The 6 Best SUVs for Overlanding


One of the best decisions you can make when planning an Overlanding trip is to use your own vehicle instead of renting one. Several SUVs are best for long drives, and each one would make a great vehicle to use every time you get the urge to go off the grid and embark on an adventure.

There are six SUVs that you can choose from: the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Recon, Land Rover Defender 110, the Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro, the Toyota Land Cruiser, the Nissan Armada, and the Mercedes-Benz G 550 SUV.

To help you make that decision, here’s a side-by-side comparison of the best SUVs for Overlanding:

SUV ModelStarting PriceTorque Ratings4WDStorage CapacityFuel Economy
Jeep Wrangler Rubicon$46,950295  lb-ftYes72.4 cu. ft.21 mpg
Land Rover Defender 110~$51,000317 lb-ftAWD84.0 cu. ft.37.7 mpg
Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro$49,865278 lb-ftYes88.9 cu. ft.17 mpg
Toyota Land Cruiser$85,415401 lb-ftYes82.8 cu. ft.14 mpg
Nissan Armada$50,100394 lb-ftYes171.1 cu. ft.15 mpg
Mercedes-Benz G 550 SUV$130,990450 lb-ftAWD68.6 cu. ft.14 mpg

Which one of these is perfect for your Overlanding adventures? Read on to find out how each differs from the others and why they are the best SUVs to get for Overlanding.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best SUVs for Overlanding

First, you should decide what kind of Overlanding trips you are planning to do. Are you going to be gone for months on a global trip? Or are you just going for a weekend Overlanding adventure?

Either way, you will want to look for reliable vehicles that are comfortable to drive in. This would mean a suspension system geared towards any kind of road: from bumpy and dirt roads to paved highways.

An excellent vehicle for Overlanding should be something that you can use for daily driving, but it will be okay if you take it on uneven and rough terrain.

A great option (and most common) is to build up a used vehicle to save money. Although, nothing compares to a brand new SUV that is more or less decked out with features, options, and creature comforts that make it ready for Overlanding off the lot.

What should you be looking for in an Overlanding SUV? First, you should know how much stuff you’re going to be bringing with you on your trips. If you plan on bringing a lot of heavy stuff, you will need something bigger and can handle all that load.

However, they also recommend traveling light and downsizing with the stuff you bring because this is a much safer way to travel when you’re running at higher speeds or make a quick maneuver to avoid accidents.

You should also consider the fuel range. When you’re traveling to remote areas, the last thing you want is to run out of fuel, with no gasoline stations nearby. A good fuel range to go for is around 400 to 500 miles (644 to 805 kilometers).

This way, you don’t have to worry about the fuel consumption, you’d be able to gas up less frequently, and you won’t have to use up the extra fuel you brought along with you.

If you currently own a four-wheel-drive with high-enough ground clearance and off-road tires, you can consider using that vehicle for Overlanding.

But if you are going to buy a truck or SUV for your Overlanding adventures, you should look for reliability, storage space, and capability. They suggest:

  • A four-wheel-drive that will make it easier to navigate over uneven terrain. The vehicle will have power and traction in all four wheels. Four-wheel drives also have locking differentials that send an equal amount of torque to wheels on the same axle.
  • High torque ratings will guarantee that your vehicle will be able to handle even the most rugged terrain.
  • All-terrain tires ensure that you can handle any terrain you might encounter on your Overlanding trips. These tires have more traction and are thicker than your regular tires.
  • An excellent suspension system will safeguard you from all the shifts, bounces, dips, bumps, and shakes. All of these point to a comfortable ride even on bumpy roads.
  • Protection for your undercarriage will keep the vulnerable parts underneath your vehicle from getting broken, torn open, dented, or scratched. This will also protect your oil and fuel tanks.
  • High-enough clearance from the ground is also needed for Overlanding SUVs, as this will also protect your undercarriage from scraping against rocks.
  • Onboard storage will ensure that your SUV can accommodate your group and everything you bring with you. If your SUV is not big enough, consider getting a roof rackOpens in a new tab. that can hold your stuff.

In sum, when choosing an SUV for Overlanding, you are looking for one that you can take anywhere and handle even the most challenging driving conditions. You should also choose one that will be able to accommodate both cargo and passenger load. What are the SUVs that you should be looking at?

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited RubiconOpens in a new tab. has a 2.0L Turbo engine that gives you 270 horsepower. This engine comes with eTorque, which delivers up to 295 pound-feet of torque. Depending on the model, It has a six or eight-speed automatic transmission.

