Off-roading is supposed to be a rugged and adventurous activity, dominated by stripped-down vehicles that are often lacking doors and roofs. You can’t have serious trail-oriented performance without making some sacrifices when it comes to creature comforts, right? Well, some of the world’s top luxury brands are out to dispel those ideas with plush vehicles that can take on technical trails while letting their occupants bask in all the most modern luxury features. If you are looking to challenge Imogene Pass, take on Dalton Highway, or explore the backroads and state forests of New England in style, these are the top 7 off-road machines to look for.
While there are plenty of luxury SUVs out there that have pretensions of off-road performance, taking something like a Porsche Cayenne or BMW X5 M on anything more challenging than a well-maintained dirt road is not likely to end well. Simply having a bit of ground clearance and selectable drive modes isn’t enough to reliably take on technical terrain. A true off-road machine needs lockable differentials, a two-speed transfer case, skid plates, and more. Fortunately, manufacturers like Mercedes, Lexus, and Land Rover have stepped up to the plate to combine those off-road performance features with a level of luxury that most drivers can only dream of. Alongside these traditional bastions of off-road luxury are some newcomers to the segment, including Wagoneer and Rivian.
#1 2021 Mercedes-AMG G 63
If you love the blocky looks of the Jeep Wrangler but want something a bit more exclusive, the Mercedes G-Wagon is a time-honored choice. Just like the Jeep, the G-Wagon was originally designed as a military-grade all-terrain vehicle. But while Jeep continued to embrace its simple and rugged military heritage, Mercedes has spent the last forty years turning its premier off-road machine into a truly luxurious model worthy of wearing the three-pointed star. While the Mercedes-Benz G 550 will provide plenty of capability and luxury, the truly extravagant Mercedes-AMG G 63 takes things up another notch altogether.
With a starting price of $156,450, one of these machines costs roughly as much as three Jeep Wrangler Rubicons, but if you want to stand out on the trails, it is fully worth the cost. With 25 standard paint colors, the full range of G Manufaktur custom colors, and more options than you can list, the G 63 has over a million potential custom configurations. The handcrafted interior is lined with high-quality Nappa leather, and the twin high-resolution 12.3-inch displays paired with the analog clock are an incredible mix of old and new. However, luxury is only part of the equation with this sophisticated off-road vehicle.
Under the hood lies a handcrafted AMG 4.0L twin-turbo engine producing no less than 577 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque–that’s nearly 40% more power than the already-impressive V8 in the standard Mercedes-Benz G 550. Still, plenty of luxury SUVs offer that level of power these days, so what makes the AMG G-Wagon an off-roader? Well, a solid rear axle and two-speed transfer case make for a good start, and the front and rear locking differentials put this 4×4 system into Jeep Wrangler Rubicon territory. This model even includes a chromed factory brush guard to protect the grille and headlights.
The only place where the AMG G 63 falls somewhat short is its 9.5 inches of ground clearance and unimpressive 30-inch all-terrain tires on 20-inch wheels. We’d really like to see Mercedes-AMG slap some 33-inch or larger tires on this machine, and smaller 18-inch wheels would probably be a better fit for off-roading, even if it means sacrificing the enormous drilled rotors. Still, if you are looking for an old-school luxury off-road machine that is just as rugged as it looks, the G-Wagon is a classic choice for a reason.
#2 2022 Lexus LX 600
While the average driver may not think of Lexus as a manufacturer of top-tier luxury off-roaders, the original Japanese luxury brand has some tricks up its sleeve. The Lexus LX is an upscale makeover of the legendary Toyota Land Cruiser, providing the same bulletproof performance combined with a healthy dose of luxury features. After 13 years on the market with minimal changes, the 2022 Lexus LX 600 is the first year of a complete redesign that brings even more capability and comfort to the table. Although this luxury SUV starts at $88,245 for the base trim, the aptly-named Ultra Luxury top trim begins at $127,345.
Despite its high-tech cabin loaded with no fewer than five large high-resolution screens (an 8-inch driver display, a 7-inch vehicle information display, a 12.3-inch infotainment display, and two 11.4-inch rear seat displays), Lexus went old-school luxury with open-pore wood trim and even an optional wood and leather steering wheel. However, if you prefer a sleek and sporty look, the F Sport Handling version will give you exactly that, complete with a massive blacked-out grille and 22-inch dull-gray alloy wheels.
When it comes to off-roading, the primary claim to fame of this full-size SUV is its exceptionally rugged body-on-frame construction. It may not have quite as many performance features as some of the other models on this list, but you can count on an LX 600 to survive just about anything you may encounter off the beaten path–there is a reason the Toyota Land Cruiser is a favorite for African Safaris and Middle East peacekeeping missions. Still, that isn’t to say the LX 600 isn’t a capable off-road machine.
Powered by a brand-new 3.5L twin-turbo V6 engine with 409 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque, the LX 600 has the power to take on the trails despite its bulk. Standard full-time 4×4 provides reasonable traction–especially if you opt for the F Sport Handling trim with its Torsen mechanical limited slip differential. Unfortunately, the F Sport Handling also comes with those 22-inch wheels and all-season tires, so your first task will be finding a more appropriate choice for off-roading. The good news is that Lexus didn’t fit oversize brakes, so even the F Sport Handling can accommodate 18-inch wheels with 32-inch rubber.
