Home Cars 40 Useless SUVs To Avoid Off-Road

40 Useless SUVs To Avoid Off-Road

Vukasin Herbez November 23, 2018

For decades, off-road vehicles, SUVs, and Jeeps were strictly all-terrain vehicles with rugged mechanics. Not luxury cars, they had the driving dynamics suited for crossing deserts and climbing mountains. However, somewhere along the road, SUVs became strictly on-road cars, losing their off-road capabilities. Even before today’s SUV craze, there were several popular models that drivers couldn’t take off the pavement.

So here are 30 useless SUVs that are not exactly what you expected. They may have the looks, powerful engines, big wheels, and bumpers, but they are not off-road monsters people tend to believe. They didn’t engineer some of them as such and in fact, some have disappointing characteristics. Others are just plain road cars with an off-road body kit on them. Also, some concentrate more on luxury, comfort and performance to be proper all-terrain vehicles.

Photo Credit: Motor 1

40. Ford Explorer

The car that started the modern SUV craze in America was inarguably the infamous Ford Explorer. After years of the classic body on frame chassis architecture, the new Explorer is a modern unibody car with on-road manners. However, no Explorer owner is going to want to go on those serious off-road courses.

Photo Credit: Mckie Ford

In reality, the percentage of SUV owners who drive off-road is so small, that nobody noticed this. The regular Explorer is a fine example of a modern SUV with lots of space and an up to date design. However, the Sport version is more of a muscle car than an off-road vehicle since it delivers 356 HP with a 0 to 60 mph time of 5.8 seconds.

Photo Credit: Auto Car

39. Audi SQ5

Audi`s mid-size Q5 SUV enjoyed modest success on the American market mostly due to the tough competition and high price. However, the SQ5 is in a class of its own. Simply, it’s because there aren’t many high-performance SUVs right now.

Photo Credit: Road and Track

Also, the SQ5 delivers the perfect blend of performance and practicality, but it has no off-road skills at all. With an aluminum suspension, low ride height, and powerful engine, the SQ5 is a high-speed cruiser and not an off-road model.

Photo Credit: Hagerty

38. Ford Bronco II

Although the original Bronco was a capable off-road vehicle, its smaller and less powerful cousin Bronco II was not. Ford presented it in 1983 and sold it until 1990. And although the Bronco II had a V6 engine, they sold most of them with rear-wheel drive only. The Bronco II was an inexpensive way to get a compact SUV.

Photo Credit: Hagerty

However, they trimmed the suspension for paved roads. Also, it had relatively low power and not much in terms of rugged construction. So, the Bronco II wasn’t the wilderness-conquering vehicle everybody expected it to be. It also had some stability issues, so people have largely forgotten about it.

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37. Mercedes GLS 63 AMG

Do you remember the Mercedes GL Class? It was a big, expensive, and heavy SUV roughly the size of a Cadillac Escalade. They now call it the GLS and it has received the AMG treatment. It is still the size of an Escalade, but now it is as fast as the Corvette, at least from the line. The reason is the bi-turbo 5.5-liter V8 engine that pumps out a massive 577 HP, sending it to all four wheels through a special seven-speed automatic.

Photo Credit: German Auto Export

Such big power meant that AMG needed to re-engineer the suspension, transmission, and steering in order to achieve a 0 to 60 mph time of just 4.5 seconds. It also means that it is rubbish off-road. Despite all that power, technology, and four-wheel drive, you will be stuck in the mud in a matter of seconds.

Photo Credit: Klassen Luxury

36. Hummer H2

The Hummer H2 was the definitive useless SUV from the past decade that is a common sight on the roads. And this is despite being replaced by newer and more expensive yet still unnecessary luxury SUVs. When GM decided to put the Hummer into civilian production, the H1 was still too rugged for most buyers.

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So, the logical step was for GM to introduce the H2, which they built on a truck base and with a thirsty V8. Although it had a plush interior and a long list of options, it still looks like a battle tank. Even with its looks and V8 power, the H2 was terrible offroad. In fact, it was too big and heavy to manage any terrain course. Sadly, the people who bought it for its off-road capabilities wasted their money.

Photo Credit: Motor 1

35. Audi A6 Allroad Quattro

This cool-looking Audi wagon looks like it is capable of doing anything. But in fact, it is rather limited to parking lots and well-paved highways. Basically, this is an ordinary Audi A6 Wagon with an SUV-like body kit, all-wheel drive, and the ability to raise the vehicle’s height.

