There are two things that car manufacturers struggle to overcome when crafting their vehicles: Extreme heat and cold. High temperatures and other desert conditions can really damage vehicles. The dust not only makes the outside filthy, but it gets inside of the air filter, coats everything under the hood, and the heat itself damages a battery’s ability to hold a charge. Some believe that heat actually is more detrimental to cars than the cold is. So, whether you live in the desert or plan on visiting, here are ten cars that do better than most in the desert.
10 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser
This large vehicle is a great choice for taking a romp through desert terrain. Its big, sturdy, and has all-wheel drive to power through sand, rocks and whatever else you might encounter while off-roading. This model has a decade long history of great performance so you know that it can get you where you need to go. It’s not terribly fuel efficient with it only getting 15-miles per gallon. It is equipped with a V-8 engine that can put out 381 horsepower and give this ride the ability to tow a whopping four tons! Unfortunately, it has quite the whopping price tag as well at $80,000.
9 2016 Volvo XC70 Cross Country
This car has all the hallmarks of the Volvo brand: quality manufacturing, safe to drive, and extreme durability. If the car looks a little dated, don’t be too quick to judge; it could just be old! This line of wagons was built to last and there's a ton of them still alive and kicking as a result.
While it does have an all-wheel drive, it's not recommended for off-road. However, its durability still holds up well to high temperatures found in desert areas. In addition, it has a huge amount of storage and gets a fantastic 31-miles per gallon on the highway to keep you moving on long trips.
8 2016 Subaru Forester
The Subaru Forester is a vehicle that wants to deliver the best of both worlds, regular driving and off-roading, and delivers in spades. If you want to do some off-roading, the terrain is nothing to fear as the vehicle is raised almost 9 inches for great ground clearance.
The Forester also boasts superior traction, which is perfect for loose sand or a slick road. The vehicle boasts Subaru’s famous four-cylinder engine that has been one of the best on the market for two decades. The Subaru Forester is particularly a great choice if you live in a desert climate as it will survive the heat year after year and you can even take it off the beaten path every now and again.
7 2006 Hummer H1
Hummers don’t have the best reputation. This is the very definition of a gas-guzzler; its big, sluggish, and quite honestly has no business being on the streets. However, that's not exactly what their made for. Hummers were, and still are, vehicles made for the military when they intend to travsers extreme locations.
They have plenty of room for the copious amount of supplies the military carries around, its large tires make short work of everything from mud to sand dunes and the powerful engine can pull this monster through just about anything. It’s for this reason that if you’re heading out purely for an adventure on desert roads less traveled, you might want to rent one of these.
6 2016 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited
Jeep has a long history of being the vehicle of the adventurous. This continues to hold true for the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited. As previously stated, Jeeps tend to be suited for taking a walk on the wild side but this particular model has a few details that make it great for desert excursions.
First, it's quite spacious for all of your adventuring gear and buddies. Second, it has a mode to drive in ultra low gear. If you do happen to damage your Jeep, this model’s parts are easily available and if you want to upgrade anything while you’re at it, the manufacturer has made an effort to provide compatible parts.
5 2016 Mercedes G-Class
It's quite a bit of a surprise to see a luxury brand such as Mercedes on this list but once you see how it stacks up, it makes perfect sense. Also referred to as the G-Wagen, this car is like a tank for those who can afford it. It is claimed to be just about bomb proof, has its frame and body made out of one solid piece and has a punchy four wheel drive.
If that isn’t quite enough for you, they make a long-cab pick-up truck version as well. The only thing wrong with this ride fit for desert nobility is that its gas mileage isn’t fantastic, but with the strength its packing, you could easily bring along an extra can or two of gasoline.
4 1995 Suzuki Samurai
A lot of the vehicles on this list are big, monster machines. However, bigger isn’t always better. The bigger the car, the more it weighs. When driving in desert conditions off-road, especially where there's loose sand or rocks, this weight will work to your disadvantage because you’ll sink into the terrain and thus, need extra power to use pure force to get out.
A smaller car will not sink as much, thus needs less power to get through these obstacles. This is what gives the Suzuki Samurai the edge. Small, lightweight and quick on its wheels, this mini-truck will skim over tricky terrain like a basilisk lizard runs on water.
3 2017 Ford Raptor
The first pickup truck on our list comes in with quite a pedigree. The Ford F-150 has an astounding reputation for work and play as a favorite among off-roading communities. Places around the world hold huge events called mudding, where you hit the gas and enjoy the right as your truck tears through sludgy, mud-bogged terrain with ease.
The Raptor was born from the F-150 but Ford decided to take it up another notch and make it more suited for the desert. Sporting an upgraded suspension and elevated wheel travel, it would take a bottomless pit of sand for you to get stuck.
2 1990 Mitsubishi Montero SR
Way back in the beginning of our list we mentioned the Toyota Land Cruiser. This vehicle was made to rival and beat Toyota at their own game. This iteration of the SUV from the 90s does a pretty good job of it too. It’s sturdy and has a V6 engine to get you through the desert and back.
An interesting feature that the Montero possesses is adjustable shocks so you can actually choose how rough you want the ride to be. The only downside to this sensible vehicle is that a small number of them came over to the U.S. and since they are durable, if you manage to find one, it’ll most likely pretty worn out from years of reliable use.
1 2016 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4WD Van
For the last entry on our list, we have another surprising vehicle. Mercedes has already proven that they can make a car tough enough to handle the desert but at first glance, a van doesn’t seem like the right kind of vehicle to go on an off-road adventure in. However, it has a lot more benefits than you would think. The desert possesses a lot of unique challenges to those who wish to conquer it. This van can do anything most of the vehicles on this list can do; powerful engine, four wheel drive, and built to deal with extreme environments. Now, you can adventure without a care knowing you have everything you need right in the back.