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Old 01-26-2009, 01:24 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Choosing a good starter rig

I'm new to off road driving, but not new to cars or camping. I am looking to build a midsize SUV as a sort of winter driver/summer expedition vehicle. I live in Green Bay, WI where we have had something like 60" of snow this year, and it seems that every year the cold and snow wreaks havoc on my Audi or BMW. So I've decided that the BMW will get the ax and I will go back to a more durable vehicle. Last year cost me a fender and mirror, wheel, and alignment. This year it was a wheel and control arm. The most recent victim was a tire caused by a 3" raise in the concrete.

I would like my "truck" to be able to take the abuse of huge potholes, 5-8mph curbs, and mild off-roading. The plan isn't to build a crawler or a mudder, but something with good suspension flex and a 3-4" lift at the most. I am looking for something that i will keep long term, so think 200k-300k miles. One thing I am torn by is the interior. I have grown spoiled and would really like remote start and heated leather seats. I know, it's a truck, not a limo (but i'm soft)

I've been considering the following models: from $4,000 to $8,000.

Jeep Grand Cherokee (WJ)
-unibody construction not as durable?
+4.7L V8 gets decent MPG
+heated leather
+easy lift
+easy locker installs
-cramped engine bay
-blend door and possible t-case issues
+not as slow as my old '93 toy xtracab 4x4.

Toyota 4Runner
+full frame for mounting big bumpers, tow points, etc.
-IFS is weaker and may snap under use w/locker
-IFS lacks flex of solid axle
+decent mileage for a truck
+IFS better for highway/street use
+Toyota reliability and resale value
-no heated seats(that i am aware of)
-3.4L V6 drinks fuel like the jeep's 4.7L and makes less power
-rear spring sag (fix with suspension lift)

Land Rover Discovery SE2
+full frame truck
+V8
+off road designed
+solid axles
+heated seats
-really bad mileage (premium too)
-complicated mechanics and electronics; expensive repairs

I need some help choosing what will be most durable with my curb-hopping habits, light trail duty and last several cross country trips expedition type trips. Jeeps seem to be everywhere in that price range, the Rovers are available if you drive, and the 4Runners are rare but can be found. I've been lurking for a while but just signed up. Hope you guys don't eat me alive
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Old 01-26-2009, 01:51 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I think a WJ with a V8 would be a good choice. You can get them cheap and there are plenty of parts available to upgrade the suspension and engine. I like the fact that the seats fold down so you can sleep in it if you have to. I wouldn't worry about the subframe being weak unless you plan on rock crawling it. Maybe a roll cage or exo? And a rack on top for extra stuff
Get good bumpers, a winch, and recovery gear too.
You can find Rovers cheap but usually the cheaper ones need work and those repairs and parts aren't cheap. I'd stick with a vehicle with parts available at any auto parts store.
Just my .02
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Old 01-26-2009, 04:38 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Also, there are several 'which vehicle is best' threads here on the Expedition forum.
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Old 01-26-2009, 05:20 AM   #4 (permalink)
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In that price range, an 80 series landcruiser could be got with a little left over for extras.
They are solid axle and may have had lockers fitted at the factory.
Some have already had a few $1000 spent on aftermarket accessories
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Old 01-26-2009, 11:47 AM   #5 (permalink)
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In that price range, an 80 series landcruiser could be got with a little left over for extras.
They are solid axle and may have had lockers fitted at the factory.
Some have already had a few $1000 spent on aftermarket accessories
The LC had entered my thoughts, and while I would really like to have one, they are hard to come by in the midwest.

I've been searching on this topic for the best rig, but most of you guys are a little more hard core expo than I will be. If it comes down to it, I can sleep on the ground. Mom introduced me to winter camping at an early age so anything above -10 I am prepared to be outside.
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Old 01-26-2009, 01:20 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Well, good options have already been presented, but let me ask you some questions:

How big of a tire are you going to run?
Where are you going to take this?
How many people are going to travel with you?
How far will you be travelling? (The distance usually dictates how efficient of an engine you may want to have in your rig.)

