Since their early foray into the mud and sand during World War II, Jeeps have built up quite a reputation for being nigh invincible when off the tarmac. Their off-road capabilities are the stuff of legends, with many variants participating in global championships, from the Dakar Rally to the Baja 1000.
However, fans of the four-wheeled monster often get into heated debates (often involving wrenches) about what Jeep model is best for off-roading and why? This article shall bring to light the top three Jeep models that dominate the Great Outback for those dedicated petrolheads. For the sake of relevance, you’ll only see the versions past 2010.
What Makes for a Good Off-Roader?
Before deciding on the best Jeep models, let us first examine what makes a good off-roader. It is not just the capacity to run across sand dunes with speed. A capable off-roading SUV should possess the following qualities:
Strong Drive Axles: The axles deliver the power from the engine to the wheels. Thus, it stands to reason that an ideal off-road vehicle should have sturdy axles to handle the impacts of rocky terrain.
Adjustable 4WD: Not all landscapes are suitable for all four wheels getting power simultaneously. You may need to supply one with more power than the others. So, adjustable 4WD is a must-have for an off-road car.
Torquey Yet Economical Powertrain: You are not within reach of any petrol stations in the wilderness. Moreover, you may need to tow some cargo or someone else's vehicle in worst-case scenarios. That is why the SUV you take off the road should have a lot of torque without compromising fuel economy.
Electric/Hydraulic Steering: In the absence of tarmac, you need to put in a lot of effort to turn the steering. Electric or hydraulic power steering helps keep your elbows from giving out. The best off-roading SUVs have a combination of both.
Adjustable High-Power Suspension: When exploring the wilderness, you may encounter terrain that can ruin the chassis even at lower speeds. That is why you require an adjustable suspension that can take the excess weight with ease.
Best Jeep Models for Off-Roading
Considering the criteria mentioned above, there are three leading contenders for the title of the best off-roading Jeep model. Each has its advantages and suits a particular type of adventure.
It is the closest thing you can get to a Humvee in Australia. Its massive size allows for many external modifications without ruining the weight distribution. So, even if you have a week's worth of cargo, the Gladiator rages through the rough without any issues.
The base Night Eagle trim is a treat on its own, but true adventurers would prefer the Rubicon. With the Jeep Gladiator, you get electronic locking differentials and a Roc-Trac 4x4 drive system. This combination is enough to let this behemoth of a machine climb steep inclines without any problems. The best part? You can take the top off and enjoy the sound of that Pentastar V6 engine with the wind in your hair.
Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
Let's be honest; you know this certified trailblazer would make a list. Perfected over several years, the Wrangler is an off-roader that balances technology and sturdiness. It has a robust electrical system that can work adequately even with additional LED lights. The outer body has several contacts to attach cargo nets and safety rails.
You can still use the 2015 Jeep Wrangler parts in a 2022 Rubicon. Even the air intake system is the same as its predecessors. What's upgraded is the programmable 4WD system that can suit any terrain. You can place your family of four in comfortable seats within the Wrangler and still take the SUV over a river without any problems.
Jeep Compass High Altitude
While the Night Eagle is the tamer trim for the Jeep Compass today, the Compass High Altitude makes for a true off-roader. You can get one for a price lower than a mid-range saloon, and it can still provide the fun kicking up some dirt. Despite being reasonably priced, it is a rugged off-road monster.
The best trim is the 2016 Jeep Compass High Altitude. It has a refined 2.4L turbocharged inline-4, which might not seem like much. Yet, it puts out 165 lb-ft of torque while still claiming 28 mpg. The tight 3.37:1 axle ratio means that it can go across low-traction surfaces such as loose sand and mud. If you want to drive one, it is best to go for the 6-speed automatic transmission.
Making Jeep’s Off-Road Performance Even Better
Sure, these Jeeps are aces in their own fields, but you can always make them a bit better by adding some off-accessories. Some of the most popular ones can be found below:
Towing Cable and Winch
A powered winch connected with a long alloy cable is necessary for any Jeep. Even if you don't have to tow your car out of a jam, you can help out a stuck adventurer who took things too far.
Illuminated Running Boards
Jeeps are notorious for being hard to get in and out of due to the excess ride height. Running boards grant you easier ingress/egress while also providing you with a platform to sit up during a temporary stop.
Stainless Steel Skid Plates
When exploring the Outback, you can come across some unforgiving rock edges that can quickly ruin your escapade. Stainless steel skid plates protect the car's vulnerable parts, such as the exhaust system and the crankcase.
Lift kits give your suspension that extra lift to protect your car against the threats from below. No, you can't get away from a gigantic snake, but you can save the undercarriage from jagged rocks.
Just Jeeps for Best Off-Roading Parts and Accessories
Want to go further than 'What Jeep model is best for off-roading and why?' Then Just Jeeps is your one-stop-shop. Our team can get any required parts and accessories delivered right to your doorstep. You can browse our inventory online or visit any of our physical stores in person. We have been operating in Australia for the past 30 years and know every Jeep, inside and out.