This SUV has an electric locking differential for both the front and rear and 33-inch mud-terrain tires. It comes with rock rails to protect the door sills and bottoms from damage when you cross bigger obstacles.

You will also appreciate its skid plate shields that protect both the transfer case and the fuel tank. Plus, the rear and front steel bumpers make the Rubicon more than battle-ready.

The Rubicon Recon is a beauty on the outside, with LED headlights and taillights, black exterior accents, gray headlamp insets, and grille accents. What’s more, there are ten exterior colors for you to choose from, including:

  • Ocean blue
  • Billet silver
  • Black
  • Bright white
  • Firecracker red

Inside, you can get very comfortable with the black leather-trimmed interior and a plush mid-bolster.

However, while this SUV can pretty much take on the harshest road conditions, you will probably be a bit disappointed with its cargo capacity. It only has 72.4 cubic feet (2.0 cubic meter) of space when the rear seats are folded.

Payload capacity is only at 892 pounds or around 405 kilograms, so you may need to downsize the equipment and personal stuff that you are bringing with you compared to other overlanding SUV options.

The Rubicon is also wider than other vehicles in its class at 73.8 inches (1.9 meters), and you may have problems navigating through narrower passes.

The eight-speed transmissionOpens in a new tab. makes the Rubicon Recon trim package more fuel-efficient. It also allows less slipping and quicker torque converter engagement, which means that you have a more durable transmission. According to JeepOpens in a new tab., this type of transmission gives the Rubicon Recon more hill descent control and allows for tip startsOpens in a new tab..

Land Rover Defender 110

The Land Rover Defender 110Opens in a new tab. is one overlander vehicle that you would want to own. Its pricing starts at close to $51,000 and has the carmaker’s latest terrain response software. This is a good choice for Overlanding beginners.

It is environmentally friendly, too, with carbon dioxide emissions that can go as low as 199 grams per kilometer. As far as fuel economy goes, you only need 7.5 liters for every 100 kilometers or around 37.7 miles per gallon. 

The Land Rover Defender 110 boasts having the most durable materials, making it a tough road warrior. It has:

  • Larger and tougher tires that can get on any kind of terrain can absorb shock and protect the chassis while making it a smoother ride for all passengers.
  • Rubber flooring inside, which is very easy to clean.
  • Robust woven textile material for the seats.
  • A monocoque unibody that makes it stronger than other vehicles in its class.

The Land Rover Defender has been thoroughly tested to ensure that it can withstand even the most extreme conditions and impact. It’s also very capable, as you can drive it on any terrain and even in the most extreme conditions.

It has an all-wheel-drive that can tackle off-road conditions with no sweat, plus a twin-speed transfer box and an active electronic differential.

You can also customize the vehicle’s response to the terrain. What’s more, this Land Rover has been designed to be safer on the road with shortened overhangs plus excellent departure angles at 40 degrees, approach angle at 38 degrees, and break over angle at 31 degrees.

These anglesOpens in a new tab. mean that the Land Rover Defender 110 can manage steep climbs and avoid damage from obstacles just because of its body shape.

According to the vehicle’s datasheetOpens in a new tab., the roof alone can accommodate up to 300 kilograms (661.4 pounds) of your stuff while the maximum payload is rated up to 760 kilograms (1675.5 pounds). It can wade through 900 millimeters (3.5 inches) of water and can tow up to 3,500 kilograms (7,716.2 pounds). 

This Defender also offers the explorer pack, which allows you to add a roof rack, a side-mounted gear carrier, wheel arch protection, mudflaps, and other features as an option. Other options include a shower, an air compressor, and a winch, among other features.

Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro

The Toyota 4RunnerOpens in a new tab. TRD Pro is a midsize SUV that boasts a V-6 engine that delivers 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. It has a five-speed transmission that either sends all that power only to the rear wheels or to all four wheels.

You will love the Fox shocks, which guarantees a smoother ride. Some driving features can make the outdoors a little bit easier for you to navigate, such as the Crawl Control that can help you drive on a steep downhill without too much stress.

It also has the multi-terrain select system that adjusts the wheel slip depending on the terrain you’re on.

This excellent SUV comes in a variety of colors, including:

  • Nautical blue
  • Blizzard pearl
  • Metallic black
  • Barcelona red
  • among others…

Cargo capacity is up to 88.9 cubic feet (2.5 cubic meters). However, you might want to factor in the fact that this SUV uses an old powertrain and may feel a little cramp inside.

