What is the Best Vehicle for Overlanding?

what is the best vehicle for overlanding

Whether you are looking for a used or new vehicle for overland travel, you need a reliable and capable vehicle. When you’re seeking out remote areas and driving in backcountry landscapes, you’re going to want a vehicle that not only runs well but with the driving you’re doing, and it should also have aftermarket and repair support.

Finding a robust vehicle that is not too obscure within your price range might be a challenge for some readers, but that’s why we are also listing used price options. When listing prices below, the used price in reference to a vehicle in good running condition with little to no mechanical problems and possibly some overland add-ons.

Plus, in all reality, we don’t have enough room to list all of the great 4WD vehicles here today! Our list is comprised of some of the most widely used and most reliable options but is by no means the rule. For some readers, this can be a good launching point as you research the best option for you.

Let’s dive into the list… Here’s our top 10 best vehicles for overlanding:

1. Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is probably going to be the most capable off-road vehicle you can get without modification. It includes rock sliders, long-travel coil suspension, locking differentials, and solid axles. Plus, with the limited payload, your modifications and additions will have to be minimalistic. 

The standard sleep set up for a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is a rooftop tent. 

Cons: 

  • Somewhat low payload comparatively 
  • Limited cargo volume 

Specs:

1050 lb payload | 2000 lb towing

Engine: 3.6L V6 | 270-285 hp | 260-295 lb-ft torque

MPG: 22 city / 24 hwy

Used Price: Starting at $22,000

MSRP: Up to $43,000

For more information about the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, visit: jeep.com

2. Land Rover LR4

While the Land Rover Discovery 3 & 4 are also good picks, the Land Rover LR4 is more recent and relevant in the overland world. This Land Rover model is reliable and capable of maneuvering over difficult terrain. The LR4 is an excellent vehicle right away, but will likely require some modifications to fit your specific overlanding needs. 

It has excellent trail performance with a rear locking differential and air suspension. The most common sleeping set-up with this vehicle is a rooftop tent. 

Cons: 

  • Reliable for a Land Rover, but not in comparison to other companies (i.e. Toyota)
  • The build of the LR4 is overly technical, making it difficult to repair yourself 
  • Limited aftermarket support on newer models 

Specs: 

1488 lb payload | 7715 lb towing | 165 lb roof load capacity

Engine: 3.0L V6 | 340 hp | 332 lb-ft torque

MPG: 15 city /19 hwy

Used Price: Starting at $12,000

MSRP: $51,000+

For more information about the Land Rover LR4, visit: landroverusa.com

3. Toyota Tundra

via – @theoverland5 feature

A significant draw to the Toyota Tundra as an overland vehicle is that it is a full-size truck. The size makes it easier to haul more people and gear, but it does come with downsides as well, such as maneuverability in tight spaces. It has a higher towing capacity than many of the other vehicles, making it easy to bring a trailer. Plus, like all of Toyota’s vehicles listed, it is highly dependable. 

The Toyota Tundra is most often compared to the Toyota Tacoma in overland settings. They both have pros and cons. However, the Tundra is usually the more affordable option. You will have to add more modifications to the Tundra, but that also makes it easier to personalize. 

The usual sleep set-up on the Tundra will be like most other trucks. You can choose between a raised bed in the back truck bed or a rooftop tent. A rooftop tent is a popular option as it offers more space for gear and most sleeping space in most cases. 

Cons: 

  • It is a full-size truck, making maneuvering tight turns difficult
  • Poor fuel economy
  • To make it more suitable to off-road terrain, you’ll have to do a lot of upgrades 

Specs: 

1520-1730 payload | 8800-10200 towing

Engine: 5.7 L V8 | 381 hp | 401 lb-ft torque

MPG: 13 city / 18 hwy

Used Price: Starting at $10,000

MSRP: Up to $40,000

For more information about the Toyota Tundra, visit: toyota.com

4. Toyota Tacoma

 

The Toyota Tacoma is a classic adventure vehicle for one simple reason: it is one of the most reliable vehicles out there. It also has one of the best resale values of any of the vehicles we list today.