From what your original post is asking, you could use any stock rig to handle potholes and curbs and light offroading. Just be prepared to replace tires and wheels if you hit those potholes at speed.

And if it turns out that the cushy seats aren't that important, get a Cherokee Sport. In stock trim the 4.0 engine lasts forever, along with it's transmission. They are cheap and easy to lift a few inches, and they stay reliable with a small lift and small tires (31's) for a long time.
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Old 01-26-2009, 10:13 PM   #7 (permalink)
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How about an XJ?

I just went through the same debate and ended up buying a 1997 Cherokee XJ.

Here are some reasons why:

- Good price; around here $3-5K for a 97+ with around 100K on the odometer
- The 4.0 is a great motor that will run forever if you take care of it
- AW4 and NP231J are typical and are also a great combo
- Solid axle in front is also a high-pinion for even greater strength
- Better mileage than the landcruiser and about par with the 4runner
- if you're lucky you can get a leather interior; sorry but no heated seats from what I know
- Lifts are cheap and plentiful
- Can fit up to 31" tire pretty easy (3" lift) - you said no hardcore wheeling, right? This will keep you in reasonable gas mileage range too
- Unibody is 600lbs lighter than the WJ

Of course there are some negatives...

- Dana 35 rear axle, though this is probably ok if you're running 31's with the limited slip. If you want to move up on tire size, then simply swap in an 8.25 from another XJ, a great and super cheap swap
- Inside is not as nice as the other vehicles mentioned
- Headroom for me at 6'2" is not as great
- unit bearings in front, but on smaller tire sizes they'll last a long time
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Old 01-26-2009, 10:27 PM   #8 (permalink)
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get the rover. but i'm biased.
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Old 01-27-2009, 04:22 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YuppieTrash View Post
The LC had entered my thoughts, and while I would really like to have one, they are hard to come by in the midwest.

.
I thought you might say that ,but I would still take the time to source one.
See the classifieds on IH8MUD,some nice mildly built rigs on there from time to time.
The 80 series would meet or even exceed your needs in stock form

http://forum.ih8mud.com/vehicles-trailers-sale-wanted/
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Old 01-27-2009, 10:39 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I'll second the 80 series. even in basic or stock trim they're surprisingly capapble rigs. keep up on maintenance (ike anything) and you'll see 300K + miles. my 95 is at 237K now and running strong, even after having beat on it pretty hard.
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Old 01-27-2009, 11:05 AM   #11 (permalink)
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The tire i plan to run would be between 33" and 35", depending on the vehicle, lift and how liberal i am with the sawzall. I'd like to keep the vehicle low with good flex and moderate ground clearance. I don't plan to rock crawl the rubi or mud 4' holes, more backwoods trail blazing, snow(there's a lot of that here), and long neglected fire roads. Some of those fire roads i've walked have been washed out and turned into deeply rutted, off camber and with decent sized boulders. There is a trail near here called the "pipeline" that i might try if it isn't too wet. I would drive it out west (co, ca, wa, or, mt, wy). more than likely there would only be one passenger. In the event that i add one or two more, I'm not opposed to a roof rack for additional luggage(although I pack light, and so should they.)

The rig would be for weekend fun within the state, approx 50-450 miles.
A few times a year I'd like to head out on a longer expo (4-5 days) Some of these may go as far as 2500 miles round trip. It's pretty likely that it would see a lot of duty as a fly-fishing truck in Montana. My parents are retiring there and that is a hobby we all enjoy.

the FJ80 would be a wonderful vehicle were we talking about capabilities only. I just looked at a few ads on ih8mud, and while i can afford the truck, I dont know how many trips i would be able to take getting 15mpg out of the >3ton LC.

I'm beginning to think a SAS'd 4R might be what i'm looking for.
I spent 2 years in a regular cherokee, hating almost every minute of it because of the loud, bumpy ride (on pavement) and really horrible interior. Highway driving was noisy. You can really tell where they put that extra 600 lbs in the GC.

