The author knows a lot about cars and motorcycles, especially older and more affordable ones.
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
- Jeep Cherokee XJ
- Toyota Land Cruiser FJ60
- Jeep Wrangler YJ
- Suzuki Samurai
- Toyota Pickup
- Chevrolet S-10
- Ford F-150
- Chevrolet K1500
- Nissan Pathfinder
- Toyota 4Runner
- Land Rover Discovery
- Dodge Ram 150/1500
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
More on 4x4s
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.
Apeelinggreen on April 06, 2020:
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.
Sam on October 14, 2019:
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
doug horrigan on June 13, 2019:
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.
Elmer on May 09, 2019:
Yah, what VW power plant fit to the samurai? I would ppreciatemuch for ur answer.
Kikapo on April 20, 2019:
No 87 jeep comche
Travis Murphy on April 01, 2019:
Please tell me where I can find an FJ60 between three and four grand!! I will be eternally grateful
Dan on March 21, 2019:
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?
Garrett on March 11, 2019:
No Isuzus? Y'all are crazy
Joe on March 10, 2019:
No Bronco? No Ranger? And a discovery made the list, oy..
Aladdins Cave from Melbourne, Australia on June 27, 2015:
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
Chi on December 27, 2014:
My jeep be going 250000 miles and stilll satisfys the urge to take a huge crosby in someone s backyard
gymnastevan on February 24, 2012:
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 from Ft. Lauderdale, FL on May 04, 2011:
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
jim on August 23, 2010:
really? no bronco?
walkin from India on February 09, 2010:
I like the Toyota Land Cruiser !!!
Baby Crib Bedding on October 17, 2009:
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 from Denver, CO on September 20, 2009:
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.