The Best Ground Clearance SUV Models to Go Off the Beaten Path

The ground clearance of a vehicle refers to how high it sits off the ground. While some vehicles are designed to sit higher from the ground, some car owners modify vehicles with larger tires to provide additional clearance.

Trucks and SUVs are typically the two types of vehicles designed with a higher ground clearance; these vehicles often are used for rougher terrain and, in some cases, off-roading adventures. The best ground clearance SUV models should enable drivers to navigate the wild terrain and go off the beaten path to explore and take on new adventures.

Carfax rounded up the best ground clearance SUV models. The top five best ground-clearance SUVs for 2022 included:

  • 2022 Land Rover Range Rover
  • 2022 Land Rover Defender
  • 2022 Ford Bronco Badlands Sasquatch (Carfax listed the 2021 model in the second-place spot)
  • 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk (Carfax included the 2021 model in the 5th place spot)
  • 2022 Land Rover Range Rover Sport

The Best High Clearance SUV Models are Priced Higher

The five SUV models with the highest ground clearance are not low-budget options. Land Rover models make up three out of five SUVs on the list.

Land Rover’s models are typically considered high-end or luxury vehicles. The Land Rover Range Rover has a starting MSRP of $93,800, but the Land Rover Defender is almost half that price with a starting MSRP of $48,700. The Land Rover Range Rover Sport starts at $70,900.

Ford offers the lowest-priced model on the list. The 2021 Ford Bronco Badlands Sasquatch is offered in two different options—two door and four door. The two-door model started at $42,095, while the four-door model was priced at $44,590.

The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk is priced in the $50K range. The Trailhawk had a starting MSRP of $54,235—about $7,000 more than the 2021 model.

Best Ground Clearance SUV

How High off the Ground is Each Model?

Every model on the list offers high ground clearance. These SUVs also are ideal to take on off-roading adventures; Jeep and Land Rover SUVs are designed for rougher terrain. The Ford Bronco also can tackle the great outdoors and comes equipped with 35” tires, front and rear axles that electronically lock and other off-road features.  

Here’s how high each model sits off the ground:

8.6” (base model); 11.6” (off-road)

With air suspension, the Defender sits between 8.5 inches–11.6 inches

8.4” (for the base model); 11.6” (equipped with 35” tires)

Up to 11.3”

8.5” (base model); 11.1” (off-road)

Best Ground Clearance SUV

Off-Roading and Ground Clearance

Car buyers interested in driving on rough terrain, sandy beaches or anywhere beyond the highways and roads need to ensure that the vehicle they choose is equipped for these adventures. Taking a vehicle onto rocky terrain might damage the tires (if they aren’t designed for this), but the vehicle could be damaged, too, if it sits too low.

Many trails include information about the ground clearance of vehicles for safe navigation. Car owners should be mindful of these signs.

If car buyers aren’t sure how much ground clearance they might need, they can consult the site 4 Wheel Drive Guide. This helpful guide offers more data on the ground clearance specs that drivers will need to take on different types of terrain.

For example, the site explains that gravel tracks or paths need a minimum clearance of “…between 6.6 inches and 8.7 inches.” Drivers interested in rock crawling should opt for a minimum clearance of 10.8 inches (plus those wheels need to be designed for crawling).

While ground clearance is important to ensure that the SUV isn’t damaged, some models might need extra equipment to tackle some terrain. Before heading off-road, talk to the dealership or consult with an expert about how to best equip the SUV for a specific off-road adventure.

Best Ground Clearance SUV

Some SUVs Are Meant for the Roads Most Traveled

There are many high-ground clearance SUVs that are designed for off-roading, but, as SUVs have become a popular vehicle for many buyers, some of these models are meant to take on the paved roads, not the dirt paths.

Some SUVs don’t offer four-wheel drive or even all-wheel drive. There are many models that offer the heft of the truck chassis (on which SUVs are built) but don’t offer the off-roading capabilities. These SUVs might be a bit more formal and a ride that’s meant to be more refined.

Car buyers shouldn’t assume that all SUVs are created to tackle tough roads, rocky paths and even sandy beaches. In fact, popular beaches typically post signs stating that certain areas can only be driven on by vehicles with four-wheel drive capabilities. Those with front-wheel drive might end up digging themselves into a hole and needing a push (or maybe even a tow truck!).

Could Used SUVs Be Less Expensive?

Car buyers who want a high-clearance SUV for off-roading might not have the budget for a new model. The top five high-clearance vehicles range in price from the $40K-range to more than $93K. If buyers opt for upgraded features, the price could jump even higher.

Opting for a used or pre-owned vehicle provides buyers with the option to pay less for a similar vehicle. However, the price of used models varies based on several factors:

  • Condition
  • Age
  • Mileage

The make/model also impacts the price of a used SUV. For example, a luxury model will cost more than a standard model of a similar age and mileage.

Some buyers decide that they are willing to pay less for an older model. Others are fine with a higher mileage on the odometer. However, a higher mileage vehicle could have more wear and tear.

While a few basic factors impact used car prices, so does supply and demand. If supply is low but demand is high, buyers might face higher prices for used cars. A low supply also could mean that popular models are hard to find.

Buyers who want the best deal for a used or pre-owned model might shop around. Visit Kelley Blue Book’s (KBB) website to get an idea about what certain models are selling for in the area. Compare prices at dealerships.

If the buyer has a trade-in to offer a dealership, the car owner also should use KBB to research the value of their vehicle. KBB let’s car owners find either the resale price or the trade-in value. KBB provides the most up-to-date values related to market trends.

While selling a car privately could lead to more money for the owner, it also could be more complicated, too. When using a car for a trade-in, buyers should understand that the dealership will always need to build in their profit. This is why trade-in values are lower than resale values.

Knowing the value of a vehicle can help car owners feel more empowered when they are negotiating with the dealership on the price of their vehicle. If car owners feel that the dealership isn’t giving them a good deal for their trade-in based on their KBB research, they may decide to move to another dealership.

Car buyers should keep in mind, though, that if supply is low, other dealerships might not have the car they want. They should research which dealerships have their vehicle in stock and focus on these particular dealership locations.

Car Buyers Can Research Different Cars Virtually and In Augmented Reality

Car buyers who are researching new SUVs with the highest ground clearance can download the RelayCars app or visit the RelayCars mobile website to explore their options in virtual reality and/or augmented reality.

The RelayCars app lets buyers immerse in the car buying journey via 3D interactive models that can be explored with just a fingertip. Thousands of makes and models are included in RelayCars’ inventory; car buyers can interact with these 3D images and turn the car around to view it from all angles.

The app also lets buyers explore cars in a virtual reality showroom. However, users need to have access to Google Cardboard for the virtual reality experience.

RelayCars’ mobile site encourages buyers to explore vehicles using 3D models or in augmented reality. The augmented reality experience can be enjoyed with a smartphone or a tablet. The camera from the mobile device is used to capture the real environment, and the augmented reality vehicle can be dropped in this space.

With the augmented reality showroom, car buyers can walk around the car to explore its design. In addition, buyers also can choose to preview the car in their garage or their driveway.

The 3D imagery interactive experience and the augmented reality/virtual reality showroom experiences let buyers preview cars in different paint colors, too. In addition, RelayCars also offers specs and data for every make/model in its inventory. Review the starting MSRP and compare different features, too.

Car buyers can use RelayCars to explore all the high-clearance SUV models to find the one that fits their budget and their off-road adventures. Download the app or visit the mobile site today!