Buying Guides

Best Vehicles for Overlanding

These off-road machines will go the distance

Jane Ulitskaya, Digital Content Specialist

Overlanding is designed for those who believe the greatest adventure lies in the journey, not the destination. What is overlanding, exactly? Some of the characteristics include self-reliant travel to remote destinations, camping, and off-roading. To make the journey worthwhile, it pays to have a vehicle that can keep up with your adventurous spirit. Many serious overlanders modify vehicles such as vans and SUVs to accommodate their travel needs, but for the rest of us, there are many capable vehicles that come adventure-ready right off the lot. A good overlanding vehicle should provide off-road capability for a variety of terrains such as rocks, sand, and mud. It should also be durable and have enough space in the cargo area to carry all your gear.

2021 Ram 1500 TRX


for High-speed off-roading

  • PROS: Massive horsepower, reaches high speeds off-road, upscale interior
  • CONS: High price tag, large size isn't meant for tight spaces

The 702-horsepower Ram 1500 TRX will seem excessive to some, but for those who take their overlanding adventures seriously, this beast is just right. The TRX is all-new for 2021 and it easily claims the title of Ram's most off-road capable truck. Features like a wider body, stronger frame, higher ground clearance, and an advanced suspension set it apart from the standard Ram 1500. Under the hood is the famous Hellcat engine, a supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi V8 that produces over 700 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque, allowing the TRX to reach speeds of 100 mph off-road. Reaching high speeds isn't the TRX's only talent, however. The truck gets standard 4WD, special 35" all-terrain tires, and 5 skid plates to tackle rock crawling adventure. The TRX manages 8,100 pounds of towing and 1,310 pounds of rear payload so don't be scared to load it up with all the gear you need for your trip.

2021 Jeep Gladiator

  • PROS: Excellent for off-road terrain, comfortable interior, practical cargo space
  • CONS: Unsettled on-road, high price, not fuel efficient

Jeep leads the pack for off-roading prowess, but the automaker's line of SUVs may not have adequate cargo capacity for overlanders who go on long-distance adventures. Now, there's a solution in the form of the Jeep Gladiator - a pickup truck with the off-road spirit of a Wrangler. Although you give up some highway road manners, the Gladiator shines on off-road terrain thanks to standard 4x4, rock-crawling axle rations, and no shortage of skid plates. The base engine is a 3.6-liter V6 for 285 horses and 260 lb-ft of torque. The Gladiator's bed is 60" long which isn't the largest in its class, but with a payload capacity of 1,700 pounds, it's versatile enough to fit overlanding essentials like camping gear or dirt bikes.

2021 Toyota 4Runner


for Overlanding families

  • PROS: Serious off-road chops, 3-rows of passenger space, large cargo hold
  • CONS: Ranks low for on-road driving dynamics, dated interior, poor fuel economy

It may be an aging model, but the Toyota 4Runner remains one of the best SUV options for those who adventure off the beaten path. The 4Runner is a durable, body-on-frame SUV that isn't afraid to get dirty. For 2021, the rugged TRD Pro trim gets re-tuned 2.5-inch Fox Internal Bypass Shocks paired with TRD-tuned coil springs for an inch of front lift to help with off-roading capability. Toyota also introduces a new Trail Edition that accommodates overlanding. The special edition focuses on increased storage, convenience, and styling for outdoor enthusiasts. The Trail Edition gets TRD Off-Road wheels, a Yakima LoadWarrior rooftop cargo basket, and a custom 40-quart cooler that keeps ice frozen for up to 7 days. Under the hood is a 4.0-liter V6 that gets 270 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque. The 4Runner can tow a respectable 5,000 pounds if the overlanding adventures require a trailer.

2021 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2

  • PROS: Managable size, versatile off-roader, capable V6, aggressive styling
  • CONS: Interior storage is tight, lower payload and towing capacity than the competition

The Colorado ZR2 is the off-road variant of Chevy's popular midsize truck. It's built for overlanding journeys that may include rock crawling and high-speed desert running. The ZR2 stands out from the standard Colorado, allowing overlanders to tackle rough terrain thanks to a raised suspension and special dampers, large all-terrain tires, fender flares, and an electronically locking rear differential. For even more off-road goods, the ZR2 Bison Edition adds an AEV front and rear bumper, fog lamps, skid plates, and unique 17" aluminum wheels. The standard engine in the Colorado ZR2 is a capable 3.6-liter V6 good for 308 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque. Also available is a 181-horsepower 2.8-liter diesel. The ZR2 can haul a maximum of 1,350 pounds and trailer up to 5,000 pounds.

2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited


for Traveling light

  • PROS: Open air freedom with removeable doors and roof, dominates on the trails, rugged styling
  • CONS: Rough ride on-road, expensive when optioned out

Although it doesn't boast as much cargo space as the other vehicles on our list, the 2021 Jeep Wrangler is unbeatable when it comes to tackling a wide range of off-road obstacles. The overlanding minimalist who packs light will find the Wrangler to be an ideal adventure vehicle. The robust Wrangler lineup allows shoppers to find and tailor the right SUV to their unique needs, but the Wrangler Rubicon should be the front runner for hard-core overlanders. The Rubicon's approach, departure, and breakover angles, and the Rock-Trac 4WD system make it the best choice for off-roading enthusiasts. The Wrangler Rubicon comes in a two-door or four-door configuration and offers a 3.6-liter V6 engine for 285 horsepower. The Jeep Wrangler can tow up to 3,500 pounds and haul up to 1,351 pounds of overlanding gear. Introduced for 2021 are the first-ever Wrangler hybrid models: the Sahara 4xe and Rubicon 4xe.

Most important features in an overlanding vehicle

  • Rugged and durable
  • Off-road prowess
  • Ample cargo space

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