Some overlanders find the compact size of the Tacoma to be bothersome, whereas others are drawn to it. The standard sleep set up is to build a platform in the bed of the truck with storage underneath and on the roof rack. You can set up a rooftop tent on the Tacoma if you need extra space for gear or if you just want more head space in your sleeping quarters. 

Cons: 

  • Lower payload than most other trucks
  • Allows for minimal modifications 
  • Small truck bed
  • Interior materials are of low quality
  • No matter the year, it will be expensive to buy

Specs:

1200 lb payload | 6400 lb towing | 190 lb roof load

Engine: 3.5 L V6 | 2.7 L 4-cylinder | 159-278 hp

MPG: 20 city / 23 hwy

Used Price: Starting at $10,000

MSRP: Up to $30,000

For more information on the Toyota Tacoma, visit: toyota.com

5. Toyota 4Runner

 

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Right out the gate, the Toyota 4Runner is comfortable and one of the most user-friendly in terms of driveability. It may not have all of the aspects you want in an overland vehicle right away. Still, there are numerous aftermarket support options that allow you to customize the vehicle to your overlanding needs. It does have one of the best technical terrain performances in a trail variant. 

A standard overland 4Runner sleep set-up for overlanding is to use a rooftop tent but don’t rule out a bed in the back. 

Cons:

  • Only a 5-speed automatic transmission 
  • You’ll want to upgrade drive mode systems 
  • Dash controls are somewhat outdated

Specs:

1625 lb payload | 5000 lb towing | 660 lb roof load

Engine: 4.0 L V6 | 270 hp | 278 lb-ft torque

MPG: 17 city / 22 hwy

Used Price: Starting at $16,000

MSRP: $36,000+

For more information about the Toyota 4Runner, visit: toyota.com

6. Toyota Land Cruiser

 

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The Toyota Land Cruiser will be at the top of almost anyone’s overland vehicle list. It is renowned for its strength when navigating on moderate terrain and is exceptionally comfortable for long-distance travel. Plus, this vehicle model is supported fully on a global aftermarket platform, making it easy to get serviced almost anywhere in the world. 

It has a unique and somewhat iconic suspension and shocks, making it ideal for driving over rough terrain. The most common sleep system overlanders choose is a rooftop tent leaving enough room on the roof rack for some additional storage boxes. However, there is plenty of room inside to set up a sleeping platform.

Cons: 

  • Poor fuel economy
  • Larger vehicle size making it limited on super technical terrain

To counter the fuel necessary for the engine to drive further, a secondary fuel tank can be installed where the factory spare tire mounts. The tire is relocated to the rear swing-away mount, and then you have a second fuel tank to carry you further. 

Specs:

1600 lb payload | 8,000 lb towing | 440 lb roof load

Engine: 5.7L V8 | 381 hp | 401 lb-ft torque

MPG: 13 city / 17 hwy

Used Price: Starting at $10,000

MSRP: Up to $86,000

For more information on the Toyota Land Cruiser visit: toyota.com

7. Lexus GX

The Lexus GX made the list because it is one of the best values you’re going to find in an overland vehicle. The aftermarket support is growing with this vehicle option, but it will be overland ready right when you get it. 

This overland vehicle has super comfortable and competent handling on the trails. Plus, the wheelbase and dimensions are ideal for all-terrain. You can also opt to get the KDSS suspension to increase the axle articulation significantly. 

The standard sleep set up with this vehicle is a rooftop tent. 

Cons: 

  • No factory rear locking differential 
  • Steering can feel light 
  • Poor fuel economy 

Specs:

1300-1500 lb payload | 6500 lbs towing | 500-1000 lb roof load

Engine: 4.6L V8 | 301 hp | 329 lb-ft torque

MPG: 15 city / 19 hwy

Used Price: Starting at $10,000

MSRP: $53,000+

For more information about the Lexus GX, visit: lexus.com

8. Mitsubishi Pajero (4th Generation)

 

The Mitsubishi Pajero is a difficult vehicle to hone in on because many of the older generations are still running and usable for overland travel. That being said, the specs above are for the newest models. The Pajero honestly has outstanding traction, power, and slip control, mostly because each wheel is optimized for control and suspension individually. 

