Thanks to Toyota, Ford, and Jeep, Off-Roading’s Future Looks Bright

This is an exciting time for all of you rock-hopping, river-traversing, boulder-crushing off-roaders.

What makes now perhaps the best time ever for folks who love to spend their weekends getting dirty?

The upcoming selection of vehicles purpose-built to tackle any road not covered in asphalt, of course.

The stalwarts from Land Rover and the ultra-luxurious Land Cruiser are mainstays as far as off-road capability goes, but the vast majority never see anything dirtier than a manicured gravel road leading to a hidden lake cabin.

The cars most likely to see true off-road action are the Jeep Wrangler, the returning Ford Bronco (we hope), and now, a potential successor to Toyota’s much-loved FJ Cruiser.

The FJ Cruiser ended production in the U.S. after the 2014 model year. The SUV gained a cult-like following during its 8-year life for its stout, retro looks, high ground clearance, off-road capability, and on-road manners. Prices for used FJs remain high, with 2012 and 2013 models still commanding around $30,000.

Toyota has noticed the high demand for its discontinued midsize SUV and appears to be readying a sequel. Here’s what we know so far:

Toyota will debut a new concept vehicle named the FT-4X at the 2017 New York Auto Show in April. The teaser image is a close-up of a deep-treaded Goodyear tire wrapped around a chunky wheel adorned with an orange Toyota logo. That screams off-roader to me! Plus, there’s the nomenclature. FT stands for Future Toyota, while the 4x is a likely allusion to 4-wheel-drive.

The other new off-roader hitting the market in the next couple of years is the Ford Bronco. Signs are pointing to the Bronco getting the same axles as the Wrangler, which would make the new Ford a genuine competitor to Jeep’s off-road king. Autoweek said,

In an investor presentation this month, Dana revealed that it had won the driveline work for the return of the Ford Bronco in 2020, along with the Ford Ranger in 2019. Dana confirmed that both vehicles will have “front and rear axles featuring our latest AdvanTEK gear technology.”

What does that mean?

It means the midsize and body-on-frame Bronco in 2020—like the current and next-generation Jeep Wrangler—will have Dana solid axles front and rear.

Ford still hasn’t confirmed its plans, but we’ll keep a close eye on developments as the Bronco inches closer to production.

Which brings us to the new-for-2018 Wrangler.

Photos of the upcoming Wrangler were leaked late yesterday, but they don’t show anything too surprising. It appears that Jeep didn’t want to stray too far from the familiar design of the wildly successful Wrangler, so the automaker found ways to freshen and modernize the design. We expect it will maintain the off-road capabilities of the current model, while improving its comfort, on-road manners, and fuel efficiency.

And no need to worry, the roof and doors will still be removable.

If you could choose today, would you take home the new Wrangler, the Ford Bronco, or Toyota’s next off-roader?

-tgriffith

Find Certified Pre-Owned Cars and Used Cars in your area at CarGurus.

Used Toyota Land Cruiser
Used Toyota FJ Cruiser
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