Buying Guides

4 Best Crossovers for Mild Off-Roading

They can take on more than you think

Jane Ulitskaya, Digital Content Specialist

Although body-on-frame 4x4 SUVs (think Jeep Wrangler) are the most capable vehicles for serious off-roaders, many crossovers offer more than enough capability for the occasional trip off the beaten path. Choosing a crossover with off-road features gives you the best of both worlds - comfort for everyday driving, and the ability to take the road less traveled at a moment's notice. Features like AWD, multi-mode select for various driving conditions, and off-road technology like hill descent control make these 4 vehicles ideal for adventurous drivers and their families.

2020 Kia Telluride

Best

for Family adventures

  • PROS: Bold styling that hints at off-road capability, smooth and composed on-road, available active on-demand AWD to handle difference driving conditions.
  • CONS: Only one engine option.

The Kia Telluride strikes the right balance of comfort, style, and off-road capability. The boxy, bold exterior that stands out in the sea of crossovers is the first indication of the Telluride's adventurous nature. While it's not a tough body-on-frame vehicle, it can take on more than you think. The long and broad hood, wide grille, and sculpted rear skid plate contribute to the "ready-for-anything" design. The Telluride's 3.8-liter V6 engine produces 291 horsepower and 262 lb.-ft. of torque enabling it to tow up to 5,000 lbs. While you may not want to go rock crawling in the Telluride, the SUV is prepared for most off-road escapes a family will take with four-wheel independent suspension, available AWD with “Snow” and “AWD Lock”, for specific driving conditions, and downhill brake control for controlled descent on steep terrain.

2020 Toyota RAV4

 
  • PROS: Handles and steers better than before, improved cabin ergonomics, new TRD Off-Road grade.
  • CONS: The engine is noisy and needs more power.

From highway to trail, the Toyota RAV4 offers the versatility of comfort on paved roads coupled with capability on rougher terrain. The RAV4's Adventure trim used to be the most off-road ready in the lineup, but new for 2020 is the RAV4 TRD Off-Road model for drivers who want even more off-road chops. The TRD grade's suspension, wheels, and tires are specifically designed for rugged trail driving. Dynamic Torque Vectoring All-Wheel Drive is standard, and the multi-terrain select allows the driver to choose from modes including Mud & Sand for beach driving, Rock & Dirt for trails, and Snow for wintery conditions. Under the hood, the RAV4 Adventure and TRD grades house a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine good for 203 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. The TRD Off-Road can tow up to 3,500 pounds of adventure gear.

2020 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque

Best

for Adventuring in luxury

  • PROS: Comfortable and stylish interior, nimble handling, packed with all-terrain tech.
  • CONS:Turbo lag, steep price tag.

The Land Rover Range Rover Evoque is the crossover equivalent to glamping. It allows you to experience the great outdoors without losing any of the luxury and creature comforts you're used to. The Range Rover Evoque was redesigned for 2020 and offers two versions of a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. The base engine gets 246 horsepower, while a 48-volt hybrid system makes 296 horsepower. The Evoque's redesign gives it improved infotainment, a more refined cabin, and a new Terrain Response system that gives drivers the choice of five driving modes (General, ECO, Sand, Grass-GravelSnow, and Mud & Ruts). Additional technology like Hill Descent Control, Gradient Release Control, and All-Terrain Progress Control help navigate the trails, and a maximum wading depth of up to 23.6-in will satisfy the most adventurous drivers.

2020 Subaru Outback

 
  • PROS: New turbocharged engine boosts power, rugged exterior styling, quiet and upscale cabin.
  • CONS: Underwhelming base engine.

Subaru may be known for excellent safety, but the redesigned 2020 Subaru Outback won't bore the adventure-seekers and risk-takers. As part of its redesign, the Outback gets a new XT trim that comes with a standard 2.4-liter turbocharged BOXER engine for 260 horsepower (a substantial increase from the Outback's 182-horsepower base engine). Off-road friendly features include Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, Active Torque Vectoring, Vehicle Dynamics Control, and X-MODE with Hill Descent Control. Subaru's X-MODE optimized the All-Wheel Drive system for maximum traction on slippery surfaces. The Outback also offers 8.7 inches of ground clearance to go over obstacles. The ground clearance is higher than most competitors in the segment, yet the step-in height remains low for passenger comfort.

What makes a crossover adventure-ready?

  • Available all-wheel-drive
  • Multiple driving modes for various conditions
  • Comfortable for long drives
  • Good towing capacity

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