As you can guess all off-road cars have certain common features, but each brand and model differs in certain traits. For this reason, we decided to write a blog post to help you figure out what to look for in your first off-road vehicle. It’s important the car you purchase to perfectly fit your lifestyle and needs.
Do you know what is an off-road car?
Before making a list with the most important features you should look in an off-road car, it’s important to know what this type of vehicle is. The great distinction between standard cars and these models is that the last ones can be easily driven on and off ground and off-paved roads.
They are also referred to as 4X4s or four-wheel drive cars because all their wheels are powered. Standard cars have only two wheels powered either the front or the back ones.
Their stability and power make them perfect for being driven on hard condition roads. Some models come with rough body structure and frame to provide top-notch protection from uneven ground.
What features should you look when purchasing an off-road vehicle?
Good Torque Output
You may have no idea what torque is. Let’s take it one step at the time. The horsepower is the engine’s ability to work over a certain distance and a determined period. The torque is the twisting power of the engine. You should choose a vehicle with a high torque number, because the higher it is, the greater are the chances the car to be able to get you out of a mud hole, or up on a mountain. However, keep in mind that the ground and the grip of the tires influence the torque output.
High good clearance
If you know that you will extensively use the vehicle off road, you should look for the real deal when it comes to 4X4s. Toyota 4Runner, Chevrolet Tahoe and Jeep Wrangler are some examples of perfect body-on-frame SUVs. They are vehicles with higher ground clearance and you can easily notice this feature if you compare them with standard models.
If none of the above models seems a great choice for you, you can check the purpose-built ones, like the Land Rover LR4, Land Rover Range Rover, and Jeep Grand Cherokee. They are specifically created for harsh road conditions and you should make sure that you would spend most of your driving time out of the road if you plan to purchase one of them. All three of the models mentioned above have adjustable suspension so you can raise their ride height by pushing the special button.
A locking differential
Most vehicles have a limited-slip differential. It means that the wheel that receives the smallest amount of traction spins. In a standard four-wheel drive that features a limited slip differential, the driver can actually have a two-wheel drive, one in the front and one in the back when you are taking the car in off-kilter or slick stuff situations. Why should you get a car with locking differential? It will lock the differential when you drive in the stated conditions, and both wheels on the axle will rotate at the same time.
The brands that are serious about manufacturing reliable four-wheel drive vehicles will include in their models a form of locking differential. Let’s take a look at Toyota FJ Cruiser, the electrical version uses technology similar to Hill Assist. Wrangler has a more traditional differential, a mechanical one. Some models even come with full locking differentials, all the four wheels are rotating at all times. Make sure you check the type of locking differential the model you purchase has, it will influence your off-road experience. Use a VIN decoder to find out detailed information about the model you intend to buy. The unique identifier code will offer you complete details about the manufacturer, year of production, model, and type of engine. It will also inform you if the car was damaged, stolen or illegally modified.
Low range transfer case
This capability will make the difference in negotiating steep hills, it will offer an extra pull when the wheels of the car are turning slowly. Standard cars have too tall gears to be used on off-road conditions. If you are using the vehicle on paved roads, you will find useful a car with high wheel speed and low engine speed because it will help you save on fuel. However, off-roads are uneven and slippery, and a low range gearing will help you down steep hills without even pressing the brakes. This is one of the features that help you maintain the speed and direction of the car, in extreme conditions.
Extra tips for your first off-road trip
Once you will own a 4X4 vehicle, you will definitely want to take it on your first adventure. But if this is the first time you are doing it, you need some expert tips to be prepared.