Women Who Compete in Rebelle Rally are Not the Only Stars: These SUVs Rocked the Off-Road Race in 2020

Rebelle Rally
Photo: Rebelle Rally

If you had to take on the 1200-mile off-road rally, what would you want to drive?

October’s Rebelle Rally might be over, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be talking about it. Tons of women from across the country, all with different levels of skill when it comes to off-road driving, all competed to hit the most checkpoints in the shortest amount of time in their pursuit for a win —  which, in and of itself, is pretty badass.

But to spend 10 days crossing deserts in California and Nevada, you have to have a vehicle. Some are going to perform a little better than others. If you didn’t follow the Rally as it happened, that’s okay. We’ll run down everything you need to know.

Related: From Reporter to Rebeller: Meet Kathy Woods-Locke, Rebelle Rally Competitor

Biggest Winner: Jeep

“Jeep” and “off-road” go hand-in-hand, so it was no surprise to see a fair share of Jeeps kicking butt on the final scoring board. Kaleigh Miller and Teralin Petereit took home the overall victory behind the wheel of their 2020 Jeep JLU, scoring a total of 1427 points, 28 points ahead of their closest competitor.

Once again, Jeeps made up a significant portion of the field. 13 of all 30 4×4 competitors were behind the wheel of a Jeep, which is far more than any other automaker. Three of the top five—and six of the top 10—finishers were driving Jeeps. Basically, if you’re going to go off-roading, you want to choose a vehicle designed for off-road driving, which is exactly what the Jeep is. With their high ground clearance, short wheel base, beefy tires, reliability, solid axles, strong chassis, and reasonably powerful engines, a Jeep makes sense for heading off-road. Newer models also include drive modes and specific technologies designed to make the journey even smoother for folks of all skill levels.

I went off-roading for the first time earlier this year, and my instructors told me that, for pretty much every off-road journey you can make, Jeep a great way to go. But clearly, not the only option. Keep reading.

Related: Jeep Gladiator: Yes, This Is the 2020 Jeep Truck


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Day 2 of the @rebellerally is about to begin with Team Blondetourage/Team 125 currently in 3rd place just 2 points off the lead! Looking for them to have a great day as the teams have 2 Enduros(1 on time and 1 on route)along with 19 CPs and 232 possible points to collect. This is the longest travel distance day of the rally this year as well covering over 400km as the teams transfer to a new Basecamp near Death Valley. Time and fuel could play a factor in today’s results. Let’s go @k_hotchkiss and @ter.alin!!! @betinispirits @artecindustries @shocktalk @factor55llc @sandhollowoffroad @falkentire #betini #artecindustries #shocktalk #factor55 #sandhollowoffroad #falkentires #blondejokes #jeepgirls #jeepJL #teamblondetourage #rebellerally #blondeshavemorefun

A post shared by Kaleigh and Teralin (@team.blondetourage) on Oct 11, 2020 at 7:03am PDT

Biggest Surprise: Lexus

If you’re thinking Jeep dominated all the top finishing spots, think again. A Lexus LX 570 driven by Rachelle Croft and Taylor Pawley took second place in the 4×4 class, something that very few people expected. That’s right: something you’d normally consider a luxury SUV took home an incredible finish on some of America’s most rugged terrain. If you’re bold enough to take a near-$90,000 vehicle on a wild journey, it sounds like you could find few options better than Lexus.

While not obvious at first sight, Lexus fitted the Toyota Land Cruiser’s underpinnings to the LX 570, which means it has an incredibly solid off-road base. As a result, you have a large SUV that can comfortably carry its passengers from the highway to the sand dunes. Those are good credentials, especially since the LX 570 isn’t one of Lexus’s favored products. The 2020 model still remains pretty similar to the initial model introduced over a decade previously, so it doesn’t have many options, nor does it have all the bells and whistles you can get from a luxury SUV at a similar price point—take the well-outfitted BMW X7 or the Lincoln Navigator, for example.

But if you’re not concerned about, say, an unimpressive infotainment system, the LX 570 might be a solid bet.

Related: Rebelle Rally: Empowering Women Off Road

An Electric Champion: Rivian

So, how would an electric vehicle fare during a long-term off-road adventure? The Rivian RT1 has an answer: very, very well. Team Killer Watt piloted the Rivian for its very first big test drive, which saw driver Emme Hall write about her experiences alongside Rebecca Donaghe in Roadshow. Hall credits, in part, the RT1’s high torque and suspension for the team’s sixth-place finish in the rally, as it allowed both drivers to tackle tricky sand dunes and other obstacles.

