Top off-road machines we discovered in 2020

14 badass overlanders you won't find at the local dealership.

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Sure, 2020 will be a year we’ll want to erase from our memories. But for off-roaders and outdoor explorers, the lockdown and social distancing rules opened up opportunities to get outside – from more family camping trips and going off-the-grid to hitting the unpaved roads to enjoy life in what was otherwise a miserable year.

Here are some of the best and most badass off-road vehicles we came across in 2020. A mix of concepts that will sadly never come to fruition, and overland machines available if you’re lucky enough to afford one. Crazy vans, extreme SUVs and trucks to motorcycles and iconic vehicles like the Bronco and Wrangler.


Rezvani Hercules 6×6

Rezvani Hercules 6x6 truck front

A 1,300-hp, V8-powered beast the California-based company Rezvani is dubbing the god of all trucks, the Hercules 6×6 is powered by a standard 3.6L V8 powertrain, customers can ramp it up with either 6.4L SRT V8 good for 500-hp or the top-end 7.0L supercharged V8 producing over 1,000 horses. To conquer pretty much any terrain, the Hercules 6×6 truck comes with two off-road packages raising ground clearance with a 3-inch FOX off-road suspension — the completely hidden auto retracting side steps are also a nice, stealthy touch. But if the $225,000 price tag is within reach, so is a new garage pad. 

7.0L supercharged V8 with 1,300-hp

Auto retracting side steps

Menacing looks


VelociRaptor V8 Bronco

Hennessey VelociRaptor-V8-Bronco

For $225,000 (including the SUV) and limited to only 24 units with a 3 year / 36,000 mile warranty, Hennessey Performance Engineering (HPE) will convert the new Bronco — both the 2-door and 4-door configurations — into a 750-hp off-road monster, courtesy of a supercharged 5.0L Ford V8 engine paired to a 3.0L supercharger system and stock 10-speed automatic transmission; replacing Ford’s 6-cylinder, 2.7L engine rated at 310-hp. If you’re yearning for a V8 propelling your new Bronco, this is your only chance until Ford jumps in on it.

5.0L Ford V8 engine making 750-hp

Completed upgraded suspension and new aluminum wheels with off-road tires

0-60 mph in only 4.5-seconds


Volcon Grunt

Volcon Grunt

There’s a new player in the all-electric vehicle space — except this one is all about adventure. Austin, Texas-based Volcon Inc. hits the scene and stakes the claim as the first all-electric, off-road powersports company with an eye on producing two and four-wheeled electric, off-road adventure and utility vehicles. And you’re looking at their first creation — the Grunt: an all-terrain, all-electric motorbike offering an easy-to-ride experience. Looking at those massive, knobby tires, this little brute does look fun. The Volcon Grunt will start at $5,995 with first deliveries sets for Spring 2021, followed by two and four-seat versions.

Fully-waterproof 60-volt battery pack 

50-hp and 75 lb.-ft. of torque

60 mph top speed in 6-seconds


Nissan Z Proto 4×4 Concept

Nissan Z Proto 4x4 Rain Prisk

Fresh off the heels of Nissan’s new Z car reveal, designer Rain Prisk wasted no time doing what he does best: transforming track-built sports coupes into bonafide overlanders. This Nissan Z Proto clearly gets a massive suspension lift to tackle the unpaved roads ahead. Couple this with four incredibly huge, black fenders engulfing the knobby all-terrain tires, this 4×4 coupe is totally unrecognizable from the original concept, from what we can see from this one and only front-view rendering from Prisk. Don’t get your hopes up, however, this beast is only a rendering.

Major suspension lift and massive black fenders

Large skid plate below and pair of red tow hooks

Rooftop tent


Land Rover Defender 4×4 Van Concept

land rover defender van rear view

Known for his awe-inspiring work within the automotive world — in particular, the Rezvani Tank and Ferrari Xeri — industrial designer Samir Sadikhov unleashes a new design that will make 4×4 off-roaders, classic Land Rover Defender fans, and Van Lifers pretty darn happy. The cabin of this Defender 90 is clearly extended, paired to a widened track and extended wheelbase to 110 inches. We don’t have many details of the Van Defender’s interior, but we can gawk at its exterior all day long. From the classic lines running front to back to the round head lamps, spotlights and grille bar up front, Sadikhov creates a gorgeous off-road van while successfully maintaining the iconic SUV’s charisma and style. 

