There’s nothing quite like taking some time away from mundane everyday life and exploring the unknown. The thing is, you can’t just hop in your Jetta and go anywhere you like, so that’s when you have to start looking at new SUV models that’ll feed your adventurous side. Whether it’s just you and the open road, or the whole family, there are a ton of these high-riders to choose from in the US. Of course, each one has its special characteristics, be it outright power or just a unique quirkiness. Here are a few SUVs that are excellent companions for the road less traveled.
- Kia Telluride
The Kia Telluride is one of America’s sweethearts for a reason. It’s certainly one of the best SUVs you can get for under $50k, and its success isn’t purely attributed to its low asking price. The three-row SUV offers space for up to eight occupants and relies on a capable 291-hp V6 to get its wheels turning. Its significant dimensions don’t translate to lethargic performance either, so the Telluride is actually pleasant to drive. Aside from the easy-going experience behind the wheel, the interior is modern and plush enough for this price point. It’s an excellent all-rounder.
- Chevrolet Blazer
The Chevrolet Blazer is inarguably an attractive crossover that’s sure to grab the attention of those who tend to stick with all-American automakers. It offers a range of engine options, with the base model’s 2.5-liter four-pot putting out 193 horsepower and the top-tier V6 producing 308 hp. The sweet spot is the mid-level 2.0-liter turbo that sends 230 hp to the wheels and is kind to the fuel budget. The interior shows some tell-tale signs of discounted materials, but the progressive tech makes up for it. A very frugal $28,800 price tag is attached to the base models.
- Subaru Forester
Also one of America’s best-selling crossovers, the Subaru Forester is an excellent partner for a spontaneous road trip. It’s not the most powerful, with a 182-hp 2.5-liter engine getting the job done, but the CVT it’s mated to is great at returning impressive fuel economy figures. It’s inherently adventurous in a way that not many modern SUVs manage for an MSRP under $30k. It’s loaded with all the safety features you’d need and it’s remarkably easy to drive, making the idea of traveling from state to state that much more appealing.
- Ford Expedition
What American car list doesn’t contain a Ford somewhere in it? Not this one. The Ford Expedition could fit the contents of Noah’s ark with room to spare for your tent and portable grill. Beyond a cavernous and immaculate interior, it’s vastly capable thanks to its 375-hp V6, which allows for a maximum towing capacity of 9,300 pounds when properly equipped. This giant is just the right size for the family, so get your bags packed.
- Subaru Ascent
The Ascent is one of Subaru’s largest vehicles available, so it quite literally has some big shoes to fill. Its 260-hp 2.4-liter engine gets the job done and the standard CVT ensures that the trees are left relatively unharmed thanks to admirable gas mileage estimates. The segment is undeniably competitive, but the Ascent has many merits to cement it among the favorites. Comfortable ride quality, respectable off-road capability, and an attractive starting MSRP are some of the reasons to keep it on the shortlist, but it may not make the cut when you put it next to a rival like the Kia Telluride.
- Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
It’s unsurprising that the Wrangler makes it onto the list of SUVs that are at home off the beaten track. The front end of this Jeep is emblazoned in pop culture thanks to its WW II styling that still remains in 2020. Grab one of these in Rubicon guise for extra prowess on challenging paths and it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be disappointed. The puzzling thing about the Wrangler is that it’s more like an ATV when you put it next to the far more comfortable and advanced Jeep Cherokee, but that’s not why you buy the Wrangler. You buy it because it’s cool. You can remove the roof and doors when the mood strikes and it’ll gladly take on seemingly impossible paths.
- Jeep Grand Cherokee
It seems as though the Grand Cherokee has been in business since dinosaurs roamed the earth, but it’s still got a few tricks up its sleeve. The competition has gotten tougher in the SUV segment over the years, but the Jeep’s off-road capability and a slew of standard features make it worth considering. You’ll have the choice between a 295-hp V6 and a 360-hp V8, with the latter offering a maximum towing capacity of 7,200 pounds. The Grand Cherokee isn’t going to be kind to your fuel budget, but it’s equipped to handle rougher roads with ease and has a decent interior.
- Toyota 4Runner
With very little changing in terms of exterior styling over the last decade, the 4Runner looks as capable as ever. It’s rugged and ready for action, which is one of the main reasons it’s still worth considering over more modern rivals. Its biggest bragging point is its expert abilities as an off-roader. A downfall of this is that it’s not as comfortable on the highway as some of its counterparts, but take a plunge into the mud and it’s at home. There’s also its excellent reliability to praise. These high-riders have a reputation for immense durability and take beatings like no other.
- Toyota Land Cruiser
With a starting MSRP that sits just under $90,000, affordability isn’t a trait that the Land Cruiser can lay claim to. The iconic trail-blazing bruiser requires some deep pockets to purchase, but its sterling reputation is there for a reason. With features like crawl control and a fully equipped 4WD drivetrain, it’s clear that the Land Cruiser means business. It’s universally loved for its proven durability, and that’s why it’s not uncommon to see a Land Cruiser that’s over a decade old tackling a 4×4 track.
- Chevrolet Tahoe
We’ll level with you, the Chevrolet Tahoe isn’t the best SUV out there. But it’s a solid proposition at its price point and offers multiple engines, as well as seating for up to nine occupants. That being said, the Ford Explorer would probably be a better choice.