Vehicles | April 29, 2016 9:00 am

This Is Your SUV on Off-Roading Steroids

The five upgrades that’ll get your rig over the mountain

That off-the-lot SUV might feel like it’s ready head to the mountains and take the road less traveled. But if you are serious about going where no 4×4 has gone before, you’re gonna need some serious upgrades.

To learn how to max out an SUV for the true off-road experience, we tapped the experts at East Coast Defender, who do custom retrofits of Land Rover Defenders to meet every owner’s exact requirements — whether that’s loading up a large family (read: nine seats) for a weekend in the sticks or handing a restaurant valet the keys to the sexiest ride he’ll park all night.

Don’t let the pretty exterior fool you, though: their builds are created to take a beating. Here’s what ECD say a man needs to upgrade a run-of-a-mill SUV to full adventure status.

Off-Roading Tires
Why you need them: “Bigger tires equal better grip on varying surfaces.” Think hiking boots vs. sneakers.

Lifted Suspension
Why you need it: “Lifted suspension gives more ground clearance, making it easier to surpass obstacles that would damage the undercarriage of a normal vehicle.” That maddening scrape you hear when you traverse something you thought your vehicle could clear: that’s what we’re trying to avoid here.

Roll Cage
Why you need it: “Roll cages are for extra safety and protection for you and the occupants.” Hopefully you’ll never need this to perform what it’s intended for — but if you’re gettin’ serious about off-roading, fortune favors the prepared.

Winch
Why you need it: “To pull yourself out of any really sticky situations. In reality you will probably end up helping others out of sticky situations in their Jeeps.” A win-win situation. Either you get yourself out of a bind or you get to play the bad a** hero who saves the day for someone with a sub-par set of off-roading wheels.

Fire Extinguisher
Why you need it: See Roll Cage.

Images via East Coast Defender