In general, most SUVs can go off-road, at least to a certain degree. For serious off-road performance, sport utility vehicles with four-wheel drive and specifically engineered off-road tyres can tackle pretty much any terrain. However, if you are only planning on hitting the odd dirt track once in a while, you’ll probably manage in a crossover SUV with all-wheel drive and all-terrain or maybe even on-road tyres.
For more background on the difference between four-wheel and all-wheel drive, read this explainer.
Next, make sure you know the conditions well and have the right tyres before you choose the road less traveled...
You can get away with a certain amount of off-road driving with on-road tyres, even if your vehicle only has two-wheel drive, as long as the surface is as close to that of a paved road as possible. For example, a well-compacted dirt track to your weekend mountain hut, the gravel lane that leads to a remote campsite and a forest path to the start of a hike through a national park are all fair game. However, you need to be certain that the condition of the track is good for several reasons:
For anything beyond the bare minimum of off-road driving, even if it’s only on unsurfaced roads, all-wheel drive and all-terrain tyres designed for on/off-road use are the best choice.
If you are planning on really going where no roads can find you, only a four-wheel drive with specific engineered off-road tyres like multi-terrain, all-terrain or mud-terrain tyres will do. Whether you are rock-crawling, dune-bashing, plowing through mud or deep snow, you need a heavy-duty vehicle that is built for the task. Here’s how to choose the right tyres for your vehicle with the help of the Continental tyre finder.