The 4×4 SUV – Best Models For 2012
One of the big appeals of having a 4×4 SUV is the ability to take it off-road when the mood strikes, while enjoying comfort and sporty styling in normal driving conditions. You can choose to have four-wheel-drive on practically any size SUVs, but which are really the best for 2012.
Some of the most popular four-by-fours are big, heavy pick-up trucks. They can be difficult to handle, and are not really the best vehicles for families, with limited seating and storage issues.
That’s not the case with SUVs. Generally, 4×4 SUVs are easy to drive whether you’re in standard 2×4 mode or have switched over to the four-wheel-drive setting. And SUVs have lots of flexibility when it comes to seating and cargo space inside the vehicle. That makes them a much better choice for a family vehicle.
The most highly recommended 4×4 models tend to be mid or full-size SUVs, like the Toyota Sequoia, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Ford Explorer or the Nissan Pathfinder.
These four all rate high on the things that are important in a 4×4 SUV – enough power to navigate demanding terrain, stability and ease of handling, along with hefty towing capacity.
Anyone who experiences the challenge of winter driving knows that there is nothing more reassuring than getting behind the wheel of a four wheel drive vehicle. With a 4×4, you can slam through heavy snow with ease, maintain traction on ice covered surfaces, and know that you’re not going to get stuck in your driveway when the plows go by.
The 2012 Toyota Sequoia ranks at the top of the list in off-road capability, followed by the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The 2012 Ford Explorer and the 2012 Nissan Pathfinder had lower ratings.
A 4×4 SUV is a solid choice for rugged off-roading. The extra power that is a trait in full-size SUVs ensures that your vehicle won’t bog down in rough or steep terrain. And 4×4 SUVs are made tough enough to take the abuse of these conditions.
Independent rear suspension in the Toyota Sequoia provides outstanding ride quality on the highway. This SUV serves up lots of power while providing a comfortable, smooth ride.
It gets even better in off-road conditions. The Sequoia can handle steep terrain and deep ruts comfortably. With lots of ground clearance, it manages the roughest conditions with ease.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is a pleasure to drive on the highway, with responsive steering and a smooth ride. You aren’t lacking for power with this high performance SUV either, as it cruises along nicely at highway speeds.
The Cherokee is a very capable off-road vehicle. The innovative Selec-Track technology allows you to select the best mode for your off-roading experience. Leaving it in the auto setting can actually result in a stiffer, bouncier feel.
The Nissan Pathfinder is anything but smooth on the open road. It has the feel of driving a truck because it sits on a four-wheel independent suspension system, instead of the solid rear axle other SUVs use.
When heading off-road with the Pathfinder though, it’s a different story. Hitting ruts, bumps, or dips on an unpaved road or in an off-road situation brings out the best in this SUV’s suspension. With almost 9 inches of clearance, you won’t have to worry about going in too deep.
Ford Explorers of old were notorious for poor handling and a subpar ride. That issue has been addressed in the new Explorer and the result is a softer ride and improved handling on the highway.
The Explorer is not as capable off-road as other 4×4 SUVs, but good enough for some light challenges. Off-road, the Explorer uses its patented Terrain Management system to help. This system allows the driver to select the type of terrain and the system responds by changing powertrain parameters accordingly.
You can’t beat a four-wheel-drive SUV when you’re towing. You’ll find that a full-size SUV will have a larger towing capacity than a small or mid-sized one. If you do a lot of towing, go with a full-size 4×4 SUV.
Both the Sequoia and the Cherokee can tow up to 7400 pounds. That’s not surprising for the Jeep with its 6.4-liter Hemi V8 engine. But the Toyota impresses with only a 5.7-liter V8 engine powering it.
Less efficient are the Pathfinder with a towing capability of 7000 pounds with a 5.6-liter V8 and the Explorer which can tow loads of up to 5000 pounds with a 3.5-liter V6.
If you like to hit venture off-road in comfort, then a 4×4 SUV may be right for you.
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