Overland Vehicle Reviews:
- Ford Bronco (2021 – Present)
- Jeep Gladiator (2020 – Present)
- Jeep Wrangler JK (2009 – 2018)
- Jeep Wrangler JL (2019 – Present)
- Subaru Outback (2014 – 2019)
- Toyota Tacoma (2016 – Present)
- Toyota Sequoia (2008 – Present)
How to Pick the Best Overland Vehicle for Your Adventures
There is something magical about seeing the world from the road less traveled. Cruising through breathtaking sceneries, camping in the remote backcountry, and enjoying the constant adventure is what overlanding has in store for you.
As the popularity of overlanding continues to grow, many adventure enthusiasts are seriously considering this hobby. But to embark on journeys far and wide, you’ll first need a capable vehicle. So how do you pick the right vehicle for overlanding?
Let’s see how.
A Brief Word on Overlanding
Before we proceed, let’s look at what overlanding is. Put simply, it’s a type of vehicle-assisted travel focusing on exploring off-grid places and enjoying the great outdoors while relying solely on your own preparation and resources.
It’s like backpacking in the remote backcountry, only that you carry what you need in the vehicle instead of a backpack, and you drive instead of trekking. While most overlanders prefer to travel over vastly changing terrain and even across borders, some like to adventure closer to home.
Now let’s look at the factors you need to consider when selecting an overlanding rig.
Consider Your Unique Style of Traveling
The overlanding vehicle you choose will all boil down to your style of travel. Every traveler has unique needs, wants, and tastes, and so you’ll want to get a vehicle that suits your requirements. Do you prefer brief weekend adventures or lengthy expeditions? What comforts can’t you live without? What are your target destinations?
If you’re just starting out and aren’t sure what your travel style is, take whichever vehicle you have in the garage, and go for several long drives. Out there, engage other overlanders, get to learn about their rigs, and you’ll figure out what best suits you.
What’s Your Budget?
Before you start imagining yourself driving a big and cool expedition truck, it makes sense to take a close look at your finances. When creating a budget, factor in the cost of purchasing the vehicle and upgrading it into a self-sufficient off-road rig, and the actual cost of traveling in it.
There are many different vehicles available in a wide price range, but what’s important is it needs to be reasonably economical to run and maintain while still allowing you to get out there and accomplish your adventure goals.
Is Four-Wheel Drive Required for an Overlander?
When most people hear the word overlanding, they picture Jeeps, Toyotas 4X4s, or iconic Land Rovers. But surprisingly, modern overlanding is far more accessible than it ever has been before. You don’t have to own a four-wheel drive, be a pro at vehicle mechanics, or be obsessed with customization to become an overlander.
The only thing that limits you is the destination. But as long as the trail isn’t rough, you can take your mid-size car outdoors. In fact, many people around the world are increasingly taking budget 2WD vehicles to off-grid destinations and having fulfilling overland adventures, just be sure to have recovery equipment if you get stuck. That means the car you have in the garage might just be the best beginner overland vehicle. Once you gain experience and mature in the hobby, you can invest in a bigger rig.
New Vs. Used Overland Vehicles
When one wants to buy an overlander, one of the biggest dilemmas is whether to get a new rig that’s adventure-ready or a budget-friendly used vehicle that requires initial maintenance and upgrades. Those who prefer to buy new overlanding vehicles cite the reasons:
- Newer vehicles have higher safety standards.
- Low initial maintenance needs.
- Security of the manufacturer’s warranty.
- More comfortable rides, thanks to modern suspensions.
- Advancements in off-road capabilities.
- Availability of aftermarket parts.
Unfortunately, due to the complex mechanical and electrical systems that come with new vehicles, you won’t have the skills to tackle most repairs on your own. Also, any modifications may render the factory warranty void.
When it comes to used overlanders, their main advantage is the initial cost. While decent 4x4s off the lot are north of $30K, you can get a used overlander at a fraction of that price. Even less than $8K. Here are other benefits of second-hand overlanding vehicles:
- Their mechanical systems are less complex, allowing you to diagnose and repair almost all components on your own.
- You can easily find used parts at salvage yards.
- Most times, there’s no warranty to tie your hands when you want to make upgrades and modifications.
On the downside, used overlanding vehicles may lack standard safety features, have high initial and continuous maintenance needs, and have fewer aftermarket options.
So, What Do I Look for in an Overlanding Vehicle?
While your regular vehicle can help you head off the beaten track, other rigs will allow you to explore further, venture into more remote terrain, and stay longer in off-grid locations. Here’s what you need to consider before investing in an overlander:
- Ground Clearance – This refers to how high it sits off the road. Look for a vehicle with decent ground clearance. You don’t want the underside of your rig to brush against every obstacle when you venture off the beaten path.
- Payload Capacity – You want a vehicle designed to carry all the weight you plan to bring along. Also, it shouldn’t be too heavy to avoid paying ridiculous amounts of toll fees.
- Passenger Capacity – It should comfortably accommodate you, everyone else tagging along and offer sufficient storage for gear and food.
- Suspension – If you want a comfortable ride, get a vehicle with suspensions that can easily handle most bumps along the trails.
- Engine Type – Many overlanders love diesel-powered vehicles because they are more energy-efficient, their engines are less complex, and they experience few maintenance issues. Others prefer petrol-powered rigs because they are less expensive to buy and repair. If you want to minimize your impact, consider an electric vehicle.
- Reliability – Get a vehicle model that’s known for its reliability. Speak with vehicle owners, read online reviews and consult seasoned overlanders.
- Parts Availability – If you go for a used vehicle, make sure you can easily find its spare parts.
What are My Overlanding Vehicle Options?
Here are the types of vehicles you should consider depending on your budget:
- Mid-sized car with a good ground clearance rating to make it easier to drive over rough or uneven terrain. Subaru Outbacks are a great choice.
- SUV in both compact and full size are great overlanding vehicles
- Pickup Trucks have always been popular due to their off-roading capabilities. But even full-sized trucks are becoming popular choices.
- Adventure Van fitted with suspensions for increased off-roading capabilities.
- Classic Overlanding vehicles such as a Land Cruiser, Jeep Wrangler, Toyota Tacoma, and Land Rover.
Wrapping Up: The Best Overlanding Vehicle is One that Fits Your Style
Selecting your first vehicle for overlanding is a huge undertaking that needs careful thought. Ultimately, it all comes down to your particular style of travel. You’ll want something that can access the wildlands you want to explore, give you the level of comfort you yearn for, and is within your budget.