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10 Best Off-Road Vehicles of Toyota

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10 Best Off-Road Vehicles of Toyota

Toyota Builds for Off-Roading

Toyota is known for manufacturing some of the toughest SUVs on the market. From the legacy Land Cruiser to the current TRD lineup, Toyota has focused on getting you off-road for the adventure of a lifetime. While it’s true that the original intent was more for military and agricultural use, the Land Cruiser quickly became a favorite for those looking for a way to forge new paths in rugged territory.

Until Toyota made inroads in the national market, many people were unaware of their overlanding capabilities. Now that the world is familiar with Toyota’s durable off-road models equipped with advanced FWD and built for ground clearance, these vehicles have taken their rightful place among adventurers worldwide.

The Soaring Popularity of Off-Roading

Off-roading has evolved as vehicles have changed to accommodate more people’s desire to escape the crowded roads. Since the first vehicles were aimed at the military and farmers, most people didn’t give much thought to exploring remote locations.

Once vehicle manufacturers like Toyota started building more rugged trucks for regular use, the public turned their attention to less populated areas like the mountains or deep forests. It didn’t take long for drivers to begin competitive driving on challenging terrains.

From the 1960s to today, the popularity of SUVs and trucks has grown annually. Today, off-roading is not only competitive but also an organized sport with clubs, racing sponsorships, and sanctioned events. Online communities have sprung up to encourage and entertain 4WD owners.

Toyota Tacoma

Photo by toyota.com

Off-road popularity has spurred manufacturers to design and build tough SUVs for a demanding crowd that knows what performance feels like and what they want from their vehicles. It doesn’t appear that the trend toward adventure will abate anytime soon, so Toyota continues to push the boundaries of automotive engineering as they design the next generation of performance 4WD vehicles.

Toyota’s Array of Impressive Off-Road Vehicles

Is Toyota the toughest SUV for off-roading? As you read further, you’ll discover that Toyota has spent time and money to develop one of the toughest off-road vehicles on the market today. Their TRD (Toyota Racing Development) team not only works tirelessly to improve the performance of their street cars for both Toyota and Lexus, but they also produce a long list of performance parts that include superchargers, wheels, tuning products, and more to help support their worldwide racing interests. These parts and models are now included in the lineup at your local dealership so that you can experience the capabilities of their SUVs and trucks on and off-road.

Toyota Off-Road Features

Toyota’s lineup is renowned – like all of their cars – for their enhanced engineering, reliability, advanced technology, and focus on those who seek adventure.

Here are a few of the key features that make the Toyota stand out from the rest:

Robust Design and Durability

You’ll find the Toyota off-road vehicle is built using reinforced frames, skid plates, and sturdy construction that combine to give their SUVs the ability to withstand harsh terrain and wilderness conditions. Everything they add to the design protects the vital mechanics of the vehicle, making them durable and long-lasting.

Toyota Land Cruiser 80 at FLEX in Japan

Advanced Four-Wheel-Drive Systems

Toyota’s 4WD system is the beating heart of their off-road vehicles. Toyota has given their trucks improved traction, making them agile regardless of the rocks, slippery surfaces, or debris you’re climbing over. The optional electronic locking rear differentials, multi-terrain select systems, and CRAWL control fine-tune the trucks’ performance as you pick and choose your way over the obstacles.

Enhanced Ground Clearance

Increased ground clearance is a critical feature for off-road vehicles, and Toyota’s models are designed with this in mind. This higher stance allows for better navigation over rocks, logs, and other obstacles, reducing the risk of undercarriage damage and improving the vehicle’s ability to tackle steep inclines and declines.

Other features include towing and hauling capacity and the safety and comfort found in every Toyota.

1. Toyota Land Cruiser

For over 60 years, the Land Cruiser has stood apart from the crowd. Its durability and reliability are as much a part of its future as they are of its past. Today, it has stamped its status as one of the most revered and capable off-road vehicles. From its humble beginnings as a utility vehicle to its sophisticated luxury status today, this vehicle appeals to all people with a sense of adventure worldwide.