Rivian boasts a 300-mile range for one charge, but Hall noted that, on trickier terrain, Team Killer Watt was able to manage about 167 miles. They were able to benefit from a mobile charging semi truck from Power Innovations, but Rivian is planning on introducing something similar for off-roading Rivian owners who want to take off on a long journey. The RT1 also has high ground clearance and impressive approach and departure angles—which measure the angle between the front and rear of your vehicle and an obstacle in its path—which means that it was easy for the team to cross rocks and sticks without damaging the underbody. That’s important for every car, but especially for the Rivian, since its undercarriage also houses its skateboard-like battery.

The RT1 will start around $70,000, and we can expect initial models to hit the market soon.

Ones to Watch: Nissan Frontier, Infiniti QX80

There are two vehicles you should be keeping your eye on in the near future: the 2020 Infiniti QX80 and the 2020 Nissan Frontier.

I want to start with the Infiniti QX80, which finished 26th out of 30 4×4 competitors with two rookie competitors behind the wheel. It isn’t an ideal finish, but rallies are notoriously difficult, especially if you’ve never contested one before. Both women behind the wheel, Nicole Wakelin and Alice Chase, highlighted the comfort and capability of the vehicle—but they ran into issues along the way, including one all-nighter to catch up to the pack.

The Infiniti QX80 starts at just over $66,000, and it has the engine and braking power to handle dunes and rough terrain with comfort.

The Nissan Frontier really showed off its stuff, resulting in a fourth place finish for Sedona Blinson and Lyn Woodward of Team Wild Grace. The 2020 model was the Frontier’s first big redesign in years, and its Pro-4X model was designed for the kind of off-roading that Sedona and Lyn took on with the Rebelle Rally. Some journalists have noted that it’s less impressive on the highway than it is on the changeable off-road terrain, so this is definitely the kind of machine you’d want to opt for if you spend more time in the wilderness than you do on the asphalt. And with a starting price tag just over $26,000, it’s a pretty irresistible bargain choice.


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The power stance on the #QX80 is everything. @infiniti @nicolewakelin @rebellerally

A post shared by ?Alice Chase (@alicechase) on Oct 12, 2020 at 6:31pm PDT

Mixed Results: Ford Bronco

Half of the X-Cross class—three of its six cars—were 2021 Ford Bronco Sports. Basic probability suggested the Bronco would take a win—which it did. But it did have some fairly mixed results. Team G.O.A.T. took victory while Team Fearless Fillies and Team Horsepower took the final two positions. Those last two teams, though, were both rookie teams who went out to prove something to both themselves and to Ford. In fact, Team Fearless Fillies was composed of two Ford employees that normally work in the marketing and design management departments.

The Bronco Sport is designed to be very user-friendly for any level of off-roader who might take it out for a spin. There are GOAT Modes that correspond to different terrain types, and those modes are also customizable so that, if you don’t like a particular feature, you can strike it out and program your own settings. It’s also full of fun storage solutions that are crucial when you’re packing tons of gear into your vehicle to last you through a week of off-roading.

The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport is one of the more affordable vehicles in the 2020 Rebelle Rally, starting at just over $28,000. Small, compact, and functional, it’s destined to hit dealers later this year.

Oldies But Goodies

Not every machine entered in the Rebelle Rally was a new model. Two rookies took a 1969 Ford Bronco out on the trail, which was 2020’s oldest machine. 2020 also saw a 1992 Mercedes Benz 350 D G-Class, a 2000 Land Rover Discovery, and a 2005 Toyota Landcruiser 100 Series, among others.



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Team work makes the … oh you’ve heard that one? How about “Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life. . .” . We don’t talk about it much but there’s power In femininity. This year, my teammate @reneevento showed me up as she rallied, ran, and navigated in the most glamorous of ensembles. It’s not about a show, it’s about the prowess to forge ahead and sometimes the uniform sets the tone of what you decide to achieve. . And I can already imagine the snark responses but did you know Ginger Roger did it all backwards and in high heels? Yeah, we’ll see you at the finish line. . . . Quote by Bill Cunningham #womeninbusiness #womenempowerment #womanentrepreneur #womeninspiringwomen #iamwoman #jointherebelle #dressup #noapologies #theyseeyou #embracethefeminine #feminineenergy #dress #girlslikedirttoo

A post shared by Changemakers (@wundercollective) on Oct 28, 2020 at 5:55pm PDT

Many of the older models finished in the bottom half of the standings, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. While the Rebelle Rally is definitely about putting new vehicles to the test in a competitive environment, it’s also about having fun and forging a community, which means anyone can join in anything they want to compete with.


I'm Elizabeth Blackstock, managing editor of AGGTC, blogger, journalist, novelist, editor, MA/MFA graduate student, wife, motorsport fanatic, and bearer... More about Elizabeth Blackstock