The Best Affordable Used 4x4s: 12 Models Compared

Updated on March 10, 2020
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The author knows a lot about cars and motorcycles, especially older and more affordable ones.

If you're looking for an affordable used 4x4, consider these 12 vehicles. Each has something different to offer.
If you're looking for an affordable used 4x4, consider these 12 vehicles. Each has something different to offer. | Source

Many people would like a 4x4 vehicle, whether it is out of necessity or strictly for fun. Here is a list of 4x4 vehicles that can be found fairly cheap on the used car market in the U.S. They range from fairly small to very large and from Spartan to rather luxurious, so there should be something here for almost everyone.

The Top 12 4WD Vehicles to Buy Used

  1. Jeep Cherokee XJ
  2. Toyota Land Cruiser FJ60
  3. Jeep Wrangler YJ
  4. Suzuki Samurai
  5. Toyota Pickup
  6. Chevrolet S-10
  7. Ford F-150
  8. Chevrolet K1500
  9. Nissan Pathfinder
  10. Toyota 4Runner
  11. Land Rover Discovery
  12. Dodge Ram 150/1500

Jeep Cherokee XJs have solid axles and good coil springs.
Jeep Cherokee XJs have solid axles and good coil springs.

1. Jeep Cherokee XJ

The body style of Cherokee we are talking about here is referred to as XJ in the Jeep community. These are great vehicles for the most part with a few exceptions. I would avoid any that don't have the inline six-cylinder engine. These particular engines are known for their reliability and longevity, while others don't have the same reputation. Two-door and four-door models are available. These trucks can be found dirt-cheap; I looked at one last week that seemed okay, and the owner was only asking $800. Their coil springs and solid axles make them good off-road vehicles.

What Toyota Land cruiser FJ60s lack in gas mileage, they make up for in durability.
What Toyota Land cruiser FJ60s lack in gas mileage, they make up for in durability.

2. Toyota Land Cruiser FJ60

This generation of Land Cruiser is world-renowned for its durability. Toyota's inline six-cylinder engine is nearly bulletproof, as is the rest of the drivetrain. Automatic transmissions weren't offered until the FJ62 generation. Parts are fairly common for these rigs, and the entrance price is reasonable, 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 produced from 1980–1987. Fuel mileage is the weak point on these rigs.

Jeep Wrangler YJs are finally starting to become more affordable in the used vehicle market.
Jeep Wrangler YJs are finally starting to become more affordable in the used vehicle market. | Source

3. Jeep Wrangler YJ

The first generation of this truck is starting to slip into the realm of cheap 4x4s. These trucks are really capable off-road and have the added bonus of the soft top. There are obscene amounts of accessories on the market for these Jeeps, so they can be customized easily. In the Jeep crowd, they are referred to as YJs. As with the Cherokee, I would avoid anything but the 4.2L and 4.0L inline six-cylinder engines. Wranglers are capable of turning incredibly high mileage when they are taken care of.

Suzuki Samurais are smaller than most of the other vehicles on this list but tend to get better gas mileage.
Suzuki Samurais are smaller than most of the other vehicles on this list but tend to get better gas mileage.

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 and have kind of cheap interiors. They 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 for installing VW diesel engines in Samurais, giving them instant credibility.

Toyota pickups consistently deliver both quality and longevity.
Toyota pickups consistently deliver both quality and longevity.

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 routinely find these with 300k miles or more on the clock. Modifications are easy and aftermarket support is plentiful.

Chevy S-10s come in pickup, two-door, and four-door models.
Chevy S-10s come in pickup, two-door, and four-door models.

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 engine, it is a great vehicle. Pickup, two-door, and four-door blazer models are available. First-generation models can be had very cheap, and second-generation models are getting cheaper every year.

Ford F-150s are have been popular for so long that it's relatively easy to find replacement parts at salvage yards.
Ford F-150s are have been popular for so long that it's relatively easy to find replacement parts at salvage yards.

7. Ford F-150

The Ford F-150 is a very good vehicle and has been the top-selling truck in the U.S. for many years. They are very common and come in many configurations. I don't care for the IFS front suspension. These trucks just keep going and going. They are extremely common, and the widespread availability of junkyard parts is a huge plus.

If you're looking for a half-ton truck, the Chevrolet K1500 (or GMC equivalent) is a great option.
If you're looking for a half-ton truck, the Chevrolet K1500 (or GMC equivalent) is a great option.

8. Chevrolet K1500

The Chevrolets and GMCs are my personal favorite domestic half-ton trucks. I prefer GM drivetrains to Fords and Dodges. These trucks have a better ride than the Fords or Dodges as well, but prices tend to be slightly higher. I like the early 2000s models with small-block V8 engines and manual transmissions. I have a mid-90s 1500 in the fleet at work with well over 300k miles, and it's still in great shape.

Nissan Pathfinders tend to be relatively affordable, but it can be difficult to find support for any aftermarket modifications.
Nissan Pathfinders tend to be relatively affordable, but it can be difficult to find support for any aftermarket modifications.

9. Nissan Pathfinder

The Nissan Pathfinder sold in the U.S. in large quantities in the early to mid-90s and is plentiful on the pre-owned market today. It is a decent alternative to a 4Runner (see below), but the interior and the drivetrain aren't of the same quality in my opinion. Aftermarket support is not very good, so some modifications will have to be custom. These can usually be found for around $1,000 in daily drivable condition.