Photo Credit: Car Advice

On paper, the A6 Allroad has all the ingredients to be a capable off-road wagon. But in reality, it is nothing more than an expensive lifestyle vehicle that will disappoint you if you take it in the wilderness.

Photo Credit: Car And Driver

34. BMW X6

Some people think the X6 looks like a frog due to the controversial styling. It has a powerful engine including the M-Power, 4.4-liter with almost 600 HP, as well as a special intelligent all-wheel-drive system and a host of electronic aids.

Photo Credit: Auto Express

But it is not an off-road vehicle, not by a mile. It is just a fast, big, expensive, road-going SUV that despises mud, dust, and gravel. If you take it off-road, it would just embarrass you and leave you stranded.

Photo Credit: Car and Driver

33. Porsche Macan

The introduction of the Macan meant that Porsche was considering the SUV segment one of its main markets. The Macan is a mid-sized SUV with a performance-oriented design, drive train, and technology. And as such, it is one of the best driver’s cars in the segment.

Photo Credit: Evo

You read it right, the Macan is for on-road driving and showing off in front of your friends. But if somebody challenges you to an off-road course, be wise and decline, since you will be stuck in no time.

Photo Credit: Wheels

32. Range Rover

The Range Rover is a common SUV and one of the first models that introduced the SUV concept to a larger market, especially in America. For years, this was the most popular car in the segment and the current generation has impressive sales results.

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While the first-generation Range Rover was a capable off-roader, the modern models are nothing more than big, heavy, and expensive wagons for well-paved roads and street driving.

Photo Credit: Car And Driver

31. Mercedes G63 AMG

Mercedes conceived the G-Class as a military vehicle and it went from a barebones off-road vehicle to a luxury SUV. It came with 563 HP and a 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8. The proof of its evolution is in its boxy design, rugged mechanics, and stance.

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However, everything else is modern and luxurious. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, the G-Class lost its off-road capabilities. It has become nothing more than a status symbol for millennials.

Photo Credit: Indian Express

30. Mahindra Thar

Mahindra based this Indian-built old-school off-roader on the old Jeeps, mostly the CJ-5 generation. This alone means it was born to be extremely capable off-road and on difficult terrain. However, it looks like this is not the case.

Photo Credit: Car and Bike

Although the Thar has all the right ingredients, it fails to deliver an off-road performance. The reason is that the Mahindra has problems with quality and its components. Also, it comes with low engine power and outdated mechanics. So, if you plan to take it off-road, you’ll be sadly disappointed.

Photo Credit: Top Gear

29. Porsche Cayenne

Ever since the first Cayenne appeared in the early 2000s, the market for quick, luxury SUVs was born. Porsche gave it four doors, raised the body, and added all-wheel drive. All that may have offended brand purists, but it also brought much to the segment in driving dynamics, performance, and prestige.

Photo Credit: Motor 1

Unfortunately, the Cayenne was never capable off-road, but Porsche never claimed that it was. People who made the mistake to take it to the muddy trails found out the hard way.

Photo Credit: Discount 2021

28. BMW X5 M

When the first X5 appeared in 1999, it was a big step for BMW. Not only it was their first SUV, but it was a fresh look at the SUV class, as well. However, the X5 offered prime driving dynamics and road holding that was closer to a luxury sedan than to a bulky SUV.

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Almost 20 years later, they offer the 570 HP X5 M with a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 and a world-class chassis and suspension. In fact, it is a perfect high-performance wagon with supercar acceleration figures. But it is not the off-road vehicle some customers tend to believe. BWM simply turned their efforts on building strictly on-road vehicles that look like SUVs.

Photo Credit: Car Magazine

27. Bentley Bentayga

The world of luxurious SUVs has a new king in the form of Bentley’s super powerful, comfortable and expensive Bentayga. The $229,000 premium class SUV has two engine choices, the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 542 HP and the 6.0-liter W12 engine with 600 HP. And both motors make this 5,400-pound house on wheels get to 60 mph in just four seconds.

Photo Credit: Auto Car

You would think that something like this is also capable of crossing the desert and climbing the mountains, but no. In fact, this SUV is not an off-roader, it is quite the opposite. The Bentayga is an insanely expensive luxury wagon with all-wheel drive and an SUV body.

