Anyone who at least once has tried to buy used 4×4 jeep, also called off road jeep, will admit that it was indeed very exhausting and enduring process, despite of the fact that the offer is wide enough. Those who don’t have their own 4×4 jeep yet, but want to participate in off road adventures and buy an off road vehicle, are about to experience this exciting procedure! To ease this process at least a little, we will analyze here the offer of the available used off road jeeps and try to answer to the eternal question – “which is better?”
How to choose 4×4 jeep for off road adventures?
To understand in which direction to look, everyone should answer himself to few questions about his “perfect 4×4 jeep”. In other words – to determine what are the criterions of choice.
1. Price. It usually is one of the most important matters when you are about to buy something, including a 4×4 jeep for off road adventures!
2. Use. Where are you going to drive with your 4×4 jeep, what roads are you going to take and how often? Whether those are going to be activities connected with your work or you are going to participate in off road adventures and expeditions? How much space do you need in your 4×4 off road jeep? Is it going to be the only vehicle or the second or third in your car park? The right choice will help you to achieve your goals faster and easier.
3. Reliability. It is very important to accomplish everything you have planned in time and reach the target. And the reliability is even more important, if you need to cover bigger distances or go on off road adventures.
4. Fuel consumption. Important as always – off road adventures are not exception!
5. Engine power and type of gear box. Of course people can get used to anything, but the pleasure is bigger if you drive a 4×4 off road jeep you like! And if you plan to participate in many off road adventures, it is better to choose the manual transmission.
6. Equipment and level of comfort. It is nice to feel good inside your 4×4 off road jeep, no matter what the road conditions are and how often you participate in off road adventures!
7. Availability of spare parts. It is logical that it is easier and cheaper to buy new or used spare parts for the most popular models.
8. Personnel and subjective reasons to love specific type or model. If such reasons exist, all rational considerations are pushed aside!
Our friend – common sense – tells us that it would be wiser to start with the second point of the list – what am I going to do with my 4×4 jeep? Then go back to the first, continue with the third and all other points.
Every 4×4 off road jeep has its own mission
Here we are going to identify the most popular ways of use of off road jeeps and will look at the offer of used and not very expensive off road jeeps. Not talking about the “City. Highway. Asphalt.” We’ll start with the following:
If you have to cover long distances every day on roads of different covering and on country roads:
– that could be a car for a person who is working in the countryside or lives far from the city. In this case most likely we are not talking about off road adventures, but all-wheel drive capability could be useful in winter and also in spring or autumn. The car should be reliable, comfortable and economic. If there are no passengers, the model with short wheelbase (3 doors) would be more economic. But with long wheelbase you would feel less the undulations – car wouldn’t “bounce” so much. The most reliable but also most expensive choice would be Toyota Land Cruiser 90 or 120 series.
Another good choice is Mitsubishi Pajero or Mitsubishi Pajero Sport – it has better steerability, but the running gear’s lifetime is short and the fuel consumption is high. You can also choose Opel Frontera or Monterey, Jeep Grand Cherokee or Land Rover Discovery of the third generation or younger. A good alternative could also be the powerful korean Hyundai Terracan, though its production has been ceased. You can also pick some “parquet jeep” for your everyday tours on country roads, but there are no reliable data on the endurance of running gear that would be constantly subjected to the bumpy Latvian roads.
For short everyday journeys on roads of different covering and on country roads:
– in this case it could be either work in the specific region or everyday journeys from home to store in countryside. If you use your 4×4 jeep mostly for these purposes, it wouldn’t be wise to use it during the off road adventures. In this case the reliability and comfort as well as fuel economy could have less importance than in cases you need to drive 100 or more kilometers per day. For such short journeys you can also choose the models mentioned above, but here the vehicle could be older or could have run more.
It is worth to look at some American productions or some rarer off road jeeps from Daihatsu, Ford, Nissan, Suzuki. A friend of mine after a long search just bought 4×4 Range Rover 1998 model. This jeep looks impressive and drives well, but you must have very strong nerves – just to be able to pay no attention to all the blinking lights on the gauge-board and other “phenomenons” connected with electricity. Some small disorders are a common thing for older Land Rovers.
