Like music genres, the lines between SUV's. trucks and crossovers is getting so blurred its hardly worth keeping track, but how do you know if the vehicle sitting next to you at the light is a genuine trail pounder (or at least more adventurous) or just a guy or gal who has an irrational hatred of wagons and their obvious supriority? There are lots of obvious giveaways, and they don't hold as true for the driver as much as the car, but the one I can count on most reliably to inform me if the vehicle was intended to see trail duty or not is this:

Is the imaginary center-line that runs horizontally from the wheel centers above or below the lowest part of the vehicle's body[not counting removable gear like side steps]? Here is what I mean. 2014 Forester, generally considered a "rugged" persons car, but since the centerline is above the lowest part

The Tacoma on the other hand, is a model study in off-roadedness. Check out that clearance.

Where as car based "trucks" like the ridgeline [above] and its stablemate the pilot fail this test outright.


This trend isn't scientific, but it does give you a quick and easy reference out on the road. Of course there are other easy to spot signs, such as a gaping hole where a differential should be