Best Affordable Used 4x4's
Many people would like a 4x4 vehicle, whether it is out of necessity or strictly for fun. Here of a list of 4x4 vehicles that can be found fairly cheap on the used car market in the U.S. They range from very small to very large, and from spartan to rather luxurious, so there should be something here for almost everyone.
1. Jeep Cherokee XJ
The body style of Cherokee we are talking about here are referred to as XJ's in the Jeep community. These are great vehicles for the most part with a few exceptions. I would avoid any of them with anything except the inline 6 cylinder engine. These particular engines are known for their reliability and longetivity, while the others don't have the same reputation. 2 door and 4 door models are available. These trucks can be found dirt cheap, I looked at one last week that seemed OK and the owner was only asking $800. Coil Springs and solid axle make them good off road.
2. Toyota Land Cruiser FJ60
This generation of Land Cruiser is world renowned for its durability. Toyota's inline 6 engine is nearly bulletproof, as is the rest of the drivetrain. Automatic transmissions weren't offered until the FJ 62 generation. Parts are fairly common. The entrance price is reasonable on these rigs, with $3,000 to $4,000 buying one in very good condition. These trucks will go 200k or 300k miles with good maintenance. They were made from 1980- 1987. Fuel mileage is the weak point on these rigs.
3. Jeep Wrangler YJ
The first generation starting to slip into the area of cheap 4x4's finally. These trucks are really capable offroad and have the added bonus of the soft top. There are obscene amounts of accessories for these Jeeps. In the Jeep crowd they are referred to as YJ's. As in the Cherokee I would avoid anything but the 4.2L and 4.0L inline 6 engines. Wranglers are capable of turning incredibly high mileage when they are taken care of.
4. Suzuki Samurai
Many people don't care for these tiny rigs but I kind of like them. If you are not in a hurry to get anywhere, are not too tall, and appreciate decent fuel mileage the Samurai may be just right for you. They tend to be very basic, have kind of cheap interiors, and are severely underpowered with anything but stock sized tires. The good thing is that the aftermarket takes good care of these trucks. Some companies are also making conversion kits to install VW diesel engines in Samurai's, giving them instant credibility.
5. Toyota Pickup
The basic 4x4 Toyota pickup is one of my all time favorite vehicles. Every year and every drivetrain option is excellent. the main weak point on these is that the beds tend to disintegrate from rust in most climates. I routiniley find these with over 300k miles or more on the clock. Modifications are easy and aftermarket support is plentiful.
6. Chevrolet S-10
While the S-10 is not my favorite vehicle, I am gaining some respect for it. When equipped with the awesome GM 4.3 liter V6, it is a great vehicle. It was available as a pickup, 2 door and 4 door blazer. First generation models can be had very cheap, and second generation models are getting cheaper every year.
7. Ford F150
The Ford F-150 is a very good truck. The Ford truck has been the top selling truck in the U.S. for many many years. They are very common in many configurations. I don't care for the IFS front suspension. But these trucks just keep going and going. They are extremely common and the availability of plentiful junk yard parts is a huge plus.
8. Chevrolet K1500
The Chevrolets and GMCs are my personal favorite domestic 1/2 ton truck. I prefer GM drivetrains to the Fords and Dodges. These trucks have a better ride than the Fords or Dodges as well. Prices tend to be slightly higher than the other half tons. I like the early 2000s models with a small block V8 and a manual transmission. I have a mid 90's 1500 in the fleet at work with well over 300k miles and it is still in great shape.
9. Nissan Pathfinder
The Nissan Pathfinder sold in the U.S. in large quantities in the early to mid 90's, and is plentiful today. It is an ok alternative to a 4 Runner (see below), but the interior and the drivetrain aren't of the same quality in my opinion. Aftermarket support is not very good, so many mods will have to be custom. These can be found for around $1,000 in daily drivable condition.
10. Toyota 4 Runner
The Toyota 4 runner is a great vehicle and they tend to hold their value really well. They are commonly found with well above 300k miles. The first generation models had a removable top on the back half. Newer models generally 4 door hardtops with a very few 2 doors thrown in. Rust can be an issue on these vehicles so check it out really good before you buy.
11. Land Rover Discovery
Many people have bad impressions about Land Rovers due to Lucas electricals and the high cost of parts. I owned one of these trucks for a couple of years and I really liked it. If I could have owned a second vehicle at the time I would have kept it. It was definitely high maintenance, but I liked how capable it was off road. The solid axles, coil springs, four wheel disk brakes, V8 engine and seating were seven were very nice. I think the interior was more comfortable than a comparable Toyota FJ80, it was also faster. The prices of these has been steadily falling for a few years now. I routinely see them with mechanical problems for $1000 or so. I would definitely buy another one if the situation was right.
12. Dodge Ram 150 / 1500
The Dodge half ton has proven to be a good reliable truck, along with Chevy and Ford. As with most of the domestic full size trucks, parts availability and aftermarket support are good. It is uncommon to find anything but a V8 in one of these. Manual transmissions are fairly common.