Toyota Land Cruiser 300

Photo by TOYOTA

Toyota Land Cruiser’s Off-Road Performance

The Land Cruiser’s legendary power comes from an engine and FWD system that works flawlessly to push forward over the most extreme terrain. By engaging the locking differential, multi-terrain select, and CRAWL control combined with its high ground clearance, this SUV easily navigates through mud, sand, rocks, and forges streams.

Model Variations and Features

Since the Land Cruiser has been on the scene for over 60 years, it’s seen its share of changes. There are three basic body styles: station wagon, heavy-duty, and light-duty/Prado. Having passed through series like the BJ, FJ, 20, 40, and 70 series, today, the Land Cruiser is still the standard-bearer for cutting-edge technology and driving comfort. If you’re interested in the next-generation Land Cruiser, we’ve written an article regarding the Land Cruiser’s future. Click here for more information on the Toyota Land Cruiser’s history and model lineup.

2. Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

The Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro is specifically engineered for off-road enthusiasts who demand superior and competitive performance in the most challenging conditions. The TRD team has taken an already tough truck and put it on the pinnacle of performance.

Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

Photo by toyota.com

Unique Off-Road Features of Tacoma TRD Pro

The TRD Pro has FOX internal bypass shocks for damping as you travel over tough trails, a TRD-tuned suspension with increased lift, and solid skid plates that protect your vital parts. The locking rear differential and CRAWL features give you a firm footing over the roughest rocks. The multi-terrain select lets you dial in your grip further for additional steadiness. These features combine to automatically adjust the throttle and brakes for ideal traction.

Design Innovations Tailored for Outdoor Enthusiasts

It is more than a powerhouse; the Tacoma TRD Pro transports you to the epitome of comfort with its leather-trimmed seats, TRD labeled shift knob, up-to-date navigational technology, and the best of today’s infotainment advancements. The bed is versatile and made from a durable composite material, so you don’t have to worry about destroying it in the woods. A deck rail system gives you places to secure your cargo, keeping it solidly in place as you bounce along. Your ride is comfortable, your cargo is secure, and no trail is too tough.

3. Toyota 4Runner

In a market dominated by crossovers, the Toyota 4Runner is one of the few remaining SUVs built on a body-on-frame architecture. This build gives the 4Runner its exceptional off-road capabilities, making it a popular model for those who enjoy taking on the challenge of driving wherever they please. The 4Runner was introduced in 1984 and is in its fifth generation.

2021 Toyota 4Runner SR5 Sport Utility 4D at FLEX Automotive in San Diego, CA

2021 Toyota 4Runner SR5 Sport Utility 4D at FLEX Automotive in San Diego, CA

The Adventurous Traits of the 4Runner

The 4Runner has been engineered for maximum off-road performance without sacrificing any of the creature comforts you want in a luxury 4WD. It has a high ground clearance, part-time 4WD, and a low-range transfer case. A V6 offers the perfect balance between power and fuel efficiency, giving the 4Runner towing, hauling, and climbing prowess that will surely thrill.

Technological Advancements in the Latest Models

Today’s models include TRD Off-Road and TRD Pro options with advanced features like a locking rear differential, multi-terrain select, and CRAWL control. All are designed to give the 4Runner the ability to take you to the top of the highest point, where you can breathe the fresh air and enjoy the view. Of course, it is also equipped with the latest interior comforts and the latest safety and high-tech options, like an updated infotainment system and Toyota’s Safety Sense suites.

4. Toyota FJ Cruiser

Rolling off the assembly line in 2006, the Toyota FJ Cruiser paid homage to the classic Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser with its retro appearance: round headlights, a white roof, and body-on-frame construction. It had LC fans doing a double-take when it hit the streets. While it’s a nod to the past, it is built for today with its high-tech features and improved performance.

2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser Black 4WD with a roof rack at FLEX in Japan

2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser Black 4WD with a roof rack at FLEX in Japan

Distinctive Appeal of the FJ Cruiser

The appeal may have its roots in the aesthetics, but once people started to drive the FJ Cruiser, they found the off-road capabilities outstanding. It was only on the market between 2006 and 2014, but declining sales had more to do with a recession market than the FJ Cruiser. However, the FJ continued production for the Middle East market until 2022, with the 2023 model being the last.

