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    Thread: Capable SUV for under $2,000?

    1. 12-23-2009 11:35 PM #1
      Once more I roll the idea of getting a winter beater, something capable and with AWD. Audi is off the list, to vain, to troublesome and only half the battle.

      SUV seems to be the ticket. Large, AWD, tow capacity, rugged and enclosed storage with seating for +4. Quad-Door pick-ups are rare and expensive, but I'm certainly open.

      Must be able to run AWD in dry highway driving, I've noticed a lot of AWD system can only be used off-road or in wet traction. Some off road ability is a necessity.

      Things I've considered.

      4Runner... quite a few for sale locally in that price range, however, 5 of the 7 I've found have blown head gaskets AND rust issues... Toyota dependability indeed. Also, I thought the score of "1" on the crash rating was a joke, but Wiki also references the horrific lack of safety and structure to the body of the vehicle, a few head on collision pictures latter and the venerable SR5 is now off my list, they look great, but lack the power, economy and safety of the 4.0 Cherokee.

      Cherokee... TCL champ. Obvious choice, however, I've yet to personally see a ~2k example that was not a rusted, beat up, off-roaded pile of steaming simian poop yet alone these fabled tales of TCL lore, $800 minty vehicles. Beyond that, on paper, they seem top notch, offering more power, economy and safety then many rivals. The question becomes, what can they tow? My goal is to be able to pull a car on a trailer.

      Land Rover - @#%K NO!

      Montero - They seem available and affordable, however, the Mitsu engine scares me and I don't know about their AWD system or tow capacity.

      Landcruiser - yeah, good luck finding one in my price range.

      Durango - I don't know much about them, but they do seem to pop up at my price point, and at least appear durable enough to suite my needs.

      Suggestions?


    2. 12-23-2009 11:37 PM #2
      You want AWD or Automatic 4x4, cheap, and decent condition then just get a Ford Explorer.
      22691
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    3. Geriatric Member Turbio!'s Avatar
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      12-23-2009 11:38 PM #3
      Quote, originally posted by Jrod511 »
      You want AWD or Automatic 4x4, cheap, and decent condition then just get a Ford Explorer.

      Seconded.

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      12-23-2009 11:43 PM #4
      If all you can spend is $2,000...I'd say you'd be far better off jsut buying a good set of winter rims and dedicated snow tires. A $2,000 SUV is gonna suck no matter what you choose.

    5. 12-23-2009 11:48 PM #5
      Quote, originally posted by StormChaser »
      If all you can spend is $2,000...I'd say you'd be far better off jsut buying a good set of winter rims and dedicated snow tires. A $2,000 SUV is gonna suck no matter what you choose.

      Have and Want, in fact i want to spend even less. I also already have snow tires on the Z. The car will be a beater, hence the engine concern (Mitsu), i don't care if window switch break, A/C fails, so forth. I figure if I get two winters out of it, and haul some of my crap around during the summer, send the beast to the scrap and life is good.


    6. 12-23-2009 11:48 PM #6
      Quote, originally posted by StormChaser »
      If all you can spend is $2,000...I'd say you'd be far better off jsut buying a good set of winter rims and dedicated snow tires. A $2,000 SUV is gonna suck no matter what you choose.

      I don't know about that; $2000 will put you into a cleaner Exploder. I'd even prefer the pushrod 4.0 over the SOHC motor for reliability reasons. $2000 is enough to get into one with Automatic 4x4 as well; and those can be locked into 4 high or low. More Cargo room than anything listed, save the Durango, you can actually see 18-20mpg highway (NEVER in a Durango). Parts are insanely cheap. Insanely. Upgrades are a trip to the junkyard away; and when cleaned up they are still decent looking trucks. Usually loaded up with nice features so no reason to choose a low option model unless the condition is superb. Nice clean 1996-1999 Explorer or a 1992 4Runner that's rusted to garbage with a bad motor. Gee....let me think.

      22691
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    7. Member kkelter's Avatar
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      12-23-2009 11:51 PM #7
      isuzu rodeo's are pretty capable and you can find them in 5 speed 4WD

    8. 12-23-2009 11:53 PM #8
      Quote, originally posted by kkelter »
      isuzu rodeo's are pretty capable and you can find them in 5 speed 4WD

      Pretty good choice as well. Not nearly as comfortable, roomy, or cheap to maintain as an Explorer; but still a good solid choice worth considering.

