Unlike a lot of those seeking your sage advice, I’m not going to ask you whether or not I should buy a different car. I know I am buying a different car. My mind is made up, so don’t take any of my words as a question about soldiering on with what I have. My summer car is a mint, nicely upgraded 1994 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 (full Spohn/Strano suspension, hopped up LT1, Corvette brakes, etc) with 60K miles and it is not going anywhere. What I need is a new winter/utility vehicle…
Since my wife and I got married 5 years ago, I have been facing Minnesota winters with a series of beater trucks. I started with a 2001 Dodge Ram 1500 with nearly 300K miles. Enough said about that! I moved on to a GMC Sierra with over 170K. It was a great truck, but rust holes in the bed and the “deferred maintenance” sins of the previous owner eventually claimed that one too. I now have a 2001 Jeep Cherokee with about 140K. It’s a cool little truck with 2 doors, a 3 inch lift, and big tires, but it’s hit that point where nickel and dime maintenance and the persistent force of oxidation will start to suck me dry. I recently invested about a thousand bucks fixing the rusty rocker panel and driver’s floor pan, so it’s a good time for it to move on to a new home.
My wife and I are both gainfully employed professionals in our early 30’s with a healthy bank balance, no debt except our house, and exceptional credit scores. We own a small house on a small lot in the city, have a pair of dumb dogs, and do not yet have children. My wife feels that it’s time I put the beaters behind me and buy “a nice truck or SUV that we can drive and not spend a ton maintaining for at least 5 years”. I agree with her on most of that statement – I am tired of whipping rusty, dirty cars wondering what will be the next thing to break. I would like a real 4×4 vehicle that can 1) take me to work through the sometimes brutal winter weather, 2) take me down muddy, rutted farm tracks and 4-wheeler trails to hunt deer and pheasant on the family land in central MN, 3) haul dumb, dirty hunting dogs, stuff from Menards, and pull a small utility trailer, 4) have reasonably nice creature comforts, and 5) be of reasonable size to fit in the garage next to my wife’s Volvo S80.
I’m looking at used trucks in the $15-20K range with 50-80K miles or less. So far I have looked at a couple WK-era Jeep Grand Cherokees, a JK Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, a Chevy Trailblazer SS, a Nissan X-Terra, and a Land Rover LR3 V8. God help me, I loved the Land Rover. What a sweet, sweet truck! The 4 wheel drive system and air suspension are amazing! It has a huge, flat load floor when you flip the seats down! The driving position feels so right and everything is draped in leather! It looks so cool and tough! But then this voice in the back of my head says “you are considering a British truck, with lots of sophisticated electronics…you must be on ‘shrooms.” I have been reading the message boards and reliability reports, and from what I’ve seen the LR3 looks fairly average as cars go, and definitely better than the old Discoveries. I still can’t shake the feeling that I’m crazy for looking at and falling in love with these trucks.
So what do you say? Is buying a used Land Rover financial suicide? Do these trucks still have a bad reputation, or are they better now than they used to be? Is there anything else I should be considering? Keep in mind that we have a local Land Rover dealer, and I will be soliciting a PPI on anything I get close to buying.
You want me to justify LR3 ownership? You obviously haven’t met my friends (all 6 of them) who know I care more about their wallet than I for their automotive spiritual wants and desires. Combined with what I’ve seen in modern Land Rover ownership and a quick look at Mr. Karesh’s TrueDelta data, it proves my point: NO FUN FOR YOU.
For peeps in your situation, it’s all about the Money, Honey.
You obviously shouldn’t spend your money here, unless I missed the part where you said “short term lease.” Parts are expensive. Labor will be expensive. Electrics shall get wonky. It’s just not a good idea for someone in your position.
I admire you mentioning a PPI (pre-purchase inspection) as I recommend that for almost anyone looking at a used vehicle. But that so won’t cut it here. Every electro-mechanical bit on the PPI should have an asterisk at the end, mentioning this inspection point could be wrong several months from now. Or several weeks.
Even though I hate the Trailblazer’s interior, I like the idea of owning one of those with a hot F-body partner to go with. Or maybe the SAAB version. Yeah, get the SAAB, that might put your Land Rover lust at bay. Or come close enough.
Send your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.