Flat windshield and massive bull bar

Widened track and extended wheelbase to 110 inches

Massive roof rack


Farout Gladiator Concept

Diesel-powered Jeep Gladiator Overlander “Farout” Concept front

Powered by the new 3.0L EcoDiesel V6 powerplant available with the Gladiator Sport, Overland and Rubicon models, going off the beaten path for extended periods is less stressful with 28 mpg highway fuel economy. The 2021 Gladiator gets the most powerful diesel in the mid-size class and the highest torque rating of any mid-size pickup. Inside, the Farout Gladiator is a fully functional refrigerator, stove, built-in seats and table space set this pickup apart from anything else we’ve seen to date. Orange stitching and plaid flannel seat inserts round out the ‘outdoorsy’ vibes. 

3.0L EcoDiesel V6 powerplant

Customized deployable roof-top tent

FOX performance shocks on 17-inch matte charcoal rims


Beast MODE 4×4 Sprinter

Beast MODE 4x4 Sprinter Van for sale

Based on a 2021 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, the Beast MODE 4×4 marries rugged looks and off-road capabilities with a spacious, upscale and well-designed interior. Alabama-based Storyteller Overland is offering 3 models in the MODE van range, including the entry-level MODE 4×4 ($149,748) and mid-range Stealth MODE 4×4 ($154,454). But it’s this badass range-topper that caught our attention. Powered by a 3.0L V6 turbo diesel matted to a 7-speed transmission, the Beast sits on Mercedes-Benz’s proven 4×4 all-wheel drive system to handle all types of terrain. 

Sink, a flex space with portable toilet, and lounge area with seat to bed setup

100+ feet of rear storage

Power awning with dimmable LED lights


Saleen Bronco

Saleen ‘Big Oly’ Off-Road 2021 Bronco

Saleen transforms the new Bronco into an off-road, Baja-worthy beast. This Bronco livery gets a huge dose of upgrades, most of which designed by Saleen directly. Including a front bumper with Integrated LED Light Array and forged carbon skid plate, a ramped up front grille surround in forged carbon, composite front fenders with integrated forged carbon fender vent, a power hood, rocker panel guards, composite rear fenders and quarter panel, an adjustable rear roof spoiler, and a rear tire carrier and rear bumper.

Removable roof next to a modular roof rack

Forged carbon skid plate, front grille surround in forged carbon, adjustable rear roof spoiler

Pays homage to the original Parnelli Jones piloted ‘Big Oly’ 


Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept

V8 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept

Jeep’s 450-hp V8-powered Wrangler Concept may just become a reality. Putting down 450-hp and 450 lb.-ft. of torque courtesy of a burly V8 powerplant with 392 cubic inches of displacement, the 392 Concept goes beyond simply traversing boulders and kicking up dirt — expect this beast to accomplish a 0-60 mph in less than 5-seconds. Other notable performance upgrades include full-time two-speed transfer case, electric front- and rear-axle lockers, and Dana 44 axles. On the styling front, the Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept looks sharp in its grey colour (Granite Crystal, to be exact) alongside bronze tow hooks, springs, shocks, wheels and badging — clean and unassuming with a 6.4L under the hood. 

450-hp and 450 lb.-ft. of torque from V8 powerplant

0-60 mph in less than 5-seconds

Full-time two-speed transfer case, electric front- and rear-axle lockers, and Dana 44 axles


Vagabund Moto’s Lada Niva 4×4

lada niva 4x4 custom by vagabund moto overlanding

Austrian bike builder revives this old school Lada into a modern day overlander. Known for their rule-breaking, monochromatic custom BMW motorcycles, Austrian-based Vagabund Moto flipped the script with this Lada Niva 4×4 sporting a unibody design paired to a a coil-sprung independent front suspension. It finds all black wheels wrapped in new beefy tires and the paint scheme in the shop’s classic flat black and grey two-tone look. This custom Lada was meant to pull motorbikes for those off-road excursions so a hefty HID light-equipped roof rack handles extra storage, along with a lift to handle any other issues.

