Adventure Vehicles of the Year: GearJunkie’s Top Picks From 2022

Ethel Walsh

GearJunkie editors and contributors drove and rode a slew of new vehicles over the past year to find the very best adventure vehicles of 2022.

Despite lingering global supply chain issues and an economic downturn, there were still quite a few new adventure vehicle options on the market in 2022. Automakers are finding ways to make our favorite vehicles even more adventure-worthy. Powersports manufacturers also continue to turn up the fun and capability dials of their adventure machines.

We got behind the controls of many new vehicles that hit the market in 2022 and reviewed them. So, let’s dive into our list of the best on- and off-road adventure vehicles that became available this year.

Gear Junkie Adventure Vehicle of the Year 2022

The Best Adventure Vehicles of 2022

Best 4×4: Ford Bronco Raptor

2022 Ford Bronco Raptor
Bronco Raptor with the top off, doors off, at speed in the desert, and with no doubt a big smile plastered across the driver’s face; (photo/Ford)

While it was cool to see the legendary Bronco name come back to a modern interpretation of the classic, the Raptor version turns the volume way up on that cool factor. With 418 horsepower turning massive 37-inch tires, along with an impressive 13- and 14-inch suspension travel (front and rear), the Bronco Raptor can go just about anywhere, and fast. On the trail, 13.1 inches of ground clearance ensures that it’s also capable at slower speeds through the rocks.

One of our testers had this to say: “… for something you can buy off a showroom floor, I cannot think of a more capable, exciting, and downright fun off-road vehicle. For those looking for an SUV that can do pretty much any rowdy off-road thing you can think of, the Bronco Raptor should fit the bill. Your inner child will approve.”

Read our full review: 2022 Ford Bronco Raptor Review: A Toy for Big Kids.

If the Raptor version is a bit over the top, or you want something slightly narrower to fit down tight trails, you should consider the Bronco Everglades. Or, if you want an even more classic Bronco style, consider the Bronco Heritage Edition.

Best SUV: Toyota Sequoia

2023 toyota sequoia best off-road suv for adventure
(Photo/Paul Eisenstein)

While we didn’t get a new Land Cruiser in North America in 2022, we did get an all-new and greatly improved Sequoia. The 2023 Toyota Sequoia and Lexus LX600 share the same underpinnings as the latest Land Cruiser, which is a very good thing.

The 2023 Sequoia just hit the market in late 2022 and is attracting a lot of attention. It should, with its smooth 10-speed automatic, powerful 3.5L V6 hybrid (437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet of torque), and comfortable modern cabin.

We are particularly impressed with all that the Sequoia TRD Pro has to offer. With 9.1 inches of ground clearance, e-LSD, skid plates, Fox Shocks, BBS wheels, a super-sporty interior, and much more, the Sequoia TRD Pro is capable both on- and off-road.

Our tester wrote, “On pavement, even the TRD Pro package proved comfortable and far more refined than the outgoing Sequoia. It’s the sort of big cruiser I could imagine taking on a long journey, and the switch to the hybrid iForce Max powertrain helps take at least some of the sting out of the current price of gas.”

Read our 2023 Sequoia Review: Toyota Wrote ‘Badass’ on It in Morse Code. Can It Live Up to the Hype?

Honorable mention in the best SUV class has to go to the Rivian R1S, which impressed our tester. We look forward to putting more time behind the wheel of Rivian vehicles, as they continue to shake up the industry.

Best Truck: Ford Maverick

GoFastCampers Ford Maverick Platform Camper

While there were some truly impressive trucks to hit the market in 2022, such as the F150 Lightning and Hummer EV, the small Ford Maverick is the one that stood out to us for its adventure readiness. Not only is it a great size for around town, but also the trail. It’s fuel-efficient, inexpensive, and surprisingly capable off road.

Our tester/owner had this to say about the Maverick: “After more than 3,000 miles of driving on city streets, highways, and forest service roads, I was able to test and enjoy several of its design features. Not only did the Maverick surpass my expectations in terms of engine power and utility, but it also handles the road much better than larger trucks I’ve driven. If you’re looking for an off-road capable vehicle priced like a sedan, you should consider this truck.”

Read the full review here: All the Truck I Need: 2022 Ford Maverick 3,000-Mile Ownership Review.

Also worth a look are our Maverick Tremor and Maverick GFC Platform Camper stories.

Best Crossover: Mazda CX-50

2023 Mazda CX-50
(Photo/Bryon Dorr)

The CX-50 is the first Mazda built in the U.S., and Mazda says the first purpose-built specifically for the North American market. With an almost wagon-like design, the CX-50 offers the North American market what it continually asks for.

