Long before today’s current crop of all-wheel drive crossover utility vehicles (aka CUVs) took over the sales charts, sport-utility vehicles (aka SUVs) were the sole property of outdoor lovers or drivers who lived in remote parts of Canada, far from the nearest paved road.
While most of those original body-on-frame/truck-based SUVs have gone away, the desire for some drivers to go off-road hasn’t disappeared, and automakers have responded by recently introducing new off-road-ready versions that can take you places regular SUVs fear to go. Alphabetically, here are the 10 new SUVs for 2022 that can take you to the wilds and get you back.
The 2022 Bronco is a serious off-roading machine. That may or may not matter to some buyers who want the unique Bronco look. But talent is baked into this body-on-frame mid-size SUV from Ford. The big news for 2022 is the arrival of the new Bronco Raptor. With a Manufacturer’s Starting Price of $99,995 in Canadian dollars, the all-new model gets a strengthened frame and suspension with excellent wheel travel. There are also stronger front and rear axles and an updated 4WD system with a beefier clutch and aggressive 37-inch tires that help create 13.1 inches (333 millimetres) of ground clearance.
Equal parts rugged adventurer and stylish sanctuary, there’s still no other SUV like the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Redesigned for 2022, the most off-road-ready trim is the $64,645 Trailhawk. Trail-friendly features incudes standard all-terrain tires, an integrated off-road camera, Quadra-Lift air suspension with up to 11.3 in (287 mm) of ground clearance, improved approach, departure and break-over angles and the Quadra-Drive II active transfer case with rear eLSD and Selec-Terrain. Stealing a trick from its Wrangler sibling, the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk also has a class-exclusive sway-bar disconnect that allows for improved articulation and traction over rocks and rough terrain.
If a Wrangler can’t do it off-road, nothing else can. The original Jeep is one of the world’s best off-road vehicles and a mainstay among mid-size off-road SUVs. And this is especially true for the $53,545 Rubicon trim. It has a more specialized suspension that includes an electrically controlled disconnecting front anti-roll bar, higher ride height, and all-terrain tires. Whether it’s rock climbing, dune racing, or fording water up to around 30 in (762 mm), the Wrangler Rubicon has held an elevated status for as long as it has existed.
After a long hiatus, the Defender recently returned to the Canadian market as an all-new model. The rugged Land Rover retains its reputation as an exceptional off-road SUV while being a thoroughly modern and high-tech mid-size luxury SUV. The off-roader's pick is the $66,100 shorter, two-door 90 body style with standard 4-wheel drive, twin-speed transfer box, and Terrain Response drive modes. Available packages add features like an electronic active differential, off-road tires, and All Terrain Progress Control, which is like cruise control for off-roading.
All-new for 2023, the Range Rover is an icon in the off-road and the luxury SUV worlds. It’s a full-size SUV that wears both hats well with little compromise. You can choose a long-wheelbase chassis in 5- or 7-passenger form. But for off-roading, we’d choose the shorter $126,550 Standard Wheelbase. The capability is still there for the few Range Rover drivers who venture off-road, and six available drive modes assist it. An available Advanced Off-Road Capability Pack improves the Range Rover’s capabilities with an active electronic differential, electronic air suspension with dynamic response, and configurable programs.
Also new for 2022, the $106,950 LX 600 is a Lexus version of the Toyota Land Cruiser full-size SUV that is not available in Canada. The new generation has a bit more wheel travel than the previous LX, plus a locking center differential, Crawl Control (Toyota’s version of an off-road cruise control system), and Multi-Terrain Select (which allows the vehicle’s traction systems to be tailored to several different terrains) is standard. A new Multi-Terrain Monitor shows video from the front, side, and rear cameras on the center display screen during sketchy off-road situations. Even a Back Underfloor View shows the terrain under the vehicle via a delayed camera feed.
As the LX’s smaller sibling, the $72,100 mid-size GX is an upscale interpretation of Toyota’s 4Runner. It has an old-school body-on-frame construction, a V-8 engine with a proven reliability record, and standard 4-wheel drive. The Lexus has been in the same generation since the 2010 model year, but it gets a few nice updates for 2022. The result is a premium SUV with exceptional off-road capabilities. The optional Premium Package adds Multi Terrain Monitor with Underfloor View, Panoramic View Monitor, and power-folding third-row seats.
The G-Class luxury SUV mixes indulgence with extreme off-road ability. This generation was all-new in 2019, yet anyone just returning from a 30-year stay at a remote Tibetan monastery would still recognize it as a G-Class. The ability to control the distribution of power to each wheel is crucial when off-roading, so the $174,900 G-Class has three locking differentials. Three buttons on the dash begin the process, which must follow in order of the center first, then the rear, and finally the front.
Off-road enthusiasts who prioritize trail-ready capabilities over on-road comfort will appreciate the 4Runner. The Toyota isn’t the most modern, most efficient, or most high-tech mid-size SUV, but it is one of the most truck-like and most capable. The $65,550 SR5/TRD Pro trim is at the top of the 4Runner food chain for the serious off-roader. On top of 4-wheel drive, Crawl Control, and Multi-Terrain Select features, you get TRD Fox high-performance off-road suspension, a unique “TOYOTA” grille, skid plate, 17-inch TRD wheels, and a TRD roof rack.
For off-road enthusiasts on a budget, the Forester has always been a favourite in a class of compact SUVs that fear leaving the pavement. Standard Subaru Symmetrical Full-Time AWD means the system can adjust how much power goes to each wheel. It also delivers sure-footedness and some compensation for what a great amount of engine power is not, but enough to pull the Forester uphill with a full complement of people and stuff. This year, the new $38,995 Wilderness variant debuts with slightly more ground clearance than a regular Forester: 9.2 inches (234 mm) to 8.7 (221). It also wears all-terrain tires to cope with any off-road adventures its owners will embark upon.