The terms "all-wheel drive" and four-wheel drive" are often used interchangeably in the car industry, but it's important to know they mean different things. All-wheel drive systems vary torque distribution between the front and rear axles, usually with a set of clutches in the center differential. Four-wheel drive, on the other hand, sends a fixed amount of torque to each axle through a centrally located transfer case, and can sometimes be switched off by the driver.
All-wheel drive systems tend to be more popular for today's modern vehicles since they can vary torque distribution between wheels and send power where it's needed most, whereas most 4WD systems are fixed, more hands-on, and can't be adjusted once activated. But 4WD is far more capable in off-road scenarios for the same reason, as it's able to deliver torque to all wheels equally, regardless of grip.
These are our favorite 4x4 SUVs on sale in 2023 and 2024.
2024 Ford Bronco
Price: Starting at $41,025
After a 24-year slumber, Ford decided to put its Bronco SUV back into production in 2020 as a direct competitor to Jeep's off-road-focused Wrangler. With a boxy design and plenty of capability, it's a worthy alternative that we think does a better job as an all-rounder.
Those seeking true excitement should consider the Bronco Raptor. It pairs Baja pre-runner suspension with a 400-hp twin-turbo V-6, making for one of the most ridiculous new SUV experiences on the market right now.
2024 Jeep Wrangler
Price: Starting at $33,990
The Jeep Wrangler has been the go-to choice for off-roading enthusiasts for decades, and it's easy to see why. It's one of the most capable out-of-the-box 4x4 SUVs ever, with serious equipment fitted right at the factory.
The 2024 model gets a host of interior updates to give occupants a modern feel, and there's now a total of 10 wheel designs to choose from—just one of many ways you can customize your Jeep before you even take delivery.
2024 Toyota 4Runner
Price: Starting at $41,350
The Toyota 4Runner has been on sale since 2009, making it the oldest vehicle on this list. But its relative simplicity compared to newer models and known durability are what make it supremely appealing for those with a sense of adventure.
Because it's been on the market for so long, the 4Runner has a massive fanbase and a swath of aftermarket support, making it a smart choice for those who want a reliable overlanding machine.
2023 Mercedes-Benz G-Class
Price: Starting at $141,050
The Mercedes-Benz G-Class needs no introduction. The iconic face and boxy shape have changed only slightly since the very first example rolled off the line in 1979, down to the three locking differentials (center, front, and rear).
These days most G-Wagen drivers almost never leave the pavement, but every owner can rest assured that if the pavement in front of them ever ends, their vehicle will have all the tools necessary to keep going.
2024 Land Rover Defender
Price: Starting at $57,875
The current Land Rover Defender is far different than the original model, but one thing the two versions share is a four-wheel drive system. Except here, it's shrouded under a modernized SUV with retro-inspired looks.
Most buyers will be satisfied with any of the three powertrains available, but we'll always prefer the top-dog 518-hp supercharged V-8 which, when paired to the Defender 90 body style, can launch the SUV to 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds.
2023 Lexus LX
Price: Starting at $92,160
For the moment, the U.S.-market Toyota Land Cruiser is still out. of reach. But the Lexus version, the LX, has remained on the market. It's essentially the same as the 300-series Land Cruiser underneath, complete with a four-wheel drive system and a twin-turbo V-6 engine.
That V-6 is rated at 409 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque, enough for a 6.1-second sprint to 60 mph and a 6000-pound tow capacity. What's most appealing to us, though, is Toyota's reputation for being supremely reliable.
2023 Chevrolet Tahoe
Price: Starting at $56,095
The Chevy Tahoe might be the ultimate daily driver. It uses a truck-like body-on-frame chassis with a real four-wheel drive system, which means it can go places normal SUVs can't. Specced correctly, it can tow over 8000 pounds. And it can even seat up to nine people.
If you need a vehicle that can absolutely do it all, it's tough to overlook the Tahoe. Just be prepared to pay the price for fuel and deal with parking something as big as a small home.
