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Any vehicle is an off-road vehicle if you take it off road. But any machine can be a smoke machine if you use it wrong, too. Some SUVs are made to go off-road, but a lot are not. Just because they have four-wheel-drive, or have a Jeep name on a seven-slat grille, that doesn’t mean they’re rock crawlers.

For your next off-road adventure don’t take one of these SUVs.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee TrackHawk is a great on-road SUV

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk on the road
2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk | Jeep

Just because it’s a Jeep with four-wheel-drive doesn’t mean the TrackHawk is suited for the mountain trails. The TrackHawk is a Grand Cherokee with racing tires. The TrackHawk has a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 that makes 707 horsepower, launch control, and a computer that tells you your 0-60 time in the dash. It’s designed to go fast, but with the Brembo brake package, it can also stop.

Forget about the Trackhawk for rocky trails. Get a TrailHawk for that.  

The Mercedes-Maybach GLS is a terrible off-road SUV

The Mercedes Maybach GLS is one of the worst off-road SUVs, but one of the best crusiers.
2021 Mercedes-Maybach GLS (Euro Spec)

Sure, it has a 4.0-liter V8 that makes 550 horsepower. Sure, it will hit 60 miles-per-hour in 4.8 seconds. Yes, it does have all wheel drive. But can you imagine trying to fix a scratch from a stray branch on this $160,500 SUV? We can guarantee you that you local AutoZone doesn’t have touch-up paint for this. The Maybach has one of the best interiors in the business that you would not hate to get muddy. It has all the technology that the rest of our cars will get in 10 years, and head-turning presence on the road.

The GLS 600 is better suited to reality TV stars’ trips to the mall, or as a killer coast-to-coast road trip SUV than as a mud-encrusted off-road beast.

The Alfa Romeo Tonale is a performance SUV

2022 New York Auto Show: Best and Worst
Alfa Romeo Tonale | Uli Deck, Getty Images

We’re not saying you can’t take the Tonale off road, we just know that replacing that air dam in the low-hanging front bumper looks mighty expensive. The Tonale is Alfa Romeo’s new performance SUV for 2023, not one of the company’s off-road SUVs. You can order it as a plug-in hybrid EV that has 272 horsepower, or as an all-wheel-drive gas-powered SUV with 295 horsepower.

The Tonale is more about driving dynamics on the road, not on the trail.

The Volkswagen ID.4 is an impressive commuter

2021 Volkswagen ID.4 AWD Pro S with Gradient Package towing a red motorbike and parked by a grassy cliffside
2021 Volkswagen ID.4 AWD Pro S | Volkswagen of America,

The ID4 does a good job of looking like a tall SUV. But with just 6.7 inches of ground clearance, you’re not getting over too many rocks in the VW ID.4. Instead, this SUV is designed for commuting in comfort. And, with approach and departure angles of just 20 degrees, you’re not going over too many steep hills. But this electric SUV can be ordered with all-wheel-drive and it can go 280 miles on a charge.

If you’re insistent on an one of VW’s off-road SUVs, grab an Atlas Cross Sport instead.

The Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat is a drag strip runner

An image of a Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat parked outside.
Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat | Dodge

With 710 horsepower the Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat sends it. This SUV has a 6.4-liter Hemi-V8 that has more power than three base model VW ID.4s combined, all-wheel-drive, and an eight-speed automatic. This thing is on 45-series Pirelli summer tires, so you can expect excellent grip at the drag strip, not the 4×4 park. It does, however, have eight inches of ground clearance, and a monster thirst for gas. In terms of options, it has every option that Dodge can add to a Durango. Just like other Durangos, however, it’ll tow 8,700 pounds – but very quickly.


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