The 12 Best Off-Road Vehicles You Can Buy

Forget about cushy crossover and luxury pickup trucks. We're here for the toughest, more capable off-road trucks and SUVs money can buy.

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GMC

It is possible that 2019 will be the best year yet for truck fans. The best new pickups and SUVs combine long-travel suspension with luxurious interiors, and some are putting out more than 500 hp. Here are our favorite rock-crushers for the new year.

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Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison
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Jim Frenak-FPI Studios

A collaboration with American Expedition Vehicles, the ZR2 Bison wears steel bumpers and five underbody skid plates. Like the standard ZR2, the Bison rolls on 31-inch Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires, and it’s brawnier than the standard Colorado on which it is based. Specifically, the ZR2 is 3.5 inches wider and sits 2 inches higher. The ZR2’s advanced Multimatic DSSV shock technology is something normally seen on supercars. In this application, the tech is tuned to let the ZR2 excel at both rock-crawling and high-speed desert blasts. Solidifying the ZR2's cred as a sort of factory King of the Hammers truck, it's one of the few vehicles fitted with both front and rear locking differentials. A snorkel intake is optional.

The available 2.8-liter turbodiesel has a sophisticated exhaust brake to save the brakes while towing—and it doesn’t rattle off a Jake-brake staccato to let the next town know you’re coming. With only 186 horsepower, the four-cylinder diesel isn't quick, but its 369 lb-ft of torque are handy on the trails.

Ford Raptor
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GMC

The best thing about the 2019 Raptor is the new Jump Mode. When a 2019 Raptor goes airborne, it detects the wheels are off the ground and automatically cranks up the compression damping, helping the truck to avoid bottoming out when it comes back to earth. The rest of the time, the system constantly tailors the damping of the new Fox Live Valve shocks to match driving conditions.

A new “trail-control” is a sort-of cruise control for off-roading that can be adjusted from 1 to 20 mph and lets the driver focus on steering inputs while the truck moves at a constant speed. When set to 1 mph, the system can slowly pulse power to the wheels, which helps to rock the truck out of sand if it’s stuck.

Besides optional Recaro seats and a few small changes, the rest of the Raptor remains the same, with a 450-hp twin-turbo V6 feeding power through a 10-speed transmission.

GMC Sierra AT4
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GMC

With no chrome accents, all-terrain tires, and a 2-inch lift, the Sierra AT4 looks more menacing than the standard Sierra upon which it is based. It also is more capable off-road thanks to standard four-wheel drive, low-range, a locking rear differential, and skid plates.

The AT4 keeps the Sierra’s fancy dual-hinge 6-position MultiPro Tailgate. It can fold one way to provide a step—useful when stepping out of the AT4’s high bed—another to extend the bed.

GM has long been fond of heads-up displays, and the AT4 features a big 15-inch version. The physical screen in the center console has a clever “Surround Vision” mode, which stitches several camera feeds together. A 5.3-liter V8 is standard, but the AT4 can also be had with a 6.2-liter V8 or a 3.0-liter I6 turbo-diesel.

Jeep Gladiator
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FCA US LLC

Now that the redesigned Wrangler has arrived, Jeep is rolling out the long-awaited Gladiator pickup, which goes on sale for 2019 as a 2020 model. It's the longest Wrangler ever, and certainly the only four-door convertible pickup truck on the market. Wranglers aren't known for their towing ability, but the Gladiator can tow up to 7,650 pounds.

The Gladiator launches with the 3.6-liter V6 and either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission, but next year we'll see the 3.0-liter V6 turbodiesel, with its 442 lb-ft of torque. The light hybrid turbo 2.0 four-cylinder from the Wrangler isn't offered in the Gladiator

Like the JL Wrangler, the Gladiator has lightweight aluminum doors and options like heated seats and the off-road Rubicon package.

Ram Rebel TRX
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GMC

Tasked with outdoing the Ford Raptor and Chevrolet ZR2, Ram engineers dreamt up the Rebel TRX, a Ram 1500 on steroids. It has a 575-hp version of the Hellcat’s infamous 707-hp supercharged 6.2-liter V8. A full-fat, 707-hp version of the Rebel will arrive in 2020.

The TRX is more trophy truck than NASTRUCK. Ram says it will be able to cruise at more than 100 mph off-road. With 13 inches of suspension travel and massive 37-inch tires (at least on the concept), the Rebel will be capable of some serious off-road antics.

Hennessey Goliath 6x6
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GMC

Wild creations storm out of Texas-based Hennessey Performance with regularity. The Goliath 6x6 is the latest Hennessey megatruck, and compared to last year’s angular Velociraptor 6x6 and the brand’s 300 mph Venom F5, the Goliath almost looks subdued. In truth, it is anything but.

