Recon Grappler Intel: Five Under-the-Radar Modern SUV Off-Road Project Ideas
When it comes to fitting an all-terrain tire like Nitto’s Recon Grappler, there are naturally going to be some key vehicles that are perfect matches to its mix of aggressive looks, serious off-road capability and on-road livability.
Full-size pickup trucks are a perfect platform from any brand, as are rugged enthusiast-grade SUVs like the Toyota 4Runner and popular off-road-focused 4x4s like the Jeep Wrangler or the new Ford Bronco.
But along with those expected platforms, there’s a whole different tier of under-the-radar, late-model SUVs that we think are perfect candidates for both the Recon Grappler and for off-road themed builds in general.
We’ve rounded up five picks that are just asking to be upgraded from spacious family-hauler or daily to tough-looking, go-anywhere rigs that will stand out from the crowd both on the commute and on the trail.
5. Ford Explorer
Even with the recent introduction of the Explorer Timberline model, Ford’s popular three-row SUV is often overlooked when it comes to the adventure/overland/off-road scene.
It might not be a Bronco or Raptor, but with its new rear-drive-based architecture and EcoBoost power, the current generation Explorer could be a unique and surprisingly capable all-terrain machine.
4. Jeep Grand Cherokee L
A Jeep on all-terrains? Nothing unique about that, right? Well, the recently-introduced Jeep Grand Cherokee L is another great candidate for an outside-the-box rig.
While the long-wheelbase Grand Cherokee L has been positioned more as a luxury-laden hauler than a rugged off-roader like the Wrangler or even the standard Grand Cherokee, all the potential is there to build an unusual off-roader from this platform.
3. Dodge Durango
Next we have another three-row SUV built by the same company but with different branding: the Dodge Durango. When the first-gen Durango debuted back in the ‘90s it was a pretty rugged machine, but the newer models are seen more as on-road SUVs.
That’s likely because high performance Durango models like the SRT and Hellcat, but there are some great bones underneath if you want to hit some trails or get the family to out-of-the-way camping spots. And there’s something cool about a roomy hauler with some meaty all-terrains and a Hemi under the hood.
4. Toyota Sequoia
Tacoma. Tundra. 4Runner. Land Cruiser. Toyota has no shortage of trucks and SUVs that are darlings among the off-road and 4x4 communities, but its large Sequoia is often overlooked when it comes to the “adventuring” scene.
We’ve already written about how the first-generation Sequoia is one of the best SUV bargains out there right now, but the later model versions are also under-appreciated and can be made into a very capable 4x4 with a little love.
Lastly, we get to another Japanese SUV that might even be more underrated than the Sequoia—the Nissan Armada. The first-gen Armada was basically just an SUV version of the Titan pickup, but the 2017+ models are basically US market versions of the Patrol, Nissan’s flagship SUV designed to compete with the Land Cruiser.
Along with its tough, boxy looks and V8 powerplant the Armada is also plenty capable off-road even though they aren’t nearly as popular to modify as their Toyota rivals. Some Recon Grapplers, wheels and maybe a slight lift and you’re in business.
There are plenty more candidates out there, but these five are good examples of how a less popular or trendy model can be one of the best vehicles to build from.
More From Driving Line
- Want to see how well the Recon Grappler handles trail duty? We've got you covered right here.
- The Recon Grappler A/T Tire: An All-Terrain Tire That's Designed for Confidence in All Terrains