Best Trucks and SUVs for Overlanding
If adventure is in your future, you might be looking into a capable overlanding vehicle to help you get out there. While off-roading is about conquering tough obstacles and generally making a weekend out of it, overlanding also may involve tricky terrain but is generally not as extreme. Many overlanders camp or live from their vehicle of choice, sometimes with a rooftop tent. For overlanding, having a truck or SUV that is rugged is just as important as having one that’s reliable.
If you’re looking for the most fuel-efficient or tech-heavy vehicle out there, however, you likely won’t find it with a good overlanding SUV — thank the 4×4 system for lowering fuel efficiency across the board. We’ve sorted the best trucks and SUVs for overlanding by budget and by type — here are the ones we found that came out on top based on ratings by Kelley Blue Book (KBB) experts, consumers on Edmunds, the National HIghway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), when available. Many trucks are not rated by NHTSA or IIHS.
- Best overlanding pickup trucks
- Best overlanding SUVs
- Best luxury overlanding SUVs
- How to finance the best overlanding vehicle
Best overlanding pickup trucks
Whether you want something full size (think F-150 size) or slightly smaller, there are plenty of off-road capable trucks for the choosing. Here are a few that stand out to us:
2020 Jeep Gladiator
KBB experts score not yet available; 5 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (1 review)
Since its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 2018, the Gladiator inspired by Jeep’s late truck of the same name, has garnered lots of attention from off-roaders and Jeep fans alike. The Gladiator is somewhat of an off-roading legend, as its name was last used in 1971. For its return, the Gladiator seeks to offer the versatility of a Jeep with the functionality of a truck. It features a competitive 7,650-pound towing capacity as well. But, at one of the higher starting prices in the mid-size truck segment, be aware that the base trim level is basic — even the windows and door locks are manual. You could consider upgrading to the Overland trim, one rung below the Rubicon.
4.3 out of 5 by KBB experts; 4.3 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (36 reviews)
4 stars NHTSA
The base Tacoma is an all-around usable and rugged truck, but scale up to the TRD Off-Road trim level, and it’s ideal for both work and play. It’s less bulky than a full-size pickup, but that makes for a little bit better agility on tough terrains. Active safety technology is standard making this a good choice for the everyday and for adventure. For those who really want to put the Tacoma to the test, upgrade to the Tacoma TRD Pro for extras like a desert air intake, FOX brand shocks and more. But for those interested in a casual off-roading truck that won’t break the budget, the Tacoma is an ideal option. Although the Tacoma received mostly “good” ratings from IIHS and 4 stars from NHTSA, it has received several complaints, had two recalls and been the subject of an investigation involving its air bags.
2020 Ford F-Series Super Duty with Tremor Package
Pricing and ratings not yet available
For those interested in greater towing capability while still maintaining the ability to crawl and climb, a 2020 Super Duty F-250 or F-350 with the new Tremor package might just be right for you. Tremor means an upgraded suspension, off-road running boards and larger, maximum-traction tires. It also boasts best in class fording depth and an impressive 31.6-degree approach angle that puts it just a step above Ford’s mainstay off-roading truck, the Raptor. Ford says the new Super Duty models will be available later this year. In the meantime, check out the Raptor, below.
2019 Ford F-150 Raptor
4.4 out of 5 by KBB experts; ; 3.7 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (20 reviews)
It’s not the most expensive F-150 but it’s up there. It’s also the most rugged of the popular line of trucks. Inside, the Raptor treats you to a two-panel moonroof, a Bang & Olufsen sound system, and front- and rear-heated seats. A unique Trail Control system acts like a cruise control for off-roading, controlling the speed and brakes to let you focus on the driving. Though it lacks an overall rating by NHTSA, it received 4 stars in certain safety tests and mostly good ratings from IIHS.
2019 Ram 2500 Power Wagon
KBB experts score not yet available; 3.7 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (3 reviews)
While it does come in at a price point similar to many luxury trucks, and more than the base 2500, the Power Wagon offers 10,350 pounds of towing capacity. It’s only available as a crew cab with a 6.4-foot box so you’ll have to sacrifice some bed space. But in return, you’ll get helpful features like a factory-installed winch.