Toyota Land Cruiser

The Toyota Land CruiserOpens in a new tab. has been a well-known off-road brand for decades. Its 2020 edition has a 5.7L V8 engine, an eight-speed transmission, and an excellent suspension system that helps you get an enjoyable and comfortable ride even on the toughest terrain.

It also has a durable ladder frame, with an undercarriage that is protected by reinforced skid plates.

The following features reinforce its off-road capabilities: 

  • Multi-terrain monitor, which shows you any potential obstacles nearby.
  • The kinetic dynamic suspension system, which ensures traction on uneven terrain by enabling better articulation on the wheels.
  • A Torsen limited-slip differential, which ensures the most traction when you need it
  • Multi-terrain select, which assists you when driving on the most difficult terrains.
  • Crawl Control, which controls the throttle and brakes.
  • Off-road turn assist, which helps you make sharper turns.

What’s more, you have an 82.8 cubic feet (2.3 cubic meters) of cargo capacity for your gear. With prices starting at more than $85,000, the Toyota Land Cruiser comes in five colors: 

  • Midnight black metallic
  • Blue onyx pearl
  • Blizzard pearl
  • Classic silver metallic
  • Magnetic gray metallic

Nissan Armada SV 4WD

Who can say no to the Nissan ArmadaOpens in a new tab., with its V8 engine that gives you up to 390 horsepower and up to 394 pound-feet of torque? It’s so powerful that it can tow up to 8,500 pounds (3,855.5 kilograms).

You can choose between an all-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive system that ensures plenty of traction even on the most difficult terrains.

What’s more, you can seat up to eight people, or trade that seating to get 171.1 cubic feet (4.8 cubic meters) of storage space. Plus, the standard roof rails give you the chance to bring more stuff.

Furthermore, you get a high ground clearance, as well as excellent suspension. You can get a lot of traction with its active brake limited slip system, even on the most challenging terrain. The hill start assist will make uphill drives a whole lot easier. 

Mercedes-Benz G 550 SUV

Mercedes-Benz G 550Opens in a new tab. SUV is one powerful Overlanding vehicle with its 4.0L V8 twin-turbo engine, which gives you 416 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque. All that power is paired with a 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic transmission.  

The Mercedes-Benz G550 is beautiful, too. This line has 23 exterior color options, offering one of the most diverse color palettes out there. Plus, the German automaker really made the interiors a whole lot better and more spacious.

This is definitely the luxury option out of all our picks.

Unimpressed With SUVs: What Are Your Other Choices?

If you want an Overlanding vehicle, there are other choices out there than an SUV. You can check out a pickup truck if you feel that you don’t have enough space for your gear.

Pick-Up Truck

The trade-off is that you will have to keep your Overlanding team small because these vehicles generally don’t fit a lot of passengers. Pickup trucks also have a long bed that can lead to more storage options for Overlanding adventures.

However, unlike an SUV, which is very comfortable even when you have to sleep inside it, pickup trucks are going to be a disaster for your neck and legs if you spend the night in it. So if you go with a pickup truck, you might as well save space for a camping tentOpens in a new tab..

Wagon

You can also choose to go with a wagon. While not traditionally a good choice for Overlanding trips, there are some models out there that you can upgrade to be worthy of your off-road escapades.

For instance, you can check out the Subaru Outback, which has a roomy interior, an all-wheel-drive system, and standard roof rails.

You can mount a roof rackOpens in a new tab. on the Outback should you need more space for your gear. Plus, you can also opt for a locking slip differential, but that will add to the price. One thing that is harder to fix is that wagons generally have lower ground clearance than most SUVs.

Overall, SUVs are still your best bet when it comes to Overlanding vehicles. It’s ready for off-roading the moment you drive it off the lot. You can easily find parts and components to rig it up as you see fit and as soon as the need arises.

Lastly, as you can see from our list of recommendations, SUVs have everything you need for an Overlanding trip, be it a weekend getaway or going across borders.

Choose the Best SUV for Overlanding Today

Knowing what to look for in an Overlanding vehicle can help you narrow down your choices for the most ideal SUVs for your off-road and off-the-grid adventures. While you can never go wrong with any one of the SUVs on this list, your trip plans, where you are going, and other details will determine which one will be the best for you.

Jeremy Hoxie

Born and raised in beautiful Northern Michigan, I've have spent two decades enjoying everything the outdoors has to offer. When not working on RigForge, I spend my time Overlanding and tackling off-road trails while sharing my experiences and testing gear along the way. My current rig is a 2013 Jeep JKU Moab.

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