The DECKED List of the Top 5 Overland Vehicles

What to Look for in an Overland Vehicle 

In 2020, Ford asked 2,000 pickup truck owners just how much they love their trucks, and most of the answers won’t surprise you. Let’s just say we love our trucks a lot. 

How much so?

  • 82% of surveyed people said they’d give up their streaming service before their trucks.
  • 79% said “see ya!” to drinking alcohol.
  • 71% waved goodbye to drinking coffee.

With that much love, the competition is pretty tough. Trucks just keep getting better and better as a result. So, when you’re looking for an overland vehicle, there are many great choices to think about. 

To sort them out and help you choose the best truck for your outdoor adventures, we’ll give you the lowdown on the important features and specs to look for. To select the list of vehicles, we looked at:

  • Payload capacity: The payload capacity of a truck is the total cargo weight it can safely haul. Cargo, or payload, can be anything you’re carrying in your truck cab or bed, including your boys, your hound dogs, your catch of the day, and your hunting equipment.
  • Capability: How tough is the truck? We look at whether you can off-road on rough terrain, tow a boat, and maneuver through the wilderness. 
  • Reliability: If you’re off-roading in the middle of nowhere with a rooftop tent and a Yeti full of fresh fish and melting ice, you need a truck that starts and gets the job done. Every time.
  • Durability: Did I mention we love our trucks? We love and keep some of them for a long, long time. How long will you want to keep your truck before shopping for a shiny new model with no mud on the tires? You want a truck that can stand the test of time, extreme conditions, and all the overland adventures you put it through.
  • Value: All things considered, are you getting enough bang for your buck?

If you’re looking for a Jurassic Park or Mad Max overlander, we heartily recommend dropping $22 million for the KiraVan. But if you have $21.9 million or less in the bank, let’s keep it a lot more real.

Here are what we consider the best overland vehicles, in no particular order:

Of course, there are plenty of other crowd favorites out there (your Chevy Colorados, Land Rovers, Toyota 4Runners, and Toyota Land Cruisers). But we’re breaking down the top 5 on the market! 

*Most specs are for 2021 models of pickup trucks.

Toyota Tacoma

TOYOTA Tacoma Exterior Accessories

 

The Tacoma doesn’t offer the same level of luxury as some of the other trucks, but it’s arguably one of the most favored and common overlanders out there for the simple reason that it gets the job done. Of course, you can fancy it up a little. If you get the TRD Pro package, it comes with some impressive off-roading perks. The TRD Pro skid plate is armor-plating for the undercarriage, and the package includes bright fog lights with a wide-angle beam, heavy-duty Fox Shocks for a smooth ride on rough terrain, and snorkel. The electronically controlled locking rear differential and Multi-Terrain Select ensures traction in low-traction situations.

Specs:

  • Average payload capacity: 1,155 lbs.
  • Towing: 3,500 lbs. – 6,800 lbs.
  • Average MPG (city/highway): 18/22
  • Average starting price: $26,000
  • Basic warranty: 36 months or 36,000 miles
  • Toyota Tacoma TRD Features

Pros: 

  • Arguably the truck best outfitted and most popular for overlanding, the designers put all their ideas into off-road capabilities.
  • On the list of trucks owners drive the longest, Toyota occupies about half the spots. With that kind of durability and legendary Toyota reliability, you could be driving this baby for a very long time.

Cons: 

  • The Tacoma hasn’t changed much over the years, and it might look and feel a little old-school. 
  • The cabin is a little cramped, especially if you’re on the tall side, and lacks a lot of the comfort perks that make some of the other models so luxurious. 

Jeep Gladiator

Jeep Gladiator

Source: Jeep

The desert-rated Jeep Gladiator is made to take serious punishment with its 4×4 all-wheel-drive traction, solid axles, Fox Shocks, water sealing, and high air intake. It also features precision steering and 11.1 inches of ground clearance to climb over boulders if that’s your thing. Front and rear tow hooks, a winch, heavy-duty axles, and Off-Road+ tech for peak performance and traction control make this a solid overland vehicle. It’s also at the low range of pricing, so if you’re looking for a rugged four-wheel-drive off-roader with better-than-average fuel economy, the Gladiator is a good choice.

Specs:

  • Average payload capacity: 1,700 lbs. 
  • Towing: 6,500 lbs. – 7,650 lbs.
  • Average MPG (city/highway): 16/23
  • Average starting price: $34,040
  • Basic warranty: 36 months or 36,000 miles
  • Jeep Gladiator Features

Pros: 

  • The Jeep Gladiator is the only pickup truck on this list with an open roof.
  • If you like the classic Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, you’ll like the Gladiator. It’s got the same boxy appeal with the sturdy roof rack and features with pickup truck convenience. 

Cons: 

  • The Gladiator has such a long wheelbase that it can drag its belly on uneven terrain. It’s heavily armored, but it’s vulnerable to some scraping.
  • You can only get a five-foot bed. There are no bigger bed options.

