5 of the Best Ford Off-Road Vehicles Ever Produced

Nov. 29, 2016 By Tim Healey
Ford has a long history of building strong trucks and SUVs for off-road work, and it includes more than just the Raptors of recent vintage. Here’s a look at some key off-roaders from Ford’s history.

Ford Bronco
For 30 years over five generations, the Bronco plied both city streets and country trails, and it got extra fame in the ‘90s thanks to the Trial of the Century. It moved from a compact SUV that was meant to compete with the International Scout to a full-size SUV over the years, but some things remained consistent – such as the availability of V-8 engines and manual transmissions. There were improvements over the years, of course, such as the third-gen Bronco getting an independent front suspension. And now there are rumors that the Bronco name could come back – some great nameplates never truly fade.

Third-Generation F-Series
The third-generation of Ford’s long-running F-Series, which was built from 1956 to 1960, is key because it was the first to offer four-wheel drive as an option, which it did in 1959. It should be noted that this was the first “factory” option – previously, F-Series buyers could get four-wheel drive from a conversion kit. So while these generation trucks used either an inline-six or V-8 engine, the biggest reason this truck is on the list is that not only was this the first Ford truck to offer in-house four-wheel drive, but also the first of the Big Three automakers.

First-Generation Ford Explorer
The current Ford Explorer, while being plenty capable off-road, is probably best-known as family hauler. But the original Ford Explorer did something that went beyond what it could or couldn’t do off-road – it redefined the small/mid-size SUV segment and did more than perhaps any vehicle to drive SUVs to the sales successes they see today. Powered by a 4.0-liter V-6 and offered with four- or two-doors, the Explorer could crawl rocks but it gets its space on this list because of how it shot up the sales charts.

2009-2014 Ford Raptor
The F-150-based Raptor was a dedicated trail runner with increased performance. It offered either a 5.4-liter V-8 with 310 horsepower or a 6.2-liter V-8 with 411 horsepower. Other performance goodies included 35-inch tires, 11- and 12-inches of suspension travel front and rear, respectively. A SVT race version was also available with 500 horsepower, and it was used for the Baja 1000.

2017 Ford Raptor
The 2017 Ford Raptor isn’t a historical off-roader yet, but it will be. Ford has cut 500 pounds, added a 10-speed automatic transmission, torque on-demand transfer case, and a 450-horsepower 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine. That makes for a truck that should have no problems on even the trickiest of trails or in the harshest of deserts.

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