It’s summer and it’s time for some major adventuring. Nothing beats a weekend getaway out of the city — somewhere with more trees than Starbucks. But the best ones are usually hiding somewhere off the beaten path. First, you need to find the right place; then you need the right vehicle to get you there.
Different adventures require different qualities in your ride — usually some combination of reliability, value, modifiability, capability and durability. With so many ways to get away from the rat race, we thought we’d vary the types of choices. Whether you are facing roads that are rocky, muddy, steep or run through a river, you’ll want to be prepared to keep your best adventure from being your last.
Here are seven great adventure vehicle options currently available on KSL Cars. If your favorite choice didn’t make the list — we all have different needs — let us know below!
Land Rovers are easily among the best luxury SUVs for off-road adventuring and regular day-to-day driving, and when you’re crawling over Southern Utah terrain, you’ll want something that offers a heavy-duty package that includes center-and rear-locking differential to increase traction. With most Land Rover models, you’ll be able to handle a myriad of different conditions, with the option of changing settings for: general, snow/grass/gravel, mud and ruts, sand, and rock crawl. It might take a few attempts to get used to the controls, but once you are locked in, you’ll adjust to your surroundings with ease. The rugged looks and backcountry capabilities will send you on countless adventures.
For longer than 20 years, outdoor enthusiasts have taken Honda CRVs on jaunts all across the country. The CRV is a vehicle with a great fusion of daily usability and getaway capability — almost a mini-motorhome of sorts. In the 2017 model, the older boxy style was replaced with a curvier one, and the rear storage space easily fits camping gear, coolers and anything else you need for a weekend away. Many folks fold the seats down and sleep in the vehicle. For those weekend trips, Honda's voice-command navigation system works like a charm in the 2017 CRV. Just speak the city, street or landmark of the desired location. You can even zoom in or out with your voice to get a better grasp on the surroundings all while driving. There is also an LCD touchscreen available for those more comfortable typing in the location prior to departure.
Living in the West means you need to be ready for extreme forms of all four seasons and their associated weather. A few days or 50 miles can be the difference between 88˚ & sunny and 25˚ and snowing, so a dependable 4x4 is standard for most adventurer. Toyota’s FJ Cruiser 4x4 fits the bill with its A-Trac system and rear locker coupled with its 6-speed manual and V-6 engine; you’ll have all the needed power and control at your fingertips to conquer any challenge Mother Nature throws your way. Crawl rocks, ford a flooded river or grip the snow — maybe all in the same trip.
For those looking for a truly one-of-a-kind road-tripping adventure vehicle, Volkswagen Vanagon is a collector’s dream. With its funky, unique body style, you’ll earn smiles, thumbs up and double-takes from your fellow road warriors as you take in the breathtaking views of your mountain west road trip. It may not be the most heavy-duty, fuel-efficient workhorse, but it should purr up mountain passes without any problems, and it’ll get you where you want to go in style. Find one with a roof camper, bug screens and side awning and you’re golden.
Imagine being able to go on a long scouting trip without piling out of a cramped van needing chiropractic care. Sound nice? The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van fits the bill. The Mercedes brand brings to mind sleek and classy performance, and their vans are no exception. Its turbo-diesel V-6 engine has decent fuel economy, all things considered, and also features a ton of high-safety gear. The Sprinter Van offers sleekness while being able to sit a dozen folks. It’s spacious — even you six-footers can stand up straight in its 543 cubic feet of space, and there’s no better transportation option for shuttling three-too-many antsy scouts to a faraway destination.
You could even add a durable Front Winch Bumper with Brush Guards if you plan on getting really lost.
The Mountain West is teeming with Subarus and for good cause. The Outback shows no fear whether you’re driving in snow or steep canyons. Since the Subaru Outback is permanently in all-wheel-drive, it’s always prepared for whatever conditions come its way. Compact enough for better mileage than most off-road-capable vehicles, Outbacks still have plenty of room inside for gear, passengers, or both. Plus they’re set to run for years on end. Stick a Thule rack on top and you’re ready to go.
What self-respecting list of off-roaders doesn’t include a Jeep? Wranglers are among the best overland vehicles to modify for adventure driving. They’re ideal to conquer rutted trails and dirt roads, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a vehicle better suited (or better looking) for crawling rocks in Southern Utah. Hardcore off-roaders love its torque and extra tough front axle, which is easily capable of handling uneven rocky terrain. It’s what you’ll want for next year’s Easter Jeep Safari.
What about your rig?
Comment below with your best adventure stories and the vehicle that got you there. Where are you heading next?