Can You Overland in a 2WD Vehicle?

2WD vehicle Overlanding

Overland is the popular off-road experience that allows people to drive wherever they want on a long-distance journey. Most people think of Overlanding as an experience that requires massive tires, four-wheel-drive (or all-wheel-drive), and more. But did you know that countless people have tried Overlanding with a 2WD car?

You can Overland with a 2WD vehicle if you have the right tires, a solid drivetrain, and proper ground clearance. When you’re Overlanding in a 2WD vehicle, you should make sure that the terrain doesn’t get too rough. Sand, ice, and loose snow can be challenging when you’re trying to stay in control.

Throughout this article, you’ll also learn the following info about Overlanding in a 2WD vehicle:

  • Five things you need to know before you try it
  • How you can prepare your 2WD vehicle to go off-road
  • Several problems that people encounter along the way

What You Should Know About Overlanding in a 2WD Vehicle

Overlanding in a 2WD vehicle is much more common than you might think. People love going off-road, but it’s not always practical to have a 4WD specifically for Overlanding. Why get a brand-new vehicle when you can enjoy the open road (or off-road) with the 2WD vehicle that you have?

Here’s what you need to know before you start Overlanding in a 2WD vehicle:

  • You can’t conquer the same terrain as you could with an AWD or 4WD vehicle. Don’t try to get crazy and roll through the steepest hills. It’s important that you’re aware of the limitations of 2WD vehicles. You won’t have the same control if it starts to hydroplane or roll downhill. It’s also harder to drive uphill.
  • Your suspension can dictate where you can go. When you have better suspension, you’ll have better results. It feels easier to turn, you won’t have a rocky ride when the road turns to gravel, and your vehicle will last longer off-road. The suspension is one of the pillars of off-roading and Overlanding.
  • Always do a practice run before you go Overlanding in a 2WD vehicle. Overlanding is very similar to off-roading, but there’s no denying its dangers. When you’re off-roading, you’re typically not more than an hour away from a road. Overlanding can take you far out of cell reception, so make sure you know how to get out.
  • Not all 2WD vehicles are created equally. Some 2WD vehicles are much tougher than others. It’d be hard to go Overlanding in a low-sitting convertible, but a 2WD SUV has a better chance of making it through. Ground clearance, large tires, and a better turning radius are worth noting.
  • Driving off-road is completely different than on-road. If you’re not used to driving off-road, then it’s highly recommended that you learn the basics of off-roading before you start Overlanding. Otherwise, you’ll end up getting stuck or you won’t be able to complete the journey due to unexpected conditions.

As you can see, it’s not too crazy to try to bring your 2WD vehicle Overlanding. As long as you understand the conditions listed above, you’ll increase your chances of having a good time and completing the trip. To learn how you can prepare your two-wheel-drive vehicle for a long-term Overland adventure, read on.

How to Overland in a 2WD Vehicle

2WD Vehicle Overlanding

Overlanding in a 2WD vehicle can be one of the most exciting adventures of your life. However, people make too many mistakes or forget to make the necessary corrections before heading out. Fortunately, you’re about to discover how you can go Overlanding in a 2WD vehicle without encountering too many issues.

  1. Get better tires for your vehicle. You need to have a good set of tires to go OverlandingOpens in a new tab.. Since off-roading is the means by which you go Overlanding, tires are debatably the most useful feature on your vehicle. Deep-grooved, durable tires should be at the top of your list.
  2. Map your route before you leave the house. Don’t try to go Overlanding in a 2WD vehicle if you don’t know where you’re going. All it takes is one wrong turn and you’ll end up stuck in the middle of nowhere. You’ll have to follow a route that allows you to drive slow and steady, often for several minutes.
  3. Gather lightweight supplies so you don’t weigh down the vehicle. Everything you bring with you on a long journey needs to be lightweight. A lot of people bring loads of food, water, and camping supplies when they go Overlanding. While you can bring all of the above, they have to be half of the weight or less.
  4. Upgrade the suspension in your car. Your vehicle’s suspension greatly impacts your performance when you’re Overlanding. More suspension allows you to have smoother handling over rough surfacing and inclines. It’s important that you do your best to inspect your vehicle’s suspension before you start the trip.
  5. Consider lifting the vehicle for optimal ground clearance. Lifting the vehicle will make it so you can drive uphill and downhill on steeper inclines. Furthermore, better ground clearance keeps rocks and other debris from scraping the bottom of your vehicle. It might cost a bit, but it’s more than worth the investment for rough roads.

Those five suggestions can make a massive difference in your Overlanding experience. Rather than going unprepared and getting stuck, you’ll have a plan that you can stick to. Any time you’re unsure of the experience, you can check out your route and make adjustments.

Common Mistakes While Overlanding in a 2WD Vehicle

As with all new experiences, mistakes are to be expected. By knowing what you might encounter, you’ll be prepared for the worst. Let’s analyze some of the most common mistakes about Overlanding in a 2WD vehicle below.

Getting the wrong tires is a huge problem

If the tires on your vehicle are worn, too small, or they don’t have the right texture, you might’ve wasted your money. They need to have deep grooves that allow you to roll over a variety of terrains without popping or slipping. On that note, ensure that they’re the right tires for the size of your rims.

Remember to bring a spare tire

Even if you have the perfect set of tires for Overlanding, there’s always a need for a spare. You never know when you might drive over broken glass or a sharp rock. Keep a spare tire and tire repair kitOpens in a new tab. (affiliate link) in the trunk of your vehicle. Try to use the repair kit before you switch the tire, you might save yourself some time.

Check the weight capacity of the vehicle

You could have everything ready to go, but then the vehicle sags and overweighs the engine. It’ll overheat and cause all sorts of issues. Unfortunately, you might not know it until it’s too late and you’re out in the middle of nowhere. Most vehicles have a weight capacity listed in the driver’s door frame, inside of the glovebox, or in the center console.


OverlandingOpens in a new tab. should be about having a fun time, not worrying if your car’s going to break down. Whether you have a 4WD vehicle or a compact 2WD car, you’ll be able to find the right Overlanding route for you.

Here’s a quick recap of the post:

  • You’ll need off-road tires, good ground clearance, and optimal suspension.
  • 2WD vehicles can’t go as off-road as 4WD, so plan accordingly.
  • Check the weight limit of your vehicle before you head out on the road.
  • Make a route with a few fallback plans in case something goes wrong.

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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