Sports utility vehicles aren't all what they used to be. Today, the rude beasts of yore have mostly evolved into crossovers that assume the silhouette of a rough-and-tumble SUV but have more in common with a minivan than a Ford Raptor. And that, frankly, makes a lot of sense. With a crossover, you get to imagine the potential for adventure without the drawbacks inherent in genuine off-road rigs: ponderous handling, heavy, low-range gearboxes. But what if you're the kind of guy who still wants the ability to ford a creek without drowning? Or ascend a mountain without taking a step? In our imaginary off-road world, where most of us are well served by cars disguised as trucks, are there any SUVs out there that can still handle terrain more fearsome than the ski-resort parking lot? The answer is yes. There are plenty of SUVS that meet the bulk of our criteria: respectable ground clearance, no less than 5,000 pounds of towing, underbody skid plates, and locking differentials. They're out there – you just have to know what to look for.
Toyota FJ Cruiser
3. It's based on a pickup-truck platform.
Given the proliferation of crossovers that are on the front-wheel-drive-sedan family tree, there are a surprising number of SUVs that still share their guts with trucks. And trucks are built to tow stuff, haul stuff, sling mud, and generally live up to the macho expectations set by country music lyrics. A Nissan Armada is a Titan, an Escalade is a high-society Chevy Silverado, and a Toyota FJ Cruiser is a rejiggered Tacoma.