Unibody design paired to a a coil-sprung independent front suspension

HID light-equipped roof rack

Off-road wheels with all-terrain tires


Armortruck SUV

Armortruck SUV

Is the future ready for Bulgarian-based designer Milen Ivanov’s bonkers Armortruck SUV? Part Halo-alien-fighter, part everyday cruiser, this beast rides on deep-cut treaded tactical tires, flossing a convenient front winch, and a pair of sturdy gullwing doors working in conjunction with collapsing side steps — beautifully displayed in a quick demo video posted on Ivanov’s Instagram account. On the styling front, this beast is remarkably both menacing with all its angled exterior panels broken up by a simple, horizontal headlight and taillight. The blue seat belts are a nice touch too, complimenting the blue lighting both inside and out. Ivanov has created renderings for big brands in the past including Dreamworks and Rimac, so the level of detail here really doesn’t come as a surprise. 

Gull-wing doors and collapsing side steps

Seats 4 with well-bolstered bucket seats

Tesla-like vertical touchscreen and F1-inspired steering wheel

Arkonik’s Wader 110 Defender

1995 land rover defender wader 110 arkonik grille

Hitting the road in style. Customized by the folks at UK-based Arkonik for a lucky couple who clearly have a passion for adventure and road-tripping, this custom 1995 Land Rover Defender 110 has some serious plans in store. Rolling on Kahn Defend 1983 18″ alloy wheels wrapped in BFGoodrich All Terrain T/A KO2 rubber, this 1990s off-roader sits on a capable Arkonik Cellular Dynamic suspension system offering 3,500kg towing capacity. Inside this $190,000, expect a Ginger Auto Grain Leather interior over 9 seats and a 15” Evander wood steering wheel, to get things started. A heated front windshield, LED spotlights, rear-facing LED, and chunky sidesteps will instil all the confidence this couple will need. 

Arkonik Cellular Dynamic suspension system

Extra stowage courtesy of a Front Runner roof rack

Premium interior cabin with the latest tech


EarthRoamer LTi

EarthRoamer LTi carbon fiber expedition vehicle front

This big traveller gets big improvements in 2020. Colorado-based EarthRoamer’s latest off-roader is built on a Ford F-550 4WD chassis with a burly 6.7L turbo diesel under the hood good for 330-hp and 750 lb.ft. of torque. With seating for up to 6 people while sleeping up to 4 comfortably, 5 floor plans are available. Other key features include a redesigned hot water system, a lower entry step making for easier ingress and egress, and multicolour indirect interior lighting to keep the party going. Water capacity is increased to 100 gallons and the 1320 watts of solar power ensures this expedition vehicle stays alive.

6.7L turbo diesel making 330-hp and 750 lb.ft. of torque

Carbon fiber vacuum infused camper, lithium ion battery, bunk side windows, and raised ceiling height

Starts at $590,000 but budget $700,000 for a well-equipped version


Shortcut Jeep 2016

2016 jeep 4x4 shortcut concept

Jacked-up and ready to rock. the new Gladiator pickup is getting all the hype these days. But insane 4×4 machines like this Shortcut Jeep 2016 is what really gets us excited. Conjured up by UK-based designer Igor Dmytrenko, the Shortcut appears to be part compact dune buggy with some dose of military-spec Willys Jeep and Wrangler in the mix. This beast boasts a massive roll cage to take tumbles along with bars replacing a glass windshield. Those burly, knobby tires will traverse anything paired to an aggressive front bumper with two towing hooks and winch to take care of other business. The rear finds a full-size spare protected by a large cage, a beefy rear bumper, and another colour-matched skid plate front and centre. 

Massive roll cage

Aggressive front bumper with two towing hooks and winch

Colour-matched skid plate


There you have it, some of the best off-roaders we discovered this past year in 2020. Next, Check out these off-road machines from 2019.

Amee Reehalhttp://www.ameereehal.com/
Amee is the managing editor and founder of TractionLife.com. He's a full-time digital marketing & content consultant helping brands grow online; and a photographer shooting for automakers and various publications for 20 years. Amee's work has appearing in various outlets including NBC Sports, Chicago Tribune, SuperStreet, GlobeDrive, MotorTrend, and others. Find him travelling, spending time with his kids & family. Or golfing, poorly.

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