Nine of the most impressive off-road trucks and SUVs

The rise of off-road trucks

The U.S. car market may be entering into something of a golden age for off-road-capable vehicles, thanks mostly to an overall shift in consumer tastes away from cars and toward SUVs and trucks. Manufacturers in the U.S., Asia, and Europe are refreshing old designs and releasing new models.

Here is a list of some of the more noteworthy ones.

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

Guests drive a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon on a simulated off-road course at the Chicago Auto Show on February 8, 2018 in Chicago.
Getty Images

The highest trim level available on the Jeep's most capable off-road vehicle, the Wrangler. Two locking differentials, choice of automatic or manual transmission, and a bunch of other features. Jeep redesigned the Wrangler for the first time in 10 years for the 2018 model year. The newest version aims to make the vehicle more "livable," said Jeep.

Starting price: $40,995 (Base model Wrangler starts at $30,995.)

Ford F-150 Raptor

The Ford F-150 Raptor was modeled in part off desert-racing trucks, and is best suited for "overland" off-roading as opposed to rock crawling.
Source: Ford Motor Company

The Ford F-150 Raptor is an F-150 truck essentially modded to include many of the attributes of desert racing trucks, with some added technology. Like many of the models on this list, the truck has a single locking rear differential. It has several drive modes, including a dedicated "off-road" setting. Ford Performance chief engineer Jamal Hameedi told CNBC the Raptor's suspension makes it the most comfortable F-150 to drive on roads as well.

Starting price: $50,115

GMC Sierra AT4

The GMC Sierra AT4, the first of several models that will offer the off-road package. GMC is aiming the truck at customers who want a more premium pickup with off-road kit such as a locking rear differential and a 2-inch lift right off the shelf.
Robert Ferris | CNBC

GMC unveiled the AT4 package prior to the New York Auto Show. GMC is positioning its off-road line as a more premium off-road vehicle, in keeping with the brand's overall identity. The truck has a locking rear differential and different drive modes, along with features typical of GMC trucks, such as the brand's unique lift-gate and a carbon-fiber bed.

Starting price: Not released

Chevrolet Colorado ZR2

Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Concept
Source: General Motors

The ZR2 is Chevrolet's Colorado mid-size pickup meant for off-roading but it has been built to handle everyday driving as well, Chevy says. The truck has just under 9 inches of ground clearance, locking front and rear differentials, like a Jeep Wrangler, and a suspension system Chrevrolet developed with supplier Multimatic that is also used in the Camaro. Chevrolet says the system helps make the ride more comfortable both on and off road. It also comes with a diesel power train option, which is unusual for these vehicles.

Starting price: $40,360

RAM 1500 Rebel & 2500 Power Wagon

The 2017 Ram Power Wagon, a veteran in the off-road category, was introduced back in 2005, before many other well-known models. The truck has more than 14 inches of ground clearance.
Source: Fiat Chrysler

The Rebel is a trim package available for the smallest full size RAM 1500 truck. RAM has redesigned the 1500 for 2019. It has a locking differential, tow hooks and other features. The massive 2500 Power Wagon is a veteran of this space, and the Power Wagon name has been around for decades, long before pickups were spun out of Dodge into the separate RAM brand.

Starting price: $45,495 (Rebel), $52,295 (Power Wagon)

Land Rover Discovery/Land Rover Defender

Land Rover Discovery
Source: Land Rover

For now, the Discovery is Land Rover's most rugged vehicle, said Jaguar Land Rover. The higher-priced Range Rover is certainly still an off-road capable vehicle, though it has often been favored just as much as a status symbol by wealthy drivers more likely to cruise through Miami Beach than barrel across the African savannah. Notably, the Discovery can ford bodies of water up to 33½ inches deep. However, Land Rover plans to reintroduce its ultimate off-roader, the Defender, around the world in 2019.

Starting price: $52,090

Toyota Land Cruiser

Toyota Land Cruiser
Source: Toyota

One of the more expensive off-road SUVs, the Toyota Land Cruiser starts at about $85,000, and is marketed as much as a luxury SUV as it is an off-roader. But it does have four-wheel drive, one locking differential, and a drive mode selector for different terrain.

Starting price: $84,315

Toyota TRD Pro Series 

Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro
Source: Toyota

The Toyota 4Runner SUV, and the Tacoma midsize pickup can be purchased with the TRD Pro package or the TRD off-road package. The Pro version is the most capable, but either are meant for off-road driving. TRD stands for Toyota Racing Development, which is Toyota's in-house performance shop. There are slightly less expensive TRD Off-Road and Off-Road Premium versions. Notably, the TRD Pro Tacoma can be bought with a manual transmission.

Starting price: $41,520 (Tacoma TRD Pro)

Mercedes G-Class

Mercedes G-Wagon
Source: Daimler

Mercedes' G-Class line (sometimes called the G-Wagen) offers three different locking differential settings. Even in the base model, it has a setting called "G-Mode," which optimizes the vehicle for off-roading. True off-roaders will want the G550 4X4², which has a full 17 inches of ground clearance, but that will cost $227,300.

Starting price: $123,600