Best desert cars

5 Indestructible Vehicles For Surviving a Desert Climate

It takes a special vehicle to withstand the extreme heat, uneven terrain, and endless sand of desert driving. Your average off-road truck or car can handle a quick off-road side trip (maybe!), but it takes special vehicles to survive a desert adventure. What makes these trucks so special? They are built for harsh terrain, efficiency, and hauling from bumper to bumper.

Essential Features of Desert Vehicles

The best vehicles for desert driving have a lot in common. Each is capable, reliable, and built for adventures on sandy terrain, rocky roads, and the highway. Here’s a handful of desert driving must-haves for your next ride. 

1. 4-Wheel or All-Wheel Drive

All-wheel drive is for city and light off-roading, yet it’s a surprisingly balanced compromise. Four-wheel drive is for severe weather and rugged, unsure terrain but is limited on paved roads. Both configurations can be driven on highways and off, so the decision often comes down to your unique needs.

2. Ground Clearance

Ground clearance simply means how far from the ground the lowest part of the vehicle is. You’ll need at least eight inches for bounding across the dunes and a few more for boulder hopping. Consider a vehicle with a short wheelbase and at least 10 inches of clearance for quicker maneuvering off-road. 

3. Reliability

Heat is one of the most significant dangers for the average car or truck, regardless of the terrain. When you factor in a rugged desert landscape, that danger multiplies. Desert off-roading requires the most capable and dependable vehicles to withstand sand’s corrosive properties. The last thing you want to happen miles off the beaten path is a breakdown, so reliability is critical. 

4. Fuel Economy

There aren’t many gas stations in the desert, so maximize how far you can journey into the unknown. Even the most well-equipped and reliable desert vehicles won’t get you far without efficient fuel economy. You’ll never get the MPG of a sedan, but when every drop counts, you’ll want the best fuel economy you can get. 

5. Cargo Space

The primary goal is to get to your next adventure. However, sufficient cargo space will ensure you enjoy the trip. Because of the remoteness of your travels, it’s critical to have room for emergency gear and the necessities. Plus, the more gear you can bring, the longer you can wander!

The features you want in your next off-roader will depend on whether you have kids, how often you’ll hit the desert, and other factors. However, the features you need comprise a pretty short list. Last but not least, make sure you get the best all-season tires for year-round adventures!

The 5 Best Vehicles For Desert Driving

The best desert vehicles must be reliable, rugged, and efficient. Here are the top five desert rides that deliver the essentials and more so you can get out there—and back. 

  • Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

The Jeep Wrangler seems to hold a constant position on nearly every off-roading list. The iconic vehicle has come a long way and offers four full doors, plenty of room, and the latest safety features. Legendary traction, maneuverability, and ground clearance are stock features. Plus, the Wrangler Unlimited gets almost 21 mpg on the highway. Depending on how adventurous you are, your off-road mpg will vary! 

  • Toyota 4Runner

Another staple on many off-road vehicle lists, the Toyota 4Runner is one of the most rugged and reliable SUVs ever made. The 4Runner features independent suspension, stabilizer bars, and other terrain-busting features. There’s more available cargo room than the average mid-size SUV, and the reliability is second to none. The almost 10 inches of clearance and a respectable 18 mpg give drivers the best of both worlds.

  • Ford F-150 Raptor SuperCrew 4X4

Ford’s F-150 Raptor is one of the newest and most capable renditions of the ever-popular F-150 pickup. The V8 engine can muscle through the deep sand and about anything else that dares to get in the way and still get nearly 20 mpg (it gets 18) on the highway! With more than 13 inches of ground clearance and a payload of 1400 pounds, the Raptor is uniquely equipped for long-range adventure.

  • Hummer H1

The original Hummer was designed as a military vehicle that could withstand the heat and terrain of desert warfare. But you don’t have to enlist to get your hands on one. The civilian model features 16 inches of ground clearance and tires that chew up even the roughest terrain. There’s plenty of space for people and gear and plenty of power with a V8 diesel engine that produces 300 horsepower. And for an SUV built for battle, the Hummer still delivers up to 18 mpg on the highway.

  • Subaru Forester

The Subaru Forester is one the best cars for the desert or the open road for many reasons. The Forester is light, reliable, and nimble, getting up to 28 mpg on the highway. Subaru consistently receives top safety ratings and is famous for reliability and efficiency. The all-wheel drive, six-speed transmission, and ground clearance of almost 9 inches make the Forester a can’t-miss.

Find Your Next Desert Vehicle at Car Time Supercenter

Car Time Supercenter is a Tucson family-owned used car dealership ready to help you find the best vehicle for desert driving. Whether you need a car for desert adventures or a dedicated all-terrain truck, you’ll find quality used vehicles that get the job done. When you’re ready to test drive these top picks and others, call the dealership or stop by the lot for hometown service.

Shane Vossough

There are good reasons people will buy their next used car in Tucson from Car Time Supercenter. But I think we are one of the most trusted used car dealerships mainly because we treat everyone like family. My family has provided quality, dependable local used cars to Tucson customers since 1984, and I'm proud to be a part of our continued success. Like many family-owned businesses, I grew up going to work with my dad. Falling in love with cars was natural because of my father's passion, and eventually, I came to love the car business just like him. I officially joined the Car Time Supercenter team in 2012, starting in the finance department. Over the past decade, I've learned the used car business and how to treat customers from my family and industry resources. Today, I oversee marketing, social media, inventory, and reconditioning, so I play an essential role in delivering local Tucson used car buyers the best experience possible. I also help our family business keep up with the times while providing old-fashioned customer service. From attending NADA classes to becoming Allstate certified for back-end products, I continue to learn and add skills to serve our customers better.