4-Wheel Drive Trucks – Why Are They So Good Off-Road?


What makes 4-wheel drive trucks so good off road? The obvious answer to this question is because of that great 4-wheel drive you can use to climb just about anything. Is that the only reason why off-road trucks are so awesome for rough trail riding and hill climbing?

4WD is an essential component; however, you will find that there is special equipment such as steel bumpers and certain vehicle specs that combine to make 4-wheel drive trucks such good off-road trail-hugging vehicles.

Besides the obvious use of a 4WD transmission, here are some other reasons why your off-road truck or Jeep drives so great on the trails and let's you have so much fun.

  • Ground Clearance - To make it over different types of obstacles, off-road trucks and Jeeps have a much higher ground clearance than any standard vehicle. This is partly due to taller, stiffer suspensions and partly a result of the addition of taller wheels and tires. Higher ground clearance means a greater ability to climb over aggressive terrain without damaging the underside of the truck.
  • The Right Angles - The three critical angles you need to understand for the effective negotiation of rocks and hills are your truck’s approach, departure, and breakover angles. Breakover angles are improved by higher ground clearance, while approach and departure angles are determined by wheelbase length and a few other details. Jeeps and off-road trucks with the right specs and upgrades have better angles than stock vehicles so you can drive them up and down hills with ease and without scraping the underside.
  • Protective Equipment - Your off-road truck also has quite a bit of protective equipment to keep it from getting damaged too much while when you’re out on the trail. Steel bumpers, skid plates, differential covers, light guards, and other items give these trucks the ability to keep on going without suffering too much damage to the body or essential mechanical parts.
  • Locking Differentials - Not all 4-wheel drives perform the same. For off-roading which puts unique challenges on the truck, you need a locked differential that delivers power to the wheels with traction, instead of to whichever wheel has the least amount of traction at the moment like open differentials. This important difference is what makes a 4WD transmission superior for use off-road and why part-time and all-wheel-drive types of 4WD are not suitable.
  • Tires and Wheels - For that great locked 4WD and all those other parts to do their job well, off-road trucks and Jeeps need the right tires and larger wheels. Whether you’re rock climbing, driving through mud, or hitting other types of trails, there’s a tire that will give you the best traction and durability. Taller, wider wheels with greater articulation are another important factor that helps your truck negotiate some of the most challenging obstacles.
  • Torque and Gearing - Low and steady is how the best off-road trucks and Jeeps make their way. Based on this, you need low torque to keep moving without revving up your engine and low range gears that can get you up the steepest inclines using that torque.

All things considered, this is why your 4WD truck or Jeep is so good off the highways. While that locking 4-wheel drive transmission is one critical factor in achieving all that performance, off-road vehicles need many other capabilities as well. Combined, off-road 4WDs are built to conquer the trail in ways a standard equipped vehicle can only dream of doing!

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