      22691
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      12-24-2009 01:24 AM #9
      Edit: typed out a whole response recommending a 4Runner, and then read the whole original post

      In that case, maybe 4wd S10 Blazer? Explorer? Jeep Cherokee?


      Modified by Mooosman at 9:27 PM 12-23-2009


    10. Member thechamp1122's Avatar
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      12-24-2009 01:27 AM #10

      Toys R' Us msrp: $140
      -boo for a ****ty warranty tho. but hey, what the hell are you expecting for $140? gl finding one tho


    11. Member WOT's Avatar
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      12-24-2009 01:35 AM #11
      I'd get a nice, loaded grand cherokee zj with a bad trans for like a stack or a little more and throw in a used trans. kinda like an XJ but more plush.

    12. Member blue70beetle's Avatar
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      12-24-2009 01:52 AM #12
      Quote, originally posted by WOT »
      I'd get a nice, loaded grand cherokee zj with a bad trans for like a stack or a little more and throw in a used trans. kinda like an XJ but more plush.

      But then you're still stuck with a ZJ with a known unreliable transmission. The A500 has always been crap, and the transmission in the 4.0 ZJ (42RE, is it?) is just a slightly modified A500. With the exception of the A727, transmissions have never been one of Chrysler's strengths. For that matter, there's not much that could be considered one of Chrysler's strengths.

      Having bought a nice '00 XJ just this week, in the same region as the OP, I know it's going to be tough for him to find an XJ for under two stacks, unless you either get something with close to 200k on it already, or you get a Renix, and I've never heard a good argument for getting a Renix, especially when for a little more, you can get a '91+ with the 4.0 HO.

      Good luck finding anything worth buying in that price range, though, unless you want the risk of major reliability issues. Toyota and Nissan are out for sure, if you would like it to still have either fenders or rockers. I paid just over twice that for my XJ, which was actually 20% lower than NADA book value, and it came with a 3" lift and aftermarket wheels/tires, along with the original wheels and suspension parts.

      Edit: Not sure why you're concerned about AWD on dry pavement, combined with towing capacity. The XJ is pretty noisy in 4WD, and even when 4HI is engaged, it hops like wild when you turn in a parking lot, etc., even if there's snow to allow some slippage. Edmunds lists towing capacity for mine ('00 Sport 4-door 4x4) at 2k#, although I believe a towing package was available - not sure how high this would raise the towing rating. Anything less than 5k# is useless if you're actually planning to tow a car, unless you're talking about a Beetle on a tow dolly or something like that. Then again, I wouldn't want to do a lot of heavy towing with the short wheelbase of the vehicles you're considering anyway. Are you sure you know what you're asking for?

      Regarding the Explorer and Durango, don't both carry a relatively high risk of transmission failure? I know when I considered an explorer several years ago, it took me about 37 seconds of searching the interwebz to learn that there was plenty to worry about with them, and not limited to transmissions. I know there are a ton of them out there, but there are a ton of lots of different complete crap cars out there as well.


      Modified by blue70beetle at 12:04 AM 12-24-2009


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      12-24-2009 01:58 AM #13
      Buy a $1500 Cherokee in a no salt area and use the other $500 to pick it up
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    14. Member bikerboy's Avatar
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      12-24-2009 02:07 AM #14
      Quote, originally posted by Jrod511 »
      You want AWD or Automatic 4x4, cheap, and decent condition then just get a Ford Explorer.

      Thirded.

      An Explorer would be a great choice. A '96-'01 with a 5.0 V8. We used to own a '99 XLT V8 and it went 252,000 trouble free miles by the time we sold it in August '08. It was reliable as hell, easy to fix if anything went wrong, and cheap and common parts to fix it with.

      I would have no problem buying another. I would stick with the 5.0 V8 though. Not saying the 4.0 SOHC is a bad engine, the HP figure between the two engines isn't a huge difference, but the 5.0 does have a good bit more torque which can be felt. The 4.0 SOHC and the 5.0 get virtually the same MPG, maybe 1 MPG less for the 5.0.

      My dad used to be able to squeak 21 MPG out of it on long highway trips if he kept the speeds under 65 MPH.


      Modified by bikerboy at 1:11 AM 12-24-2009


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      12-24-2009 02:11 AM #15
      Quote, originally posted by blue70beetle »

      But then you're still stuck with a ZJ with a known unreliable trans

      wait i thought those had the AW4 as well. and those are not a bad trans at all. if not, well, I'd swap one in. or maybe do an AX15 swap. that would be pimp.


