The modern crossovers and SUVs have specialized in various purposes. Aside from the main purpose to transport families and their cargo thanks to the raised ride height and capable all-wheel-drive systems they are more capable in all weather and various terrain conditions than sedans. The SUVs started as the truck-based models with serious off-road and towing capability. However, over time and with rapid success the brands have expanded the offer with various body styles and levels of sophistication. In this article, we put the focus on the off-road capable SUVs including truck-based and unibody models. We list 10 off-road-ready SUVs for 2021.
2021 Jeep Wrangler
The iconic Jeep Wrangler is one of rare go-anywhere, do-anything SUVs that have survived on the market for decades despite the economic and other problems. The fourth-generation Wrangler arrived for the 2018 model year with structural, tech, efficiency and handling upgrades. The newest Wrangler can be had with the turbodiesel and turbo-4 petrol engine and long-living Pentastar V-6 is also a part of the equipment list. The model can also be had with the brand’s modern Uconnect infotainment system and premium comfort features. There are also several active driver aids at disposal.
However, what’s important the newest Wrangler improved its on-road manners but remains one of the most capable off-roaders these days. Every version comes with the capable four-wheel-drive system, a ladder chassis and live axles. The Rubicon version lifts the off-road capability to the new levels with the upgraded suspension, 33-inch wheels with special tires, locking differentials, specialized axles, underbody protection and impressive approach and departure angles.
The next 2021 Jeep Wrangler will stay mostly unchanged as the reports claim but it could get a plug-in hybrid powertrain consisting likely of the V-6 engine, electric motor and battery pack.
The 2021 Jeep Wrangler should arrive this fall with a similar price starting at about $30, 000. The mighty Rubicon version will start above $40, 000.
2021 Mercedes-Benz G-Class
Another true-and-tried model on our list of 10 off-road-ready SUVs for 2021 is the upscale Mercedes G-Glass.
The popular G-Wagen started as the military vehicle and it is now a high-dollar SUV available worldwide with the potent V-8 engine and classy interior.
The newest second-generation G-Class is still based on the ladder-frame chassis but switched to the more modern fully independent suspension which provides a more comfortable and precise ride. The power comes from the mighty 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine that makes 416 hp in its base variant. The AMG-tuned G 63 has 577 ponies at disposal.
For the go-anywhere capability, the model employs three lockable differentials and low-range gear. The model can two up 7, 000 pounds and go through 28-inch deep water. The ground clearance measures 9.5 inches while departure and approach angles are 30 and 31-degree respectively.
The Mercedes G-Wagen should also get the electrified version in the coming years.
The next 2021 Mercedes G-Glass will go on sale by the end of the year with the starting price just under $130, 000.
2021 Toyota Land Cruiser
Another off-road icon on our list of 10 off-road-ready SUVs for 2021 is a durable and dependable Toyota Land Cruiser.
The current Land Cruiser uses a truck-based, body-on-frame underpinning mixed with the trucky solid rear axle and full-time four-wheel drive for the exceptional off-road and towing capability. The system includes a low range and locking differential and there is also lots of ground clearance. The power comes from the mighty 5.7-liter V-8 engine good for 381 hp and torque of 401 lb-ft.
The Land Cruiser is equipped with a large 9-inch touchscreen, leather surfaces, and active safety systems.
The reports indicate that aging Land Cruiser could be all-new for the 2021 model year in some markets but it isn’t expected in the US before 2022 season.
The new-generation Land Cruiser should switch to the upgraded platform and apply the brand’s new design language like the new Toyota SUVs while it should keep the upright stance. The redesigned model should, however, trade the thirsty V-8 engine for the turbocharged six-cylinder engine sourced from Lexus. There should also be a hybrid option and diesel unit.
The 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser should return with minimal changes in the US while the global market could see the redesigned version. The Land Cruiser will again start from around $85, 000.
2021 Ford Bronco
Ford rejoins the range of the off-road-ready SUVs for the next model year with the all-new 2021 Ford Bronco.
The redesigned Bronco comes based on the mid-size Ford Ranger’s platform and two models should also have similar mechanics. The new Bronco will likely use the Ranger’s 2.3-liter turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder engine making around 270 hp and mixed with the 10-speed automatic transmission. A more potent 2.7-liter turbo-6 EcoBoost engine sourced for the F-150 could also be used as well as a diesel option. Ford promised also that new Bronco will also be available with the electrified powertrain.
What’s more, the Ford Bronco could appear in the Raptor guise later in the life cycle. The base Bronco will come with the capable, standard four-wheel drive and other off-road goodies while the Raptor version will get upgraded suspension components, larger wheels, additional underbody protection and driving modes.
The redesigned Bronco will retain its retro styling signature with flat body paneling, circular headlights including also removable doors and roof. There should again be two- and four-door configurations. The model will also equip modern tech and safety systems.
The new-generation 2021 Ford Bronco should reach the market later in the year with the starting price above $30, 000.
2021 Land Rover Defender
The second-generation Land Rover Defender arrived last year and despite it moved from the body-on-frame underpinning to the car-like unibody structure, it possesses the strong off-pavement capability and deserves a place in our list of 10 off-road-ready SUVs for 2021.
The Land Rover Defender comes in two body configurations including two- and four-door options. The model retains a boxy, upright stance like the previous version but smoother surfaces provide better aerodynamics.
The new Defender comes also well-equipped from the base level including a 10-inch touchscreen and advanced safety systems.
