The vast majority of SUV drivers don't really need an off-road vehicle--they're looking for all-weather traction.
The handful that do want to be true explorers really do need something like a Toyota 4Runner, at least in its base SR5 or Trail trim.
There's authentic off-road capability here that's long gone from the Ford Explorer, which now shares some running gear with the Taurus sedan.
The Nissan Xterra is a five-seater only, but it's essentially a Frontier pickup with a wagon body, so rugged isn't just a keyword.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is still a formidable all-terrain vehicle, especially with its new EcoDiesel edition, but it gets quite expensive quite easily--and who wants to ruin a really nice $50,000 SUV? The 4Runner has two rivals within its own company to consider: its cousin, the Lexus GX 460, has the same underpinnings, but more luxury appliques like running boards and a V-8 engine.
The GX doesn't cost much more than the 4Runner Trail, but with its complicated power-folding third-row seat and side-opening hatch, we'd rather have the Toyota.
And the most dedicated off-road weekend-warrior types should also consider the slightly more compact Toyota FJ Cruiser, which uses some of the same off-road hardware.
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|2014 Toyota 4RunnerBrowse Used Listings||2014 Ford ExplorerBrowse Used Listings||2014 Jeep Grand CherokeeBrowse Used Listings||2014 Lexus GX 460Browse Used Listings||2014 Nissan XterraBrowse Used Listings||2014 Toyota FJ CruiserBrowse Used Listings|
|17 MPG City / 22 MPG Hwy||16 MPG City / 24 MPG Hwy||13 MPG City / 25 MPG Hwy||15 MPG City / 20 MPG Hwy||15 MPG City / 22 MPG Hwy||15 MPG City / 20 MPG Hwy|
|Regular Unleaded V-6||Regular Unleaded V-6||Regular Unleaded V-6||Premium Unleaded V-8||Regular Unleaded V-6||Regular Unleaded V-6|
|N/A||Standard Sport Utility Vehicles 2WD||Standard Sport Utility Vehicles 2WD||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|RWD 4-Door V6 SR5 (GS)||FWD 4-Door Base||RWD 4-Door Laredo||4WD 4-Door||2WD 4-Door Automatic X||RWD 4-Door Automatic (GS)|
|Rear Wheel Drive||Front Wheel Drive||Rear Wheel Drive||Four Wheel Drive||Rear Wheel Drive||Rear Wheel Drive|
|Sport Utility||Sport Utility||Sport Utility||Sport Utility||Sport Utility||Sport Utility|
|Automatic w/OD||Automatic w/OD||Automatic w/OD||Automatic w/OD||Automatic w/OD||Automatic w/OD|