You probably know that modern-day SUVs evolved from rugged and basic off-road vehicles from the past. Everything started from Jeeps and Land Rovers which earned their living by serving in the war, crossing the deserts and exploring hard to reach places. Then somebody thought of putting nicer interior, cabin insulation, and softer suspension to make it better for normal driving, and the SUV market was born. People loved the idea of having tough and big off-road vehicle in their driveways, capable of doing anything, but they also liked that it drove like a regular sedan. Basically, they liked the image but didn`t like the rough nature of off road cars. Manufacturers gave the public exactly that, tough looking SUVs with a gentle driving characteristic which are only suited for mall parking lots or highway cruising. Somewhere along the way, the simple but effective body on frame construction was lost and SUVs continued to be built on unibody platforms which stripped them of their off-road ability. Most modern SUVs look like they could cross Sahara without any problems but in reality, they wouldn`t last 15 minutes in harsh desert driving conditions. However, for the fans of really capable and tough SUVs and truck models, there is still hope since manufacturers are still producing models that can go through hell and back and even look good doing it. We have compiled a list of 10 vehicles that are durable, tough, engineered to endure anything and still good looking for you to drive them anywhere. Here are 10 toughest SUVs and trucks of 2017.
Despite the fact that it looks like a luxury suite on wheels and it is the size of an apartment block, this Cadillac is one tough SUV. The body on frame construction, heavy-duty suspension, powerful V8 engine with 420 hp and big tow rating makes this luxury model one very capable car. Of course, the off-road driving is not its strongest side since this is a big and heavy SUV but the Escalade will provide good protection and can endure a lot of punishment. This is why the Cadillac Escalade is often used as the basis for bulletproofing and part of the motorcades of politicians and VIPs.
Chevrolet Colorado ZR2
The Colorado is a mid-sized pickup truck, smaller and cheaper than the regular Silverado but it has good construction, and interesting options to make it a very tough truck. The ZR2 package transforms this ordinary work vehicle into an off-road rocket. With the upgraded suspension, bigger wheels, locking front and rear differentials, Colorado ZR2 is up for anything and can go anywhere.
Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited
The Jeep Wrangler and its four-door variant, Wrangler Unlimited are the quintessential off-road vehicles and a direct descendant of the famous Jeep Willys which fought in World War II. That unique heritage and tradition is still alive and well with 2017 Wrangler and the basic concept is unchanged. The Jeep Wrangler is one of the toughest and most durable vehicles you can buy due to its simple and rugged construction, powerful engines and suspension built for off-road use. It is a little bit uncomfortable on paved surfaces but in mud, dust, and dirt, Wrangler is the king.
Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro
Toyota always had several tough and capable vehicles in their model lineup. One of the most interesting is the new 4Runner but with factory TRD Pro package. The base 4Runner is a very capable and strong SUV with the body on frame construction, strong suspension, and powerful engine. But with TRD Pro package it is a true off-road gem. Bigger tires, tougher springs, underbody protection and locking differential are just a part of the package and the best news is that the 4Runner TRD Pro costs around $36,000 which is quite cheap for such a capable and good looking machine.
Nobody expected Lexus GS to be such a good all-around vehicle since its size, equipment and looks all suggest it is just another luxury SUV who has forgotten about its off-road roots. But, the body on frame construction, advanced suspension along with intelligent all-wheel drive made this expensive vehicle really capable in the wild. You can drive through the most difficult terrains and still travel in luxury and be sure that you will arrive safe and sound. This is just amazing and too bad that most Lexus GX owners will never understand its true potential.
Ram Power Wagon
Dodge revived one of the greatest names in their history and gave it to specially prepared Ram which has only one purpose, and that is to be as tough and usable as possible. The regular Ram 1500 has got a lot of upgrades in terms of suspension, drivetrain, brakes and other components in order to make it into a Power Wagon. The result is pretty impressive because this is the truck that is equally at home in the mud or on the highway and it is equally good as a work vehicle or off-road truck. It is the best of both worlds and a great choice for anybody who is looking for a rugged truck.
There isn’t anything on the market today that comes even close to the Ford Raptor. Based on the all-aluminum new F-150 truck, Raptor is an off-road beast with 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque. It has 10-speed automatic transmission, full racing suspension with dual shocks per each wheel, heavy duty components, strengthened frame and body and off-road tires. The main purpose of this vehicle is to go over any terrain, jump sand dunes, splash through mud and climb on rocks faster and better than anything out there. And we have to say that Raptor accomplishes that making it the fastest street-legal off-road vehicle on the planet.
Introduced in the late ’70s, the Mercedes G-Class is one of those legendary models that changed very little during almost 40 years of production. Built as a military vehicle but soon presented to the civilian market, G-Class was always known for excellent off-road capabilities, quality, durability, and power. In the last 10 years, it became popular as a luxury ride but G-Class is much more than that. The advanced suspension, strong frame and powerful engine make this boxy SUV climb mountains and go through the deserts like it’s nothing. The only problem is its $122,000 base price but for that kind of cash, buyers will get top notch engineering, superb quality, and timeless design.
GMC Sierra 3500 HD
The heavy duty class is reserved for biggest and most powerful trucks which are built for towing and commercial purposes. With enormous dimensions, heavy duty components, double rear wheels and towing capacity big enough to move continents, GMC Sierra 3500 HD is one tough and capable truck. Of course, there is no point of owning such capable vehicle if you are a regular driver but if you are doing construction work, towing big stuff, or just need pulling power, this is the truck for you.
Land Rover Defender
Yes, we know that Land Rover discontinued the Defender in 2016 but they are still available and if you hurry up, you can get this everlasting piece of British motoring history. The Defender, similar to Jeep Wrangler is one of the few true off-road vehicles converted to street use. Over the years, it was modified quite a bit but the basic construction, compact dimensions, aluminum body, and purpose stayed the same. That is why it was and it still is one of toughest and most durable SUVs on the market, a car that is capable of going through the jungle but still cool enough to go to dinner in a fancy restaurant. The Defender will be missed and we hope that Land Rover will replace it with something equally good.