The Jeep Wrangler is what most American drivers think of when they imagine a gnarly off-roader. Lately, the Ford Raptor has also become a paragon of off-road ability. Both of these machines are great! But there’s a bunch of other off-roaders out there that are mostly overlooked. What do you think is the most underrated off-roader?
We love to talk up the Suzuki Jimny as fun and capable, but it’s good because even as a modern SUV, it doesn’t deviate that much from the machines it came from. Just like the Wrangler and CJ, the Jimny and the LJ also have a rich history, but the older Suzukis aren’t as widely recognized and celebrated.
That’s probably because Suzuki has much less historic significance in the U.S., which could explain why other foreign off-roaders from, say, Mitsubishi are also underrated. I mean, it’s probably why Dodge sold the Montero as the Raider.
Off-roaders like the Montero have a small, healthy following among gearheads—Jalopnik Alumni Andrew Collins actually his money where his mouth is and bought one. Another alum, Michael Ballaban, argued the Montero was misremembered in the U.S. as an also-ran, middle of the off-road machine:
By the end of its life here, it wasn’t positioned as the go-anywhere off-roader that could do things better than a Land Rover could, as it was in the UK and the rest of the world, but as something affected by malaise. It didn’t know what it was, or where its image was heading.
Ballaban’s argument eventually proved true for Mitsubishi as a whole, but I’d say the carmaker’s past lineup is full of overlooked off-roaders across a number of segments.
Underrated off-roaders don’t have to be SUVs or trucks. It can be a hatchback, or a wagon or even a motorcycle. What do you think are the off-road machines that deserved more credit? What’s the most underrated off-roader?