Off-roading is as much about brains as about brute strength, and the latest move in SUVs proves it. The Land Rover Discovery Sport (base price: $37,070) is a compact SUV that uses a punchy, turbocharged in-line four and the company’s time-proven Terrain Response system to make mincemeat of mud and rock. We drove one through a raging Icelandic creek to test the truck’s claimed wading depth of 23.6 inches. The Discovery Sport can even accommodate seven thanks to an optional 5+2 flexible seating system that, when laid flat, delivers a load floor as long as that of a Range Rover.
The new Jeep Renegade (base price: $18,990) is a budget-friendly little hauler with personality. Though not as rugged as the battle-ready Jeep Wrangler, the Renegade is surprisingly tough, especially in Trailhawk trim, which includes eight inches of ground clearance and 19 inches of water fording. The Renegade manages decent gas mileage, pulling 24 mpg from the 2.4-liter engine (though four-wheel drive may test that), while the interior is a rolling tribute to off-roading, down to the map of Moab in the center storage bin. Its size and power are built to tough it out in tight spaces.