To create the Goliath, Hennessey takes a 2019 Chevrolet Silverado Trail Boss Z71 and adds a lift kit and a supercharger, a few other extras, and an “additional axle, wheels, tires and brakes.” You’re left with a 705-hp, $375,000 monstrosity that brings with it another two feet of pickup bed and more attention than you can handle.

Land Rover Discovery SVX
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GMC

If you think Land Rover has gone soft, then you need to check out the new Discovery SVX developed by the Special Vehicle Operations team. The 525-hp supercharged V8 means the SVX can keep up with just about anything and probably could crack 150 mph. But it’s also good at going slowly. Land Rover says the Discovery SVX has improved approach and departure angles, a locking rear differential, and knobby high-sidewall tires for slogging through the mud.

Want to go even more slowly...in reverse? Nestled in the rear bumper between the tow hooks, the concept SUV has a winch with a conspicuous orange hook—though it might not make it to production.

Mercedes-Benz G550
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GMC

Though it looks mighty similar to its ancestors, the 2019 G550 is bigger, sleeker, and more refined than the G-Classes of the past forty years. The new front fascia is more rounded and aerodynamic, which is important since Mercedes has decided to make the new version of its slab-sided box five inches wider than before. And don’t worry: The classic G-Wagen details like the external door hinges and boxy turn signals above the headlights made it on to the new model.

Until now, G-Wagens have used solid front axles, but the new model has independent front suspension with 2.2 inches of additional travel, for a total of 7.9 inches of front travel and 9.5 inches of ground clearance. Thanks to new suspension and driving modes ranging from Sand and Rock to Sport+, the G should be just as happy creeping along in low range—with all three differentials locked—as it is deploying all 422 hp on the highway.

The sensational G-Squared version of the outgoing G-Class had portal axles, cartoonish fender flares, and 17 inches of ground clearance. However, Mercedes has yet to announce if they will build a G-Squared version of this new G-Class.

Ram Power Wagon
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GMC

The Power Wagon starts as a Ram 2500 that is then outfitted with 33-inch tires and Bilstein shocks and covered in stickers and badges, though it is motivated by the same 410-hp 6.4-liter V8. To cope with the larger tires, the Power Wagon has shorter 4.10 gears. Both front and rear differentials can be locked to help the big brute scramble up rough terrain.

When the going gets really tough, there is a button that disconnects the front sway bar, which allows more suspension articulation and better off-road performance. If you manage to get the big truck stuck, a 12,000-lb. Warn winch mounted in the front bumper will help get it moving again.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4x4
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GMC

Want to spend more than an afternoon enjoying the wilderness? You could do worse than working with a specialist to customize a Sprinter 4x4 to suit your needs. For 2019, the Sprinter has been enhanced with a host of new digital features. A new smartphone application makes it possible to check fuel remotely or to preheat the interior before setting off in cold weather. There is also an optional Wi-Fi hotspot, so roughing it is no longer quite so rough, as well as all sorts of optional driving aids, including lane-assist, automatic braking, and a trick “cross-traffic alert” for help when reversing.

The all-wheel drive version comes with a seven-speed automatic bolted to a 3.0-liter V6 turbo-diesel putting out 190 hp and 324 ft-lb of torque.

Nissan Titan Pro-4X
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Nissan

Both the Titan and Titan XD are offered with the Pro-4X package, but smaller Titan (14.7-inches shorter than its heavier-duty sibling) is better suited for off-roading. The Pro-4X package brings Bilstein monotube off-road dampers, all-terrain tires, a radiator skid plate, an electronic locking rear differential and hill descent control. You also get a an off-road gauge that uses an accelerometer to display pitch and roll angles, allowing you to reassure your passengers that you're not quite at the tip-over angle on a side hill. The Pro-4X is also tall—the step-in height is nearly two feet—and packs 390 horsepower from its 5.6-liter V8, so go ahead and plunge into that mud hole.

Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro
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Ezra Dyer

A Tacoma 4x4 is a capable off-roader right out of the box, but the TRD Pro ups the ante with a one-inch lift, Kevlar-reinforced Goodyear tires, an electronic locking rear differential, Fox 2.5-inch internal-bypass dampers and an aluminum front skid plate. For 2019 there's also an available Desert Air intake that raises the intake up out of the dust (presumably it would also be useful in, you know, water). The TRD Pro is also the only Tacoma available in Voodoo Blue, aka "the FJ Cruiser color".

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