The best off-road SUVs in 2020
Once upon a time, the notion of an SUV that couldn’t handle the path less travelled would be a laughable one. These days, that’s been turned on its head because an SUV meant primarily for sojourns off the beaten track is an almost alien concept.
Not with these four cars, however. While they are legal to use on the tarmac, that’s not where they shine. These cars look like they’re built tough, and they are. Tough enough that you won’t have to worry about going around obstacles, you could simply go through them.
Ariel is well-known for building stripped-down, no-nonsense purist machines like the Atom. So no surprises, then, when it decided to built an Atom for the off-roading set. The result is the Nomad, and to look at, it resembles an Atom seen through the lens of the Mars Rover.
The same principles used on the Atom also apply to the Nomad. Extreme lightness thanks to its tubular steel chassis and quite possibly the most intimate driving experience one could hope for outside of a single-seater Formula One car. That, or sticking your feet through the floor and running along, Fred Flintstone-style.
Which is something you could conceivably do since the Nomad comes with nil creature comforts. Things like protection from the elements, a windscreen and even panels to prevent mud from splashing up onto your feet are optional extras.
The sixth vehicle to bear the Bowler name looks like a Land Rover Defender on the outside, but underneath its skin, it’s something completely different. Underneath its blocky body panels lies a full aluminium spaceframe with an FIA-approved integral roll cage that’s also a stressed member of the chassis.
If that sounds like race car gobbledygook, it is, because Bowler has been building and preparing off-road racing machines for over 30 years now. The Bulldog can be taken for multi-day rally raid races and when you’re done bashing dunes, you can bring it down to the shops to pick up some groceries.
Of course, you’ll have to live with the spartan interior, fixed-back bucket seats, six-point racing harness, dearth of cabin storage and the near-total lack of refinement. But hey, nobody said living with a race car was easy…
Hennessey Velociraptor 6×6
There are a lot of cars you can buy for USD349,000. For not much more money, you could buy yourself a new Lamborghini Aventador, but good and special though the Lambo may be, the Hennessey Velociraptor 6×6 is arguably special-er and good-er. And the Velociraptor 6×6 will probably come in more handy during a zombie apocalypse.
Anyway, the Velociraptor 6×6 sounds like astounding value if you think about it. For that money, you get the base Ford F-150 Raptor twin-cab truck, a bespoke powertrain featuring a 600hp twin-turbo motor, an uprated stainless steel exhaust system and a tougher suspension system from Fox. Plus, Hennessey will thrown in an extra rear axle, too.
Suffice it to say, the Velociraptor 6×6 is capable of going off-road and thanks to its dual-cab nature, you won’t be short of space for your zombie-slaying crew… which kind of puts a completely new spin on the term ‘calling shotgun’.
Mercedes-Benz G500 4×4 Squared
All Mercedes-Benz G-Class models—affectionately known as the G-Wagen—can go off-road and the clue is in its name of Geländewagen, which roughly translates from German as ‘off-road vehicle’. However, some G-Wagens are more G than others, or according to Mercedes-Benz, “only a G-Class can be better than a G-Class”.
The most obvious example of that is the G63 6×6, which like the Hennessey, has a total of three axles and six wheels. There’s even a Mercedes-Maybach version with a folding soft-top, because why not. Everyone needs a super-luxury, six-wheeled truck in their lives and anyone who says different is lying.
Anyway, the G500 4×4 Squared takes the extreme ground clearance and all-terrain ruggedness of its six-wheeled cousin and subtracts an axle, which is quite handy considering most places aren’t exactly built with triple-axle monster trucks in mind.