    16. 12-24-2009 03:14 AM #16
      Quote, originally posted by Corbic »
      Audi is off the list, to vain, to troublesome and only half the battle.

      SUV seems to be the ticket. Large, AWD, tow capacity, rugged and enclosed storage with seating for +4.

      Some junky truck is more capable than an Audi? iLOL'ed.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPHaWwVEUT8


    17. 12-24-2009 10:20 AM #17
      Quote, originally posted by TabulaVicious »

      Some junky truck is more capable than an Audi? iLOL'ed.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPHaWwVEUT8


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      12-24-2009 10:52 AM #18
      Quote, originally posted by TabulaVicious »

      Some junky truck is more capable than an Audi? iLOL'ed.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPHaWwVEUT8

      That is quite possibly the worst excuse for a point I have ever witnesses.


    19. Geriatric Member BRealistic's Avatar
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      12-24-2009 11:04 AM #19
      If you are serious about it being roomy, 4x4, durable, but nice on the highway.. and don't need a huge towing capacity.. what about a 4x4 Mazda MPV?

      http://southbend.craigslist.or....html

      They are kind of frumpy looking, but can be found well equipped in great shape for cheap used.

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      12-24-2009 11:09 AM #20
      Cherokee is good for everything you want except for towing. Why do you want the AWD to be full time? If anything, I'd prefer RWD until I need 4WD.
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    21. 12-24-2009 11:10 AM #21
      Quote, originally posted by BRealistic »
      If you are serious about it being roomy, 4x4, durable, but nice on the highway.. and don't need a huge towing capacity.. what about a 4x4 Mazda MPV?

      http://southbend.craigslist.or....html

      They are kind of frumpy looking, but can be found well equipped in great shape for cheap used.

      I do need the tow capacity though.


    22. 12-24-2009 11:10 AM #22
      Quote, originally posted by Chmeeee »
      Cherokee is good for everything you want except for towing. Why do you want the AWD to be full time? If anything, I'd prefer RWD until I need 4WD.

      Just one less thing to worry about.


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      12-24-2009 11:13 AM #23
      Quote, originally posted by Corbic »

      I do need the tow capacity though.

      If outfitted with the tow package, they are rated 4200 lbs towing.

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      12-24-2009 11:14 AM #24
      Haven't all the capable sub-$2K SUVs been Cash-4-Clunkered?
      :gift:

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      12-24-2009 11:17 AM #25
      Put me in with the Explorer crowd.

      One question though, why "must" it be able to run in AWD on a dry highway?


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      12-24-2009 11:17 AM #26
      Quote, originally posted by Corbic »
      Cherokee... TCL champ. Obvious choice, however, I've yet to personally see a ~2k example that was not a rusted, beat up, off-roaded pile of steaming simian poop yet alone these fabled tales of TCL lore, $800 minty vehicles. Beyond that, on paper, they seem top notch, offering more power, economy and safety then many rivals. The question becomes, what can they tow? My goal is to be able to pull a car on a trailer.

      A small trailer loaded with mulch, a 16' boat... yeah.
      A car trailer? no...

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      12-24-2009 11:17 AM #27
      Quote, originally posted by DIAF »

      One question though, why "must" it be able to run in AWD on a dry highway?

      Maximize fuel consumption.

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      12-24-2009 12:00 PM #28
      Quote, originally posted by WOT »

      wait i thought those had the AW4 as well. and those are not a bad trans at all. if not, well, I'd swap one in.


      The information I have found indicates that the '93 4.0 ZJ had the AW-4, but then they went to the turd - I mean, TorqueFlite - for '93.5 with the 4.0. I don't know that there was a specific half MY ZJ; more likely it was a running change. I assume they weren't ready to go to production with the "new" transmission when they launched the ZJ, so they had to use what they already had.

      FWIW, the only ZJ that got an A727 derivative was the '98 5.9L model.


