It used to be if you wanted an off-road-capable compact SUV your search began and ended with the words “Jeep Wrangler.” Love it or hate it, the iconic Wrangler (and its CJ forebearers) have during the last 80-years set the standard for go-anywhere mobility. While in years past, Wrangler rivals have been similarly constructed off-roaders like the Ford Bronco, Land Rover Defender, Mercedes-Benz G-Class, and Toyota Land Cruiser, more recently, factory-modified crossover SUVs have begun gunning for the Jeep, too.
Complete with all-terrain tires, upgraded all-wheel-drive systems, reworked software, and modified suspensions, upstarts like the Escape-based 2021 ford bronco sport Badlands and established names like the Subaru Outback Wilderness and Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road aim to offer off-road capability without the on-road sacrifices Wrangler owners are familiar with. With all three of those would-be competitors priced around $40,000, are they as capable as a similarly priced Wrangler when it comes to off-roading? Are they even better than the Jeep?
With the question established, we gathered up some of the most off-road capable crossovers on the market and rented a bare-bones 2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport (Jeep didn’t have one available for us) to find out which is the most-balanced on- and off-roader. For the full story, check out this article from Motor Trend.