2023 Chevrolet Suburban
Price: Starting at $59,095
The Chevrolet Suburban is for the buyer who believes the Tahoe somehow isn't spacious enough for their needs. It's the same vehicle but lengthened to add legroom for the second and third rows, and also add storage space.
Like the Tahoe, there are two V-8s and a diesel inline-six available. You can tow just as much, and fit just as many people. We suggest springing for the 6.2-liter, as it makes the most power and sounds the best.
2024 GMC Yukon
Price: Starting at $59,295
The GMC Yukon and its bigger sibling, the Yukon XL, are essentially just reskinned versions of the Tahoe and Suburban, complete with different fascias, a bit more chrome, and a revised interior.
The Yukon has the same drivetrain options as its Chevy siblings, and comes with three rows of seating. Whether you prefer it over the Tahoe or Suburban will come down to your preferences on styling, for the most part.
2024 Cadillac Escalade
Price: Starting at $83,890
Underneath its high-class styling and luxurious interior, the Cadillac Escalade rides on the same body-on-frame platform as the Chevy SUVs and the GMC Yukon. That means it has the same four-wheel-drive driveline.
Out of the three available engines, we're most fond of the 682-hp supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 found in the Escalade V. It's enough to launch the 6200-pound building on wheels to 60 mph in an impressive 4.3 seconds.
2024 Land Rover Range Rover
Price: Starting at $108,875
Because the Range Rover has become a staple of the rich and powerful, the vast majority will never go off-road, and that's a real shame.
The Range Rover is the flagship of the Land Rover brand, meaning it has to perform exceptionally whenever it leaves pavement. And it can thanks to its standard four-wheel drive system. Adjustable air suspension means lots of ground clearance, and there's even a plug-in hybrid version for those who want to cruise partially on electric power.
2024 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Price: Starting at $41,330
Just because it's not a Wrangler doesn't mean the Jeep Grand Cherokee can't hold its own when the pavement ends. The company's more road-focused SUV is perfectly capable of overlanding exploration thanks to available four-wheel drive.
In order to get the 4WD system you'll have to stick with the Grand Cherokee's base 293-hp V-6, as choosing the hybrid-powered 4xe also gets you a more road-focused AWD system. Want a V-8? Spring for the long-wheelbase Grand Cherokee L.
2024 Jeep Wagoneer
Price: Starting at $63,595
The Wagoneer is Jeep's biggest SUV, meant to compete against the likes of the Chevy Tahoe and Ford Expedition. It's a three-row that can fit up to eight people and tow up to 10,000 pounds—the most of any SUV on sale today.
Rear-wheel drive is standard on the Wagoneer, meaning you'll have to pay extra to unlock the four-wheel drive for that truly tough terrain. For those that love adventure, we'd consider it a must-have.
2024 Jeep Grand Wagoneer
Price: Starting at $92,495
The Jeep Grand Wagoneer shares much of its design and equipment with the regular Wagoneer, but elevates the experience with higher-quality interior materials and flashy chrome on the outside.
There are second-row captain's chairs as standard, and an available 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline-six dubbed the "Hurricane," rated at 510 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque. Those who absolutely must have a V-8 can also choose a 6.4-liter naturally aspirated unit making 471 hp, but only on the standard-length model.
2024 Ford Expedition
Price: Starting at $57,420
If you need to transport a lot of people AND tow large hauls, the Ford Expedition is the SUV for you. There's seating for up to eight people, and a minimum tow rating of 9000 pounds (more than any SUV from Chevrolet).
Rear-wheel drive is standard on the Expedition, though most trims have four-wheel drive tacked on. We recommend going for the Stealth Performance model as it gets the highest-output version of the twin-turbo V-6, rated at 440 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque.
2024 Lincoln Navigator
Price: Starting at $84,660
The Lincoln Navigator shares much of its underpinnings with the Ford Expedition, which means it gets the same drivetrain layout and four-wheel drive system.
The Navigator is far more luxurious, of course, with higher-quality materials and a more isolated ride. We especially like the optional 30-way adjustable massaging front seats and available BlueCruise hands-free driving assistance system.
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