#3 2022 Land Rover Range Rover P530
When it comes to off-roading and luxury, there is one name that probably comes to mind–Land Rover. The original Land Rover first hit the trails in the late 1940s and was a true Jeep competitor, convertible top and all. Today, Land Rover is a far more luxurious brand, but it hasn’t left its off-road heritage behind. Its flagship product is the Range Rover, which was fully redesigned for 2022 and is available in both short and long wheelbase options–although, for any off-road adventure, we will always suggest choosing the smaller and lighter version of a vehicle. With a price tag that ranges from $101,000 for the base model all the way up to $211,200 for the Range Rover SV, this midsize SUV is the embodiment of luxury.
Inside the luxurious leather and wood appointed cabin, you will find that the best seats in the house may just be the second row. While we don’t know too many off-road enthusiasts who employ a chauffeur to take them on the trails, this would be the model to choose if you are one of them. The rear seats can be equipped with a center console that includes an 8-inch touchscreen that controls the four-zone climate control, a full-length center console with a fold-out table, and power-adjustable seats with ottomans. All of that isn’t to say the front seats aren’t equally comfortable, even including a hot stone massage setting to treat yourself after a day on the trail!
While the 2022 Range Rover has three different engine options available, the best powertrain is the 4.4L turbocharged V8 engine found in the Range Rover P530. With 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque on tap, this is actually a bit less powerful than the 5.0L supercharged V8 found in older models but is more than enough for any off-road escapades. A full-time 4×4 system with an electronic-locking rear differential ensures all of that power gets to the ground, while adjustable air suspension gives the Range Rover no less than 11.6 inches of ground clearance and the ability to ford up to 35.4 inches of water.
Air suspension isn’t the only uncommon performance feature that this luxury off-road machine boasts, either. In fact, it even comes with four-wheel steer for an incredibly tight 37.9-foot turning circle. However, there are some limitations that keep the Range Rover from sweeping the competition to claim the title of best luxury off-road vehicle. It is not a body-on-frame design, which makes it somewhat less rugged than its competitors, and its wheel options range from a massive 21 inches to an even more massive 23 inches. Even worse, the Range Rover doesn’t come with a full-size spare tire. Despite all the off-road features, this is a show-stopper for us, and we would not recommend taking one of these SUVs straight from the dealer to the trails.
#4 2023 Land Rover Defender 90 V8
If you love Land Rover and want to go off-road, the brand’s least-expensive model may actually be its most capable. You won’t get all the over-the-top luxury features of the Range Rover SV, but the Land Rover Defender is still a pretty sizable step up from a Jeep Wrangler when it comes to luxury. While the base model Defender S is a relatively affordable $52,300 for the two-door version, the opulent and powerful Defender V8 Carpathian Edition will run you over twice that with a price tag of $111,400 before options–and Land Rover certainly gives you plenty of options to customize your Defender.
Inside the top trim version, you will be able to relax in Windsor leather seats with 14-way power adjustment while gripping a heated suede cloth steering wheel and listening to a 700W Meridian surround sound system. It may not be over the top luxury, but it’s certainly more than comfortable, and it is all relatively easy to keep clean through your backwoods adventures. Still, the real draw of the Defender is its performance–particularly when you opt for the available V8 engine and nimble two-door chassis.
With 518 horsepower and 625 pound-feet of torque from a supercharged 5.0L V8, the Defender is actually a touch more powerful than the Range Rover and is lighter to boot. Even without four-wheel steer, its shorter wheelbase gives it a tighter 37.1-foot turning circle that is well suited to technical trails. The full-time 4×4 system includes center and rear electronic-locking differentials for reliable traction, and the air suspension provides a remarkable 11.4 inches of ground clearance with an incredible 37.5-degree approach angle and 40-degree departure angle. However, our favorite off-road feature may just be the full-size spare tire mounted on the back of the swing-out tailgate.
#5 2022 Wagoneer Grand Wagoneer
So far, we’ve covered some pretty iconic off-road models from established and exclusive brands, but there are also some newer upstarts ready to vie for the title of the ultimate luxury off-roader. First up is a name that’s both old and new–Wagoneer. The Jeep Wagoneer could well be considered the very first luxury off-road vehicle, introducing features like 4×4 to the family SUV segment. However, Wagoneer is now a stand-alone brand under the Stellantis umbrella, promising to put a new take on American Luxury. Wagoneer’s flagship model, the somewhat confusingly named 2022 Wagoneer Grand Wagoneer, does exactly that.
Starting at $88,640 for the base Series I, the top-tier Series III costs $107,995. Not cheap, but certainly one of the more affordable options on this list. If there is one word that sums up the Grand Wagoneer’s approach to luxury, it is “technology.” The cabin can be optioned with no fewer than seven screens with a total of 75 inches of display area. The central 12-inch touchscreen and 12.3-inch driver display are supplemented by a 10.25-inch comfort display and a 10.25-inch front passenger display. The rear-seat passengers get their own 10.25-inch comfort display and a pair of 10.1-inch seatback displays to enjoy. Even better, all seven of these displays are networked through the Uconnect 5 system, allowing them to share information and media.
