What is the best off-road SUV for less than $50,000?

Cargo space and luxury are important.

Pranay, Portland

Cars.com frequently pits groups of rival vehicles against one another in a head-to-head competition, including SUVs, but we conduct these comparisons in on-road tests, not off-road. Our recent $37,000 SUV Challenge, found here, is an example and may help with your search.


Jeep historically has been an industry leader in building off-road-capable vehicles, and the current Grand Cherokee lives up to that reputation. Jeep designates its off-road models as Trail Rated, meaning they're suitable for duty on terrain such as the Rubicon Trail because they meet Jeep's standard's for ground clearance, maneuverability, water fording, articulation and ground clearance. The five-seat Grand Cherokee is quite luxurious in Limited, Overland and new-for-2014 Summit trims, and it has maximum cargo volume of 68.7 cubic feet.

The Land Rover LR4 falls into the same category, maintaining the brand's reputation for off-road prowess while offering a plush interior and a long list of luxury amenities. The LR4 seats seven and has maximum cargo capacity of 87.4 cubic feet. You also might find that the Toyota 4Runner Trail model has the off-road chops you desire, though it may not meet your luxury requirements.

Two other SUVs that might suit your desires for luxury and cargo space are the higher-priced versions of the Ford Explorer and Volkswagen Touareg. Both are car-based crossover SUVs, so they may not be suited for severe off-roading, but if you don't plan on extreme rock-crawling and stream fording, they might meet your needs.

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Answered by Rick Popely on June 4, 2013 in What Car Should I Buy? | Permalink

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