The technological advancement of All-Wheel Drive systems has created some confusion in the difference between "All-Wheel Drive" and "4-Wheel Drive". While All-Wheel Drive is now available on nearly every crossover, regardless of size, 4-Wheel Drive remains more exclusive to large and rugged trucks and SUVs. All-Wheel Drive vehicles can undoubtedly handle snow, rain and some light off-roading, but in some cases that may not be enough. 

Toyota 4Runner 4-Wheel Drive
Views like these may take a 4-Wheel Drive vehicle to experience. (image: Toyota)

4-Wheel Drive systems are built specifically for serious off-roaders and those that drive in especially rough terrain found in more remote areas. If this sounds like you, we have some good news. The market for 4-Wheel Drive SUVs is better than ever and we’ve rounded up the top contenders that are ready to take on the toughest conditions and also stay within reach for your budget. 

1. Jeep Wrangler

Jeep Wrangler

No one will question the Jeep Wrangler’s off-road prowess as its rugged capabilities are hard to top, but its reputation for on-road performance has been less than stellar in the past. This has significantly improved in the latest models. Wranglers are now lightyears better thanks to a more comfortable ride, improved handling and precise steering. When we're talking off-roading adventures, The Wrangler can come with one of two 4-Wheel Drive Systems including either the Command-Trac 4x4 or the Rock-Trac 4x4 standard on the Rubicon trim. For the most off-road capability for your money, the Rubicon is hard to beat. 

Starting MSRP with 4WD: $28,045

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2. Nissan Armada 

Nissan Armada(image: Nissan)

If it's a balance of rugged and refined you're after, look no farther than the Nissan Armada. The exterior and interior convey a sense of luxury, minus the luxury brand price tag. Under the hood, you'll find a potent V8 engine good for 390 horsepower and a towing capacity of 8,500 pounds. Inside, the Armada can seat up to 8, which means bringing along the family or friends on your off-roading trips. Nissan's Advanced 4-Wheel Drive system responds to road conditions as they change to adjust power distribution to the axles helping to maintain control. 

Starting MSPR with 4WD: $50,100

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3. Ford Expedition

Ford Expedition

The Ford Expedition earned our 2018 Web2Carz SUV of the year for its comfortable driving experience, powerful 3.5-liter turbocharged V6, and endless interior storage and cargo space. The large, body-on-frame SUV is a workhorse that can tow up to 9,300 pounds and its 3 rows can comfortably seat 7-8 passengers. With a more reasonable price tag than its luxury sibling, the Lincoln Navigator, everyone can come along for the ride (on-road or off). Ford's Intelligent 4-Wheel Drive has sensors that automatically respond to wheel slip on difficult terrain including rocks, mud, grass or snow. 

Starting MSRP with 4WD: $52,130

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4. Jeep Cherokee

Jeep Cherokee

Jeep worked its magic on the Cherokee for the 2019 redesign, returning to a more conventional Jeep exterior along with increased cargo space, and a new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine option. The 2.0-liter turbo is great for highway driving while the 3.2-liter V6 gives you the highest towing capacity at 4,500 pounds. Although the Cherokee can come in front-wheel drive, one of Jeep's four 4WD systems elevates this vehicle to 'off-road machine' status. Choose from Active Drive I, Active Drive II, and Active Drive Lock. To get the most off-road capability, the Trailhawk trim with Active Drive Lock is the way to go.

Starting MSRP with 4WD: $26,740

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5. Chevrolet Tahoe

Chevy Tahoeimage: (GM/Chevrolet)

The full-size Chevrolet Tahoe is ideal for those needing passenger space, cargo room and the ability to tackle terrain other than well-paved roads. With a truck-like driving feel and a 5.3-liter V8 engine producing 355 horsepower, you won't forget you're in a capable vehicle. The Tahoe's towing capacity maxes out at an impressive 8,600 pounds and with 94.7 cubic feet of cargo space, this SUV is built to work. Once the Tahoe is off the clock, it will ensure you enjoy the road less traveled with Chevy's 4WD system standard on all trim levels. 

Starting MSRP with 4WD: $52,295

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6. Toyota 4Runner

Toyota 4Runner

Although it may not give you as many luxuries as other SUVs on this list, the Toyota 4Runner has a lot to offer when it comes to space, ruggedness, and price. The V6 270-horsepower engine gives you sufficient power, and vast storage space with 90 cubic feet when the two back rows of seats are folded down. The 4Runner also has serious off-road chops thanks to Toyota’s part-time 4x4 system with Active Traction Control or the full-time 4x4 depending on trim.

Starting MSRP with 4WD: $36,785

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7. Jeep Renegade 

Jeep Renegade

The subcompact Jeep Renegade may be the runt of the 4-Wheel Drive litter but don't underestimate its off-road capabilities. If you don't need the passenger space of a large SUV and are looking for a bargain that can take you anywhere, the Renegade should top the list. Despite its small stature, the Renegade can tow up to 2,000 pounds if you go with the more potent 2.4-liter MultiAir 2 engine option. For taking the unbeaten path, you'll have your choice of two 4-Wheel Drive systems including the Active Drive 4x4 and the Active Drive Low 4x4. The off-road Trailhawk trim will give you the most confidence for conquering those mountains. 

Starting MSRP with 4WD: $20,250

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8. Land Rover Discovery

Land Rover Discovery

In addition to being the most off-road capable vehicle in Land Rover's lineup, the Land Rover Discovery also gives you three rows of roomy luxury on the inside and an attractive, muscular exterior. The capacious cargo space of 82.7 cubic feet with seats folded means you won't have to worry about fitting all the camping gear for the off-road excursion. Two engine options including a 340 horsepower supercharged 3.0-liter V6 or the 254 horsepower diesel 3.0-liter V6 are available. with the gas engine offering peppier acceleration (6.9 seconds) and a higher towing capacity (up to 8201 pounds) 4-Wheel Drive is standard on every Discovery model. 

Starting MSRP with 4WD: $49,395

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