When it comes to the outdoor lifestyle, you don’t have to choose between a super capable off-roader like the Jeep Gladiator or a comfortable family hauler from the same stable. Modern advances in the SUV and crossover segments mean that you can have the best of both worlds, with easy access to all-wheel drivetrains, commodious cabins, and strong power plants that facilitate high towing capacities. This means your daily driver can double as a workhorse or camper, depending on your needs.
The freedom of the SUV revolution
Sport utility vehicles from brands like Jeep, Ford, Toyota, and Mazda are already popular for a number of reasons. Chief among these is the amount of space available inside the cabin, which is usually well appointed with loads of modern features and comfortable seats. But it is more than just passengers that are easily accommodated. Cargo capacity is far superior to your standard sedan or coupe, and accessing the loading bay is usually very easy. Add to this the sense of security that comes from a better riding height and typically superior safety ratings, and they make for excellent family cars.
However, this is no longer enough, as larger vehicles in this segment, which already feature many truck-like abilities, have adopted similar characteristics. Now we are presented with models that can, quite literally, do it all. Whether on or off the road, they act as safe and reliable family haulers with the capacity to take on just about any challenge.
Need to do some home renovations? Just fold down the rear seats and free up astronomical amounts of cargo space to haul timber or tools as easily as a truck. Want to go on a camping trip? Tack on a trailer or caravan, easily lugged around by high horsepower and torque-rich engine options, and rely on the higher ground clearance of these versatile machines to overcome most obstacles. And, finally, do you need to take the kids, their friends, and the dog to the park for a sports event? Many a car in this category offers seating for up to seven, though only a select few do so with room to spare.
Name s to look out for
There are quite a few worthy contenders in this field, especially in the USA, where the crossover craze has really taken root. Unsurprisingly, many of the best selling automobiles are locally produced, but when it comes to SUVs, there are a fair number of foreign models. When it comes to combining outdoor and town living though, a few names come to the fore:
#1 Jeep Cherokee
An affordable offering from the traditional off-roading brand, the Cherokee comes in at around $26,000 MSRP for the base model. Sadly, it lacks the kind of engine required to do heavy work, and it’s subpar in the trunk department, too. Still, it handles itself well both on and off the road, and the latest variants have all the latest tech to keep the classic alive and kicking. For those with extra income to spare, the Grand Cherokee does most things better than its more basic siblings, especially in terms of infotainment, comfort, and handling.
#2 Ford Expedition
From the Blue Oval, the Expedition is a more mid-tier offering. The 375-hp V6 gives it more than enough kick to get around without a fuss, while the optional four-wheel drivetrain enables some impressive off-roading abilities. Where it really shines, though, is the spacious cabin and vast array of standard safety features. There is plenty of room to customize, too, so long as you have the Benjamins for it.
#3 Chevrolet Tahoe
One of the oldest nameplates in the segment, the Tahoe has come a long way over the years. The throaty V8 helps move the bulky monstrosity while also facilitating some of the best towing capabilities in the market. The fact that it can seat nine makes it quite desirable for larger families, though the back-seat bench is really not suitable for persons larger than a small child. Still, the interior is well appointed and comfortable, even over long drives, making the old Chevy a staple on the wide-open roads.