Atop a dynamic independent suspension, no amount of flexing or bumping seems to impact the monocoque body with its built-in ladder frame. For additional handling and control, the engine is shifted back to be closer to the center of the vehicle, placing more weight between the axles. 

With plenty of aftermarket additions on the sport model, you will have a luxury overland vehicle in no time. Standard sleep set up is a rooftop tent. 

Cons: 

  • Generation to generation there are significant changes, but year to year, the models are basically the same
  • Lacking in safety technology 
  • Higher-end of the price range if buying a newer model 

Specs:

1030-1135 lb payload | 5000 lb towing

Engine: 3.8L 24-valve V6 | 247 hp | 243 lb-ft torque

Diesel: 3.2L 16-valve DOHC Common Rail DI-D | 197 hp | 325 lb-ft torque

MPG: 18 city / 22 hwy

Used Price: Starting at $13,000

MSRP: Up to $59,000

For more information about the Mitsubishi Pajero, visit: mitsubishi-motors.com

9. Nissan Pathfinder

The Nissan Pathfinder may be the most comparable with the 4Runner on our list. It combines a powerful engine with comfortable long-distance travel. It offers excellent handling and 4WD locking functions for improved traction control. Models after the 2012 R51 may need more modifications, but there aftermarket additions that allow this to be a mild overlanding vehicle. 

Depending on the length of your trip or how many people are along, some overlanders choose to set up a sleeping platform inside of their Pathfinder. However, it is still more popular to utilize a rooftop tent as it leaves more cargo space for people and gear. 

Cons:

  • Large blind spots 
  • Likely will need to upgrade the suspension
  • Headlights aren’t ideal for driving off-road at night
  • Don’t plan on any rock crawling or anything too serious offroad without a lift kit (limited clearance)

Specs:

1324-1693 lb payload | 6000 lb towing | 165 lb roof load

Engine: 3.5L V6 | 384 hp | 259 lb-ft torque

MPG: 20 city / 27 hwy

Used Price: Starting at $13,000

MSRP: Up to $32,000

For more information about the Nissan Pathfinder, visit: nissanusa.com

10. Tesla Cybertruck

screenshot – tesla.com

This one is for overland adventurers that are looking for both a high quality and an eco-conscious vehicle. The Tesla Cybertruck comes with three different electric motor options, but the Dual or Tri motor AWD would be best for overland travel. 

The Cybertruck may look a little funky, but it will be extremely durable, have an excessive amount of towing capacity, great range on an electric motor, and an impressive amount of cargo space. Overall, it is hard to find things wrong with this vehicle. 

Due to the specialty design, the only place for a sleep set up would be to haul a trailer or opt to add on the Tesla Camper Mode.

Cons:

  • Well, it looks strange but other than that… it’s epic. 
  • Higher price range than other vehicles
  • Not scheduled to reach production until 2021 for Single/Dual Motor and 2022 for the Tri-Motor

Keep in mind, unlike the petroleum-fueled vehicles we listed here, the Tesla Cybertruck is an electric vehicle. That means there is no option to refuel while on the trail. 

Specs:

3270-3500 lb payload | 7500-14000 lb towing

Engine: Single Motor RWD, Dual Motor AWD, or Tri-Motor AWD

MPG: all-electric with 250-500 miles of range

Price Range: $40-70,000 depending on the motor

For more information about the Tesla Cybertruck, visit: tesla.com

 

Up Next In Overlanding:

Overland Vehicle on a Budget: Under $7,500 Spent

Best Hard Shell Roof Top Tents? (10 Crowd Favorites)

Go Fast Campers: Owner QnA Plus Product Overview

4 Person Roof Top Tents: Our Top 10 Picks

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