Are Modern SUVs Capable of Going Off-Roading?

We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. Thanks for the support! 👍

There’s a lot of debate about whether or not SUVs are capable of off-roading. Some people say that they’re not designed for it, while others believe that with the right modifications, they can go pretty much anywhere. In this article, we’ll take a look at both sides of the argument and see if there is a clear answer. We’ll also explore what off-road driving is all about and see if an SUV is the best vehicle for the job.

So are modern SUVs capable of going off-road?

While not every SUV that is built today is meant to go off the beaten path, there is a good portion (and growing) of SUVs that can. You just need to make sure you do your homework to find the right SUV to go off-road, and exactly where you want it to be.

SUVs used to be meant mainly for going off-road

There was a time when SUVs were designed for one purpose: going off-road. They were rugged, spacious, and capable of tackling any terrain. However, over the years they have become increasingly refined. Today’s SUVs are more likely to be found on the highway than off the beaten path.

While they still offer plenty of space and functionality, they have traded in their off-road capabilities for a more comfortable ride. As a result, many people now view SUVs as nothing more than oversized sedans. But for those who remember the days when SUVs were meant for venturing off the beaten path, they still hold a special place.

With that said, while the crossover (which is a version of an SUV) has become prevalent on the roads, however, there are also plenty of your non-crossover versions of SUVs that are fantastic off-road examples. We’ll talk a little later in the article about what SUVs are.

Some crossovers can go off-road

When most people think of off-road vehicles, they think of burly trucks and SUVs with oversized tires and lifted suspensions, that are meant to tow,. However, there’s a new breed of off-road vehicle that’s taking the market by storm: crossovers. These versatile vehicles combine the best features of sedans and SUVs to create an unparalleled driving experience.

And while most crossovers are designed for city streets, some models are built to tackle rough terrain. With beefy tires, raised suspensions, and all-wheel drive, these off-road crossovers are ready to take on anything nature can throw at them.

Some awesome examples of crossovers that were built for off-road prowess are well-known vehicles like the Land Rover Defender (yep, it’s a crossover), the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Subaru Forester, Land Rover Discovery, and even the Subaru Outback. These vehicles don’t let their unibody design keep them back from being great off-road rigs.

What is a crossover?

The main difference between a crossover and a standard SUV is that an SUV is generally built on a truck frame (body-on-frame), while a crossover is generally built on a unibody (where the body of the vehicle is also the structure that gives rigidity).

A crossover is a vehicle that combines the best features of a sedan and an SUV. Crossovers typically have the high seating position and more ground clearance of SUVs (but a little closer to the sedan), making them decent for off-road adventures.

However, they also have sleek lines and agile handling of sedans, making them more maneuverable and fuel-efficient.

In recent years, crossovers have become one of the most popular types of vehicles on the market, appealing to drivers who want the versatility of an SUV without the bulkiness. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly hauler or a stylish ride for your weekend getaways, a crossover is sure to fit the bill.

What SUVs are not meant to go off-road?

While many people think of SUVs as tough, off-road vehicles, the reality is that most are actually crossovers that are meant for paved roads. In fact, most SUVs don’t have the features necessary to tackle even moderately challenging terrain.

They typically have lower ground clearance than true off-roaders, and they often don’t have four-wheel drive. So while an SUV might be able to handle a little light off-roading, it’s not really equipped for anything more than that. If you’re planning on doing any serious off-roading, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

Here are some great examples of SUVs (Crossovers) that were not built for off-roading:

  1. Chevrolet Blazer
  2. Mazda CX-5
  3. Kia Seltos
  4. Nissan Rogue
  5. Ford Escape
  6. Toyota CH-R
  7. Nissan Murano
  8. Chevrolet Trailblazer
  9. Toyota Highlander (which is a great family vehicle by the way)
  10. Chevrolet Equinox

Of course, crossovers are one of the most popular platforms now, so that is just the beginning of the list when it comes to SUVs that just aren’t meant to go off-road (especially with open differentials).

What are the best off-road SUVs?

While many SUVs claim to be built for off-road adventures, few of them actually live up to the hype. When it comes to finding the best off-road SUV, there are a few key factors to keep in mind.

First, the SUV should have a high ground clearance and a robust suspension system. This will allow the vehicle to navigate over rough terrain without bottoming out.

Second, the SUV should have four-wheel drive, as this will provide additional traction when driving on slippery or uneven surfaces. Finally, the SUV should be equipped with tires that have deep treads, as this will help to improve traction and prevent flats. With these factors in mind, it is clear that there are a few stand-out SUVs that are most definitely meant for off-roading.

  1. Toyota 4-Runner
  2. Ford Bronco
  3. Ford Bronco Sport (yep, these are decent off-roaders)
  4. Jeep Wrangler
  5. Mercedes Benz G-Class
  6. Land Rover Defender
  7. Jeep Grand Cherokee
  8. Chevrolet Tahoe
  9. Toyota Land Cruiser
  10. Toyota Sequoia
  11. Lexus LX

This of course is just the beginning of the SUVs that make great off-road vehicles. You will also notice that my list includes some crossover SUVs as well. Don’t discount a crossover, just because it is a unibody, as you will be missing out on some of the best off-road rigs out there.


SUVs have grown over the years, and many of them are now just as capable off-road as they are on the street. If you’re looking for an SUV that can handle everything from a weekend camping trip to a serious off-road adventure, there’s one out there for you. Just make sure to do your research and choose the SUV that is right for your needs.