Big wheels, small budget | to

Big wheels, small budget |  to

Getting away and going outdoors can go a long way to making life more enjoyable. But what if you need to drive on some bumpy roads to reach your destination? Fortunately, there are some new vehicles that can serve as relatively inexpensive daily transportation as well as entertainment in the dirt.

While there is understandable value in using an inexpensive used vehicle for off-roading, a newer model will provide you with more of the latest technology features and the added convenience of a warranty. Here are five ready-to-go off-roaders that cost less than the average new car price and have high ratings.

2024 Chevrolet Trailblazer Active

The Trailblazer is Chevy’s smallest and least expensive SUV. This budget-oriented model may not seem like an obvious place to start, but Edmunds found it comfortable and well-equipped for its price. The available Activ model is one you’ll want to hit on some fire roads or light-duty trails. All-terrain tires and specialized off-road suspension are included with the Activ. There are also skid plates under the car for added protection.

Chevy offers an impressive array of features for the Activ, including a heated steering wheel and a power-adjustable driver’s seat. You’ll want to have all-wheel drive to maximize the Activ’s off-road capabilities, but all-wheel drive has the added benefit of being equipped with a more powerful motor that helps quicken the Trailblazer’s otherwise leisurely acceleration.

2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness

The Subaru Crosstrek is more expensive than the Trailblazer Activ, but in return, this compact SUV is more capable on the trails. High ground clearance and all-wheel drive are standard on all versions of the Crosstrek. Subaru has also redesigned the Crosstrek for 2024. The new look brings with it updated technology and driver assistance systems as well as a new Wilderness trim level.

Like Subaru’s other Wilderness models, the Crosstrek edition has more ground clearance, aggressive off-road tires, and water-resistant upholstery, among other changes. We also like that the Crosstrek Wilderness comes standard with the SUV’s more powerful engine option.

Toyota Tacoma TRD 2023 off-road

The Toyota Tacoma is a popular choice for many midsize truck shoppers thanks to its reputation for high resale value and strong off-road capabilities. Our choice here is the TRD Off-Road model because it offers increased performance for relatively little money. This Tacoma comes with specialized Bilstein shocks, all-terrain tires, and a locking rear differential that can be used to maximize the grip available.

The current generation Tacoma has been around since 2016, and soon Toyota will phase it out in favor of a redesigned Tacoma. The new truck will have a higher-quality interior and new tech features although Edmunds experts also expect TRD models to become more expensive as a result.

2024 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands

Ford’s big Bronco is a standout car in terms of style and capability, but the smaller, less expensive Bronco Sport isn’t too bad either. This small SUV has an upright design that mimics that of its big sibling and has more inherent off-road chops than most other crossovers.

The Bronco Sport Badlands is the highest-equipped Bronco Sport money can buy for heading off-road. Badlands get an upgraded all-wheel drive system that maximizes available traction as well as lower skid plates to keep things protected and secure. Naturally, more off-road-focused tires and suspension components are included as well.

2024 Jeep Wrangler Willys

The Jeep Wrangler is an off-road icon, and until the arrival of the new Ford Bronco, it was the default choice for off-road enthusiasts. Despite stiff competition from Ford, there’s still a lot to like here. The 2024 model, in particular, gets some worthwhile upgrades — including an improved central infotainment touchscreen — to go along with this SUV’s classic traits like higher ground clearance, a removable roof, and standard all-wheel drive.

The popular Rubicon models are still the most capable Wrangler models, but there’s plenty of value to be found in the less expensive Willys models. It comes with a decent number of standard features as well as off-road upgrades like body-protecting rock bars, a locking rear differential, and thick all-terrain tires. However, the Wrangler’s off-road toughness comes at the expense of on-road comfort.

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