The coming months will be certifiably drool-inducing for overlandering enthusiasts and the off-road community. The number of trucks factory-built to spend weekends wandering mountain trails will spike in 2019. While some names like Jeep and Toyota are well-versed in the adventure lifestyle world, Chevy and Ford are putting some pressure on those segment stalwarts. But, don’t think for a second Jeep and Toyota will take it lying down. Both are doubling their efforts and digging into the growing culture of weekend-based outdoor exploration.
Of course all this competition means it’ll be easier than ever to join in on the off-roading fun. In the past, if you wanted to go overlanding, you’d be on your own – at the mercy of the vast aftermarket industry – to modify your truck and find proper gear. This year, that all changes for the better. These are the best from-the-factory overlanders coming to trails soon.
#1 - 2019 Ford Ranger FX4
Ford is making it crystal-clear that they didn’t build the 2019 Ranger to be a work truck. The 2.3-liter inline-four makes decent power and enough grunt to tow a small boat or a couple of dirt bikes. But the 20-plus Yakima products available as optional-extras are the stars of the show. Adding the FX4 package will get you off the beaten path, but the Yakima roof-top tent, bike rack, kayak rack and fold up chairs help make the most of where ever you set up camp.
The Toyota Tacoma is a favorite among the overlanding community. For the longest time it was the only reliable, affordable, easily-modified pickup truck available. The TRD and TRD Pro trims were fantastic out-of-the-box overlanders thanks to suspension and wheel upgrades from the factory. But now that Ford and Chevy are after a slice of the adventure lifestyle pie, Toyota doesn’t want to be caught sleeping. For 2019 the whole TRD line gets even better suspension, wheels and a few upgrades under the hood, but no difference in power.
More and more manufacturers are teaming up with brands already well-known in the outdoor industry. Much like Ford linked up with Yakima to fill out the Ranger options list with camping gear, Chevy got together with American Expedition Vehicles to help develop and trick out the Colorado ZR2 Bison. Steel bumpers, skid plates, beefy, knobby tires, rock sliders and a snorkel make the ZR2 Bison one of the more well-protected factory overlanders.
Ever since it was teased years ago, a pickup version of the venerable Wrangler has had the overlanding community… eager. The aftermarket and factory-supported upgrade selection for the Jeep Wrangler is second to none already. The Gladiator finally puts the ideal towing and hauling capabilities in Jeep fanatics’ hands.
One of two of the most anticipated releases in the coming year, the new Defender has unbelievably massive shoes to fill. Some say it has no chance in even holding a candle to its predecessor, which has set stratospherically high standards. With that kind of pressure, it’s hard to imagine Land Rover will drop the ball on performance, meaning design and “character” will be under the most scrutiny. At this point not much is known about the Defender other than it’ll be revealed this year.
As the other most anticipated release of 2019, the Bronco faces many of the same problems as the upcoming Defender. Since the adventure lifestyle and vintage car market have almost grown in tandem, the popularity of the original has Bronco ballooned in lockstep. Fanatics and purist will be judging the Bronco as an industry standard-bearer. The 2020 Bronco had a rough development journey according to an engineer familiar with the project, but hopefully things have smoothed out and Ford has a stellar Jeep-fighter on its hands.