The positives and negatives of off-roading in an electric rig

When you think of electric vehicles, you probably think of sports cars and sedans. But as electric vehicles become more popular and batteries are becoming more efficient, truck and SUV makers are joining the party.

Many of these new electric trucks and SUVs sport plenty of torque and horsepower, so naturally people are going to want to test their vehicles limits out on the trails. So that begs the question, can you trust an electric vehicle when you go off-roading on rough terrain?


The answer to that question depends on your preferences and your budget.

Why choose an electric vehicle:

One of the biggest advantages to an electric vehicle is the lack of fuel dependency. You can also achieve peak torque at 0 RPM in an electric vehicle, while a fuel-powered engine will need to hit a few thousand RPM depending on the vehicle.

The Rivian R1T combines all the benefits of an electric truck without sacrificing the off-road capabilities. These fully electric trucks are built with off-roading in mind. With up to 14.9 inches of ground clearance and a wading depth of over 3 ft., the 2022 R1T is ready to adventure. The R1T also has an approach angle of 35-degrees, so the truck can climb over boulders and crawl up steep hillsides.

The GMC Hummer EV lives up to the tough image that Hummer has become famous for. The Hummer EV can deliver up to 1,000 horsepower and a maximum towing capacity of 7,500 lbs. The 2022 model comes in either a pickup or SUV option to best fit your lifestyle. One of the most unique features in the Hummer is the CrabWalk setting. When in CrabWalk mode, the rear wheels can turn up to 10-degrees to maneuver through tight trails.

Ford F-150 Lightning is a fully electric take on America’s highest selling vehicle for over 40 years, the Ford F-150. While some electric vehicles lean into the spacey exterior, the Lightning looks like almost any other F-150 out there. The Lightning comes with four different trim levels, the Pro, XLT, Lariat and Platinum. Having an electric motor doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice power, and the Lightning is proof. With 775 lb.-ft of torque and 563 horsepower, the Lightning is tough enough for the trails. When you pop the hood of the Lightning to check out the engine, you’ll be greeted with an empty storage compartment, referred to as a front trunk (or a frunk). That extra storage is great for when you head out to trails. Frunks are the future!

Downsides to Electric:

While there are certainly benefits to a fully electric motor, there are also some risks. The biggest downside to electric vehicles is the price. Off-roading is hard on your vehicle and its inevitable that something will eventually need to be repaired or replaced. With parts for electric vehicles more expensive and harder to find, off-roading in an electric vehicle could get pricey. You might not be able to find that part at your local auto shop, so a simple fix can turn into a big expense.

Another downside to using an electric off-road vehicle is the extra weight. Electric vehicles tend to weigh significantly more than their gas-powered counterparts. For example, the battery pack on the 2022 GMC Hummer EV weighs almost 3,000 lbs., which is more than some sedans.

While electric vehicles can travel long distances on a single charge, running out of power when you’re out on the trails can be a big problem. With a traditional gasoline engine, you can bring extra fuel with you, but that’s not possible with an electric vehicle.

Hybrid off-roading:

If you want to experience some of the benefits of an electric off-roading vehicle without some of the risks, you could look into a hybrid option. The Jeep Wrangler 4xe is the perfect combination of a classic off-roading vehicle with an innovative hybrid engine. Nothing screams off-roading quite like a Wrangler. If you want the hybrid engine in a luxury SUV, the Grand Cherokee 4xe debuted in 2022.

The verdict:

Electric Truck charing at station.

So, can you trust an electric vehicle to handle off-roading on the trails? The answer is yes, if you’re willing to spend a lot of money. The electric trucks and SUVs can deliver the same kind of power as many combustion-engine alternatives, but it comes with a steep price tag. As electric batteries become lighter and cheaper to make, you can expect more rugged 4-wheel drive electric vehicles on the market with smaller price tags.

In the meantime, a hybrid truck or SUV, like the Wrangler 4xe, would be a good option right now. These off-roading machines give you the option of switching back and forth between a traditional fuel-powered engine and an electric motor.

While we don’t have any fully electric trucks available at Northwest Motorsport, we do have over 1,000 trucks and SUVs that will give you all the off-roading ability you need.