Photo Credit: Automobile Mag

26. Chevrolet S-10 Blazer

Like the Bronco II, the S-10 Blazer was a simpler, less expensive, and less capable version of a respected off-roader. Chevy introduced it in the early ‘80s, but this version of the Blazer was much smaller. Also, it was less powerful than the models from the late ‘70s that earned their reputation in the dust, mud, and deserts all over America.

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They sold the S-10 Blazer in rear-wheel-drive form and only with 4×4 as optional. Chevy based it on the S-10 truck chassis. Sadly, it came with the choice of four and six-cylinder engines that lacked power and torque.

Photo Credit: Medium

25. Suzuki Vitara/Sidekick

They revealed the first-generation Sidekick or Vitara in 1988 and it immediately met universal praise from the buyers and the motoring press. It was the right model for the times with cool looks, nice options, long and short wheelbase versions, and an optional open top.

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It could be a family SUV, as well as a fun vehicle for weekends. Even though the advertising suggested it was capable off-road, due to its simple mechanics and low power, the Vitara/Sidekick was better on the tarmac, not on muddy trails.

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24. Suzuki X90

How about a two-seater, two-door SUV with compact dimensions and a removable T-Top? Does that sound insane? Well, that is exactly what the Suzuki X-90 was when they presented it in 1995. It got its power from a 95 HP 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. The X-90 came with rear-wheel drive as standard or optional all-wheel-drive.

Photo Credit: Auto Evolution

However, it came with limited interior and trunk space. Suzuki officially sold the car in America, managing to sell 7,000 of them. However, neither the buyers nor the motoring press understood what Suzuki wanted to say with this model. It wasn’t off-roader and it wasn’t a roadster.

Photo Credit: Car and Driver

23. Jeep Cherokee Trackhawk

Remember the Grand Cherokee SRT with 475 HP? Well, Jeep recently introduced an even crazier version with a 707 HP supercharged Hemi from the Dodge Challenger Hellcat. The new Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is the SUV version of the Challenger Hellcat.

Photo Credit: Car and Driver

And it comes with all the important features like the engine and transmission in an SUV body. Although it looks like a capable off-roader, it is nothing more than a muscle car with all-wheel drive.

Photo Credit: Auto Car

22. Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio

Until Ferrari makes an SUV, the new Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio is the closest thing you’ve got. With a 2.9-liter turbocharged V6 engine from Ferrari’s turbo V8, this is a prime example of Italian charm with brutal power in the SUV class.

Photo Credit: Quotidiano Motori

Anybody who knows something about cars will immediately recognize this car as nothing more than a hot hatch with all-wheel drive. Alfa Romeo doesn’t even try to hide its nature, so there are no press photos of the Stelvio in the dirt.

Photo Credit: Evo

21. Lamborghini Urus

Remember the Lamborghini LM002? Now, 35 years later there is another crazy fast and sublimely expensive SUV in the new Urus. The Urus comes with a 4.0-liter V8 pumping out 641 HP. Also, it is somewhat lower and lighter than the Bentayga.

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This means the Urus is capable of reaching 60 mph in just 3.5 seconds and topping 190 mph. However, it is expensive at $230,000. As for off-road capabilities, it has none.

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20. Lada Niva

Entering the car market in the early ‘70s, the Niva was the most common SUV in the ex-Soviet Union. They sold it in significant numbers abroad, so you would often see it on the dusty roads in many Third World counties. And you might think it is a dependable, rugged vehicle, considering its use.

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Although the Niva is simple, affordable, and rugged, and it can go off-road, it has a big problem with quality. To be honest, the Niva is too problematic to say it is dependable. In fact, it is often riddled with mechanical issues of all kinds.

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19. Land Rover Discovery

The Discovery is an interesting model since it features an intelligent all-wheel drive. Also, it has enough space for up to seven passengers as well as various electronic aids to help you tackle different road conditions.

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Unfortunately, this is not enough to transform this luxury SUV into a proper off-road beast despite the efforts of the marketing team. Apparently, Land Rover as a brand has shifted more towards cars and abandoned its off-road roots.

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18. Audi SQ7

The SQ7 packs all the possible luxury items along with the mighty 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8. This is the same engine as in the Bentayga or Urus, but they detuned it to 435 HP. And as you would expect, they loaded the SQ7 with creature comforts and electronic aids to help drivers.

