In the world of offroad enthusiasts, there are literally thousands of vehicles to choose from. Homemade, handmade, custom made, and variations of those are the norm in extreme offroading. Whether it’s rock climbing, mud bogging, stumping, gurgling, or baja rallying, there are plenty of machines made specifically for the task. If you ever get the chance to ride in or drive one of those custom jobs in its element.. GRAB IT.
In this list, we’re going to look at factory-only offroad machines. These are fun vehicles that come out of the factory ready to do fun things in the dirt, mud, and sand. They may or may not be the best for all purposes, but they are definitely some of the most fun regardless.
Nissan Juke NISMO AWD
The Juke is a polarizing car, sure, and a lot of people don’t like its look. What no one will contest is the excellent rally machine the Juke is. Will it beat a WRX or Impreza? Good question, since the Juke doesn’t compete in professional rallycross. It does, however, have some things that make it more fun than usual when spinning around in the dirt. It’s low, relatively fast, has the stability of AWD, and a short wheelbase making for fun and easy drifting and power slides. Brake turns are a blast and its light weight means it hops quite readily. If you can convince someone to let you drive their Juke NISMO off the pavement, do it.
Ford F-150 Raptor
Known colloquially as the “Redneck Racer” the Raptor is the offroad specialty machine in the Ford pickup truck line. It is basically an F-150 truck with several all-terrain additions to beef up its performance in the dirt and mud. Again, there are others that are more capable out in the wild, but in the realm of pickups, there aren’t many. It’s a big, fun ride with a cool look and a lot of bounce.
Which one doesn’t matter. Anything with the “Range Rover” name is good. Some might contest this, but like with pickup trucks, everyone has their favorites and roots for their team no matter what. Cowboys versus Steelers, Democrats versus Republicans, Rover versus Hummer.. it’s doesn’t matter. Pick a team and paint your face. Only in this case, use mud because it won’t be hard to get in some with the Range Rover lineup.
Need I say more? This is the gold standard everyone tries to compare everything else to. “Ya, well, it ain’t a Rubicon” the forums lament. “Take any of these crap boxes out against my Rub and you’ll get stuck while I laugh.” “Well, this isn’t a Rubicon, but I still like it.” These are the phrases you’ll hear from die-hard Jeep fans. In truth, it’s hard to argue with them. Few offroad machines straight out of the factory are as capable as the Wrangler Rubicon. Though I have driven both it and a Nissan Xterra on the same course and found the Xterra to be just as capable. I know. Blasphemy.
Nissan Xterra and Frontier
The Xterra is the SUV version of the Frontier pickup truck and both, when had in their Pro-4X package, are some of the least expensive and most capable offroad machines you can get. Can they climb mountains and fly off the top into the Baja 1000 or Ford the Rio Grande and bog through the bayou? Probably not. Can anything else? Not all at once.
Got a favorite offroad machine? Let’s hear it!