Best Body-On-Frame SUVs Of 2024



Before the advent of the crossover, SUVs all had body-on-frame construction. Essentially, they were trucks without the open bed at the back, making them better suited to hard work but not as refined and smooth as a sedan. Today’s body-on-frame SUVs are typically split into two categories: Comfortable luxury models with room for up to nine people, or dedicated off-roaders that can go anywhere. These are our top-rated body-on-frame SUVs for the 2024 model year.

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Lincoln Navigator L

The three-row Lincoln Navigator L is one of the largest SUVs on the road, and is one of the most comfortable SUVs for passengers in all three rows. At 36.1 inches, there’s enough legroom in the third row to accommodate adults, and there is almost 35 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row. The Navigator L has a more powerful engine than its Cadillac Escalade ESV rival. In the Lincoln, the 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 delivers 440 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque. All trims are lavishly specified, and you can go wild with multi-adjustable seats and high-end sound systems if money is no object. The largest wheel sizes can crash over bumps a bit, but the Navigator L is a smooth operator on the highway.

Expert Opinion

“Lincoln delivers the most opulent rear seat experience [in its class], which makes it arguably the best family vehicle on a long road trip.”

Lincoln Navigator

2024 Lincoln Navigator

Base MSRP $82,765

Fuel Economy 16/22 MPG

Horsepower 440 hp

Engine 3.5L Twin-Turbo V6 Gas

For most people, the standard Navigator will be more than enough SUV. It shares the Navigator L’s powertrain and has the same amount of third-row legroom, but has a lot less cargo space behind the third row at 19.3 cubic feet. Still, if you only occasionally transport more than five people, you can leave the third row folded most of the time. Plush interior materials, hugely comfortable seats, and no shortage of safety equipment round off this full-size body-on-frame SUV.

Chevrolet Tahoe

Since it’s not a luxury model, the three-row Tahoe comes with a far more attractive price tag than some of the other SUVs on this list. Two gas V8s are available, along with a turbocharged diesel for better efficiency. Air springs and adaptive dampers are available for a fairly comfortable ride; just don’t expect this heavy SUV to completely mask its size and weight. Capable of towing up to 8,400 lbs, the Tahoe has enough ability to suit a wide variety of applications.

GMC Yukon

2024 GMC Yukon

Base MSRP $58,200

Fuel Economy 15/20 MPG

Horsepower 355 hp

Engine 5.3L V8 Gas

Closely related to the Tahoe, the GMC Yukon shares the Chevy’s underpinnings and powertrains but wraps it all in a package that looks and feels more sophisticated and upmarket. Up to eight people can be accommodated in the spacious cabin, and even those in the third row will be comfortable. Depending on your needs, you can get the high-end Denali or the rugged, off-road-oriented AT4 with its two-speed transfer case. Top trims are expensive, but there’s more value to be found lower in the lineup.

Lexus LX

2024 Lexus LX

Base MSRP $92,915

Fuel Economy 17/22 MPG

Horsepower 409 hp

Engine 3.4L Twin-Turbo V6 Gas

The previous LX overstayed its visit, but the new one is a thoroughly up-to-date luxury SUV. It no longer has a thirsty V8 engine; in its place is a twin-turbocharged V6 producing 409 hp. The TNGA-F platform is shared with other body-on-frame vehicles from within the Toyota stable, including the Sequoia and Tundra. Although not quite as spacious as the likes of the Escalade, the LX benefits from Lexus’s well-earned reputation for durability. It’s quick, quiet, and built to the brand’s exceedingly high standards.

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Cadillac Escalade-V

By far the craziest body-on-frame SUV, the Cadillac Escalade-V is excessive in every way. Its 6.2-liter supercharged V8 churns out 682 hp, sending this three-row full-size SUV to 60 in way below five seconds. It’s hilariously thirsty, posting a city rating of just 11 mpg – and you can expect that number to drop into the single digits if you drive it hard. At over $150k, it’s also the most expensive of the Escalades by far, but the immersive exhaust note will make you forget about running costs – if only temporarily. Cadillac had to modify the suspension and brakes to cope with the V’s increased performance, but it still rides smoothly. A host of visual upgrades also set it apart from lesser Escalades.

Cadillac Escalade

No list of the best body-on-frame SUVs would be complete without the presence of the Cadillac Escalade. Many of these SUVs may be bought purely for their image, but there’s a lot of substance to the latest Caddy, starting with its more refined road manners. Its Magneride suspension system and independent rear suspension endow the fifth-gen Escalade with a very comfortable ride for a body-on-frame design. Both engine choices – a V8 or a turbodiesel six-cylinder – have 460 lb-ft of torque, so towing is no issue. A top-class interior comes with all the mod-cons and a spacious third row.

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Ford Expedition

2024 Ford Expedition

Base MSRP $54,555

Fuel Economy 17/23 MPG

Horsepower 380 hp

Engine 3.5L Twin-Turbo V6 Gas

The Ford Expedition is another substantial body-on-frame SUV that excels at keeping all its passengers comfortable. A rear independent suspension aids in this regard, but the Expedition doesn’t offer much entertainment for the driver; it’s better at highway cruises than handling with any precision. A twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 makes as much as 440 hp, giving the big Ford brilliant acceleration. It’s also highly capable, with a towing capacity of over 9,000 lbs.

Ford Expedition Max

A common trend among these body-on-frame SUVs is to have a lengthened variant, and that continues with the Expedition Max. The wheelbase is almost ten inches longer than the regular Expedition’s, and while that doesn’t increase legroom, it boosts the cargo volume behind the third row from 20.9 to 36 cubic feet, which is a substantial difference. The Expedition Max does have a few cheaper interior materials, but it remains one of the best options for moving a lot of people around.

