehicle gives the vibes of an F-22 Raptor Jet. The new Ford Raptor is in a league of its own. Ford has loaded it with 35-inch tires, which provide about 14 inches of wheel drive in front and even more in the rear, thanks to the newer five-link suspension that Ford has specially employed in the rear
The Ford Raptor had long been considered a truck primarily designed for desert racing and high-speed off-roading. However, the latest iteration of the Raptor has expanded its capabilities to include Overlanding as well. With improved technology, power options, and a large fuel tank range, the Raptor is now a well-rounded vehicle that can handle dune jumping and hardcore overland adventures. To top it off, Ford plans to release a V8-powered Raptor R next year, which promises to be even more powerful and extreme.
12. Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison:
Chevrolet has collaborated with American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) to generate a beast whom no one can lay eyes off. The ZR2 comes with all the features that an overland enthusiast can dream of. The five skid plates protect the engine oil pan, the fuel tank, the transfer case, and the front and rear locking differentials. AEV has come up with stamped steel bumpers on the front and back.
The ZR2 Bison also has colossal fender flares and 17×8-inch aluminum wheels, contributing to increased ground clearance and off-road performance. The front and rear locking electronic differentials and ground-breaking Multimatic DSSV dampers enable you to handle any terrain, from rough and uneven trails to deep mud and snow.
13. Toyota Tacoma:
Toyota Tacoma comes loaded with features that confer it the ability to withstand an overland expedition. This 4WD has a low-range transfer case, providing better surface grip and allowing for more control in off-road conditions.
The TRD (Toyota Racing Development) package comes with Bilstein shocks, skid plates, and an e-locking rear differential. All these components protect the undercarriage from getting damaged on rough terrains.
Some models offer more than 9 inches of ground clearance as well. The towing capacity is excellent, measuring 6,800 lbs., and the crawl control automatically manages the engine and brakes to maintain a low, steady speed. The one disadvantage of Tacoma is that it is more expensive than some of the other pickups in its class, but the Tacoma is worth its price because of its dependable and sturdy build quality.
14. Toyota Tundra:
Tundra is a reliable and robust choice for people who intend to take their Overlanding adventures to the next level. The presence of robust engine results in ample power and torque. It makes the truck ideal both for towing and for hauling heavy loads.
Tundra has a long wheelbase that is coupled with a 10.6 inches ground clearance. This killer combination ensures smooth rides over all kinds of terrain. The mileage is also exceptional, varying between 18-24 miles per liter. It dramatically cuts down the cost of your overland adventure.
15. Ford F-150:
F-150 is a full-size pickup truck that has always piqued the interest of overland enthusiasts. It offers an outstanding balance between capability and comfort, which makes it a versatile choice for all such adventures.
It has great power and towing capacity, and Ford has installed a powerful engine in this beast. Different variants are available based on engine power. These include a 3.3L V6 variant, a 2.7L EcoBoost V6 variant, a 5.0L V8 variant, and a 3.5L EcoBoost V6 variant. Customers can choose any of the beauties mentioned above based on how much they will push the vehicle to its limits during the overland drive.
The body consists of high-strength, military-grade aluminum alloy and a steel frame. This provides a solid base to handle all off-road trails. Drivers can use the Terrain Management System and choose between numerous drive modes, such as mud, sand, and rock. It optimizes the vehicle’s performance according to the terrain. The FX4 off-road package also comes with skid plates and Hill Descent Control. All these features make this truck a strong contender to be your partner on this expeditious journey.
16. GMC Sierra:
GMC Sierra comes with a variety of trims and options. This allows the customers to tailor the vehicle to their specific needs, whether they want to use the truck for towing heavy loads or off-roading.
The powerful and efficient engines give it a smooth ride over all terrains. The base model is a 4.3L V6, which is a powerhouse of torque and acceleration. But even if that adrenaline rush hasn’t got you pumping, buy the V8 option, which comes in 5.3L and 6.2L options.
The Sierra All-Terrain X package includes numerous off-road features, including all-terrain tires and lifted suspension. Hill descent control and Hill start assist also add to its significance as an overland vehicle. Bed space is ample, and you can easily fit in bed-liners and tie-downs to keep the gear secure. Different cab configurations add to the user-friendly nature of the truck. Overall, it is a great value-for-money companion on your journey.
17. Honda Ridgeline:
You don’t see many Honda vehicles making it to such lists. However, this one is an exception. Its unibody construction, coupled with independent suspension, provides a smooth ride on the pavement and equally excellent stability and handling on off-road patches. The truck has a spacious and well-equipped cabin that aids in long-distance trips and comfortable camping.
The bed trunk is a standout feature of the truck, and it alone is enough to pull customers from the competitors. The trunk is weather-sealed and lockable, adding an extra protection layer.
The ground clearance measures 7.8 inches, which is slightly less than what we see on the Hummer, but it is still higher than many other pickups on the market. AWD provides ample traction and a firm grip on uneven surfaces. You can also adjust the vehicle’s setting according to different terrains. Additionally, Honda’s reliability and known longevity will help you reach your destination and make the journey comfortable and safe.
RAM 1500 is built on a fully-boxed steel frame which gives it a durability that no other truck can offer. The 5.7L HEMI V* engine can produce up to 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque. This combination makes this truck a formidable option if your overland trip includes steep inclines and rugged terrain.
The RAM off-road package adds the usual trio of hill plates, hill descent control, and an e-locking rear differential to bump up the specs further. RAM air suspension allows the driver to adjust the truck’s height according to the terrain, further improving off-road performance.
Crab Crew Configuration provides ample space for adjusting gear along with sufficient seating space for the passengers. The truck has efficient mileage, which gives the driver peace of mind, alleviating range anxiety. And when you’re ready to set up camp for the night, the available multifunction tailgate with 60/40 split doors makes it easy to unload gear and get settled in.
Overland SUVs and Trucks are great, but Overland Vans allow more incredible travel options, terrain access, and a wider variety of camping facilities. Here are some vans/minivans that should have your attention.
19. Toyota Sienna:
It might not be the first choice of overland driving experts, but it is the best choice when you are traveling with your family. It is an excellent option for families and groups who want to take their Overlanding adventure to another level.
Sienna can easily accommodate up to 8 people along with all their gear and travel luggage. The combination of a 3.5L V6 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission confer it will plenty of power, a smoother ride, and more reasonable fuel economy. The driver-assist technologies help you easily cruise over rough terrain and steep inclines. The towing capacity is limited to 3500 pounds, but it is still enough for essential gear and luggage.
20. GMC Savana:
Unlike the Toyota Sienna, The GMC Savana is a full-size van that is more famous for industrial and commercial transport purposes. However, the presence of ample space and jaw-dropping towing ability make it an excellent choice for overland driving.
It provides 252.8 cubic feet of space, easily fitting all your luggage and gear with enough room to spare. The towing capacity is estimated at 10,000 pounds. It allows you to bring a boat or a trailer alongside.
The 4WD and heavy-duty suspension further establish its position as a formidable overland vehicle. Its large size and high ground clearance allow it to easily navigate tight trails or rocky terrains.
The technological features of this van make it seem like it is built especially for long-distance commutes. Rear-seat entertainment system, satellite radio, and rear-view camera keep you entertained throughout the journey. The GPS system keeps you on track. Overall, it is an excellent choice if you are thinking of a family expedition!
This article looked at some of the best Overland vehicle options available. We have listed Ten SUVs if you want an overland trip. But if you are with your friends or family, you should consider the eight trucks and two vans we have mentioned. You can also easily find various aftermarket modifications to enhance the performance of these beasts further.
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