Fusion of Classic Design and Modern Features

Toyota seamlessly blended the classic design elements of yesterday with modern features. On the outside, it demonstrated the iconic look of the FJ40 Series, which included a short wheelbase, stout frame, and almost vertical windshield.

Once you look under the hood and in the cabin, yesterday disappears, and today begins. The 4.0-liter V6 delivers power and efficiency, making it a good ride for off-road and city driving. Toyota added a 4WD system with stability control, traction control, and ABS brakes.

Collectors and off-road enthusiasts are always on the lookout for an FJ Cruiser.

5. Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro

Toyota didn’t add the TRD Pro version until the 2018 model year when the package was added to the SR5, Limited, and Platinum trim levels. The full-sized SUV Sequoia is a derivative of the Tundra pickup and was introduced in the 2001 model, primarily for the North American market.

Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro

Photo by toyota.com

Off-Road Capabilities of the Sequoia TRD Pro

Because it’s a full-sized SUV, the Sequoia TRD Pro takes off-roading to a new level. This TRD-developed vehicle has serious features like TRD-tuned FOX shocks and springs, providing exceptional ground clearance and improved ride. A 4WD with Torsen® limited-slip differential and locking feature delivers optimal traction in all conditions, from rocky paths to muddy trails.

The Sequoia TRD Pro is equipped with skid plates, all-terrain tires for superior grip, and exclusive TRD Pro alloy wheels. Under the hood, you’ll find a V8 capable of extreme environments without strain.

Ideal Choice for Family Adventures

The Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro stands out as an ideal choice for family adventures, offering a perfect blend of off-road capability, space, and comfort. Its spacious interior can comfortably accommodate up to eight passengers, ensuring ample room for the whole family and their gear. The Sequoia TRD Pro’s three-row seating configuration is versatile, with foldable seats allowing various cargo and passenger arrangements, making it suitable for daily family use and weekend off-road excursions.

Safety is always a concern, and Toyota addresses this by equipping the Sequoia TRD Pro with its Safety Sense technologies that include adaptive cruise control, lane departure alerts, and pre-collision alerts with pedestrian detection. Combine the technology with Toyota’s sturdy construction, and you have a vehicle that delivers security to families.

Toyota added a tri-zone automatic climate control system, so everyone can dial in the right temperature for them, as well as the latest infotainment systems and premium audio sounds, making the ride comfortable and entertaining for everyone.

6. Toyota Tundra TRD Off-Road

Introduced in 2016, the TRD Off-Road package was available on the 1794 Edition and later added to the SR5 and Limited models. This package was designed to take on the toughest terrains while delivering the power and reliability you’ve come to expect from the Toyota Tundra.

Toyota Tundra TRD Off-Road

Photo by toyota.com

Powerful Engine and Off-Road Specifications of the Tundra TRD Off-Road

At its heart is the engine. Depending on the model year and configuration, this could be a V8 or a more recent V6 with twin turbos. Regardless of the engine, both were developed by TRD to be capable of off-roading, towing, and hauling. These packages also include an upgraded suspension system with Bilstein or FOX shocks providing improved dampening. All-terrain tires and an electronic locking rear differential ensure evenly distributed power even in the slickest conditions. A skid plate protects your vital components, so bang away over the rocks.

Adventuring with Heavy Loads

With overlanding comes the ability to haul heavy loads, and the Tundra TRD Off-Road makes towing look easy. Be it a boat, camper, trailer, or anything else, the integrated towing system includes features like Trailer Sway Control and TOW/HAUL modes that make your load stable and more efficient. It has been built with an impressive payload capacity, 1,600 pounds in some cases, and a towing capacity of up to 11,175 pounds, depending on the model.

7. Toyota Hilux

Introduced in 1968, the Hilux has become one of the most popular and recognized pickup trucks worldwide. Its popularity is rooted in its ability to adapt to various applications like commercial transport, military operations, emergency services, and adventurous off-roading.

