So you love going off-road and been thinking it’s time to get your own truck or Jeep to fill this burning desire you have?
Where do you even start?
You Start With The Right Truck!
While upgrades like bigger tires, aftermarket bumpers, and body armor may all become important for your off-road truck or Jeep once you buy it, you’ve got to start out with the right base vehicle to begin with.
Not every vehicle with 4-wheel drive is suitable for the kind of driving you’re gonna want to do with it.
That said, keep the tips in this 2-part article series in mind so you find the truck or SUV that’s designed for more than just a little snow on the road and can go off-road safely.
In Part 1, learn about how to judge different vehicles for their suitability starting out and in Part 2, read about common upgrades you can make once you’ve chosen your vehicle to make it even more off-road ready!
Sure, even factory 4WD vehicles tend to be a little taller than their 2WD brothers and that’s due to the addition of a more robust suspension that offers more of what you need to successfully go off-road.
The more ground clearance you have between the bottom of the axle and the ground, the more easily you’ll be able to drive over rougher trails as well as up and down things.
Yet ground clearance is not the only clearance you should be concerned with; you have to know your vehicle’s angles which are based on its height, wheelbase length, and overall length.
Approach angle, breakover angle, and departure angle are all critical if you plan on driving over bumps, rocks, and hills.
The higher your clearance in all three of those areas, the more you’ll be able to do with the your off-roading truck or Jeep without ending up stuck.
Wheel articulation is the amount of turning range your wheel has within the fender without interference and it’s directly related to both your tire size and suspension clearance.
Factory off-road vehicles are designed to have slightly greater articulation than their standard counterparts, so that’s a help.
Naturally to do more without modifications, you’ll want to choose the vehicle with the greatest stock articulation.
If you want to really get into some serious rock crawling and driving the super-rough trails, even the more equipped factory truck or SUV might need some help in this department.
Gearing is what gives your off-road truck or Jeep the power to make it over obstacles and through rougher driving conditions than it will ever see on the street.
With lower gears, more power that is generated by the engineer can in turn increase the momentum you need.
The rougher the trail or when rock and hill climbing, the lower you want the gears to be to get up, over, and down skillfully and safely.
A stock vehicle designed for off-road use will have low-range gears you can switch into when it becomes necessary.
Got The Basics?
When you’re choosing between 4WD trucks, Jeeps, and SUVs, these are the important factors you most want to consider when deciding the right choice for heading out to the trail.
Even though there will likely be a lot of other details that go into your decision, choose based on these elements and how much bang for your buck you can get right from the start.
The better equipped your stock vehicle, the further you’ll get without having to invest in performance modifications and upgrades.
For those of you who are pretty serious about your wheeling and want to go that extra mile, check out Part 2 of this series, which talks about the more common modifications to consider to improve your vehicle’s performance!