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Old 04-16-2021, 02:56 AM #1
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unusual comparison of off-roading capabilities

For starters, obviously most 4WD vehicles are going to better off-road than even a 4runner that is only 2WD and even some AWD vehicles are going to be undoubtedly better as well, but....

How do you think a 2WD 4runner with 31" A/T tires and a 2" lift will fare off-road compared to stock AWD vehicles such as Honda CRV, Toyota RAV4, or Subaru forester/outback? Does you think it matters much whether the 2WD 4runner is the V6 or V8?

Except for maybe the CVT versions which lose power too easily, I think the Subaru's are some of the better AWD vehicles for mild off-roading, but I think in general the CRV and RAV4 may have less clearance and less grippy AWD systems.

Certainly a lot of variables here but take driver competency out of the equation. Could assume all the vehicles have, for example, the same A/T tires since IMO, tires play a huge role in this. Should probably exclude any discussions of the rear lock on a 2WD just for this comparison. And finally, assume off-road scenarios that are a tad more challenging but nothing too crazy, such as some hills, semi-soft sand, snow or mud that isn't too deep.

What you think?
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Old 04-16-2021, 11:32 AM #2
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my $0.02

- v6 or v8 doesn't really make much of a difference for standard offroad, lower speed trails. if you're desert racing then ya a v8 would probably be better. 5th gen 4runners are all v6 and perform very well offroad even stock

- 2wd can definitely still be used offroad. especially with lift and tires. the stock vehicles you have listed probably have highway tires or all seasons. they generally aren't the best offroad as you have mentioned

- I think with proper tires all the vehicles you have listed can be taken offroad, just have to understand their limitations

- if you are planning on offroading very frequently and considering a 4runner, think about the 4wd versions. if you have a 2wd already and have no plans to trade it, you can make a very capable rig only having 2wd and rear locker + lift and tires
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Old 04-16-2021, 12:03 PM #3
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Depends what you mean by off roading - unpaved trails, rock/ mountain climbing, snow, mud, etc

I think tires will be the biggest thing

- Beyond that, youre looking at clearance over objects, attack and departure angles for tires and bumpers for objects, articulation (independent suspension likely to struggle more than solid axle) and then traction control systems to get power from the "wheels that slip to the wheels that grip"

most of the cross overs will have small amount of clearance, poor attack and departure angles and little articulation
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Old 04-16-2021, 01:28 PM #4
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Rear wheel drive trucks are fun to drive off road specially drifting in corners and keeping your speed as high as possible because the momentum keeps the truck from getting stuck on loose stuff.
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Old 04-16-2021, 03:17 PM #5
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A lot of people have a different perception of off-road is… the terrain can completely change the conversion.

If all you want to do is drive on a dirt road / fire road to get to a campsite… anything will do. I’ve done that with a one-wheel-peel Honda.

I do most of my off-road driving in the desert and it’s always a mix between the 2WD pre-runners and the 4WD trucks out there. I’ve seen the 2WD trucks do great because the driver is experienced. Anyone who has spent enough time driving in the sand will know that technique matters A LOT. Just because you have a 4WD doesn’t mean you won’t get stuck… I know this well from personal experience.

One of the most important things IMO in a 4x4/4WD truck is the low range transfer case, it’s what truly separates the 2WD and AWD drives from a true 4WD. Being able to have that mechanical advantage allows you so much more torque and control.

I don’t really rock crawl myself, but I drive my 4Runner in low range in the desert and often and it absolutely rips… v6 has never been something that held me back either.

Last edited by Bumbo; 04-16-2021 at 03:20 PM.
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Old 04-16-2021, 04:02 PM #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Syr4RinNC View Post
I think tires will be the biggest thing

this...
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Old 04-16-2021, 04:37 PM #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Syr4RinNC View Post
I think tires will be the biggest thing
Quote:
Originally Posted by JAXJeremy View Post
this...
I started my entire off-road career on a set of Michelin ltx ms2 road tires… I too believe tires matter a lot, but I think most people would be surprised how far you can go on some standard road rubbers. I probably did way more than I should have on these things lol and it held its own just fine, but an upgrade for mud terrains was pretty drastic too.

