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5 Overrated Japanese SUVs That Are Useless Off-Road (5 That Are Unstoppable)

HotCars 9/29/2022 Brian Nyambura
© Provided by HotCars

Besides driving fast on a track and the local twisty roads, some enthusiasts are moving towards reconnecting with nature. They call it overlanding, where they travel to remote places for camping and memorable off-roading experiences.

Capable off-road SUVs are the best tools for such an activity. Japan is home to reliable off-road SUVs from JDM manufacturers like Toyota, Suzuki, Subaru, and Nissan. Most of these can reliably take on rough trails while offering enough space for your camping equipment.

Overrated SUV: Mitsubishi Pajero

The Pajero has been around for over 40 years. Through its four generations, the Pajero has been available as a reliable full-size SUV offering a choice of five and seven-seat configurations. Mitsubishi also offers the Pajero with an option of diesel or gasoline engines using manual or automatic transmissions.

Over the years, the Pajero hasn’t changed anything in the looks department besides a few facelift tweaks that still retains its old-school ugly nature. Like its competition, the Nissan Patrol and Toyota Land Cruiser, the Pajero is a perfect family-friendly SUV that won't blow your mind off-road.

Unstoppable Off-roader: Subaru Forester

Off-road enthusiasts love the Forester for its outdoorsy image. The Forester is an SUV that offers a truck-like appearance and the practicality of a compact crossover. The new Forester retains its airy and comfortable cabin rife with convenient storage cubbies.

The Wilderness trim offers a rugged appearance package and additional ground clearance. The Forester takes advantage of its EyeSight suite of driver assistance features when traversing the wilderness. These features give the driver a broader field of view and operating range.

Related: These Are The Best Fourth-Gen Subaru Forester Trims To Buy Used

Overrated SUV: Nissan Pathfinder

There are many great SUVs on the market. However, the Pathfinder isn’t one of them. It was once a rugged SUV that you would feel comfortable taking off-road. Nowadays, it’s a more stylish version of Nissan’s Quest minivan.

Even though the Pathfinder comes with a capable V6 engine that can tow more than its competition, it’s a few generations away from being a truly extreme off-roader. In addition, the Pathfinder has some reliability problems, including missing mounting bolts for the seats and headrests that may not adequately restrain occupants in a crash.

Unstoppable Off-roader: Suzuki Jimny

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While Suzuki is not a household name in the US, the Jimny has grown to become an off-road legend. The Jimny is Suzuki's latest version of a tiny SUV that remains authentic as an off-road capable vehicle. It features a simple, squared-off design nearly as tall as the Ford Edge and long as wide as the Fiat 500.

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These proportions help give more space inside for a vehicle with a small footprint. The Jimny is one of the cheapest off-road SUVs you can buy and still enjoy a high seating position. It uses a 1.5-liter inline-four engine producing 101 hp and 96 lb-ft of torque. The modest output doesn’t do much on the highway but is good enough to tackle most trails.

Related: Check Out This Adorable Suzuki Jimny That Thinks It Is A Baby Brabus G-Wagen

Overrated SUV: Lexus LX

The Lexus LX is a worthy competitor to Toyota’s Land Cruiser and Nissan’s Patrol. It's available with a broad range of trims, a twin-turbo V6 powertrain, and a deluxe interior. The LX is Lexus’ flagship SUV and has obtained a redesign for the 2022 model year.

The LX uses Toyota Land Cruiser’s platform, offering more luxury and some off-road capability. The LX is great at offering a luxurious full-size SUV cabin that rivals BMW’s X7 and Land Rover’s Range Rover. Like the Land Cruiser, it's pricey, making it an unreasonable option for an off-road SUV.

Unstoppable Off-roader: Lexus GX

If you love driving to off-grid glampsites and trails, the Lexus GX is the best luxury SUV to get you there in style. It features a truck-like body on frame construction, an adjustable suspension system, and a capable 4.6-liter V8 engine.

The base model GX460 is available with enough standard features to please any buyer. It's available with 18-inch wheels, automatic LED headlights, illuminated running boards, and daytime running lights. For off-road enthusiasts, the GX features Lexus’ Kinetic Dynamic Suspension that helps boost traction off-road.

Related: This Is Why The Lexus RX Is The Most Reliable SUV of 2022

Overrated SUV: Infiniti QX80

The QX80 is Nissan’s answer to the Lexus LX. It’s classier than its sibling, the Nissan Armada, thanks to its luxurious fit and finish. The QX80 looks upscale and attractive, especially with its sturdily built interior, powerful engine, and smooth ride quality.

These qualities help make the QX80 a compelling large, three-row, full-size SUV. Even though it looks better than the Armada, it doesn’t warrant the higher price. The QX60 offers excellent comfort and interior space, making it a great family SUV.

Unstoppable Off-roader: Toyota FJ Cruiser

The FJ Cruiser compliments and mimics Toyota’s legendary FJ-40 Land Cruiser. It has a quirky but striking design that is a classic case of old meets new. Its appealing retro styling makes it an excellent option for off-roading enthusiasts since it offers a fun and outdoorsy image.

The FJ Cruiser features Toyota’s sturdy build quality and reliability. These qualities help make this rugged machine capable off-road. Unlike most modern cars, the FJ Cruiser can take a beating through the wilderness and survive long enough to cover over 300,000 miles.

Related: 10 Reasons Why We Want The Toyota FJ Cruiser

Overrated SUV: Toyota Land Cruiser

Toyota has a reputation for building tough cars with outdoor usage in mind. The Land Cruiser is one model that meets this purpose. It can offer excellent off-road capabilities, an outstanding V6 powertrain, and reliability, making for an enticing vehicle.

However, like its competition, the price is its Achilles heel, with the base model starting at over $85,000. This doesn’t make the Land Cruiser a terrible SUV, but it’s not the best choice when looking for an excellent off-road SUV.

Unstoppable Off-roader: Toyota 4Runner

The current generation 4Runner has had a few minor changes since 2009. It uses a capable 4.0-liter V6 1GR-FE engine that has been around since the early 2000s. Most of its competitors have either disappeared or morphed into unibody iterations.

This leaves the body-on-frame 4Rrunner competing with the Wrangler and Bronco. The TRD Pro package makes the 4Runner a capable off-roader. It includes upgrades like a front skid plate, front and rear Fox branded dampers, and some all-terrain tires that help it handle any trail.


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