Top 10 Off-Road Vehicles of 2009
Best of the Lot, Muscle Mania
An off-roader is no longer considered as something which is bought only by park rangers and farmers. It has become absorbed into the SUV market and has become an extension of the road-going family car. That has meant that the goal posts have moved over the years with respect to the attributes we look for in a good off-roader. Depending on what you plan to do with your truck you will look for specific qualities in it. If you are a true outdoorsy and do rock-climbing then you will be looking for a rugged uncompromising car and you wouldn’t care much for comfort. If you’re more of a family man and an occasional off-roader, safety, comfort and space become important.
Here we try to put together a list of 2009′s best off-roaders considering all the possible things you might look into.
10. Range Rover Sport 2009
Range Rover has had a few reliability issues in the past but the 2009 Sport has been much appreciated by critics and users alike. It is one of the best Luxury off-roaders money can buy. It has lost a lot of its sporty feel and looks like it has been on a diet. The classic British design is very attractive and so are the luxurious interiors. Except the obvious reliability issues which have been plaguing Land Rover, this is an exceptional vehicle. Of course, you have to pay a premium for the quality interiors and the brand name. It’ll set you back around $55,000-60,000 on average to get the trim of your choice.
9. Jeep Wrangler 2010
The Wrangler’s off-road capability is awesome and the styling is unique. The price is reasonable as well, though the interiors are (as always) a bit cheap and sparse. It would cost around $20,000-30,000 which is quite good but with today’s gas prices you would want to glance at the woeful 15/19 mpg fuel economy as well. Very few SUV’s can beat the Wrangler in sheer fun and excitement when you are off-road though and its still a good buy if you aren’t really interested in other worldly comforts.
8. Suzuki Grand Vitara 2009
Suzuki has built this car for good off-road performance and it doesn’t disappoint. It feels sure footed and powerful when you are in muddy waters and feels roomy and safe. But when you take it onto the road the story is quite different. The suspension seems wobbly all of a sudden and you feel like the ride is rather like an elephant on roller-skates. The CRV and RAV-4 are probably smoother but the Grand Vitara gives you lots of room and great exteriors. The interiors are still crummy and there’s lots of cheap plastic. For around $20,000 what did you expect?
7. Kia Borrego 2010
The Koreans have done a surprisingly good job on the Borrego! It is very roomy and seats 8 and has good off-road credentials. The most attractive part of the car would have to be the reliable engine which comes with a 10-year warranty and is distinctly the best in its class. The interiors aren’t great and neither is the overall styling – which is very Korean – unimaginative but not bland. The biggest worry for the Borrego is its poor fuel economy – 17/21 mpg.
6. Ford Explorer 2010
After the overhaul in 2006, no real changes have been made to the design of the Explorer. Long may it be that way. It is quiet and safe and comes for $30,000. The design is so boring you wouldn’t notice a bright yellow Explorer if it passed you. The steering isn’t the most responsive but it is strong and powerful and the design (though boring) is perfectly suited for towing. Though this model is quite good, Ford released a statement saying that the Explorer will be completely redesigned next year. I would suggest waiting for that one.
5. Nissan Xterra 2010
Finally, a car with good off-road performance and a comfortable city drive. The engine is a powerful V6. The rear is the best part of this vehicle. The cargo hold is spacious and very easy to clean. It costs around $25,000 and that’s definitely an advantage over its competitors. Again, the 16/20 mpg fuel economy isn’t world beating but it’s the same story across the entire class of vehicles. You have a number of trim options though the rugged 4X only option is unavailable.
4. Jeep Grand Cherokee 2009
The 2008 design stands firm this year and we like it! Loads of engine choices, beautiful interiors and great off-road action means this car must definitely be somewhere at the top of your list. Space, both in the back seats and in the cargo is at a premium and you will have to look at other options if that is your prime concern. You could get on for around $30,000 and if you are an off-roader who likes a fair bit of comfort this is the one for you.
3. Toyota 4Runner 2009
Most customers are pleased with the 4Runner’s on-road smoothness and off-road ruggedness. It is priced competitively at $25,000-35,000 and that, along with its reliability and versatility make it a very attractive option. 2006 was the last time Toyota upgraded the 4Runner and we can see why the design remains the same.
2. Land Rover LR2 2010
It is as safe as you bed and is still rugged when it’s off-road. It takes care of you like a Momma Bear takes care of its cubs. It is a bit expensive at around $34,000 but its completely worth it. There is only a single available trim though and the lack of choice is probably the only worry.
1. 2010 Toyota FJ Cruiser
With its brave styling and rugged performance & reliability, the FJ Cruiser is our pick for the ultimate off-roader of 2009. The mileage has been improved considerably and that is one of its strongest points. The interiors (expectedly) aren’t as stylish as some of its competitors but at $20,000 it is far ahead of the crowd.