I wouldn’t let tires hold you back… run what you brung. It’s only gona make you a better driver.

Plus... you can put good tires on a 2WD, 4WD, or AWD to level the playing field so its kind of a moot point for this thread.


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Old 04-17-2021, 05:16 PM #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willthrill View Post
For starters, obviously most 4WD vehicles are going to better off-road than even a 4runner that is only 2WD and even some AWD vehicles are going to be undoubtedly better as well, but....

How do you think a 2WD 4runner with 31" A/T tires and a 2" lift will fare off-road compared to stock AWD vehicles such as Honda CRV, Toyota RAV4, or Subaru forester/outback? Does you think it matters much whether the 2WD 4runner is the V6 or V8?

Except for maybe the CVT versions which lose power too easily, I think the Subaru's are some of the better AWD vehicles for mild off-roading, but I think in general the CRV and RAV4 may have less clearance and less grippy AWD systems.

Certainly a lot of variables here but take driver competency out of the equation. Could assume all the vehicles have, for example, the same A/T tires since IMO, tires play a huge role in this. Should probably exclude any discussions of the rear lock on a 2WD just for this comparison. And finally, assume off-road scenarios that are a tad more challenging but nothing too crazy, such as some hills, semi-soft sand, snow or mud that isn't too deep.

What you think?
That's a fantastic question!

Never a CVT guy, but few have done more with AT Outbacks than I have. So I can speak for that confidently.

SPEAKING OF DIRT

The FULLY STOCK 4Runner in 2WD is completely undrivable offroad on street tires. If anyone thinks otherwise, they have never driven a stock Subaru on dirt.

The STOCK SUSPENSION 4Runner on AT tires can survive dirt roads in 2wd, but is still a dreadful experience vs a Subaru.

BUT enter a 2WD 4Runner on QUALITY SUSPENSION and now we are talking comparisons. As a bare minimum quality suspension would mean 5100s or Eibach. However, my comparison below is based on better than that: 6112 on stiff springs and Icon 2.0 rear with Eibach springs.

So, if you drive a 2WD 4R with a QUALITY suspension on dirt, you are driving a fundamentally different vehicle from the stock one. Suddenly, the vehicle can actually stay straight over washboard and the next corner is no longer a fight for your life. Since the suspension soaks things up, you are actually handsomely outdoing a stock Subaru now, as your 4R offers a far more comfortable ride. I won't take it against a Subaru in corners, but it does corner with no drama.

From there, speaking of dirt, it becomes a matter of suspension. A Subaru can nowadays take an Ironman or basic Bilstein/Eibach suspensions. So in order to do better in the 4R you have to move up into a full 2.5 setup which will outlast the Subaru and offer a better ride quality.

Speaking of true 4x4 trails, neither the Subaru, nor the 2WD 4R apply.

However, there are many low end 4x4 trails where a Subaru is totally fine like Engineer Pass proper or Cinnamon Pass or White Rim Road and the like. Wherever speeds must be kept low for one reason or another and the terrain is seriously steep, a properly prepared Subaru will win or at least be much safer.

Speaking of high clearance trails

All of the above is obvious and self-evident to anyone with experience.

But things do get tricky when we start talking a high clearance trail. A Subaru or a 2WD 4R on quality suspension?

Three years ago, I would have said "Subaru!" Now that I have 4R experience with various suspensions, I will take the 4R in most cases.

As said already, the 2WD 4R will have to keep the speed up where the Subaru won't need to. BUT, when riding on a good suspension, that won't be a problem on nearly any trail a Subaru can make. The 4R will move faster and be more comfortable than the Subaru. It will carry 2.5 times the cargo payload (assuming my family's human and dog weight ).

