It's easy to forget that driving off-road was the SUV's original reason for being. Those who actually do venture off-road usually drive Jeep Wranglers. Far simpler than its would-be challengers, the Wrangler nonetheless is incredibly effective, particularly in Rubicon form. The Jeep's tidy size makes it nimble on the trail, a vast aftermarket industry can bolster its abilities still further, and it enjoys the support of a huge enthusiast community. Those people know that a Wrangler is the best SUV for off-road or no road.
Engine: 2.4L I-4, 147 hp
Cadillac SRXWe don't like to make compromises to drive an SUV, and with the Cadillac SRX, we don't have to. The SRX's Magnetic Ride Control provides nimble handling without a punishing ride, its DOHC V-6 and Northstar V-8 give it brisk acceleration without extreme thirst, and its smart packaging makes for a comfortable cabin without grotesque proportions. A near-perfect blend of luxury, performance, and utility, the SRX has been Automobile Magazine's obvious choice as an All-Star two years in a row.
Engine: 3.6L V-6, 255 hp
When there's really big hauling to be done, a Chevrolet Suburban is the one. (OK, a GMC Yukon XL or a Cadillac Escalade ESV is essentially the same truck, but we'll stick with the nameplate with the sixty-plus-year history.) A Suburban is big, but it's bigness with a purpose. It tows as much as six tons, carries 132 cubic feet of stuff, and seats nine (while still carrying 46 cubic feet of stuff). Once you have a Suburban, you wonder how you got along without it. No wonder repeat buyers-including the current and former editors-in-chief of this magazine-form such a large percentage of Suburban owners.
Engine: 5.3L V-8, 295 hp