You have a lot of choices when picking a vehicle for your adventures. Depending on what your needs are, you could pick between an SUV, a pickup truck, or a car if that's your thing. It's important to know and understand that each vehicle has it's own strengths and weaknesses. With so many choices out there, between cars, SUVs, crossovers, and more, why did I choose a truck for my adventure vehicle? Let's dig into the reasons!
With a truck, you are more likely able to find one with four wheel drive (4WD). In the case of my truck, it came equipped from the factory with 4WD, a locking front differential, and a limited slip rear differential. This is a pretty potent combination for offroad travel as, with 4WD engaged, at least one wheel on each axle will have power. In my specific setup, I will have 3 wheels trying to move my truck when 4WD is engaged. You might be thinking, "OK, so what... I could just pick up something with all wheel drive (AWD) and that would be better because it's not a manual selection of when to use all wheels." OK, fair point, but you will definitely need to worry about what kind of differentials are in use. If your AWD vehicle uses all open differentials, what you've found is essentially an overhyped single wheel drive vehicle. You almost certainly won't find a locking differential, an offroader's best friend, in an AWD system. With a more expensive, more equipped AWD vehicle, you can probably find something with electronics that can apply resistance to a wheel in free spin so power can transfer to the wheel with traction but that introduces a whole new can of worms hoping your electronics don't fail on the trail.
After applying power to the wheels in the right way, you also need to make sure your tires have grip. Although I haven't shopped lately, it might be hard to find a rugged offroadable tire for cars without serious modifications. SUVs and crossovers probably have a better selection to say the least. All said, being able to apply power to where it's needed is just as important as grip. Two things I think trucks will always do better on point.
A truck generally sits higher up off the ground than anything else on the road. It's just a fact. More than likely, it's because a truck isn't as much of a people hauler as an SUV or crossover where you would be more concerned whether your grandma could climb in and out easily. Being able to drive over obstacles without being hung up, or high centered, gives trucks a serious advantage over other vehicles though, because of their length, their approach and departure angles can still get them into trouble. With an abundance of aftermarket lift kits and suspension enhancements, ground clearance will never be as much of a problem as it would be for other vehicles.
Going back to the 4WD vs AWD debate, gearing is the next point to score for trucks over other AWD vehicles. With manually selected 4WD, you will often have two ranges, high and low. 4 wheel high range is what you would use to cruise at higher speeds, much like you would in 2WD, where additional traction is needed. 4 wheel low range, on the other hand, is for the times when you need more torque and less speed. When speed is not your friend or you need a little more "oomf" to clear an obstacle, 4-LO (4WD low range) is exactly what you will want to have available and typically, AWD vehicles just don't have it.
This one is pretty obvious. Trucks were always built to be the work horse. They can handle thousands of pounds of cargo, hundreds of pounds more than any car, SUV, or crossover. You're probably thinking, "Yeah, but who needs to take 2,000 pounds of stuff with them where ever they go?" I would say you'd be surprised... Overlanders may not take 2,000 pounds on each outing but it's not the weight that's on debate here. It's that you have the space for everything you could possibly want to bring. The real drag is that, without a camper shell, your gear is mostly exposed to the elements which is not cool but you do have low cost options available to make it work! Bonus points that your cargo area cannot double as seating meaning you don't have to make anyone sit with their gear in their lap the whole time.
If you're into trailers, or think you might be some day, you are probably looking at a truck or SUV. They are typically the only vehicles with a high enough rating to tow a fully loaded trailer. Pair towing with any of the other points listed and once again, you find yourself behind the wheel of a truck!
As I stated before, whether you pick a truck or not is based on your needs and, well, a truck fit my needs pretty well! I needed something that could take me anywhere I wanted to go, both on road and off road, the ability to haul all my gear and passengers (and their gear), and tow a trailer even though I didn't have one from the very start. It's not all roses though. Trucks are big, hard to fit in tight areas, and they do have a tremendous thirst for fuel (or electricity if you have an electric truck) but over all, a truck can do so much well, it was worth it to me!