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.
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