One of the most price-effective and time-tested ways to go off the beaten path in a motorized vehicle is to buy a used SUV or pickup and modify it with aftermarket parts to enhance its performance. Well, there's also something to be said for getting a new vehicle straight from the dealer showroom that's ready to play in the dirt. And more than ever before, automakers are offering vehicles with those off-road modifications already installed for you.
To showcase this trend, we've rounded up a group of capable off-the-lot off-roaders. Just note that this isn't a comprehensive list of vehicles. Rather, we picked some of our favorites to highlight the varied abilities and price tags that are available and ordered them by truck, SUV and wagon body type.
2018 CHEVROLET COLORADO ZR2
In most of its configurations, the Chevrolet Colorado is your typical midsize truck. It's capable and versatile, but it's far from being a dominant force in the dirt. The ZR2 trim, though, is something else entirely. Thanks to its lifted suspension, knobby tires, locking rear differential and modified bodywork, the ZR2 is a top-tier choice for a go-anywhere vehicle. MSRP: $42,000
2018 FORD F-150 RAPTOR
The Ford F-150 Raptor is one of the biggest and heaviest off-roaders on our list, yet it can drive across bumpy deserts at impressively high speeds. If you want to own a from-the-factory truck that best mimics a Baja 1000 race truck, the Raptor is what to get. A sophisticated suspension and powerful turbocharged engine make it both entertaining and proficient off-road. MSRP: $50,155
2018 JEEP WRANGLER RUBICON
For decades, the Wrangler has been an off-road enthusiast's gateway to the outdoors. For 2018, it's been completely redesigned. Jeep has added a wide array of welcome comfort and tech updates without diminishing the Wrangler's off-road prowess. The Rubicon trim in particular has a high stance, standard four-wheel drive, big tires, and exclusive traction-enhancing features that make it the king of the hill. MSRP: $37,495
2018 LAND ROVER DISCOVERY SPORT HSE
Most small luxury SUVs aren't capable enough to handle much more than an occasional gravel road, but the Discovery Sport is a notable exception. This is Land Rover's least expensive SUV, yet it maintains the brand's reputation for enhanced off-road abilities. The Discovery Sport has a sophisticated traction management system to help it make the most of your recreational adventures. MSRP: $42,395
2018 TOYOTA 4RUNNER TRD PRO
Thanks to its traditional body-on-frame SUV design, the 4Runner is pretty good right out of the box. In the TRD Pro trim, though, it's even more adept off-road. On top of the standard 4Runner equipment, the TRD Pro gets items such as a locking differential, Bilstein shock absorbers with rear remote reservoirs and a front skid plate. This SUV should easily get your family just about anywhere it wants to go. MSRP: $42,675
2018 SUBARU CROSSTREK 2.0i
Almost all Subarus come with all-wheel drive, which provides enhanced traction in wet weather. For the Impreza-based Crosstrek, though, Subaru goes further by raising the ride height and adding more rugged tires and some upgraded underpinnings. The result isn't an extreme rock-crawler like the Wrangler, but it can still take you farther into nature than any other economy-minded hatchback. MSRP: $21,795
2018 AUDI A4 ALLROAD
The Audi A4 Allroad wagon has the lowest limits compared to the other vehicles on our list, but we like it because it has its own set of desirable attributes. A slight suspension lift (compared to a regular A4 sedan), combined with plenty of modern technology and a classy cabin design, make this a capable all-wheel-drive car that you can enjoy both on and off the trail. MSRP: $44,500
EDMUNDS SAYS: Automakers are increasingly offering vehicles that come optimized for driving in off-road situations straight from the factory. No matter how far into the wilderness you want to go, there's an off-roader to fit your needs.
This story was provided to The Associated Press by the automotive website Edmunds. Travis Langness is a staff writer at Edmunds. Instagram: @travislangness
— 2019 Toyota TRD Pro Unveil Video: https://bit.ly/2C1MyqN
— 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Long-Term Test: https://edmu.in/2LavdMN