New or Used: The Right Combination of Stupidity and Bravery

Sajeev Mehta and Steve Lang
by Sajeev Mehta and Steve Lang
new or used the right combination of stupidity and bravery
Marcus writes:My wife has requested that I get a jeep type vehicle that we can use to do some light off road driving, i.e. she wants to drive on the beach. I see this as an opportunity to buy a fun 4×4. I would like to take it off road a bit and try to get it stuck. My requirements are that it be a 4×4, cost $15000 or less and can support a winch. It does not need to be a daily driver, and manual is OK, but automatic is slightly preferred. Finally, I am not looking to buy myself a job as a mechanic.Steve answers:

“I would like to take it off road a bit and try to get it stuck.”

I’ll tell you what. For $15 you could probably have your wife wedge your head in a roll-up window. Then you could get rid of your masochistic tendencies while she enjoys a nice bottle of wine. When the urge for deep pain leaves you, just roll down the window (the right way) and join her.

So you want to get a little hopper for the beach and the rarely beaten path. It won’t be a daily driver, and chances are it will see only a few thousand miles a year.

I would opt for an older Mitsubishi Montero, Suzuki Grand Vitara, Suzuki Sidekick or Geo/Chevy Tracker.

At most you would be spending $5000. Out here in Atlanta, a reliable version of those vehicles regularly hits the $3000 to $3500 mark. Buy one of those and spend the remainder on some good gear.

Once you find yourself perfectly happy with your arrangement, please send the remainder to a good cause. Me. I promise to put the rest of your money to better use.

Sajeev answers:

Try to get it stuck? Don’t worry, its easy to get any 4×4 stuck if you have the right combination of heat-of-the-moment stupidity and bravery.

The big problem with 4x4s is their cost. Not to initially purchase, but to outfit as you see fit. Perhaps you should buy a pre-modded Wrangler, thereby letting the previous owner take the depreciation hit on both the vehicle, parts and labor needed to install all these goodies.

Then again, a rig with off-road bits is more likely to need more upkeep, unless you are sure it was owned by an urban cowboy who simply had to look cool and never got a spot of dirt under his knobby tires. And there’s plenty of that in Texas, let me tell you!

Full sizers might be better for a mixed use rig, but since you just want a toy, look at compact trucks: Chevy/Isuzu S-10, Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, Ford Ranger and the obligatory Jeep Wrangler. The SUVs based on these platforms are just peachy too, but we’d forgive you for not wanting a 2000 Ford Explorer or Chevy Blazer no matter how great the deal can be. Odds are you can get a 4×4 pickup for less than the Jeep, and the Chevy and Ford will give the best bang for the buck with cheap parts aplenty if you do, um, get yourself stuck.

Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to , and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.
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3 of 48 comments
  • Dave M. Dave M. on Feb 08, 2012

    Lots of reasonable mileage Troopers in the $7-10k range, easily. Land Cruiser? Pathfinders are tough as well.....

    • Pete Zaitcev Pete Zaitcev on Feb 08, 2012

      For LC, there's an option of getting an old Lexus-badged one. Again, I know someone who got that, and it worked great for him. It takes all LC mods, the body is not too different. However, I doubt $15k would buy one in acceptable shape.

  • Jdh Jdh on Feb 08, 2012

    My son's daily driver is an old Geo Tracker. So far we haven't had problems getting parts, if you cross-check Suzuki, but it may well become an issue in the future. Fun little car by the way. Beware the "getting it stuck" part. If you get a 4wd stuck, it is likely to be REAL stuck. Ask me how I know this.

  • TheEndlessEnigma $150k for GM build quality. $150k for GM parts and material quality. Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • Rusty The panther platform is one of the greatest vehicles platforms ever produced. This author is a moron.
  • Bullnuke It may be awhile before these show up on US shores. The MV Fremantle Highway has just started demo/reconstruction in Rotterdam after the large fire when transporting its last shipment of electric Porsche products.
  • Fie on Fiasler Big, fast and thirsty does not equal good. True luxury is not cobbled together by the UAW.
  • Inside Looking Out I see it as gladiator races - only one survives in virtual world.