If you are on the market for a new off-road vehicle, chances are you consider something for the money mentioned above. So this is a helpful starting point for you to make up your mind. The list covers most of the spectrum in this price range. We’re looking at six seemingly similar but different vehicles, so you have good chances to find what suits you most.  

Jeep Wrangler

$30,260 — $58,520


This legendary off-road patriarch seems to have nothing to prove. Its name is the synonym of ability to conquer the most extreme surfaces. It even needs no front logo, because the grill and the headlights speak loud and clear. 

But Jeep Wrangler is not resting on its laurels. The latest version has quite a lot of improvements. Removable panels have always been cool but now became better in terms of sound insulation. Jeep Wrangler became considerably better on-road as well, and it might even surprise you with a decent mpg figure for something with the aerodynamics of a box.

Jeep Wrangler lets you choose between a two- and a four-door version. The standard engine is a 3.6 liter V6 with 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. It comes with 6-speed manual transmission, 8-speed automatic is optional. You can opt for a 2.0 liter 4-cylinder with a mild-hybrid eTorque system putting out 270 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Diesel folks can go for a 3.0 liter V6 producing 260 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. 2.0 liter 4-cylinder 4xe plug-in hybrid with 375 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque is also on the table. We should mention a V8, but we don’t cover Rubicon 392 trim due to it being way over our price range. 

All of this means you can’t go wrong with a Jeep Wrangler, though its reliability is not the best among peers. It is probably not the best daily driver, but if you don’t imagine your weekend without escaping into the wild, it will be a great pal for you. 

Land Rover Defender 

$46,100 — $57,800


Land Rover Defender took a bold step forward and redefined itself immensely. Not everybody was happy about it, criticizing new looks and “not off-roadish” unibody construction. Others point out that the new one looks good and still maintains impressive off-road prowess. But probably everyone will agree having your steering wheel not tilted left is an improvement. 

Land Rover Defender comes in a two- and a four-door version. The base engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 296 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, and there’s also a 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder with 395 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are accompanied by an 8-speed automatic gearbox. It can tow up to 8,201 pounds — quite a solid number. 

Defender got rid of its boxy looks and heavy frame, but not of terrain-tackling might. It beats its predecessor in this game, as well as in the game of comfortable daily driving. It can take the beating, but you have to keep typical Land Rover reliability issues in mind. And don’t forget about the manufacturer’s love for cheeky prices for the extras. 

Ford Bronco 

$28 500 — $63 500


One of the most anticipated vehicles and probably the most anticipated off-roaders is going to be a smashing hit. It is safe to say Bronco’s sweet exterior looks will pay a major contribution to it. The interior is no less cool, offering a great balance of style and substance. Ford paid a lot of attention to detail, offering features a modern adventurer will find useful. For example, there’s a special rack to mount a phone or an action camera to capture your off-road experience.  

We will see a two-door and a four-door version of Ford Bronco. The default engine is a turbocharged 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder producing 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. It is paired with a seven-speed manual transmission, one of the gears is a super-low one for crawling. You can also get a 10-speed automatic as an option. If you want bigger guns under the hood, go for a twin-turbo 2.7-liter V6 EcoBoost with 310 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. They say a hybrid powertrain coming our way, but we don’t have specific data on it yet. Now we know it can tow up to 3500 pounds — not the most impressive number, but still a good one. 

What else? We can’t but mention removable panels, which can be stored in the back, as well as a splendid removable halo roof, offering an unobstructed view of the skies. 

Toyota 4runner TRD Pro

$50 000


You might look at the numbers and ask: how could this vehicle get to such a list? It has an outdated 5-speed gearbox, 17 mpg is not impressive, and an interior is a time machine, sending you a decade back. On top of that, you have to pay something like $50 000 for a new one. 

But after you take a closer look, you realize why this vehicle is so popular. Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro is an old-school off-roader with body-on-frame construction and a 4-liter V6 270-hp engine producing punchy 276 lb-ft of torque. Those are good not only for a smooth ride on nasty technical terrain but also for towing up to 5000 pounds without breaking a sweat. No doubt about Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro’s off-road focus: locking rear differential, Fox shocks, Multi-Terrain Select and Crawl Control drive modes for all sorts of off-road scenarios, as well as auxiliary buttons to operate aftermarket stuff of your choice. 

You might expect the Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro to be very clumsy on the paved surface. And though it is not the epitome of agility and nimbleness, this chunky fellow gets this part of his job done very nicely. Despite being utilitarian, the interior is roomy and comfortable, offering a lot of space in the cargo area.  

Ford Ranger FX4 Off-Road

starting at $25 500


Let’s cut to the chase: Ford Ranger with FX4 Off-Road is a bargain. Take a look where such an amount of money will get you. The Ford Ranger is equipped with a rugged 2.3-liter four-cylinder 270 hp engine putting out 310 lb-ft of torque. It can even tow up to a solid 7,200 lb. Of course, we talk about a steel frame, steel-mounted bumpers, and proper off-roading chassis. It also can switch to 4X4 low and back with a twist of a dial. 

The FX4 Off-Road package means upgrading to off-road shocks, all-terrain tires, and a terrain-management system. It also adds robust skid plates all over the place and an electronic locking differential. But there’s more! This package also includes Ford’s Terrain Management System, letting you choose between Normal, Grass, Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, or Sand modes. There’s also a Trail Control feature, which can be referred to as off-road cruise control. 

It sounds so good, there must be a trick to it. Yes, there is. Ford Ranger is a workhorse in the first place. The ride quality is not impressive, and though the interior offers decent comfort, it is simple and outdated. And don’t expect features like keyless entry or an engine start button. 

Jeep Renegade Trailhawk

starting at $28 250


This subcompact SUV doesn’t come to mind first when you think about a serious off-road weapon. In fact, it is the least capable in our selection here. But let us dig deeper here.

Jeep Renegade Trailhawk makes its world go round with two four-cylinder engines to choose from. There’s a standard turbocharged 1.3-liter 177 hp engine putting out 210 lb-ft of torque and an optional 2.4-liter 180 hp one with 175 lb-ft of torque. Either one works with a 9-speed automatic transmission.  

The Trailhawk trim is the only version of the Renegade with a low 21:1 crawl ratio and a Rock mode of the traction-control system. It also has a locking differential and a four-lo setting. Trailhawk’s underbody protection, 8.7 inches of clearance, and ability to brave waters up to 19 inches deep will help you keep peace of mind on the path less traveled. Jeep Renegade Trailhawk is not a true 4X4 vehicle, meaning it decides when to engage the rear wheels, but it gets the job done neatly. If you manage to have two wheels touching the ground, most of the time it will be enough to get you through. 

Jeep Renegade Trailhawk provides good comfort and on-road ride qualities. So if you are looking for a good city car that won’t drop the ball when it is time to hit the trails, this tiny guy has got you covered.

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Pavlo Prannyk