It is rugged-looking, outdoor-adventure-aspiring, and good for on-road handling. This CUV offers quality towing and gear-hauling and is a reasonably priced, compact crossover with a premium interior.

Our tester said, “The CX-50 is a compact crossover utility vehicle that will impress people that enjoy driving. While Mazda is pushing the outdoorsy off-road angle in its marketing, the reality is that this new CUV is really good on the pavement. And it’s competent enough to get you to some fun campsites and trailheads when the pavement ends.”

Read our full first drive review here: 2023 Mazda CX-50: The Outdoorsy Crossover That’s Fun to Drive.

Best Fun Car: Nissan Z

2023 Nissan Z
(Photo/Bryon Dorr)

The latest gen Nissan Z looks sharp, drives great, offers a quality interior, and comes in at an impressive price point for an enthusiast sports car. With 400 horsepower on tap through a manual gearbox and a price point of around $50,000, it’s hard to fault the Z on much.

Our tester said the following about the Nissan Z: “If you want a two-seater that’s rocket-quick and fun to drive, this one should ring in highly at the price-to-fun ratio. Is it exotic? Not exactly. But it’s a wicked good time that those who dream of exotics can more likely afford. Hop in one — you’ll only regret it if you can’t behave.”

Read our full first drive review here: 2023 Nissan Z First Drive Review: Smoking Tires in Colorado.

Best Dream Car: Porsche 911 GT3

2022 Porsche 911 GT3 review
(Photo/Robin Warner)

If you want a track-focused street-legal car, with road and race heritage second to none and that is specifically aimed at driving enthusiasts, the 2022 Porsche 911 GT3 is the car for you. It’s not the quickest or fastest on the market but does deliver pure driver satisfaction.

A legendary silhouette, a manual transmission, a gooseneck wing, the ability to turn off the electronic nannies, and so much more combine to create a truly iconic car worthy of our dreams.

Our tester had this to say: “… Porsche built a rocket of a car that launches you straight to the driving satisfaction stratosphere. All five senses are engaged and enlivened by the experience. And it all starts with a slip of the clutch and burying your right foot into the firewall.”

Read our full review here: 2022 Porsche 911 GT3 Review: Enter the Driver Enthusiast Stratosphere.

Best UTV: Polaris RZR Turbo R

2023 Polaris RZR Turbo R driving on a sand dune
(Photo/Polaris-Garth Milan)

The Polaris RZR Turbo R is the perfect combo of power, suspension, tech, and price to get you grinning ear to ear on your next desert UTV adventure.

After a romp in the dunes, our tester wrote, “While not the fastest or most powerful available, the RZR Turbo R offers plenty of speed and power to have a really good time, especially in wide-open spaces. It’s also an impressively confidence-inspiring machine.”

Read our full review here: 2023 Polaris RZR Turbo R Review: This Desert Runner Never Taps Out.

Best Motorcycle: Yamaha Ténéré 700

2022 Yamaha Tenere 700
(Photo/Josh Wray)

Throw a leg over the Yamaha Ténéré 700 and go rip up some dirt, or the closest curvy mountain road. While this bike truly excels off the pavement while standing, it is also quite capable of eating up the miles on road. The T7 is a great size adventure bike for a wide range of riders, and will especially appeal to those riders who like less gadgetry and a more analog riding experience.

Our tester said, “The T7 is an adventure motorcycle for dual-sport riders. It has a smooth-shifting, torquey, six-speed engine, ample suspension, little in the way of modern gadgetry, and an impressive power-to-weight ratio, allowing it to keep up on the tarmac and truly excel on dirt.”

Read our full review here: 2,000-Mile Yamaha Ténéré 700 Review: Fewer Gadgets Equal More Fun.

Best PWC: Sea-Doo Explorer Pro 170

Heather Lea on Sea-Door Explorer Pro

Adventure vehicles aren’t limited to terra firma. This year we even tested an “overwatering” adventure machine from Sea-Doo. The Explorer Pro 170 is ready for some serious long-distance touring and camping adventures and creates an all-new class of personal watercraft (PWC).

Our tester wrote, “Fuel-efficient, with loads of storage, the 2023 Sea-Doo Explorer Pro 170 is not only capable of multiday rides, but it’s also comfortable. Whether you’re into wild camping on a remote beach or prefer your cross-water travels go from one portside hotel to the next, this personal watercraft has all the considerations necessary right from the factory.”

Read our in-depth, on-water review here: 2023 Sea-Doo Explorer Pro 170 Review: Adventure Watercraft Touring, Go Where Boats Can’t Go.

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