I think the TLC is too expensive (on average) and thirsty.
The LR SEII is too thirsty and complex.
The XJ is not refined enough for me in my old age. (wow i feel old for saying that.) I guess cushy seats are important. I'll probably be driving this daily from early November to early April, maybe more if the Audi continues it's temper tantrums.
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Old 01-27-2009, 02:20 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Just a little note on ride quality:

Any rig you lift and put 35's on, will be a bit on the bumpy side.
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Old 01-27-2009, 04:36 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YuppieTrash View Post
Land Rover Discovery SE2
+full frame truck
+V8
+off road designed
+solid axles
+heated seats
-really bad mileage (premium too)
-
You forgot:
all gear transfer case with 3.15:1 low range
Full float rear axle
dual A/C
A D1 is far better than a D2 disco for your needs and this is untrue with a d1"complicated mechanics and electronics; expensive repairs".

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Old 03-18-2009, 11:27 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I second Mike on the Rover.

They are actually good trucks the 94-99 Discovery 1's 04 D2's

full floater axles
full STRONG frame
good visiblitiy
Great Flex from the Factory
the 4x4 system on them are very good
They are thirsty beasts and have some problems
but if you are good with the wrench they give very little problems

otherwise I would go with a toyota
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Old 03-19-2009, 12:29 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Rovers are ok but expensive for even minor repairs and are unreliable with high mileage.
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Old 03-20-2009, 04:59 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Look into an FJ60 Land Cruiser.

Plenty of room, bulletproof and a cult following.
You are in a buyers market these days.

I bought mine 5 years ago, sight unseen off of Ebay.
1 owner for $1700.00.

Performed a springover, locked both ends and did a few other goodies to it and it is unstoppable.

Land Cruiser hands down
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Old 03-20-2009, 08:36 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Look into an FJ60 Land Cruiser.

Plenty of room, bulletproof and a cult following.
You are in a buyers market these days.

I bought mine 5 years ago, sight unseen off of Ebay.
1 owner for $1700.00.

Performed a springover, locked both ends and did a few other goodies to it and it is unstoppable.

Land Cruiser hands down
Land Cruiser's are in a class above a Jeep or a Rover.
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Old 03-21-2009, 10:43 AM   #18 (permalink)
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I would recommend including full-size diesel pickup trucks in your search.
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Old 04-12-2009, 04:00 AM   #19 (permalink)
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I would recommend including full-size diesel pickup trucks in your search.
Yep, like he said.
Here is my new expedition rig. Cummins diesel 3/4 ton, 5pd, dana 60/80 axles,
And it really crawls in 4 lo.
It had 124k miles on it when I bought it 7 months ago, which is nothing on a cummins, and I get 22mpg.
I use to be a Toyota guy, buy not enough room, or power.
I will be doing a buildup thread, as I slowly work on this truck for my daily driver/epedition rig.
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Old 03-25-2010, 02:08 AM   #20 (permalink)
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i think u should buy a range rover with heated seats blah blah blah. wouldnt want ur ass to get cold while ur driving over potholes and curbs on the way to the mall
it just depends on what u are gonna use it for. pick a coupke rigs u like and look at the pros and cons of what u need it for. u dont need a solid axles rig if u barely use it for wheeling etc.
hmmn what about a toyota fj60?
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Old 03-26-2010, 07:28 AM   #21 (permalink)
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running 33's or bigger, I don't see how you are going to do better than 15mpg anyway.

an LC will still get 15 with the tires you want. An SAS 4runner will get about the same, and you will need decent seats if you are talking about the 86-89 body style. Personally, I think a 4runner is just too small for expo'ing for anyone over 25 or with kids. I'd stick with something big enough to sleep in.
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Old 03-26-2010, 03:24 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Intended usage
Reliability
Simplicity
Parts Availability where you'll be taking it
YOUR knowledge and comfort-ability with the vehicle you want(since, unless you will be bringing a mechanic), because, well, things DO break, no matter how reliable, and bullet proof things are. And when it happens, figure Murphy's Law....

Enjoy

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