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The off-road craze is in full swing, and manufacturers are pushing out nostalgic SUVs left and right to keep up. Drivers now have a variety of retro-inspired off-road SUVs to consider. Here are five of the best ones. 

1. Ford Bronco 

The Ford Bronco is the most recent arrival among America’s retro off-roaders. Few nameplates carry as much nostalgic weight for Americans as the Bronco, so reviving the brand was a no-brainer for Ford. 

The new Bronco is full of mid-century style, from its squared-off body shape to its circular headlights. But there’s legitimate off-road capability to back up the looks, too. According to Kelley Blue Book, the Bronco comes standard with a rugged four-wheel drive system and outstanding ground clearance. Options like a locking differential, all-terrain tires, and even a manual transmission make the Bronco a favorite for off-road enthusiasts.

2. Jeep Wrangler 

The Jeep Wrangler spent decades as the primary option for nostalgic off-road enthusiasts in the U.S. It has competition now, but the Wrangler still sets the standard for dedicated off-road performance.  

After all, it’s hard to beat two solid axles, high ground clearance, a short wheelbase, and standard four-wheel drive. If that’s not enough, the Wrangler Rubicon adds features like a limited-slip rear differential, disconnecting sway bars, and beefier off-road tires. 

3. Toyota 4Runner

The Toyota 4Runner may not look as vintage on the outside, but it’s all retro underneath. 

Toyota hasn’t updated the 4Runner in nearly 15 years, making it one of the oldest new SUVs on the market. It’s a bit of a relic with its body-on-frame design, solid rear axle, and archaic 4.0-liter V6. But that old-school formula is exactly what makes the 4Runner such a good off-road SUV.

And if you really want more retro style, you can opt for the new 4Runner 40th Anniversary edition. 

4. Land Rover Defender

The Land Rover Defender Trophy Edition sits in a green forest. It's a new off-road SUV on the market.
2023 Land Rover Defender Trophy Edition | Land Rover

Land Rover caused a bit of a controversy a few years ago when it unveiled its first redesign of the iconic Defender in decades. While the redesign did modernize the Defender, the SUV still has retro elements.

More importantly, the Land Rover Defender is an exceptional off-road SUV. Unlike some competitors, it leans fully into cutting-edge technology to help it conquer all-terrain obstacles. The Defender’s sophisticated all-wheel drive system is as precise as they come. 

5. Mercedes-Benz G Class 

The Mercedes-Benz G Class, also known as the G Wagon, looks pretty much the same as it did decades ago. Its unmistakable styling is equal parts vintage military vehicle and new age hype machine. 

Despite being known as a celebrity grocery-better, the G Wagon is a potent off-road SUV. It still has some of the best dimensions in the industry and its four-wheel drive system offers true capability.  

Which retro off-road SUV is best?

Selecting the best off-road SUV truly depends on one’s preferences. If you’re looking for the best pure off-roader, either the Jeep Wrangler or Ford Bronco would be a safe pick. Meanwhile, the Land Rover Defender and Mercedes-Benz G Class offer a mix of capability and refinement. Finally, the Toyota 4Runner is a great pick if reliability is a high priority.  


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