Best overlanding SUVs
From family cars to top-down Jeeps, an SUV might just be the best option for your overlanding adventure. For those who don’t have camping gear that require a truck and want to use their off-roader for an everyday commuter, an SUV is a great option. Here are a few top picks:
2019 Jeep Wrangler
4.4 out of 5 by KBB experts; 3.4 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (14 reviews)
A roundup of overlanding SUVs has to include the Wrangler, which many have come to see as the classic overlander, though it does receive lower marks from consumers on Edmunds than other vehicles on this list. While it offers many configurations, including removable tops and doors, it also is trail-rated and features steel bumpers, 33-inch tires and capable 4×4 systems. It can handle everything from fording streams to sand and rock. Keep in mind the base Wrangler only has two doors.
3 out of 5 by KBB experts; 4.5 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (30 reviews)
4 stars NHTSA
Despite an antiquated interior and technology offerings (the 4Runner hasn’t had a redesign in about 10 years) and relatively low experts scores, it remains popular among drivers. In fact, the SUV sells better today than it did just after its redesign. Its sturdy body-on-frame design gives it the durability of a truck, while inside, helpful features like an available rear sliding cargo deck help to make gear easy and organized. Like the Tacoma mentioned above, this SUV can also be upgraded to a TRD Pro version for extra capability, but that top-of-the-line trim starts at nearly $47,000, about $11,500 more than the base SR5. Unlike the Tacoma, Toyota’s safety suite isn’t available on the 4Runner.
2019 Nissan Armada
4.1 out of 5 by KBB experts; 3 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (7 reviews)
4 stars NHTSA
This capable off-roader is disguised as a family vehicle, and it might already be parked in your driveway. In other countries, this full-size SUV is known as the Nissan Patrol, an off-roader that rivals the popularity of the Jeep Wrangler in many other parts of the world. Durable body-on-frame construction and a powerful, standard V8 engine give this unexpected SUV an edge. It focuses more on luxury inside, so it offers upscale features and makes for a comfortable ride everyday. Three spacious rows of seating also make for a comfortable family car when not on the trail.
Best luxury overlanding SUVs
When it comes to capable luxury SUVs, one brand has you covered: Land Rover. If you’re going to be outdoors, why not treat yourself to the finer things in your car?
2019 Range Rover Evoque
3.7 out of 5 by KBB experts; 2 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (1 review)
While this Rover offering is a little bit more geared toward luxury buyers than off-roading enthusiasts, that doesn’t mean it’s not able to get out there. The Range Rover Evoque is one of those SUVs whose off-road capabilities are hidden under its luxury interior and upscale image. It offers lots of useful tools for the outdoors, including all-terrain progress control, which acts as a cruise control for off-roading, and the same ground view cameras offered on the Discovery, below.
2019 Land Rover Discovery
3.9 out of 5 by KBB experts; not yet rated by consumers on Edmunds
The Land Rover Discovery has been on the trail for years, and in its fifth generation it tends to focus on luxury and technology. While it may have changed its focus over the years, it’s still capable of doing things most SUVs wouldn’t dare. The latest features in the Discovery include the helpful Clear Sight Ground View camera, which shows obstacles in your path and helps you judge the car’s relation to it. Three rows of seats makes it a flexible family vehicle when not on the trail.
How to finance the best overlanding vehicle
There are lots of ways to get a good deal on financing your new overland vehicle. We recommend getting preapproved for financing before going to the dealership, which can help you better know what rates are available to you. Start at LendingTree, where you can fill out one application and receive up to five potential auto loan offers from lenders, depending on your creditworthiness. Once you have some offers in hand, you’ll have a starting point for negotiating, finding other offers and more.
To find the best overlanding vehicles, we looked at many opinions and sources. We looked at reviews from Overland Experts and Expedition Portal, as well as reviews from Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds. We also factored in safety ratings from IIHS and NHTSA. The MSRP listed is either for the base model of the vehicle, or for the trim level or package described, at the time of publication.
MSRPs in the article are accurate as of the date of publishing.