Nicolas Hesson – Sales & Marketing Consultant | 5 Used Vehicles Perfect for Off-Roading In Squamish
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5 Used Vehicles Perfect for Off-Roading In Squamish

10 Apr 5 Used Vehicles Perfect for Off-Roading In Squamish

There is often the stigma that buying used vehicles means you are going to spend a fortune on repairs eventually, especially if you are ripping down forest service trails in Squamish. However, if you stick to a few guidelines, you’ll be able to get into the vehicle that makes sense and fits within your budget and lets you get off-road without being worried about anything breaking down on you.

Just to be clear, this is not a list of trail rated’ rock climbers, but a list of logical options for any type of adventure travel. Just remember that at the end of the day the most important thing is that you are driving a vehicle you want and love!

What makes a great used overland vehicle?

When we start looking at used vehicles the first thing we start considering is weather or not that vehicle is going to be reliable. Here are some attributes that you should be considering when buying a used vehicle:

CAPABILITY:
What are you going to be doing with your vehicle? What type of terrain will you be encountering? It is important to know what you want to DO with the vehicle in order to determine wether it is going to have the capabilities you  need to get to where you want to go safety and without ruining your vehicle.

CAPACITY:
One thing people often overlook is the towing capabilities of the vehicle they are looking at. Will you be towing anything? What is the load capacity for your vehicle and does it fit your needs?

DURABILITY:
If we are going to going off-road, we want to make sure that the vehicle can handle the terrain we will be throwing at it. Make sure you are aware of what replacement parts might cost if you end up doing any damage while trail riding.

VALUE:
Make sure you are getting a vehicle that has the options you require and nothing extra, otherwise you will be paying for that. However, keep in mind, if you can find a vehicle that has the extras you want already it will be much cheaper than doing any aftermarket additions.

 

1. Jeep Wrangler Unlimited JK (2007- Present)

The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited JK was a game-changer for Jeep as an overland vehicle. These vehicles have proven to be reliable, supremely capable and easily modifiable. More so than any other vehicle on this list, you could take a stock Jeep Rubicon Unlimited and drive nearly any road, anywhere in the world, without modification. From the Rubicon Trail to the jungles in Guatemala (I have done both with them). They are simple, robust and have considerable interior storage space. They are also available on most continents now, including South America, Australia and Africa, so service infrastructure is improving. However, the Jeep Wrangler is a bit harsh and unrefined, so driver fatigue will be higher and NVH will take its toll on longer road sections.

Pros:

  • Class-leading capability
  • Simple design and highly modifiable
  • Ready for a round-the-world, right from the factory (Rubicon trim)

 

Cons:

  • Rough and tumble nature results in more driver fatigue
  • Limited payload (about 1,000 pounds)
  • Difficult to mount roof loads

 

2. 2004 Land Rover Discovery II (2004 only)

The 2004 Land Rover Discovery is the pinnacle of refinement, performance and reliability for the NAS Discovery. Having owned a 2001 and now owning a 1995, I have a half-decade of driving time in these trucks and I absolutely love them, but am cautious about recommending them as an overland vehicle. The reason for this is simple: when they work, they are an absolute joy, but the problem is, they don’t work often enough. The only vehicles to fail on me in the field have been my Discovery(s). So, given that, the visibility is wonderful, the driving position superb, the trail performance in stock form near the top of its class. It has excellent payload and a thoughtful layout. It also has a 4.6L motor and a locking center differential. If you love them and still want to buy one, its ok – I understand.

Pros:

  • Classic adventure style and feel
  • Excellent payload
  • Excellent visibility

 

Cons: 

  • Worst reliability in its class
  • Poor fuel economy
  • Worst reliability in its class

 

3. Jeep Patriot AWD (2007-2010)

We did not include an AWD SUV on the list, but they can make a legitimate solution for RTW road travel. The Jeep Patriot has proven reliable and quite durable, and will even reward the owner with nearly 30mpg economy. They are available with a Trail Rated ‘badge’ package that includes skid plates, locking center differential, lower gearing, larger tires and more agressive traction control. They are surprisingly comfortable and fun to drive and a great overall value.

Pros:

  • Surprisingly capable for an AWD cross-over
  • Attractive appearance with simple lines and good visibility
  • Good fuel economy

 

Cons:

  • Struggles on steep climbs due to lack of low range
  • Limited payload

 

 

4. Jeep Cherokee XJ (1987 – 2001)

This is a classic of the American off-road with lots of upgrade options. And it can be had for a pittance.

Price: A buddy just purchased a stock model for $3,000 with just 125,000 miles. After adding a lift and tires, his final bill was about $6,000.

The Good: Stock Cherokees are easy to come by and easy to upgrade. A 4″ lift, installed by a good mechanic cost just under a grand. Add some good tires and other mechanical fixes, and you’ve got a great vehicle. Many used models are already lifted and ready for the trail.

The Bad: Old Cherokees take a lot of wrench time and tend to have lots of small issues that can lead to headaches — O2 sensors, dashboard lights, check engine lights and oil leaks are some common problems.

Why Cherokee: If you want a tough looking vehicle with few frills that can go darned near anywhere, the Cherokee delivers.

 

5. Toyota Land Cruiser 100 Series (Any year)

I can hear the screaming and gnashing of teeth from the FZJ80 owners (I am one), but the reality is – the 100 series is just better for vehicle-based adventure travel. It has a much better motor with 100% better performance and can even manage 1-2 mpg better fuel economy. The 4.7L doesn’t eat head gaskets or PHHs and runs ice cold (no AC shutoff in the Mojave). Sure it doesn’t have a solid axle, which limits the most extreme terrain applications, but the 80 isn’t really that good at extreme terrain anyways. The 100 series also has excellent brakes that don’t fade after a few minutes on a twisty road. The interior is refined, comfortable and quiet. Overall fit and finish is class leading, as is interior materials and durability.

On the road, the 100 series will cruise comfortably at 85 mph all day long and then shift into low-range and tackle the most challenging terrain with just a few modifications. If you install an OME HD suspension, new shocks and 295/75 R16 BFG ATs, you will go just about anywhere you want to go in fantastic comfort. These trucks have also proven to be one of the most reliable vehicles ever imported to the US and it is not uncommon to find examples with 300,000 miles that are still rattle and leak free – impressive.

Pros:

  • World-class motor
  • Exceptional build quality
  • The most reliable Land Cruiser ever imported to North America

 

Cons:

  • Big
  • Can get really, really heavy if you are not careful with modifications
  • The front end needs some strengthening, both in the differential and a-arms when overloaded or overdriven

 

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