For long journeys on the roads of different covering; off road driving; away from civilization:
– now we are talking about off road adventures and expeditions. Maybe sometimes some fishermen or hunters have a necessity for such use of the 4×4 off road jeep. In this case you need a big and reliable vehicle that is good enough on the road and also off road.
Check out on the internet or in the magazines what the choices of globe-trotters are when they go on their round-the-world tours and off road adventures – and you’ll get the picture! Mostly they drive Toyota Land Cruiser 70, 80 or 100 series, Nissan Patrol, Land Rover Defender.
Nissan Patrol and Toyota Land Cruiser are almost the only off road jeeps that can be found and bought with the original mechanical winch – which is a very important thing during off road adventures! I am not a big fan of mechanical winches, but if this “extra” is provided in the construction – it gives sense of safety during off road adventures without additional expenses.
For rare, short journeys on the roads of different covering; off road driving; away from civilization:
– this is more the case of fishermen, hunters or forest or agricultural laborers. Also could sometimes be useful for some rare off road adventures. Here neither the comfort nor fuel economy has any importance. And nobody would care for the looks of the vehicle or existence of roadworthiness test, if you drive on the “right” roads.
Important is to get to the right place in the right time and the ability to transport goods or people. In this case you need 4×4 off road jeep with good passability. Any of the old off road jeeps will do in this case. And the simpler it is and higher its frame is the better. But you must pay attention to the condition of the frame – how rusty it is. The best choices: UAZ, Land Rover Defender, Toyota Land Cruiser 70 series, first and second generation Mitsubishi Pajero, Nissan Patrol.
For accomplishment of specific works – trailer towing, cargo transportation, etc.:
– in this case the character of each labor must be taken into consideration. For trailer towing it is important to have powerful motor but in case of cargo transportations – space that is big enough. Significant section in the range of the off road jeeps is pickup trucks – but that’s another story.
What you must know when you buy 4×4 jeep for off road adventures?
As you have understood from the above mentioned there is no such thing as the best 4×4 off road jeep. There are those who suit better for each person and for each specific occasion, whether it is connected with your work on the countryside or you just want to participate in off road adventures. But there are some not very good news that refers to absolutely everyone.
The first: if the 4×4 jeep is in good condition, no one would sell it, but would continue to drive himself. If it is on sale, then probably it has some technical problems. If you know where exactly the problem is, you just have to find out the costs and then evaluate if it is worth to buy such vehicle.
And the second – that results from the first – there are many offers in the market, but there are very few good vehicles for a good and reasonable price. That is why the purchase of the 4×4 jeep is a long and exhausting process!
Furthermore – if you see that the owner has been careless to the exterior of his 4×4 jeep (the body is scratched and you can see it’s been hit, it is dirty and “worn-out” inside), you can be almost sure that the same attitude he had towards engine and running gear. For that reason it’s better to avoid buying such vehicle.
Whether we like it or not, if we drive continuously in off road conditions and participate in many of road adventures, not only the running gear wears out faster, but also the vehicle in general. And different rear defects show up with time – cracks in the body, problems with electronics and others. From such purchases you should also avoid.
Some more advices: when you buy your 4×4 off road jeep, pay attention to the things that could ask some immediate investments, like, if the tires are worn-out you must consider the purchase of new ones. Then of course check whether the window glasses or lumps aren’t cracked. Also the lack of CD player would require additional expenses.
When talking about the technical condition of the vehicle it is of course better to consult with the professional, especially if you buy your first 4×4 jeep, because it is not the same as buying the city car. If you already have experience with off road jeeps, you can count on your own judgment about the vehicle.
Of course after you have had a test drive – on different roads, trying different gears and the capability of all-wheel drive. Don’t forget to check the engine, the running gear and the body – how rusty the vehicle is. Also pay attention to the clutch, gear box and to thousands of other important details.
Usually when somebody asks my advice about the purchase and the choice of the best 4×4 off road jeep, I give a simple answer – the one who has run less! The year of production has little importance – what does matter is the condition of the vehicle. If it is good, you’ll be able to drive safely and with no worries for a longer period!