• Sign in
  • |
  • Sign up

Car Buying

Off-Roading Features to Help You Go Farther

RELATED READING
RESEARCH BY MAKE
Honda cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Hyundai cars, trucks and SUVs Acura cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs
Acura cars, trucks and SUVs Alfa Romeo cars, trucks and SUVs Aston Martin cars, trucks and SUVs Audi cars, trucks and SUVs Bentley cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Buick cars, trucks and SUVs Cadillac cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Chrysler cars, trucks and SUVs Dodge cars, trucks and SUVs Ferrari cars, trucks and SUVs FIAT cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Freightliner cars, trucks and SUVs GMC cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs Hyundai cars, trucks and SUVs Infiniti cars, trucks and SUVs Jaguar cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Kia cars, trucks and SUVs Lamborghini cars, trucks and SUVs Land Rover cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Lincoln cars, trucks and SUVs Lotus cars, trucks and SUVs Maserati cars, trucks and SUVs Mazda cars, trucks and SUVs McLaren cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs MINI cars, trucks and SUVs Mitsubishi cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Porsche cars, trucks and SUVs RAM cars, trucks and SUVs Scion cars, trucks and SUVs smart cars, trucks and SUVs SRT cars, trucks and SUVs Subaru cars, trucks and SUVs Tesla cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Volvo cars, trucks and SUVs
RESEARCH BY STYLE
AWD/4WD
Commercial
Convertible
Coupe
Hatchback
Hybrid/Electric
Luxury
Sedan
SUV/Crossover
Truck
Van/Minivan
Wagon

author photo by Doug DeMuro

If you're looking to go off-road, we have a few suggestions. You probably already know you should choose an SUV with a lot of ground clearance and good approach and departure angles. But we've rounded up some modern off-roading features you might want to consider to have more fun off the pavement.

Adjustable Suspension

Most off-roaders will tell you that you don't need adjustable suspension for a good trip off-road -- but it helps. Many modern SUVs, especially high-end luxury models, boast suspension systems that can raise and lower the vehicle. That makes entry and exit easier when the SUV is closer to the ground, while off-road driving is easier when it's elevated. Although some off-roaders buy suspension just to "lift" the SUV, it's nice to go back to a normal height if you just want to cruise around town.

Crawl Control

This feature is specific to several high-end Toyota models. It offers a unique benefit: It can control the vehicle's forward motion in low-traction situations. Basically, the system monitors the terrain and decides exactly how much power -- and braking -- to give the wheels. All you have to do is steer.

Hill Descent Control

Once limited to upscale models from Land Rover and other luxury brands, hill descent control is more common on all off-road-oriented SUVs. The reason is it works wonders when you're going down a hill. Like crawl control, hill descent control monitors the terrain and controls forward motion. Unlike crawl control, which works on rough terrain, hill descent control is done on a steep descent. That means you don't need to worry about your speed, and can instead focus on steering safely down the hill.

Locking Differential

A locking diff, called "lockers" by off-roaders, is one of the most important features of a modern off-road vehicle. While a typical vehicle might have traction issues deep off-road, that won't happen if you have a locking diff. A locking diff doesn't allow wheels to spin; instead, it forces both wheels to turn at the same rate. Thus, it overrides the common problem of one wheel not getting enough traction in serious off-road situations. Some of the best off-roaders have two sets of lockers: one for the rear wheels and another for all four wheels.

Low-Range Gearing: Low-range gearing overcomes a major problem when you're off the pavement; namely, that conventional gears are tuned for road use and thus send power to the wheels as if you're driving down a flat, normal street. For drivers who are instead climbing a boulder and need only a specific amount of power, low-range gearing is right for the job. It sends a lot of power to the wheels without turning them fast, allowing you to climb whatever it is you're climbing.

Tow Hooks: No matter what, you'll eventually get stuck. So you'd better have tow hooks on your off-roader, which will help your partner pull you out. After all, even if your vehicle has all the above tools, it's important to remember you should never go off-roading alone in case something unexpected happens.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Close 
Off-Roading Features to Help You Go Farther