RAM TRX

Dodge Ram TRX

Source: Ram Trucks

 

The Ram 1500 TRX is not nicknamed the T-Rex for nothing. It’s a 702-horsepower Hellcat-powered overlander with luxury interior features and remarkable off-road capability. It’s got a reinforced frame, impressive suspension, and a host of high-tech features. Off-road goodies include independent front suspension and high, coil-spring suspension for tooling around overland at top speeds. Five skid plates to protect the undercarriage and steel bumpers help you keep it all together. Eight drive modes optimize your ride for any off-roader terrain. Dodge took overlanding vehicles to a new level with this one—for a price.

Specs:

  • Average payload capacity: 1,310 lbs. 
  • Towing: 8,100 lbs. – 12,000 lbs.
  • Average MPG (city/highway): 10/14
  • Average starting price: $70,425
  • Basic warranty: 36 months or 36,000 miles
  • RAM TRX features

Pros: 

  • It’s pricey, but it is a lot of truck for the money. Did we mention the Hellcat 6.2-liter Hemi V-8? It can do 60 mph in just about 3.7 seconds. No wonder it’s Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year. 
  • The roomy interior is so cushy you’ll think you’re driving a Mercedes-Benz, and it has more controls than your average cockpit. 

Cons: 

  • To get the coolest tech features, like the adaptive cruise control, lane-assist, heads-up display, and digital rearview mirror, you’re looking at darn near $80k. 
  • The pain at the pump is significant, and the wider body and full-size truck make this a monster on the streets. For all the glitz and glamor, its average MPG is nothing to cheer about.

Toyota Tundra SR5

Toyota Tundra SR5

Source: Toyota

 

The Toyota Tundra can be outfitted with one of seven TRD packages designed for off-roading, and a towing package is also included. Each package contains upgraded wheels and shocks, LED headlights and fog lights, and a premium entertainment 8” touchscreen. You’ll get the engine and fuel tank skid plates to protect your undersides, and some of them have fancy features like rear parking assist sonar, Blind Spot Monitors, and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert. You’ll also find a lot of aftermarket support and a ton of upgrades and add-ons.

Specs:

  • Average payload capacity: 1,730 lbs.
  • Towing: 8,800 lbs. – 10,200 lbs.
  • Average MPG (city/highway): 13/18
  • Average starting price: $35,715
  • Basic warranty: 36 months or 36,000 miles
  • Toyota Tundra SR5 TRD Pro Features

Pros: 

  • The powerful V-8 engine has great pickup and lots of power.
  • The seats are spacious, just not fancy.

Cons: 

  • The Tundra has a disappointing safety score and a pretty basic interior compared to other trucks at this price point.
  • The gas mileage is low and some owners have reported it’s a rough ride.

Ford F-150 Raptor

Ford F150 Raptor

Equipped for impressive power and maneuverability with a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6, 5-link coil-spring rear suspension setup, skid plates, and optional 37-inch tires, the 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor is a formidable terrain-chewing entry with superior articulation. It’s got seven drive modes and new Trail Control technology with 1-pedal drive. Sitting on all that power and control is a cabin built for one sweet ride. And this is a Ford F-Series, the best-selling truck for 43 years. 

Specs:

  • Average payload capacity: 1,745 lbs. – 2,238 lbs.
  • Towing: 5,000 lbs. – 11,000 lbs.
  • Average MPG (city/highway): 25/26
  • Average starting price: $28,940
  • Basic warranty: 36 months or 36,000 miles
  • Ford F-150 Raptor features

Pros: 

  • Ford’s new Co-Pilot technology gives you all the high-tech bells and whistles: blind spot with trailer coverage, lane-keeping, and pre-collision assist with automatic braking, parking assist, auto high beams, evasive steering assist, huge 12” touchscreen infotainment system….the list goes on and on.
  • More features, better interior, and comparable power and suspension to the Ram TRX at a slightly lower price point.
  • It’s a fan favorite and, dare we say, a classic.

Cons: 

  • The new Raptor is considerably higher priced than previous generations.
  • It may only be available with a SuperCrew cab, which limits the size to a 5.5’ cargo bed.

Your Next Overland Adventure with DECKED

 

So, you’ve got your eye on your next overlander.

 

Here’s the last pro we’ll add to the entire list: Each truck is compatible with the DECKED Drawer System. Store, organize, and lock up your gear and supplies in a storage system as rugged as your truck. 

 

DECKED Drawers run the length of your truck bed and give you enough room to pack everything you need for an extended adventure in organized, modular compartments.

 

You still have a payload deck that can support 2,000 pounds. Load up your ATVs, dirt bikes, and a generator, or turn it into a full-time camper. Don’t forget to grab a D-Bag or two to comfortably carry your gear when you’re on foot.

 

Ready for your next (or first) overland adventure?

 

Us, too.