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I know, I know.
Off-roading in a crossover SUV sounds like a bit of a sacrilege, but hear me out…
Not everyone can afford a full-spec off-roader. And not all off-roading requires a bomb proof Landcruiser or a lifted full-size truck. For some folks, gentle off-roading is all that’s required, and for that kind of off-roading, a crossover SUV might just be the ticket.
In fact, there are several reasons why off-roading in a crossover SUV is a good idea, for some people, anyway.
Crossover SUVs Get Great Gas Mileage
If you’re in a budget-conscious situation, you can’t get much more fuel-efficient than a small crossover SUV.
In many cases, they come with fuel-efficient 4-cylinder engines, but even when there’s a 6-cylinder under the hood you often find that fuel economy is quite good – perhaps even in the upper 20s per gallon!
Contrast that with a big truck, van, or SUV that’s lucky to get 15 MPG and you see the value in a smaller, lighter, and more fuel-efficient 4×4.
This savings can especially add up if you do a lot of off-roading, overlanding, or both. The money saved on fuel could go towards making upgrades to your crossover SUV to make it more trail-worthy. The savings could also go to some sweet gear, like a rooftop tent, upgraded tires, additional rescue and recovery gear, and so forth.
You Still Get 4WD and Other Features When Off-Roading in a Crossover SUV
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While you don’t get the same ground clearance in a Subaru Outback as you do with a Land Rover Defender, you still have more clearance and better approach and departure angles than you do in a sedan or coupe.
Additionally, crossover SUVs give you 4WD or AWD that you need when off-roading. Again, while these systems aren’t as beefy or advanced as what you find in true off-roaders, for low-grade off-roading, they’ll probably do the trick just fine.
Add in features like hill assist, traction control, and anti-slip differentials (among others), and you have a vehicle with multiple systems that can help you make the most of your time off-the-beaten path.
Besides, crossover SUVs are smaller and lighter than more traditional off-roaders, so you might find that instead of getting bogged down in a soft spot on the trail that you’re able to navigate it without issue. There’s something to be said for leaving a lighter footprint, too. While many trails are well established, there will be occasions when you can go off-trail to explore. Doing so in a lighter vehicle will help minimize damage to the environment as you do that exploring.
There’s Lots of Room for Goodies When Off-Roading in a Crossover SUV
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The Toyota RAV 4s and the Chevy Equinoxes of the world offer loads of interior space where you can bring along all the gear you need for a weekend out exploring off-road.
Assuming you aren’t terribly tall, you could even set up sleeping quarters in a crossover SUV if you aren’t inclined to tent camp on the ground or on your car’s roof.
But even if you’re only headed out for a few hours, you still have plenty of cargo space for your rescue and recovery gear, food, water, extra clothes, and so forth. And if you want to take some off-road trails to get to your favorite lake or stream, you’ll have room for your fishing gear inside and your kayak up top.
The point is that while a Ford Escape is no Toyota 4Runner, vehicles like that still offer lots of advantages for certain types of off-roading. Can you take your new Chevy Blazer on the Rubicon Trail? Maybe not. But there are all sorts of off-roading possibilities for crossover SUVs like that in which you can have a blast and do so safely.
So, if off-roading is in your future, but you don’t have the budget for a big off-roader, you might consider off-roading in a crossover SUV. The advantages discussed here (and a long list of others) could make it worth your while!