The power provides a turbo-4 and inline-6 engines of which later is assisted with the mild-hybrid system. The newest Defender is more on-road focused than ever thanks to the unibody architecture and independent suspension setup but it doesn’t lack the off-road potential either.
Every Defender employs a two-speed transfer case and four-wheel drive mixed with terrain response system. The model is also available with the locking center and rear differentials for the go-anywhere capability.
The 2021 Land Rover Defender will reach the market in 2021. The price range should start around $40, 000.
2021 Suzuki Jimny
Another model ideally suited for the off-road adventures is the 2021 Suzuki Jimny. A recently redesigned, compact, two-door SUV is extremely capable off-road thanks to its truck-like chassis, part-time four-wheel drive with low range gearing and solid axles. The model can switch between two- and four-wheel drive while driving and it has plenty of clearance under the ladder chassis. The model earned also a great reputation for its toughness and reliability.
The lightweight Suzuki Jimny comes also loaded with the modern tech and safety features including a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple Car Play and Android Auto, Autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, cruise control, hill descent control, etc.
The reports indicate that the brand is working on the four-door version of the popular Jimny which could hit the market as soon as the 2021 model year. It will share the platform, mechanics and technologies with the two-door version including the 1.5-liter engine.
The 2021 Suzuki Jimny will stay a low-cost alternative to premium prized off-road SUVs with the price similar to the current version.
2021 Toyota 4Runner
The mid-size Toyota 4Runner remains unfortunately in the current fifth-generation trough 2021 model year despite it was initialized in 2021. Still, the 4Runner remains one of the favorite off-road SUVs in the class.
The next Toyota 4Runner comes with standard advanced driver aids and up-to-date infotainment system and with lots of off-road capability.
The off-road SUV gets the power from the 4.0-liter V-6 engine good for 270 hp and can be had with the two-wheel drive. Most trims come standard with the capable four-wheel drive. The TRD off-road version adds more off-road chops including a locking rear differential, crawl control and Multi-Terrain Select settings. The TRD Pro trim build up the model’s off-road capability with the all-terrain tires, revised front springs and Fox shocks with internal bypass remote reservoirs at the rear and additional underbody protection.
The un-redesigned 2021 Toyota 4Runner will start from about $37, 000 when it goes on sale later this year.
2021 Land Rover Discovery
Although the recent versions of the Land Rover models are tuned to deliver better on-road manners, the Land Rover Discovery is also a great off-road performer. The mid-size Discovery mixes above the average all-terrain capability with the premium cabin. The model comes loaded with modern tech and safety features combined with premium comfort. The base version gets leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, a 10-inch touchscreen, 10 speakers and an array of active safety systems.
The model gets power from the 340-hp 3.0-liter supercharged petrol engine or 254-hp turbocharged diesel unit. The power is routed through the 8-speed automatic transmission to the standard all-wheel drive. Some versions get a low-speed transfer case and a locking rear differential for better off-road performance. The brand’s Terrain Response 2 system helps also to optimize suspension, transmission and traction settings to the on- and off-road conditions.
The next Discovery should appear in the refreshed form with the mild styling and interior upgrades while it should get a new hybrid powertrain. The 48-volt mild-hybrid setup should join the range while the plug-in hybrid is expected later in the lifecycle.
The refreshed 2021 Discovery will reach the market late in the year with a slightly increased price.
2021 Subaru Forester
Subaru builds unique crossover and SUV models with raised ride height and standard all-wheel drive which guarantees above than average off-road capability. The 2021 Subaru Forster won’t be an exception and it should get some mid-cycle updates.
The current Forster relies on the 2.5-liter four-cylinder which is combined with the continuously variable transmission. The engine delivers 182 hp but the next version could get a more potent turbocharged unit as the reports claim. The refreshed Forster should also benefit from the styling and interior updates as well as revised equipment availability and features.
The Subaru Forster has 8.7 inches of ground clearance which combined with the sophisticated all-wheel drive system provides solid off-road performance.
The updated 2021 Subaru Forester should reveal its secrets in the coming months and go on sale later in the year. The price will get a slight uptick.
2021 Nissan Xterra
With the number of the off-road-ready SUVs increasing on the market, the reports suggest that Nissan might return the Xterra nameplate to the market. The brand already launched the Terra SUV based on the global, mid-size Navara pickup truck for the market outside the US. In a similar manner, the new 2021 Nissan Xterra could come based on the new Frontier truck.
If that would be the case, the new Xterra should use the upgraded platform of the current Frontier and its new engine. A 3.8-liter V-6 engine should be in the mix with the 9-speed automatic transmission. The model will also employ a capable four-wheel-drive system. There will also be the off-road specialized PRO-4X trim with the all-terrain tires, underbody protection, upgraded suspension, etc.
The model will also apply the brand’s new styling language and come equipped with modern tech and safety features.
The reports indicate that new-generation Xterra could appear sometime in 2021 either as the 2021 or 2022 version. The price range should start at a high $20,000s.
Our list of 10 off-road-ready SUVs covers some of the most capable all-terrain, high-riding vehicles these days including several softer, unibody models. Buyers seeking for the capable off-road vehicle should also consider pickup truck models available in the hard-core variants. However, there are more SUVs on the market ready to go beyond paved roads worth considering. The new-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee will improve its on-road manners. It will also be available in the off-road-focused trim like other Jeeps. Land Rover is also known for its off-road capability and Toyota TRD versions are also optimized for all-terrain adventures.