Photo Credit: Auto Express

Yet even though the first generation Q7 had some off-road credentials, this current version should stay far from any off-road courses and muddy roads.

Photo Credit: Car Magazine

17. Mercedes AMG GLC 63 S

The 4.0-liter bi-turbo engine from AMG GTR delivers 510 HP to all four wheels over an intelligent AWD system and 9-speed automatic transmission. The 0 to 60 mph time is 3.7 seconds and the top speed is an electronically controlled 155 mph.

Photo Credit: W Super Cars

Is this an SUV? No, it is a full-blown sports car that just looks like something that could be driven off-road. It recently set a Nürburgring record, making it the fastest four-seat vehicle in 2018.

Photo Credit: Motor Trend

16. Cadillac Escalade

In the world of luxury SUVs, the Cadillac Escalade is a well-known, respected name. The big, opulent, flashy, heavy, and powerful full-size SUV is the king of the streets as well as one of the coolest vehicles General Motors makes today.

Photo Credit: Top Gear

But even though it comes with a powerful V8 engine, all-wheel drive, and a tough chassis, you can’t take it off-road.

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15. Hummer H3

After the sales success of the H2, General Motors decided to introduce the H3, a smaller, but equally tough-looking SUV.

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Unfortunately, the H3 wasn’t accepted the same as its predecessor, so it failed to sell in significant numbers. Also, the H3 wasn’t any good off-road despite its looks and big wheels.

Photo Credit: Car and Driver

14. Dodge Durango

The Dodge Durango is a well-known full-size family SUV quite popular on the North American market. Dodge presented it to the public in 1999, and it is still in production in the third generation.

Photo Credit: Herald Net

Although they based it on a truck chassis and with powerful engines, the Durango is not capable off road. While it has an intelligent all-wheel drive and electronic aids, it lacks the real off-road components and heavy-duty axles necessary.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

13. Lincoln Navigator

When the first Navigator rolled off the assembly line in 1998, nobody expected it would be such a successful, influential model. It wasn’t the first full-size luxury SUV or the biggest, but its luxury, style, power, and performance influenced the industry.

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Unfortunately, Ford concentrated on luxury instead of off-road characteristics. So, despite the fact the Navigator had a capable chassis and engines, it was too heavy to use off-road.

Photo Credit: Chevrolet

12. Chevrolet Tahoe

The current Tahoe has electronic safety systems, third-row seating, and a tough chassis. Also, it comes with four-wheel drive, a heavy-duty suspension, and much more. However, it is not the off-road beast like those Tahoe models before it.

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It is suitable for paved roads with an accent on comfort and usability rather than for crossing rivers or climbing mountains.

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11. Volvo V80 Cross Country

The Volvo V6 is basically a Swedish copy of the Audi Allroad. This means the V80 is a big, comfortable and expensive wagon with all-wheel drive and higher ground clearance.

Photo Credit: Car Pixel

Is this enough for the V80 to be a proper off-road vehicle? Unfortunately, no, not by a long shot.

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10. Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet

If you think the industry has invented all the car classes it possibly could, you’re wrong. There’s always room for more concepts. One of those was Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet. If you’re not familiar with this car, that’s because Nissan only offered it for sale from 2011 to 2014. Also, they limited production to small numbers.

Photo Credit: Road and Track

Nissan realized SUVs were getting more luxurious and people were seeking a more personalized product. The company decided to go a step further and present a convertible SUV. It would have the advantages of an SUV in terms of ride height, comfort, and usability with the luxury and open-air feel of a convertible. Despite the almost bespoke nature of this car and dependable Nissan technology, the CrossCabriolet flopped.

Photo Credit: Car and Driver

9. Chrysler Aspen

The Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango were practically identical models with only exterior differences. However, while the Durango was quite popular, the Aspen was discontinued after just three years on the market. The problem was that Chrysler pushed the Aspen towards higher segments of the market.

Photo Credit: Car and Driver

That meant it had to compete with Cadillac and Lincoln. Unfortunately, Chrysler wasn’t able to lure those customers away, so it sold poorly. Today, those big SUVs with eight seats are perfect secondhand luxury models.

