Vehicles with rugged designs may look the part, but when it comes down to it, appearance and branding doesn’t mean anything as you venture off the road. Ultimately, if a vehicle doesn’t have the attributes necessary to stand up to the challenges of the trials, a tough design won’t do you any good. As such, it’s important not to get distracted by flashy branding when choosing an off-roading vehicle. Instead, focus on these key qualities of a good off-roading vehicle to make sure your ride is tough enough to take on the trails.
High ground clearance
High ground clearance is an essential quality in any good off-roading vehicle—especially if you’re planning on taking your vehicle rock crawling. A high ground clearance ensures that there is ample space between harsh terrain and the underside of your vehicle.
Such space will prevent the underbody of your vehicle from getting damaged while climbing rocks, boulders, or other obstacles. In addition, high clearance will also help you avoid high centering by allowing your vehicle to pass over obstacles without catching on them.
Most vehicles have open differentials that provide the wheel with the least traction with the most power. In areas that have poor traction, it is common for four-wheel-drive vehicles with open differentials to spin their tires. For optimal traction when off-roading, it is ideal for a vehicle to have locking differentials. This capability ensures that the wheel with the most traction gets the most power to help you navigate challenging terrain.
Ample approach, departure, and breakover angles
To handle the intense changes in terrain commonly experienced while off-roading, it’s important for the vehicle to be designed with good approach, departure, and breakover angles. The approach angle will determine the steepest hill the vehicle can climb without scraping its front bumper, while the departure angle will determine the steepest grade the vehicle can descend without hitting its rear bumper. The breakover angle, on the other hand, refers to the steepest crest the vehicle can cross without high centering. Taking such angles into consideration when assessing key qualities of a good off-roading vehicle is essential to ensuring your ride can handle the different types of rugged terrain you intend to traverse.