Cadillac Escalade ESV

With a 13.2-inch increase in the wheelbase over the normal Escalade, the ESV takes all the attributes of the former and adds abundant cargo capacity to it. With 41.5 cubic feet behind the third row, you can leave the rearmost seats in place most of the time. There are 94.1 cu-ft behind the second row and an enormous 142.8 cu-ft behind the first row. The same V8 and six-cylinder turbodiesel engines power this gargantuan SUV.

Chevrolet Suburban

This is Chevy’s largest current SUV, and it has cargo and passenger space to match the much more expensive Escalade ESV. 41.5 cubic feet of space behind the third row is plenty, and it matches that with adult-friendly space in the third row. This is one of the few SUVs that can seat up to nine occupants, highlighting its massive space. Besides its practicality, the Suburban has willing powertrains and an available air suspension. Some parts of the interior reflect its non-luxury status, but there are few better options for moving people and their stuff.

Related Best 3-Row SUVs Of 2023

If you need to seat many people, these are the best SUVs for the job.

Best Of The Rest

The list of best body-on-frame SUVs is a longer one. These are other models also worth considering.

2024 GMC Yukon XL

Base MSRP $61,200

Fuel Economy 15/20 MPG

Horsepower 355 hp

Engine 5.3L V8 Gas

2024 Toyota Sequoia

Base MSRP $61,275

Fuel Economy 21/24 MPG

Horsepower 437 hp

Engine 3.4L Twin-Turbo V6 Hybrid

2024 Jeep Wrangler

Base MSRP $31,995

Fuel Economy 17/23 MPG

Horsepower 285 hp

Engine 3.6L V6 Gas

2024 Nissan Armada

Base MSRP $55,450

Fuel Economy 14/19 MPG

Horsepower 400 hp

Engine 5.6L V8 Gas

2024 Toyota 4Runner

Base MSRP $40,705

Fuel Economy 16/19 MPG

Horsepower 270 hp

Engine 4.0L V6 Gas

2024 Infiniti QX80

Base MSRP $74,150

Fuel Economy 14/20 MPG

Horsepower 400 hp

Engine 5.6L V8 Gas

2024 Lexus GX

Base MSRP $62,900

Fuel Economy 15/21 MPG

Horsepower 349 hp

Engine 3.5L Twin-Turbo V6 Gas

2024 Toyota Land Cruiser

Base MSRP $55,950

Fuel Economy 22/25/23 mpg

Horsepower 326 hp

Engine 2.4L Turbo Inline-4 Hybrid

What You Need To Know About Body-On-Frame SUVs

Here are the characteristics of the best body-on-frame SUV models:

Design: What really defines body-on-frame SUVs is how they are designed. Much like pickup trucks, the body is built on top of the frame, instead of a combined structure like you would find in cars or crossovers. They tend to be more rugged-looking, which is a huge selling factor in the USA. Capability: The engineering of body-on-frame vehicles gives them better height and ground clearance, which makes them far more capable of handling rough terrain. As such, these are often the best vehicles for off-roading. Customization: The separation of body from frame makes it easier to make changes or install mods, and the platform can be used for various models. Economy: These vehicles are much heavier than standard unibody options, so they are far less efficient when it comes to fuel economy. Safety: The lack of separate zones as you would find in a unibody negatively impact the safety ratings of these cars. They also run a higher risk of rolling over when taking corners at high speed due to their height.

Related Best Four-Wheel-Drive SUVs of 2024

What To Consider Before Buying Body-On-Frame SUVs

What makes an SUV a body-of-frame model is not simply about how large it is. A Jeep Wrangler, for example, fits the bill despite its small size. No, what matters here is the manner of construction. Unlike unibody SUVs which share their foundations with normal cars, these true SUVs are built upon a truck’s platform. This does normally make them larger, but the real difference is that the chassis and suspension are separate from the body.

Pros

Better ground clearance for off-roading Ability to handle heavier loads More imposing styling Easier to modify with lifting kits Flexes over uneven terrain to keep wheels on the ground Rubber-mounted body filters out vibrations for a comfortable ride

Cons

Much heavier than unibody Not as safe, with a higher risk of rolling Less fuel-efficient

Stellantis

What does body-on-frame SUV mean?

This refers to the method of construction used when building the SUV. These vehicles use a truck frame to increase their ruggedness, off-road abilities, and hauling capacities. Basically, a ladder frame sits underneath a separately constructed body. Smaller SUVs and crossovers are built with a unitary body instead.

Is body-on-frame better than unibody?

This depends on what you want and need in a car. Truck-based SUVs are hardier, so they handle rugged terrain more easily. They can also tow and haul heavier loads when properly powered. However, they suffer from poor fuel economy, compromised maneuverability, and lower overall safety ratings.

Which SUV is most like a truck?

While all body-on-frame SUVs are based upon truck-like designs, the Ford Expedition probably most closely resembles its forbears. It shares similarly huge towing capacities to the F-150 pickup and can go off-road when need be.

CarBuzz/Valnet

Which SUV is the best for off-roading?

Body-on-frame SUVs are among the best off-roaders, so it makes sense that the top of the list is flush with such models. These include the Land Rover Defender, Ford Expedition, and Toyota Land Cruiser.

Which SUV has the highest towing rating?

Ford is known for topping the towing charts with its F-Series pickups, so it is unsurprising that the automaker has extended this expertise to its SUV range. The Expedition, the largest SUV from the American brand, is able to tow an impressive 9,300 lbs.



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