Photo Credit: Top Gear

8. Suzuki XL7

Suzuki is another company that left the American market due to poor sales. One of the reasons was that it failed to position itself in the SUV market. Suzuki had much success in the ’90s with the Sidekick/Vitara models, but the follow-up versions weren’t so successful.

Photo Credit: Suzuki Caribbean

When Suzuki presented it in 2007, the XL7 was a bigger, more spacious model, yet it failed to attract enough car buyers. Due to its strange design and lack of interesting features, the XL7 wasn’t popular, so they discontinued it a few years later.

Photo Credit: Auto Evolution

7. Kia Borrego

Kia presented the Borrego in 2009, but the timing proved to be the reason for the poor reception. The Borrego was a full-size luxury SUV with V6 and V8 power they introduced just as the recession began.

Photo Credit: Auto Evolution

Despite being less expensive than similar models from its competitors, the Borrego wasn’t that good or even economical. The market and motoring journalists were harsh when evaluating this car. So in just one year, the Borrego was history.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

6. Pontiac Torrent

Introduced in 2006, the Torrent was one of the last attempts to make Pontiac profitable and save it from its demise. The car was the twin brother to the Chevrolet Equinox and wasn’t that bad. However, with little money for styling improvements and a dull interior, the Torrent didn’t appeal to customers.

Photo Credit: Auto Evolution

Pontiac needed a game-changing model, but unfortunately, the Torrent wasn’t exciting or fresh either. Sadly, Pontiac discontinued it along with the rest of the Pontiac lineup in 2010.

Photo Credit: Motor Trend

5. Acura ZDX

Honda’s luxury division, Acura, is famous for its elegant cars, powerful engines, and quality. But did you know the company is also famous for the strange and ugly model they called the ZDX? Acura offered it for just three years as its attempt to present the combinations of a sedan, a crossover, and an SUV. It ended up being neither of the three.

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Despite the smart technical layout, decent power, and interior features, car buyers simply didn’t like the ZDX. By the time they discontinued it, Acura had managed to sell just 7,200 of them.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

4. Dodge Nitro

There was a time, not too long ago, when consumers considered most Dodge products to be of poor quality. Consumers criticized the interior and materials as well as the lack of space. One of the best examples is the 2007 to 2012 Dodge Nitro. When Dodge presented it, the Nitro looked like the right car for the moment.

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But sadly, it wasn’t. The interior was cramped, small, and uncomfortable. The interior materials consisted of plastic and cloth which were below the standards of the class. The power and the performance were also bad compared to the other models in its class. Unfortunately, despite looking fast and tough, the Nitro was none of those things.

Photo Credit: Car and Driver

3. Fiat 500X

The Fiat 500 is a cute little car, especially if you have the Abarth version. The 500L is bigger and a bit more practical, but it’s not particularly nice or dynamic to drive. Sadly, the 500X is even worse. It looks like a compact SUV, but it doesn’t have anything going on. Although it is a two-wheel-drive vehicle, it’s sluggish and odd-looking.

Photo Credit: Motor Trend

For those reasons, it isn’t a surprise that the 500X is a flop. It’s a terrible value for the money and doesn’t offer any real advantages over other cars. Also, it is no surprise that Fiat has withdrawn the 500X from the U.S. market, as well.

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2. Mercedes EQC

If you don’t know about this car, it is because you haven’t seen it on the road yet. The chances are high that you probably never will. This is the latest electric SUV from Mercedes and an immediate sales flop.

Photo Credit: Auto Car

Although it is well-designed and equipped as well as quite a capable car, this Mercedes is nothing like the rest of the SUV lineup. It’s also expensive, which is why they only sold it in the single digits. You can expect the company to discontinue this car soon.

Photo Credit: CNet

1. Lincoln Aviator

The idea behind the Lincoln Aviator was a good one, but Ford was too greedy and ruined the whole deal. The Aviator was Lincoln’s version of the popular Explorer. The Ford marketing strategists thought if buyers were willing to spend extra for luxury versions of the Explorer, they would be willing to spend even more for a proper Lincoln product.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

However, it turned out that they were wrong, so the Aviator sold poorly. Soon, they withdrew it from the market. These are the 40 useless SUVs that you should never use off-road. So if you plan to cross any deserts or climb any mountains, avoid any of these vehicles. But if you want an attractive, comfortable SUV to drive on the highway, one of these should suit you well.

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