Here are four of the most interesting new SUVs to hit the market in 2021, each offering a solid off-roading (and road tripping) platform right off the lot, with plenty of ways to customize them. The two Jeeps benefit from a huge catalog of aftermarket suppliers to help you customize it into whatever family adventure, overlanding vehicle you need.
The new full-size Ford Bronco, which is finally starting to ship, also gets a huge accessory catalog, it’s just that you’ll have to get them directly from Ford for now. We suspect it won’t take long for aftermarket specialty manufacturers to start selling bumpers, suspension, and other gear for it, too.
And the new Land Cruiser? Well, let’s just say it’s more of a crystal ball than something you’d buy right now…
2021 Jeep Wrangler Xtreme Recon
If you want to get an extremely capable offroad vehicle that’s built for true overlanding but still comes with a factory warranty, the new Jeep Wrangler Xtreme Recon is what you get if Jeep built a Jeep the way its fans build their Jeeps. They gave it the larger 35″ BF Goodrich KO2 All-Terrain Tires on 17×8″ Beadlock-capable wheels that are many people’s first upgrade.
A 1.5-inch suspension lift with custom tuned shocks gives it “best in class” approach angle (47.4º), departure angle (40.4º), ground clearance (12.9″) and water fording (33.6″). Breakover angle is 26.7º.
To be clear, this is a package option you can add to a base Wrangler Rubicon, available starting later this year. An optional 4.88:1 axle ratio gives it a snail’s pace 100:1 crawl ratio with the 6-speed manual transmission, though the stock 4.56:1 axle ratio ain’t too shabby either.
2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe hybrid
The new Wrangler 4xe is Jeep’s first fully offroad capable hybrid, using a small turbo charged 2.0L 4-cylinder engine combined with electric motors to deliver a massive 470lb/ft of torque (good for a 6-second 0-60 launch!) and 370 mile range.
The four-dour SUV comes in three trims, but we’d opt for the Rubicon version for its added offroad capability. It gets 10.9″ ground clearance, 33″ tires, and a crawl-friendly transfer case and gearing. Choose your doors, roof color and type, and take full advantage of the open air feeling Jeeps are known for, all while dramatically reducing noise and emissions when you’re out in the wild. It can run on full electric up to highway speeds for about 21 miles, and use the gas engine to recharge the batteries, too.
Other models include a more street- and highway mannered Sahara 4xe, and a premium High Altitude package, which only refers to the trim level, not any mechanical differences for, you know, actual high altitude driving. This one’s just the beginning… look for a 4xe hybrid of their new Wagoneer full-sized SUV soon, and a full electric Wrangler in the near future, too.
2022 Toyota Land Cruiser
Caveat: You can’t get the new 2022 Toyota Land Cruiser in the USA. Which is a shame, because this full-size SUV is one of the longest-running such vehicles in the world, and also one of the best. And now it’s better than ever, with the option to replace the thirsty V8 with a somewhat less thirsty 3.5L twin turbo V6, which will haul this beast to 62mph in under 7 seconds. It’s also 400+ pounds lighter, has a lower center of gravity, and seems generally more road-friendly than its predecessors.
So, even though we can’t buy it stateside, it’s worth looking at because it’s very much now a premium Sequoia. Meaning, our guess is the next Sequoia will get these same engine upgrades (and hopefully the diesel option!) when it’s refreshed. That could mean a premium full size SUV with slightly better gas mileage…and a price tag starting in the mid-50s rather than $85K+.
2022 Ford Bronco is now shipping
If you’re one of the lucky ones that got a deposit in quick enough, your new full size Ford Bronco might be on its way. While the smaller Bronco Sports have been on the road (and hopefully the trail), the one we all really wanted is now delivering. Word is both the 2-door and 4-door versions are rolling off the assembly line in Michigan. Ford says 125,000 orders have been placed, so it may be a while before everyone gets theirs, and longer if you’re just now getting on the list.
But that’s OK, because the First Edition started at $56,915, and it’s sold out. The Bronco WildTrak is now the most expensive option at “just” $46,980. And you can get into a base Bronco for $28,500, with a number of different builds between those two depending on your needs and wants.