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Discussion Starter #1
Hey Everyone, new member here. Long first post looking for advice and dissent from more experienced members.

Seems like every time I google something in my search I come up with this site so I finally pulled the trigger and joined.

My 4x4 situation is that I've had an M1009 for a couple of years and finally decided I don't have the time to build it the way I want. I love diesel and need a daily driver but in my price range and with my longer term plans the Blazer is just not going to happen. So I put it up for sale on craigslist. When it sells I'll wrap the cash into an actual driver.

I live in the D.C. area and need something that can handle the highways and some snow but also something that we can hook a pop-up camper to and head for the property in WV if something goes screwy around here. Not a full on prepper-style bug out vehicle, just something that could get us a long way on a tank of gas and be able to get from the highway onto a side road through the median should the need arise. I am REALLY not interested in a political discussion but the reality is that around here if a hurricane or other disaster ever hits us hard I want to be away from the city folk fast. I also hunt and bike so getting off the beaten track is important.

My offroad style is mostly trail creeper with a ground guide. I'm not into upside down and will look for another way if I feel I can't make it up or down. I've had the pleasure of sliding down a few hillsides and pinned myself between trees in my old Grand Cherokee before but I have always returned home on my own power. I have replaced engines and transmissions before but I don't have the facilities at the moment to do it so in the event of a crate engine I'd be at my local shop paying for the swap. Transmission, transfer case and axle swaps I can do in the driveway with time and buddy help.

Criteria - short term
- daily driver
- 12-14 mpg+
- 4x4
- leather
- decent aftermarket off road products available
- reliable engine, drive line and 4x4 system after initial shakedown and repairs
- seats 5 + 2 mutts inside
- prefer full frame to reduce trail twist but not 100% required (I've had my old ZJ twisted to the point I couldn't open the rear hatch)

Criteria - long term upgrades to make it more capable off road and allow for getting myself out of trouble
- available front and rear steel bumper upgrades (winch, swing out spare, external gas cans, etc.)
- available skid plates and frame rails
- stock suspension and frame able to handle winching myself out of a rut (not planning on heavy mud)
- available ARB air lockers

My price range is 3K or less and what I see on craigslist are listed below. I've researched each a bit but what I'm mostly looking for are glaring problems that are normal for each model, things that would put them out of the running. I intend to build this as my 'last truck' for quite a while so putting money into it to keep it rolling is not a problem if it means I'll be able to take it another 100-150k miles.

Ford Explorer (2nd gen w/5.0) least off-road capable from what I can find
Chevy Suburban (5.7 pushes the mileage requirement and bigger than what I need)
Chevy Tahoe (5.7)
Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJ (4.0 6 cyl) (Had one, loved it, still sorry I sold it but it's awful old to buy used and expect to start driving it right away)
Jeep Grand Cherokee WJ (4.7)
Dodge Durango (1st Gen 4.7, 5.2, 5.9) (no air locker avail for front diff?)

Leaning strongly for the Durango for the style, comfort and availability and WJ for the aftermarket.

So what do you think? Right track, wrong track or giddouddahere!
 

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Criteria - short term
- daily driver
- 12-14 mpg+
- 4x4
- leather
- decent aftermarket off road products available
- reliable engine, drive line and 4x4 system after initial shakedown and repairs
- seats 5 + 2 mutts inside
- prefer full frame to reduce trail twist but not 100% required (I've had my old ZJ twisted to the point I couldn't open the rear hatch)

Criteria - long term upgrades to make it more capable off road and allow for getting myself out of trouble
- available front and rear steel bumper upgrades (winch, swing out spare, external gas cans, etc.)
- available skid plates and frame rails
- stock suspension and frame able to handle winching myself out of a rut (not planning on heavy mud)
- available ARB air lockers

!

I didn't read all of that long ass post :flipoff2: :flipoff2:

But, FZJ80 should be on the radar.
 

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...what about a Ramcharger with a Cummins conversion? My 93 get's 18 mpg highway and will run any time any where in any weather. Put a Ramcharger on 36's and some lift, with a Cummins, and if it's a stick you could bump-start it (no battery), holds 5 plus some gear, lots of parts and lots of aftermarket for them.
 

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How are the frame and drive lines on the WJ's? Do they need a lot of tweaking? The little V8's seem to have a decent following.

The 4.7s are garbage unless the oil has been changed on schedule. I would be scared of one in your price range. They are expensive and not easy to remove/replace. They are unibody just like the ZJ.

80s are nice if you like underpowered and overpriced. They do have nice axles though.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
...what about a Ramcharger with a Cummins conversion? My 93 get's 18 mpg highway and will run any time any where in any weather. Put a Ramcharger on 36's and some lift, with a Cummins, and if it's a stick you could bump-start it (no battery), holds 5 plus some gear, lots of parts and lots of aftermarket for them.
If I found one in decent shape I'd jump at it but around here there isn't much. Not interested in travel outside of MD, DC, VA, WV to get it.
 

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re-reading your criteria, if you want to be able to seat 5 plus two dogs you'll likely want an older 'Burban.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
re-reading your criteria, if you want to be able to seat 5 plus two dogs you'll likely want an older 'Burban.
Advantage of the Suburban is that they are generally driven like a granny and the 5.7 is very common. They don't get hot rodded much and you could rent out the back as an efficiency apartment.

Disadvantages are it's going to suck gas big time and approach/departure angles are non existent unless its lifted.

What's the front diff and axle strength like in a 99-03 Suburban? You are definitely pulling a lot of weight.
 

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don't know, but if you want something solid I'd get an older 3/4 ton rig with a D60 front and then do like a 70 rear. Sounds like you want a bug-out vehicle - build it over strong. Heck, grab a good 'Burban and drop a Cummins in it...
 

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Discussion Starter #14
don't know, but if you want something solid I'd get an older 3/4 ton rig with a D60 front and then do like a 70 rear. Sounds like you want a bug-out vehicle - build it over strong. Heck, grab a good 'Burban and drop a Cummins in it...
That was the plan for the M1009. The problem is time. I need something that is strong 'enough' out of the gate but won't be a huge project that takes a year to complete. Needs to be drivable immediately and then get better with add-on parts, not complete drive line swaps. My philosophy on a bug out vehicle has changed to be more realistic to my money and time constraints. I'd rather have something on the road and reliable than something sitting on blocks or nothing at all.

I had a 2000 XJ in addition the old ZJ. The I6 4.0 in the 2000 cracked the head at a time where I couldn't afford to repair it so I sold it for pennies. I'm more inclined to go with a 4.7 in a 1999-2001 due to this experience. I like that you can be pretty low key and still very capable off road in a WJ plus get a better mileage/comfort proposition than a Suburban or Durango. Research indicates the WJ is also a stiffer frame.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
With that many bodies to put in there, I would have to go with the crowd saying suburban.
Yes it is a strong contender for sure. Still not sure about the size v/s quality of the front end drive components. Can anyone enlighten me?
 
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