The Most Rugged Cars You Can Buy by James Baggott, Author, Car Dealer Magazine
We’ve rounded up nine of the most hard-wearing and brawny cars you can buy today, ideal for surviving a nuclear war – or the local muddy car boot sale.
The latest Jeep Wrangler is more refined, luxurious and car-like than ever, but still retains the DNA of the original Willys Jeep – one of the most iconic off-roaders of all time.
Solid axles ensure simplicity, allowing Wranglers to be modified for almost any purpose. For traversing sand dunes or mud-plugging in a deep forest, the Wrangler is about as tough as they come.
Originally known as the G-Wagen, this military-spec beast has morphed into the ideal transport for those who want to be seen. With glitzy chrome atop the blocky body, and optional AMG-tuned engines, it’s often seen in London’s most glamorous districts.
However, it’s also one of the most serious off-roaders you can buy, thanks to a super-sophisticated 4WD system plus three locking differentials. When fitted with chunky tyres, the G-Class is near unstoppable.
Toyota Land Cruiser
The legendary Land Cruiser is the vehicle that pushed Land Rover out of Australia and showed the world that the Japanese could build off-roaders that never broke down.
Though the Land Cruiser isn’t as luxurious as a Range Rover, treat it properly and it’ll probably outlast you. There’s no compromise to be made off-road either.
Isuzu D-Max AT35 Arctic Trucks
Isuzu’s D-Max pickup is already a pretty rugged vehicle, with a beefy diesel engine and four-wheel drive. The specialists at Arctic Trucks, however, have given it enormous tyres and widened arches, giving the car a more purposeful stance, while custom Fox suspension lets it deal with terrain that would trouble a mountain goat.
The Toyota Prius is typically used as a taxi in London rather than for blasting through sand dunes. But that’s where the ruggedness lies.
Nobody expected the Prius to be as reliable as it is – but even daily abuse as Uber cabs can’t break them. Many of these cars have done over 500,000 miles and still have their original battery packs.
Most off-roaders are designed to traverse rough terrain at about 5mph. The Ariel Nomad is designed to do it at 50.
With an engine and body from the Atom road car, the rear-wheel-drive Nomad bounces across the terrain rather than ploughing through it. It’s hardcore, open to the elements and great fun.
Subaru has a reputation for producing reliable, rugged cars, and the Forester is no exception. Loved by farmers, Subaru owners tend to keep their cars for longer than any other.
The brand’s symmetrical all-wheel-drive system is legendary for its simplicity and reliability, while boxer engines lower the centre of gravity and make for a reassuring drive.
Our third Toyota is perhaps the most legendary – the Hilux, notably the ‘unkillable car’. On BBC’s Top Gear, a 1994 Hilux survived being left at sea, falling off a building, being crashed into a tree and crushed with a wrecking ball – and still started up afterwards. Today’s rather plusher Hilux still retains a well-earned reputation for serious reliability.