2024 Toyota Hilux 2.4 Z Diesel Turbo 4WD Z: GR-S Overlanding Style at FLEX in Japan

2024 Toyota Hilux 2.4 Z Diesel Turbo 4WD Z: GR-S Overlanding Style at FLEX in Japan

Global Popularity of the Hilux

Toyota understands the Hilux’s global appeal, so they have configured it to meet the needs of many industries. You’ll find the Hilux in events like the Dakar Rally, which showcases its abilities in some of the toughest conditions. Its global appeal traverses continents from the busy cities in Asia to the African terrain, the Middle East, and the Australian outback.

Improved Reliability and Durability

Every generation has seen improvements in the Hilux’s reliability and durability. Toyota has continuously introduced advancements in engineering, materials, and technology that enhance its performance, longevity, and ability to adapt to challenging environments. Its robust chassis and body structure can withstand heavy use and harsh conditions.

You’ll find a range of engines over the model years; all have the same goal of improving efficiency while increasing power. Toyota has also focused on enhancing durability by upgrading the Hilux’s suspension system for better control, handling, and ride comfort even when loaded down. Like all Toyotas, the safety system is second to none, always evolving toward safer driving.

Toyota has worked hard over the years to make the Hilux the vehicle it is by paying attention to innovation and understanding its global market.

8. Toyota RAV4 Adventure

Toyota designed the RAV4 Adventure for off-roading. The front-end design, all-black grille, split-bar front upper grill, and black RAV4 and Adventure badging are all hallmarks of this trim level. It also includes specs from the XLE Premium, such as heated power mirrors with turn signals and blind spot indicators.

Toyota RAV4 Adventure

Photo by toyota.com

From Urban Driving to Outdoor Journeys

This model is the epitome of versatility, designed to transition from the urban lifestyle to outdoor adventures seamlessly. It is a compact SUV outfitted to take on wilderness landscapes. Its compact size makes navigating city streets and parking easy without sacrificing fuel efficiency while being built to zip around trails and race up hills.

The Adventure trim comes with AWD enhanced with a multi-terrain select for traveling across all types of landscapes. The ground clearance has been boosted above other RAV4 models for a better view from the top of the hill.

Adventure Experience in a Compact SUV

As noted, the RAV4 Adventure is a compact SUV, but that doesn’t mean it skimps on interior room. It is designed for an active lifestyle that includes cargo area and passenger space. Roof rails add more cargo capacity, and its tow package enables you to tow trailers for your bikes, kayaks, and other toys.

Like all Toyotas, it is equipped with state-of-the-art technology, such as infotainment connections, safety equipment, and comfortable seats.

9. Toyota Land Cruiser Prado

The Toyota Land Cruiser Prado was introduced in 1990 with its first generation J70 model. It was originally a smaller, more affordable, yet capable Land Cruiser version. The fifth generation is due to hit the Australian market by mid-2024. The newer models are bigger, bolder, and closer to the 300 Series.

Toyota Land Cruiser 250

Photo by TOYOTA

Perfect Blend of Off-Roading and Luxury

While the Prado has the same capabilities as the Land Cruiser, it is built for the urban environment. It is suited for daily driving and city streets. The duality makes the Prado a popular vehicle for city dwellers who like to grab their gear and head out to the wilderness on the weekends. It is equipped with Toyota’s typical 4WD setup that includes multi-terrain select and CRAWL control. The interior is quiet and comfortable, making driving relaxed.

Fusion of Sophistication and Rugged Capabilities

The exterior of the Prado carries bold lines and sophisticated styling, while the interior is upholstered in premium materials. The infotainment system contains the latest technology, and Toyota has added the most recent driver-assist features that ensure driving is both enjoyable and safe. Several engine options drive Prado’s capabilities, and the suspension is tuned for off-road performance. While the Prado is not available in the U.S. market, it enjoys popularity in other countries.

10. Toyota FJ40

Between 1960 and 1984, the FJ40 (40 Series Land Cruiser) enjoyed worldwide popularity. In fact, it was Toyota’s best-selling vehicle in the U.S. from 1961 to 1965. The FJ40 is a cross-country vehicle that has been used for military, civilian off-roading, and rally racing. It is larger than the Bantam Reconnaissance Car and the Willy’s Jeep, which made it more popular. It was equipped with an inline-6 and 4WD, as well as several engine options.

