There are nearly endless forum discussions and email chains surrounding what is ‘The very best off road adventuring vehicle’, so I compiled a whole and complicated set of alternatives and then painstakingly compared them to each other. This isn’t the ‘secure’ record of only Toyotas and Land Rovers, but a listing that reflects automobiles available to buy in the USA and used around the globe.
It’s a listing of vehicles which are actually being used to drive to the distant places of the earth. This isn’t a listing of ‘stone crawlers’, but a listing of severe exploration selections for adventure traveling. I apologize ahead of time if your favourite truck did not make the listing. Ultimately, you need to drive everything you really adore and who cares what a man like me believes; with so many 4wd accessories and vehicle enhancements out there, you can turn almost anything into an off road machine. But, if you’re at present searching for a secondhand vehicle to go down to Nicaragua in, then this is a great place to get started.
What makes a fantastic used overland automobile?
Normally, someone purchasing a used vehicle is searching for value for money, but they’re also searching for something trustworthy. There are critical features that all overland vehicles ought to have:
The ability of the car to traverse rugged, muddy, spanned axle terrain such as deep-water crossings, intense side slopes, hill climbs and descents. This is obviously just important if you would like to leave paved streets on your journeys.
The capacity to carry weight from the motor vehicle. This is quantified by payload figures. Ability, or payload, should be among the initial factors given to vehicle choice, as while you might be able to change aesthetic features like adding leather seats to a car, little could be done in order to safely enhance its payload score after purchase.
The ability of the car to journey rocky terrain, fully loaded without chassis or drivetrain collapse with years of continual use.
The ability of a car to go over long distances and complete years of service in rocky terrain with no motor, electric and service system failure because of component malfunction.
Valuation of automobile cost to material. Vehicles with high functional content such as 4wd bull bars already installed and nominal “luxury” content will result in the maximum value evaluations.
Why did I pick these vehicles?
The reality of the list is that almost everyone who reads it is going to disagree with me. That’s reasonable enough and totally understandable as most of us have our own prejudice, expectations, requirements and taste. What I could say is I have pushed and analyzed every one of these trucks and have really possessed most of them. A number of the vehicles on the listing I’ve driven on several continents and in a huge variety of conditions. Additionally, I have chosen these vehicles based on just 2-3 people in the automobile, a small equipment expectation and using a maximum used price of $30,000. If you’d like plenty of camper or space conveniences then these aren’t the vehicles for you – which is going to be a different listing. I’m also not likely to concentrate on vehicles before 1990 – even though I have so much love for my older 1977 FJ40. Newer vehicles are only better – in just about any way and I guess most will concur. You will find amazing old vehicles (the 1985 4Runner for example), however it isn’t the aim of this listing.
For every car, I’ve listed my area pf experience with the choice to offer context in my decision/evaluation points.
1: Toyota Land Cruiser 100 Series (Any year) – $10,000-30,000
I can listen to the crying and gnashing of teeth of the FZJ80 owners (I’m one), but the fact is – that the 100 series is only better for vehicle-based experience traveling. It has a far greater engine with 100% greater performance and may even handle 1-2 mpg better based on fuel economy. The 4.7L does not eat head gaskets or PHHs and runs ice cold (no AC shutoff at the Mojave). Sure it does not have a strong axle, which restricts the most intense terrain program, but the 80 is not really that great at extreme terrain anyways. The 100 series also includes excellent brakes which don’t vanish after a couple of minutes on a twisty road. The inside is elegant, quiet and comfortable. Overall fit and finish is class leading, as is inside durability and materials.
On the Street, the 100 series will fly at 85 Mph and then change into low-range and handle the hardest terrain with only a couple of alterations. If you put in an OME HD suspension, new shocks and 295/75 R16 BFG ATs, you may go just about everywhere you wish to go in excellent comfort. These trucks also have proven to be among the most Dependable vehicles ever imported into the US and it’s not uncommon to find cases with 300,000 miles which are still rattling around.
2: Jeep Wrangler Unlimited JK (2007- ) $20,000-30,000
The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited JK was a game-changer for Jeep as an overland vehicle. These vehicles have proven to be dependable, supremely competent and readily modifiable. More so than any other automobile on this listing, you can have a stock Jeep Rubicon Unlimited and push nearly any street, anywhere on the planet, without any modification. There’s also no need to add a sunroof to this car with most iterations coming with a canopy or roofless; Enter the Rubicon Trail into the jungles at Guatemala (I’ve done both together). They can be simple, powerful and also have ample interior storage area. They’re also available on many continents today, such as South America, Australia and Africa, therefore support infrastructure is advancing. On the other hand, the Jeep Wrangler is a little unkind and harsh, therefore driver exhaustion will probably be greater and NVH will take its toll on longer street segments.
3: Toyota Tacoma (2001-2008) $10,000-25,000
Both the Gen 1.5 and Gen 2 Tacomas are exceptional vehicles and almost beat the legendary Hilux in most regions but payload and diesel power plant. These trucks are easy and powerful, rewarding the experienced traveller with superior price, reliability and great on-road relaxation. They are sometimes overloaded, overdriven, mistreated, rattled and frozen with no demonstration. My 2004 Tacoma travelled out of the Arctic Ocean in -57F into the Darien Gap in Panama and everything in between. I even used it to pre-run the Baja 500 annually and never had one warranty claim.
Downsides are restricted but notable. Stock suspension is horrible and totally mismatched to the motor vehicle. Front is too soft and under-dampened and the back gets kidney dislodging axle wrap and jump. Account for an autofocus or Old Man Emu suspension in your finances, since the alteration isn’t an alternative. The very first generation Tacomas also suffered from inferior interior material quality and horizontal, unsupportive seats. The production two trucks are somewhat better in both balances. These trucks will be the real deal. A couple little alterations and you’ll be able to drive one round the planet – a couple of times.