The off-road tech in the 2022 Grand Wagoneer is nearly as impressive. The 4×4 system includes a two-speed transfer case and rear electronic limited slip differential, helping the 6.4L V8 engine put its 470 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque to the ground. Like Land Rover, Wagoneer has also included an impressive air suspension system that provides 10 inches of ground clearance and 24 inches of water fording. Overall, the Grand Wagoneer may not be the most luxurious or most capable option on this list, but it is a remarkable entry from a brand that didn’t exist a year ago.
#6 2022 GMC Hummer EV
GMC isn’t a new brand by any stretch of the imagination, and Hummer is hardly a new name to off-road enthusiasts. However, GMC Hummer EV is a combination of words that few people ever expected to see put together. The original Hummer H1 was little more than a road-legal version of the US military’s iconic HMMWV 4×4 utility vehicle, making it one of the most capable off-road machines ever sold on the civilian market. Over the years, the Hummer name lost a lot of its off-road credibility as the H2 and H3 traded performance for luxury, but the new 2022 Hummer EV seeks to blend both luxury and capability for a new take on an icon.
While an SUV version of the Hummer EV is in the pipeline, for now, you will have to settle for the monstrous pickup truck version. The space-age-inspired interior isn’t exactly traditional luxury, and there is more than a hint of GMC’s pedestrian roots, but it’s certainly not something you will be ashamed to show your Land Rover and Mercedes-AMG driving friends when you hit the trail together. Starting at $110,295 for the Edition 1 model (which sold out 10 minutes after its announcement back in 2020, so good luck finding one), this electric super truck deserves its place on the list even before you consider its mind-bending performance.
Propelled by three electric motors, the Hummer EV has a level of 4×4 traction that traditional gasoline vehicles are simply incapable of providing. By directly powering each axle with computer-controlled motors, there is no need for transfer cases or locking differentials to shift power to the wheels that can use it. And with 1,000 horsepower and somewhere around 800 pound-feet of torque (the listed 11,500 pound-foot figure is advertising nonsense), you will certainly need all the traction you can get. The massive 35-inch all-terrain tires make the Hummer EV the best-shod vehicle on this list, and yes, there is a full-size spare.
The electric drivetrain of GMC’s supertruck gives it a few off-road tricks as well. Like the Range Rover, the Hummer EV has four-wheel-steer for a tighter turning circle–but the Hummer EV can also use this feature to “crabwalk” diagonally out of sticky situations. The adjustable air suspension is another place where GMC one-upped Land Rover, as the Hummer EV has an unbelievable 15.9 inches of ground clearance with a 49.7-degree departure angle. In short, this truck may not be the most luxurious on the list, but it can go places most of these other models couldn’t dream of–providing its massive bulk and 9,000-pound curb weight don’t get in the way.
#7 2022 Rivian R1S
The final model on our list of luxury off-road vehicles is another brand-new all-electric model. Rivian is a brand-new EV startup that is heavily backed by Ford and is dedicated to building some truly luxurious and capable “electric adventure vehicles.” While the Rivian R1T is the first electric truck to enter production, the Rivian R1S is likely to be more popular with overlanders who prefer a little luxury on their adventures. However, the SUV and pickup share the same platform, so you can choose whichever body style best suits your needs without worrying about any major differences in capability.
The interior of the 2022 Rivian R1S is clean, modern, and tasteful, holding its own against traditional luxury brands. Natural-grained ash wood lends an almost nordic impression that blends surprisingly well with the two large high-resolution screens. While vegan leather isn’t everyone’s first choice for seating, it is well-executed and matches Rivian’s eco-friendly image. However, it is the vehicle’s outstanding off-road performance that truly justifies its place on this list.
While the GMC Hummer EV is powered by three electric motors, the Rivian R1S goes a step further with four electric motors-one for each wheel. Combined, these motors produce 835 horsepower and 908 pound-feet of torque, giving the electric SUV incredible power as well as the most sophisticated 4×4 system ever available in a production vehicle. Active damping and adjustable air suspension make their appearance as well, for a controlled ride in all terrain and a phenomenal 14.9 inches of ground clearance. A 35.6-degree approach angle and 34.3-degree departure angle mean that the steel, aluminum, and carbon fiber underbody shield likely won’t see much action on any reasonable trail.
The R1S is available straight from the factory with 34-inch all-terrain tires on 20-inch wheels, providing an excellent balance between off-road ruggedness and street manners. Unfortunately, the R1S does not come with a full-size spare tire, a rather inexplicable decision given the vehicle’s otherwise impeccable off-road capability. We’d definitely suggest figuring out some way to safely store a full-size spare before hitting the trail. However, this flaw is nowhere near enough to diminish the Rivian’s credibility as an off-road luxury vehicle–particularly when you take into account the fact that its $72,500 starting price makes it the least expensive model on this list. Even when fully equipped for off-road adventure, the R1S only comes in at $81,450!