On the other hand, there are cases where a Subaru should make it where the 4R might fail. This is likely to be loose steep hills as well as steep hills with rocks small enough for a Subaru to handle but steep and big enough to prevent the 4R from keeping its speed up. I think this can happen on a number of trails I have done on the OB, but on the vast majority a 4R on 2.5s will be better.

To sum it all up:

1/ Stock vs stock: Subaru
2/ 4R on 2.5 suspension vs modified Subaru: equivalent on dirt roads, 4R usually better on high clearance trails, if big loose hills present, 4R should drive the trail so that those be downhill.
3/ I will give a well-prepared Subaru the edge on a select number of low-end 4x4 trails that require low speeds and feature steep climbs. I would not really try any of those uphill in 2wd because of safety concerns.
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Old 04-19-2021, 06:32 PM #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MAST4R View Post
That's a fantastic question!

Never a CVT guy, but few have done more with AT Outbacks than I have. So I can speak for that confidently.

SPEAKING OF DIRT

The FULLY STOCK 4Runner in 2WD is completely undrivable offroad on street tires. If anyone thinks otherwise, they have never driven a stock Subaru on dirt.

The STOCK SUSPENSION 4Runner on AT tires can survive dirt roads in 2wd, but is still a dreadful experience vs a Subaru.

BUT enter a 2WD 4Runner on QUALITY SUSPENSION and now we are talking comparisons. As a bare minimum quality suspension would mean 5100s or Eibach. However, my comparison below is based on better than that: 6112 on stiff springs and Icon 2.0 rear with Eibach springs.

So, if you drive a 2WD 4R with a QUALITY suspension on dirt, you are driving a fundamentally different vehicle from the stock one. Suddenly, the vehicle can actually stay straight over washboard and the next corner is no longer a fight for your life. Since the suspension soaks things up, you are actually handsomely outdoing a stock Subaru now, as your 4R offers a far more comfortable ride. I won't take it against a Subaru in corners, but it does corner with no drama.

From there, speaking of dirt, it becomes a matter of suspension. A Subaru can nowadays take an Ironman or basic Bilstein/Eibach suspensions. So in order to do better in the 4R you have to move up into a full 2.5 setup which will outlast the Subaru and offer a better ride quality.

Speaking of true 4x4 trails, neither the Subaru, nor the 2WD 4R apply.

However, there are many low end 4x4 trails where a Subaru is totally fine like Engineer Pass proper or Cinnamon Pass or White Rim Road and the like. Wherever speeds must be kept low for one reason or another and the terrain is seriously steep, a properly prepared Subaru will win or at least be much safer.

Speaking of high clearance trails

All of the above is obvious and self-evident to anyone with experience.

But things do get tricky when we start talking a high clearance trail. A Subaru or a 2WD 4R on quality suspension?

Three years ago, I would have said "Subaru!" Now that I have 4R experience with various suspensions, I will take the 4R in most cases.

As said already, the 2WD 4R will have to keep the speed up where the Subaru won't need to. BUT, when riding on a good suspension, that won't be a problem on nearly any trail a Subaru can make. The 4R will move faster and be more comfortable than the Subaru. It will carry 2.5 times the cargo payload (assuming my family's human and dog weight ).

On the other hand, there are cases where a Subaru should make it where the 4R might fail. This is likely to be loose steep hills as well as steep hills with rocks small enough for a Subaru to handle but steep and big enough to prevent the 4R from keeping its speed up. I think this can happen on a number of trails I have done on the OB, but on the vast majority a 4R on 2.5s will be better.

To sum it all up:

1/ Stock vs stock: Subaru
2/ 4R on 2.5 suspension vs modified Subaru: equivalent on dirt roads, 4R usually better on high clearance trails, if big loose hills present, 4R should drive the trail so that those be downhill.
3/ I will give a well-prepared Subaru the edge on a select number of low-end 4x4 trails that require low speeds and feature steep climbs. I would not really try any of those uphill in 2wd because of safety concerns.

Interesting and well described response!
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