Ask The Best And Brightest: Reliable V6 Utes Under $7k?

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Kelsey writes:

My boyfriend recently sold his F-150, and we’ve been looking at ’95-2000 4Runners as a replacement. He needs a V6 to tow his work trailer occasionally, and our biggest concern is reliability, then efficiency. We’re working with a $7,000 cash budget. Should we broaden our search to other makes/models?

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Dave M. Dave M. on Oct 02, 2009
    Waste is very accurate. Given how they were USED, again, their vast majority was used as stupid commuting cars or stupid minivans, they were WASTED Designs. IF the owners had an ounce of brains, they would KNOW that they could do what they wanted with a vehicle that weighed 1,000s of lbs LESS, and burned two-thirds or even HALF the fuel the stupid Explorers burned. AND for many, many years, FOrd Cheapskate planners sold NARROW Explorers that were VERY rollover-prone, to save a few measly bucks per vehicle, and only much later did they finally correct this glaring design fault. And yet Ford sold 400k+ of them a year. For every rollover of an Explorer driven by an idiot who doesn't know the vehicle's limitations, we apparently have other idiots who don't know enough to shift the floormat over from affecting the gas pedal. Meanwhile, my vote is for a 2000+ Trooper. With TOD, a V-6 pulling 215 hp and a ton of torque, plus a very comfortable seating position and great sight lines, you couldn't do better. Sure you need to add a quart of oil every 2000 miles (since new! Where the hell does it go??). Gas mileage (16) could be better. Interior plastics, while hard and cheap, are extremely durable. Mine has been highly reliable (150k+ miles), needing only a transmission (replaced early under warranty, no issues since) and regular maintenance. Climbs like a mountain goat. AND DIRT CHEAP. Orphan brand, SUV, mediocre gas mileage - you'd have a lot of your $7k left over.
  • Armadamaster Armadamaster on Oct 03, 2009

    As much as I hate SUVs, I wouldn't rule out a late 90's Tahoe. It's bigger, gets about the same gas mileage, and that 5.7 V8 & 4 speed auto are rock solid. And in the unlikely event something does break, parts are a heck of a lot cheaper than the same model year Toyota.

  • Andy D Andy D on Oct 03, 2009

    I have no problems with just about any of the SUVs discussed as its use is described occasional. Why not stick with the F 150? I maintain an 88 Grand Wagoneer as a 3rd vehicle. I dont think it has left its spot in over a month. When it is running it delivers low teens MPG. Doesnt use a drop waiting in the wings though.

  • SherbornSean SherbornSean on Oct 04, 2009

    How about a 12 y.o. Suburban for $3K, a 15 y.o. Miata for $3K, and $1K left over for repairs?