Toyota 4Runners are long-lasting and reliable, but they tend to rust relatively easily.
Toyota 4Runners are long-lasting and reliable, but they tend to rust relatively easily.

10. Toyota 4Runner

Toyota 4Runners are great vehicles, 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 are generally four-door hardtops, although two-door models do exist. Rust can be an issue on these vehicles, so check thoroughly before purchasing one.

Land Rovers can be high-maintenance, but they have excellent brakes, axles, engines, and interiors.
Land Rovers can be high-maintenance, but they have excellent brakes, axles, engines, and interiors.

11. Land Rover Discovery

Many people have bad impressions about Land Rovers due to their Lucas brand electrical components 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 axle, coil springs, four-wheel disk brakes, V8 engine, and seating capacity were very nice. I think the interior was more comfortable than a comparable Toyota FJ80. it was also faster than a Toyota. Used Land Rover prices have been falling steadily 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.

Dodge Ram half-tons are reliable and replacement parts are fairly easy to find.
Dodge Ram half-tons are reliable and replacement parts are fairly easy to find. | Source

12. Dodge Ram 150/1500

The Dodge half-ton has proven to be a good, reliable truck, much like the Chevy and Ford offerings. As with most 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.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Comments

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    • profile image

      Apeelinggreen 

      3 months ago

      I ran a 90 Bronco for 17 years it had the 5.0 ,lift,and lockers I ran some very tough trails and when I hit the street it was as straight a driver that it was beforehand. Nowadays I’ve got a 2000 Jeep Cherokee Xj 4.0 Once again it’s modified. It wheels fantastic but it’s a nightmare keeping it mechanically correct. Check engine light is always on for one reason or another. I’d take the Bronco as Best all round.

    • profile image

      Sam 

      9 months ago

      You couldnt find a land cruiser for under 5k that even runs lol let alo in great condition... come on man due some more research

    • profile image

      doug horrigan 

      13 months ago

      Hi,

      First, I just wanted to send you an email but your captcha system was impossible to get through, I nearly gave up and went elsewhere.

      My wife and I are thinking about buying a 4x4 in the usa then shipping it to columbia for a trip around south america, your list of vehicles seems quite impressive - we're looking for something that must be reliable but spare parts readily available if anything goes wrong, plus good mpg.

      The Ford F150 looks pretty good, as does the cherokee.

      We're having difficulty finding used cars for sale though, we've tried autotrader but they don't seem to have 4x4 for some reason and car lots don't seem very heelpful either.

      Top price we want to pay is about $5000.

      Any ideas?

      Regards, Doug

    • profile image

      Elmer 

      14 months ago

      Yah, what VW power plant fit to the samurai? I would ppreciatemuch for ur answer.

    • profile image

      Kikapo 

      15 months ago

      No 87 jeep comche

    • profile image

      Travis Murphy 

      15 months ago

      Dude

      Please tell me where I can find an FJ60 between three and four grand!! I will be eternally grateful

    • profile image

      Dan 

      16 months ago

      91-01 Explorers? 3 different engines 4.0 OHV, 4.0 SOHC, 5.0 Windsor. Got the 4r70w behind the V8. Cheap as hell. What's not to love?

    • profile image

      Garrett 

      16 months ago

      No Isuzus? Y'all are crazy

    • profile image

      Joe 

      16 months ago

      No Bronco? No Ranger? And a discovery made the list, oy..

    • Aladdins Cave profile image

      Aladdins Cave 

      5 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      Hi Travis,

      something went wrong with Hub layout

      Range Rover is underneath this comment section :(

      Not to worry

      Great info, I want to come over to the States sometime this year,

      and wanted to buy something, instead of renting. So you gave some idea's

      Thanks, and I gave you thumbs up as well

      Cheers from DOWNUNDER

    • profile image

      Chi 

      5 years ago

      My jeep be going 250000 miles and stilll satisfys the urge to take a huge crosby in someone s backyard

    • gymnastevan profile image

      gymnastevan 

      8 years ago

      Toyota pickups are amazing, I had an 88 that could go anywhere offroad, and was very durable. I have a 99 dodge 1500 now and I also like it very much and so far have only taken it on the beach, but it does great.

    • cyberjeepkate profile image

      cyberjeepkate 

      9 years ago from Ft. Lauderdale, FL

      Nice captured info. Thank you for the pics they're great. Go Jeeps!

      Amazing Selection of Quality Suspension Lift Kits and Body Lift Kits at Morris 4x4 Center

      http://www.jeep4x4center.com/jeep-lift-kits/index....

    • profile image

      jim 

      9 years ago

      really? no bronco?

    • walkin profile image

      walkin 

      10 years ago from India

      I like the Toyota Land Cruiser !!!

    • profile image

      Baby Crib Bedding 

      10 years ago

      I love my Jeep Cherokee, its still rock solid with almost 200k on it. I love to have a Toyota Pickup but there almost impossible to find used in my area.

      Thanks for the Hub.

    • GAWjr profile image

      GAWjr 

      10 years ago from Denver, CO

      What kind of VW Diesel motor would fit best in a Samurai ? It would probably get a lot more torque, and you might be able to run on veggie fuel.

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