The Best Off-Road Vehicles We Don’t Get in America
Even though we may be spoiled for trucks and SUVs in the U.S., there are countless models sold abroad that off-road enthusiasts lust after: the forbidden fruit of the 4x4 world, just out of reach for those of us in America.
In the rest of the world, off-road capable vehicles have always been popular for their practicality, not just their appearance. There are places in the world where a gnarly truck or SUV is the difference between making it home or being stranded in some inhospitable location.
We always want what we can’t have. So here are the 4x4s, off-roaders, SUVs and pickup trucks the rest of the world enjoys, but those of us in the United States can only admire from afar.
Toyota Land Cruiser Prado
We could write up a whole separate slideshow of gnarly off-roaders that Toyota doesn’t sell in the United States, but we’ll start this Toyotathon with a softer entrance. The Land Cruiser Prado is the basis of the Lexus GX, which is famous in its own right in America. So, technically we do get it in the U.S.
But until I see a Lexus GX with that awesome rearview mirror down at the front driver’s fender, I’m counting the LC Prado in here, which can be bought in Guatemala.
Suzuki Jimny 5-Door
There can only be one way to kick off this list, and that’s with the Suzuki Jimny which is the forbiddenest of fruits. We love the Jimny. In fact, I love the Jimny so much I’m trying to drag my poor folks to the Mexican consulate so I may apply for a dual-citizenship to legally own a Jimny.
You’ll notice the Jimny pictured is a four— sorry, five door model. I usually am not into any four-door variant of my favorite cars, but I’m sure when the Jimny 5-Door goes on sale in its native country of production, India, the extra doors will make it that much more compelling for people. That means more buyers. That means more Jimnies, and more Jimnies are good.
The Ford Everest is a bizarre SUV, not because the Everest itself is weird. But rather because it seems like there’s little reason for Ford to not sell the Ranger-based Everest in the U.S. Well, other than it likely competing with the Bronco, I guess.
Imagine having a truck-based, decently-capable SUV with a fixed roof, and therefore little wind noise on the highway. Top it all off with a manual transmission and you have a winner. You have the Everest, which is sold in Australia and will be updated soon.
The Volkswagen Amarok is the truck that made me love trucks again, after I swore them off when I got my driver’s license. I’m just no great fan of full-size pickups, and the midsizers used to seem like afterthoughts.
Then I saw a white Amarok off in the distance in Mexico, caked in dust. Plowing down a potholed avenue, bouncing wildly. I chased it, and heard the unmistakable sound of its diesel engine and saw the red letter badge: T D I.
I fell head over heels, daydreaming about its the no-fuss design, common rail diesel engine paired to a manual transmission.
Renault Oroch (Duster Oroch)
The Renault Oroch is also known as the Renault Duster Oroch in markets outside of Mexico, because it’s basically a Duster with a small pickup bed.
Rather than a midsize truck, this is more akin to an SUV that had its rear cargo hold lopped off, so it may not be as capable as others on this list. It is, nonetheless, a neat vehicle, and about as capable as most people need.
Mitsubishi L200 or Triton
While the Suzuki Jimny is what I would legally own if I could, I confess that midsize trucks are starting to look very appealing to me. Well, maybe not as much as compact trucks of yore like the late ’80s Mazda B2000.
That’s what I like about the Mitsubishi L200 or Triton: it seems bigger than a compact, but smaller than a midsizer. At least older generations did. The new trucks are quite burlier but the design is so good, so sleek, I’m willing to overlook the growth spurt. Or maybe, I’ve just gotten used to the design of the truck, still sold in Mexico.
For a true compact truck, we can look to Nissan. The Japanese carmaker has been making chassis cab pickups for decades and it seems these trucks can last a lifetime of abuse on the road. They’re often fleet vehicles, but could probably be outfitted as a gnarly single-cab with a long bed to throw a camper on. The NP300 is a common sight on the border, being sold in Mexico.
Mitsubishi Pajero Sport
The Mitsubishi Montero Sport never went away. It just moved abroad and went on to enjoy its life outside the U.S. behind the nameplate of the Pajero Sport.
Like some others on this list, the Pajero is basically an L200 with an enclosed cargo area, which is to say it looks awesome. There was even a special Dakar edition available not long ago, and it ripped! The Pajero Sport is still sold in Mexico, among other markets.
Toyota Land Cruiser Pickup
Single cabs and long beds are the one true configuration for trucks. If we died and went to Plato’s heaven right now, the image of a Land Cruiser Pickup 70 Series is what we would see when we went looking for the essence of a truck.
That paint and side grahpics on the Land Cruiser Pickup still avaialable in Central or South American Markets, among many others is just the cherry on top. The LC Pickup is still sold in Guatemala, which seems to love Toyotas.
Look, we all saw this coming. The Hilux is almost as beloved as the Jimny, although both are old standards for off-road fans. The Toyota Hilux is not exactly the Tacoma, as we’ve come to know it. The trucks differ enough that they are even sold alongside each other in certain markets, including Mexico.
The Hilux is a pretty bare-bones truck, but that means it’s also cheaper than the Tacoma. The choice, for me, would be easy. Hail the Hilux, the iconic Toyota picap — as trucks are known in Brazil and much of Latin America.
A little-known alternative to the Hilux in markets abroad comes from another Japanese carmaker, however, and that’s Mazda. The BT-50 has the same design language of its stablemates at Mazda. And I never thought that face would work on a truck, but it does! Drivers in OZ should count themselves lucky.
Oh, we can’t forget about this Toyota. This is not the other 4Runner despite their similar-sounding names. The smaller Fortuner is based on the Toyota Hilux, unlike the 4Runner we get in the U.S., which has more in common with the Prado and Lexus GX. The Fortuner is a mid-size SUV whose pedigree comes from the legendary Toyota truck, and it inherited much of the small truck’s capability. The Fortuner is still sold in Guatemala.
Mercedes-Benz G350D (G-Class)
I’m kind of cheating with this Mercedes-Benz, because the G350D is a military vehicle that is not for sale to the public regardless of the country. But the M-B G350D is too cool not to include on a list of 4X4 forbidden fruit.
Indeed, the G-Wagen is more recognizable in the U.S. now as a chic SUV for well-heeled buyers, but the truck is a supremely capable working vehicle at heart. And the G350 wears its capability on its sleeve — battle dressed sleeve.
Chevrolet S10 Z71
Even though the Chevrolet Colorado picked up where the Chevy S10 left off in the U.S., the S10 is actually still sold in many markets around the world. I can’t help but beam everytime I see one on the border, and there are certain models that could trade blows with other dedicated mid-size trucks outfitted with off-road farkles. That includes the S10 Z71 or the S10 High Country, sold in Brazil.
Suzuki DR200SE or Trojan
I can’t end a list like this without including a motorcycle. The Honda Transalp is rumored to come to the United States at some point, so I’m going to throw in the Suzuki Trojan instead, a bike which Suzuki calls a two wheel farm vehicle.
The Trojan’s 199cc single-cylinder and styling is all about form over function. It’s glorious, and the bike even comes with a backup kickstarter in case your battery dies while out in the bush or outback. Suzuki sells the Trojan in Australia, among other markets.
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