That said, there are many overland vehicles with the capability to go anywhere.
So how do you choose the best overlanding rig?
First, decide what type of travel you’ll be doing.
If you’re just looking for something to do simple dirt trails and camping with, you could get almost anything from a simple sedan or crossover to a full-size truck or SUV. But if you’ll be tackling the toughest trails in Baja and Moab, you’ll need something bigger.
Next, consider your budget. Most brand-new overland vehicles like a shiny new Jeep or Land Cruiser will run you upwards of $50,000. But you can buy used vehicles for as low as a few thousand.
Ready to choose your ride? Let’s dive in.
What Makes a Great Overland Vehicle?
A great overland vehicle needs:
- Capability: Can the vehicle get you over rocks, fallen trees, streams and deserts? Four wheel drive is practically a must.
- Capacity: How much weight can you carry in the vehicle, and how much are you able to tow? Overlanding can require a lot of gear, and some overlanders enjoy pulling off-road trailers.
- Durability: Can the overland vehicle stay in good shape for years while driving over rugged terrain?
- Reliability: As we said in the beginning, reliability is the most important factor in choosing an overland vehicle.
- Value: While many overlanders plan on keeping their rigs for life, it’s still important to consider the resale value of an overlanding vehicle when buying it.
You’ll notice there are a lot of Toyotas on this list. While they often lack some of the bells and whistles of other manufacturers, they make up for it in simplicity and extreme reliability. Plus, they are used around the world which means it’s pretty easy to find parts no matter where your expedition takes you.
11 Best Overland Vehicles
So what are the best overland vehicles? Here are 11, in no particular order:
1. Toyota Tacoma
You can’t go wrong with any year Toyota Tacoma. They are reliable, capable, durable, and hold their resale value extremely well. And, because they’re a fan-favorite, they support a plethora of aftermarket parts built specifically for the Tacoma. Plus they have a great fuel economy rating at 18-22mpg!
In fact, I chose a Tacoma for my overland build.
The one major con of a Tacoma is that it’s a pickup truck, which means it has slightly less clearance in the rear if you’re doing some rock crawling and the bed storage is difficult to weather-proof. SUVs have more weather-proof room. However, the Toyota Tacoma still has great off road capability and, for me, is the best overland vehicle I could have asked for. There’s a reason they’re one of the most popular rental cars!
But if you don’t mind the clearance and storage, the Tacoma can make an excellent overland build.
Related Reading: Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road vs TRD Pro: Which is Best?
2. Toyota 4Runner
Like the Tacoma, the 4Runner is a beast on the trails. Simple, reliable, capable, great resale.
The 4Runner also supports loads of aftermarket parts to help you tackle any trail. You’ll see a lot of 4Runners as an overlander because they are excellent beasts. There’s a reason Toyota has a reputation for reliability.
The biggest downside of the 4Runner is the gas mileage. These babies have a fuel economy rating of 12mpg, and that’s before you add any mods like bigger tires or a lift or extra weight.
Wanna see what a decked-out 4Runner can look like? Check out these 11 badass overland 4Runner builds!
3. Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
Jeep is a staple brand when it comes to overlanding. Like a mountain goat, they can go virtually anywhere. The gear ratio, torque, and size of the Wrangler means they can hit the meanest of trails with nary an issue. Great gas mileage, to boot!
However, the ride and handling of most Jeeps on paved road isn’t the best, and they aren’t without issues. They suffer from a cramped interior and smaller payload than basically any other rig on this list. You won’t be able to bring as much overlanding gear with you in a jeep, simply because you don’t have enough cargo space.
4. Land Rover Defender
Land Rover vehicles are excellent both on- and off-road. They have a great ride, great design, and beefy engine. You can’t go wrong with one of these.
The only drawback is that they have a few cheap interior parts and some build quality issues. But if you’re in the market for an SUV to tackle the trail, Land Rover is a good choice. They have a decent amount of cargo space and make a pretty good overland rig.
5. Toyota Land Cruiser
Land Cruiser practically has overlanding right in the name! These beefy V8 SUVs have plenty of power, space, and quality. The V8 engine means you can easily cruise over any obstacle during your trip.
They’re comfortable, ride great, and reliable.
However, the bigger engine means worse gas mileage. And if you want a land cruiser, you’re going to have to shell out the big bucks. Prices start at more than $85,000 new, and the used market is in high demand, so you’ll likely struggle to find one available.
Related Reading: The 7 Best Toyota Tacoma Camper Truck Setups in 2022
6. Lexus GX
Another V8 SUV, the Lexus GX comes with plenty of power. It’s known for safety and ride comfort, with plenty of bells and whistles like enhanced safety features.
Again, however, it’s a gas guzzler. And it lacks standard features in other new vehicles, like Apple and Android Car Play.
Related Reading: The 9 Best Hard Shell Rooftop Tents for Overlanding
7. Nissan XTerra
The Nissan XTerra is another extremely reliable and powerful overland vehicle, ready to take you on any trail expedition. They also have great resale value, which is always a plus!
The drawback here is, once again, fuel mileage as well as seat comfort. Some owners have complained about poor seat design and placement.
That said, they do make a great cheap overland vehicle if you’re looking to stick to a budget!
8. Jeep Gladiator
A staple in the overlanding community, the Jeep Gladiator is a mix between a standard Jeep and a pickup truck. These pseudo-trucks are some of the most capable off-road vehicles money can buy. They are also great on gas compared to other trucks!
However, they are also some of the priciest vehicles money can buy. And, they aren’t actually full-bodied trucks, which means their tow capacity isn’t as high as a truck or some of the bigger SUVs on this list.
Related Reading: We Reviewed the Best Rooftop Tents on the Market
9. Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
You can’t have a list like this without the classic Jeep Wrangler! It’s got the roll bars, top-down capabilities, and can run over just about anything you put in front of it.
The only issue is ride comfort on the highway and the price. Because of their excellent resale value, even older wranglers are pricey!
10. RAM Cummins 2500/3500
Now let’s talk about a full-size truck. They’re bigger, which means they can tow more and carry more and often provide more power to tackle anything your trip throws at you.
But full-size overlanding means you can’t fit on some of the tighter trails. And, of course, the gas mileage is going to be abysmal.
11. Ford Excursion
Diesel power incoming! The Ford Excursion is a powerful SUV that runs on diesel fuel instead of gas. This means better gas mileage, a longer-lasting engine, and more power.
But, they only come in older models, so you may struggle to find one. If you are able to find this overlanding vehicle, we definitely recommend snagging it!
There you have it—11 of the best overland vehicles on the market for overland travel! Which one will you choose? Is something not on this list? Let us know in the comments below.
Ready to build your rig? Check out our list of the must-have overlanding gear to start your next adventure! Also check out our guide to the 50+ Best Truck Camping Gear and Accessories!