6 SUVs that are Great Off Road and On

Sep. 24, 2014 By Jeff Ross

6 Great SUVs On and Off Road

Nissan Xterra
As the number of body-on-frame SUVs still in existence continues to dwindle, some (like the Chevrolet Suburban and Ford Expedition) provide great on-road comfort while others (like the Rubicon Jeep Wrangler) can take you anywhere you need to go but might not offer the smoothest on-road experience. In between these two extremes sits the Nissan Xterra, which is big enough of a mid-size SUV to have a good ride quality on the road while still being small enough to go down just about any trail you can find. For optimal off-roading, be sure to check out the beefed-up Xterra PRO-4X that offers extras such as Bilstein off-road shocks, a locking rear differential and underbody skid plates. Nissan only offers the Xterra with a V-6 engine, but it is one of the few SUVs left on the market to offer a manual transmission. Nissan has the Xterra priced competitively at $23,660 for the two-wheel-drive model, and the part-time four-wheel-drive model starts at $25,710.

Ford Explorer
The Ford Explorer was one of the key SUVs that kicked off the craze in the early 1990s, but a redesign in 2011 saw it crossover (pun intended) onto the dark side by swapping out its body-on-frame for a more refined car-based unibody platform. As expected, the resulting platform change helped improve the ride quality on the road and helped provide a more comfortable three-row seating configuration. Surprisingly, the unibody design didnít negatively affect the off-road capabilities of the Explorer Ė quite the opposite actually thanks to Fordís new Terrain Management System. The sheer size of the current Ford Explorer might be its biggest obstacle for more extreme off-road driving, but its roomier interior has made it so buyers can have a big, spacious SUV that is easy to drive around town but one that can still go just about anywhere it needs to. The Explorer with all-wheel drive is only available with a V-6, but the front-wheel-drive Explorer can also be equipped with a fuel-efficient turbocharged four-cylinder to maximize the on-road benefits of this iconic SUV. All-wheel-drive Explorers start at $32,600.

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