1981 Toyota FJ40 (Land Cruiser 40) at FLEX in Japan

1981 Toyota FJ40 (Land Cruiser 40) at FLEX in Japan

The Classic Appeal of the FJ40 makes it a Collectible

The FJ40’s appearance has been synonymous with the off-road culture. Its boxy frame, round headlights, and Toyota’s unmistakable front grille make it the symbol of exploration. It is solidly a timeless classic between its aesthetics and off-road capabilities.

As the years have passed, the FJ40 has become popular with collectors and restorers, who value it because of its history, durability, and classic appeal. It has a straightforward design and is mechanically simple, which makes it ideal for restoration and modification.

Historical Aspects of Toyota Off-Roading

One cannot talk about the FJ40 without touching on the stories it can tell about worldwide adventures. It’s been the vehicle of choice for adventurers, explorers, and even aid organizations. Because of its simplicity, it’s easy to repair on the road. The impact of the FJ40 extends beyond the automotive industry as it is a part of the cultural fabric in many countries where it was used for transportation in the most challenging terrains.

Conclusion

Toyotas are incredibly reliable and built to last, so it only makes sense that they would have a lion’s share of the 4WD market.

Wide Range of Toyota Off-Road Vehicle Options

Toyota offers various off-road vehicles designed to cater to different preferences, needs, and adventure levels. Toyota’s lineup can tackle any challenge, from the rugged and iconic Land Cruiser to the versatile RAV4 Adventure, to the powerful Tundra TRD Off-Road. There is a vehicle for anyone from the casual adventurer to the hardcore off-roader.

Ideal Choices for Adventure Enthusiasts

It isn’t always just about performance; it’s about the spirit of adventure that Toyota embodies. From the robust construction to the innovative features like multi-terrain select, these vehicles are the ideal choice for anyone looking to explore the great outdoors. Add Toyota’s reputation for reliability; you can see why these are trusted companions for work and play.

Considerations and Buying Advice

Before you decide which Toyota model suits your lifestyle, we’ve put together some things for you to consider.

Renoca Wonder & Phoenix lined up in front of FLEX Automotive in San Diego, CA.

Renoca Wonder & Phoenix lined up in front of FLEX Automotive in San Diego, CA.

Key Factors Buyers Should Consider

When deciding on which Toyota is right for you, consider the types of terrain you plan to drive, the level of comfort you need, and the technology you desire in a vehicle. Also, assess your needs for space, towing capacity, and fuel efficiency. Each Toyota model offers unique features and capabilities; align your needs with the correct model.

Insights on Maintenance and After-Sales Support

Investing in a Toyota means you benefit from after-sales support from the factory and a large community of other Toyota owners willing to share their experiences. Since Toyota is global, you’ll always be able to find a service center that understands your vehicle, so no matter where your adventure takes you, you have a support system.

Latest Information on Toyota Off-Road Vehicles

Since Toyota is consistent in its innovations, you can expect its off-road models to always be in a state of improvement.

Updates on New Models and Upgrades

Whether Toyota is introducing new models or doing mid-generation upgrades, there is always something happening at Toyota. It might be a new engine option, advanced off-road technology, or a new seat cover; all the upgrades are done to improve your ride experience.

Points of Interest for Off-Road Enthusiasts

Staying ahead of the latest trends, vehicle launches, and Toyota-sponsored events can add a lot of benefits to the off-roading experience. Joining online forums, attending off-road conventions and events, and participating in community activities are great ways to stay informed on all the changes coming to the off-road world.

Toyota will always be a part of those changes, and you can expect them to keep improving, revising, and designing new ways to showcase their vehicle’s capabilities.

Julie Cleveland

Julie Cleveland

Julie Cleveland grew up with an interest in cars, racing and anything with wheels. She even tried her hand at driving stock cars and drag cars, but found out that walls hurt. She has been writing for over 40 years with articles in a number of publications and newspapers, including National Dragster and Daytona News Journal. She spent 15 years working in the F&I and sales department of manufacturers like Toyota, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Volvo. For 10 years, she worked for newspapers in both the marketing and editorial departments, and she has been freelance writing automotive make and model overviews, parts and “How To” articles, and general articles about the automotive industry for 12 years. She has authored four non-fiction books and enjoys writing trivia. She still likes cars and is always interested in new ideas and technology.