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      12-24-2009 12:13 PM #29
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    30. Member NJRoadfan's Avatar
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      12-24-2009 12:19 PM #30
      You aren't going to tow a car+carrier with a mid-size SUV. You will be around the tow limit and the short wheel base makes it interesting on the highway. Very few of these vehicles have true Full time AWD. Most of them are "on demand" 4WD systems, that is they run in 2WD until wheel slip is detected and then the transfer case kicks into 4WD mode. If you look really hard, you might find a GMT400 (1993-99) Tahoe/Yukon in your price range. The later ones have Autotrac 4WD that works as described above and have ample towing ability.
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    31. 12-24-2009 12:24 PM #31
      Quote, originally posted by NJRoadfan »
      You aren't going to tow a car+carrier with a mid-size SUV. You will be around the tow limit and the short wheel base makes it interesting on the highway. Very few of these vehicles have true Full time AWD. Most of them are "on demand" 4WD systems, that is they run in 2WD until wheel slip is detected and then the transfer case kicks into 4WD mode. If you look really hard, you might find a GMT400 (1993-99) Tahoe/Yukon in your price range. The later ones have Autotrac 4WD that works as described above and have ample towing ability.

      Yes, I was looking at the Yukons and Expeditions as well.

      What is the predominant requirement for towing? Is it the hitch? Brakes? Engine OutPut?


    32. Member NJRoadfan's Avatar
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      12-24-2009 12:27 PM #32
      Quote, originally posted by Corbic »

      Yes, I was looking at the Yukons and Expeditions as well.

      What is the predominant requirement for towing? Is it the hitch? Brakes? Engine OutPut?

      Wheelbase, vehicle weight, and of course the engine (the last one particularly on inclines). The larger SUVs also have beefed up rear suspension to handle higher tongue weights. Where is Download_Complete these days? This is his favorite topic.

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    33. 12-24-2009 12:54 PM #33
      The XJ Cherokee really is a great choice. Their tow package gives the 4x4 4.0L automatic a 5,000 pound towing capacity. (The 5-speed is capped at 2,000 pounds.) This tow package included the Class III hitch, 3.55 gears, HD radiator, auxiliary electric fan and an auxiliary trans fluid cooler. So there is one requirement.

      Search carefully and find an XJ equipped with the upgraded Selec-Trac 4WD system (it is only available with the automatic transmission, BTW). This system gives you all four modes found in the base Command-Trac part-time 4WD system (2WD, 4HI, N, 4LO) plus it adds a full-time 4HI mode which you can use on any surface. There's another requirement. (My Cherokee back in the day had the Selec-Trac system, and I'd never buy another XJ without it.)

      Stay with a stock vehicle. Oversized tires (as found on lifted vehicles) will effectively screw with your gear ratio, lowering your towing capability.

      Other people have recommended the Exploder, and it might be a possibility. Why do I say might? IIRC, the era you are discussing offered two 4WD systems: a part-time only (which was standard with the V6 models) or a full-time 4WD with no low range (which was standard with the 5.0L V8). Since neither of those systems would meet your needs, you may need to pass on the Exploder (unless things changed long enough ago so that a vehicle in your budget received the upgrade).

      Dempsey Bowling
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    34. 12-24-2009 01:00 PM #34
      Quote, originally posted by TurboMinivan »
      The XJ Cherokee really is a great choice. Their tow package gives the 4x4 4.0L automatic a 5,000 pound towing capacity. (The 5-speed is capped at 2,000 pounds.) This tow package included the Class III hitch, 3.55 gears, HD radiator, auxiliary electric fan and an auxiliary trans fluid cooler. So there is one requirement.

      Search carefully and find an XJ equipped with the upgraded Selec-Trac 4WD system (it is only available with the automatic transmission, BTW). This system gives you all four modes found in the base Command-Trac part-time 4WD system (2WD, 4HI, N, 4LO) plus it adds a full-time 4HI mode which you can use on any surface. There's another requirement. (My Cherokee back in the day had the Selec-Trac system, and I'd never buy another XJ without it.)

      Stay with a stock vehicle. Oversized tires (as found on lifted vehicles) will effectively screw with your gear ratio, lowering your towing capability.

      Other people have recommended the Exploder, and it might be a possibility. Why do I say might? IIRC, the era you are discussing offered two 4WD systems: a part-time only (which was standard with the V6 models) or a full-time 4WD with no low range (which was standard with the 5.0L V8). Since neither of those systems would meet your needs, you may need to pass on the Exploder (unless things changed long enough ago so that a vehicle in your budget received the upgrade).

      Outstanding insight!

      The Cherokees, what year range are those trims available in? I'm all for Auto in an SUV, so that is actually a big PLUS!


    35. Member kweetech's Avatar
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      12-24-2009 01:11 PM #35
      everyone traded in their $2000 suv's a few months ago

      I vote k5, bronco, suburban...
      don't bother with any of this newer crap, esp. at your price range..they will quickly become $4000 vehicles.

      MADSPEED

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