Which car is best for bad roads? (+videos)

In most places around the world, roads are downright bad, and driving your car on such roads daily can increase the wear and tear of vital car components significantly. You can either hire a private road maintenance service or you can choose a car that should cope with those roads as best as possible.

You’d think that bad road surfaces should only be associated with distant country roads or third world countries, but many vital metropolitan areas such as New York offer a subpar road surface quality. And more than 25% of people out there managed to damage their cars on such surfaces.

In most instances, you are only going to feel discomfort, but sometimes you might damage your wheels, tires, or the underside of your car, so much so that it could even require a completely new set of wheels and tires.

Cars like the Fiat Panda, Dacia Duster, Toyota RAV4, or a Honda CR-V are all popular affordable options that should cope well with uneven road surfaces. If you want a more luxurious car, the Audi A4 All-road, Volvo S90, Mercedes Benz S-Class, or the Range Rover are also made to cope with such circumstances.

Fiat Panda

The Fiat Panda is somewhat of a legend when it comes to on and off-road driving. Even though you’d never think of it when you lay your eyes on the Panda, this car can truly go anywhere. This is mostly due to skinny tires and an overall lightweight body.

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The Panda is also equipped with a decent set of thick rubber and alloys which can traverse a lot more treacherous terrain than just a few potholes and speed bumps. And even if something does happen, thanks to its relatively low price, the Panda can be fixed cheap in no time.

Video: Fiat Panda Cross 4×4 | light off-road + muddy roads + POV

Dacia Duster

The Dacia Duster is a no-nonsense straight-up most value-oriented SUV in existence. But, at the same time, the Duster is a true SUV, and the thickness of its wheels and tires come handy on badly paved or even unpaved roads.

The Duster is made to sell, maintain and drive cheaply, and that’s a perfect combo for roads that could kill the underside of your car. The Dacia does not come equipped with air suspension nor lightweight wheels, which means that the Duster is mostly steel, and that’s what you want when you tackle such roads.

Toyota RAV4

The Toyota RAV4 is one of the most popular compact SUVs ever thanks to stout reliability and relatively affordable pricing. The RAV4 is not a luxury car by any means, but compared to the Duster, the RAV4 feels like a Rolls Royce.

But that does not mean that the RAV4 is more fragile or unforgiving, maybe even the opposite as the RAV4 is one of the most reliable compact SUVs on the market. Besides thick tires and wheels, the RAV4 is made to tackle moderate off-road terrain to a certain extent, which should be enough for a few potholes.

Video: Is The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid An Off-Road Stud Or Dud? I Find Out On Tombstone Hill!

Audi A4 All-Road

Even though all these aforementioned cars should offer you a fairly reliable platform, they are not made for people who want to experience some luxuries in the process, and the Audi A4 All-Road might just be the very best blend of luxury, practicality, and utility.

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The All-Road version offers a raised and beefed-up suspension that should easily cope with gravel roads and slightly off-road surfaces, and the additional underbody and wheel well protection also come in handy. Besides this, it’s like any other A4 out there.

Video: Audi A4 Allroad Review – Audi’s BEST off-roader?


Volvo S90

If you prefer a mid-size sedan, the Volvo S90 is a perfect choice as it offers comfort above anything else. The S90 is not designed to offer a blend of sportiness and comfort as some of its competitors like the BMW 5-series for example do, but the S90 rather solely focuses on comfort.

And such differences are the most obvious when it comes to bad road quality. In addition to that, the S90 offers comfy chair-like seats which do soften harsh impacts, and the suspension is incredibly compliant, so much so that the car should not be unsettled by regular city potholes.

Mercedes Benz S-Class

Thanks to obscene depreciation, you can get the previous generation S-Class for as much as a new Honda Civic these days. But the Civic can’t match the S-Class when it comes to a boat-like floaty suspension that sucks potholes like nobody’s business.

The S-Class is just so big and so soft that gravel driving does not feel like regular gravel driving. No vibrations are being carried into the cabin, and the driver feels like he is still driving on paved roads. An S-Class is a staple of comfort, and the previous generation S-Class is still up there with the comfiest cars on the market.

FAQ Section

Do I need an SUV for bad roads?

Choosing an SUV as your mean of transportation should not be solely based on the types of roads you plan on driving it. As mentioned previously, some huge cities are plagued by potholes which should work in favor of buying an SUV.

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But you should just drive slowly over a pothole, and in such instances, there really is no difference between an SUV or any other car out there.

Which types of cars should I avoid?

You should never choose a supercar or even a sports car as your daily driver if you do not have adequate road surface in your area. These types of cars are offered with stiff suspension for sportier driving, and bad road quality can kill these types of cars.

If you do encounter a pothole in your Ferrari you should also be aware that the ground clearance of a super/sports car is usually way worse compared to any other car out there. So you better be sure to think twice before buying a supercar.

How often do potholes damage a car?

There is a common misconception out there that potholes only damage your wheels and tires. In reality, the force is being distributed onto all the components directly linked to your wheels and tires. This means that your steering, suspension, brakes, and many other components can be at great risk.

If you go over a pothole fast enough, in a worst-case scenario you might even blow your tire which could send you off the road. In most cases, potholes usually damage the wheels, and if you don’t pay enough attention afterward, the wheel itself might damage all the other vulnerable components of your car.

Marko Mikulic

Why do you love writing about cars? I love writing about cars as cars are a huge personal interest of mine. I was raised in a car enthusiast community and ever since I was young, I always wanted to do car-related work.

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