New or Used: When Automotive Wanderlust Strikes…

Sajeev Mehta and Steve Lang
by Sajeev Mehta and Steve Lang
new or used when automotive wanderlust strikes

JD writes:

Dear TTAC,

I realize opinions are like…elbows. But right now I am looking for a hit to the ribs.

I am moving to Northern California, and intend to live up in the hills around Skyline Blvd. / Highway 280.

I am debt free on a 2006 Mitsubishi Montero Limited. It is such a fantastic sleeper of an SUV; as rugged as I need for weekend camping, rock climbing and/or surfing excursions, and also cleans up well for mid-week business meetings (I work from home, so only need to drive to the office or customer site a couple days per week).

The Monty is in great condition, with 75K miles on the odometer, and still worth approx. $15-20K. It is safe for my wife, infant, and possibly future brood. The Monty is a gorgeous ”carbon grey metallic” color, without the cheesy spoiler option. It’s a stellar SUV in the classic sense.

That stated, I have the itch to sell the Monty and use that cash to buy a slightly ”lesser” vehicle (in terms of value), as well as an enduro-type motorcycle; perhaps a used BMW F 800 GS.

What do you think about pairing the motorcycle with a clean-yet-older SUV such as a 2004 Land Rover Discovery, 1987 Landcruiser, etc. What is the short list of vehicles I could pull off as reputable and upwardly mobile at the office or customer site, yet fully functional in the mountains? I suppose reliability and mpg’s are the major concerns.

Some sporty AWD wagon could single-handedly check all the right boxes in terms of business, mountains, and twisties. However I have always wanted an enduro bike. Plus it seems any decent AWD sportwagon blows my existing $15-20K budget. Too bad.

It just seems that older (classic) SUV’s are so affordable now. Are they really that big of a stigma? Are gas prices truly going to spike? Buying a $6K Trooper or Landcruiser seems to make more environmental and fiscal sense than a $55K Land Rover LR4, etc.

Maybe I am crazy, and should simply keep the Montero. That rig is brilliant.

Our other vehicle (my wife’s car) is a manual, 2002 VW Jetta wagon. Thanks in advance. I am a big fan of your site!



Steve Answers:

You’re welcome JD. This is my heartfelt advice.

Don’t spend money. Don’t buy anything.

You already have a vehicle that is well loved and well kept. What’s to say that a 25 year old Toyota or an 8 year old Range Rover would represent a better long-term deal?

An older Landcruiser is usually better off with a hardcore enthusiast, while the Land Rover is probably better suited as a potted plant sculpture. Seriously, these cars are to the expense account what a pissed off ex-spouse is to polite light-hearted conversation.

You can opt for a lot of other vehicles. But none of them in this day of lean supplies and high prices will offer you a better long-term return than keeping a ‘keeper’ that you like. The Monty already suits your purpose, and you already have a Jetta for the gas sipping and stick shifting side of things. So why bother?

I would buy nothing. Take a vacation if you like. Heck, go to Greece and take good notes. Life is short and your clients probably care more about your breath than they do your daily driver.

Sajeev answers:

I know automotive wanderlust hits people at nearly any time and place, but you gotta be kidding me. You might be one of the most passionate lovers of Monteros I know, and you have a neat little Jetta for scooting around with a little more pace.

I’d be more concerned about replacing the Jetta, depending on which motor, overall condition, maintenance records, etc.

When wanderlust strikes again, find a replacement for the Jetta. I recommend a Mercury Marauder, but that’s just me typing out loud.

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3 of 7 comments
  • David C. Holzman David C. Holzman on Apr 02, 2012

    You on a m'cycle are not going to be safe for your infant or your wife. Transplant surgeons refer to motorcycles as "donorcycles," because that's where they often get their best transplant organs.

    • Aristurtle Aristurtle on Apr 02, 2012

      By wearing proper protective gear and not riding like an idiot, the odds are not nearly as bad as you suggest.

  • DenverInfidel DenverInfidel on Apr 03, 2012

    As someone else suggested, keep the Monty (those are really great trucks) and buy a good used KLR (another great Japanese vehicle). Much less time, money and hassle and you still basically end up with what you want (other than a bmw).

  • Sam Who do I sue when the car doesn't do what I want it to and that action of the car being autonomous caused the crash?
  • Norman Stansfield Automatic braking systems reward bad behavior. Stop incentivizing lousy driving behavior.
  • Kwik_Shift It was an annoying feature on my 2018 Nissan Sentra SV. Bugs, leaves and snow would disable it. Should have been a better design .
  • Master Baiter A regulator's job is never done, so yeah, bring on the next level of regulations.
  • DedBull The automatic braking system in my wife's 2019 Tiguan is easily defeated by the slightest amount of solid precipitation, which is not uncommon here in western Pennsylvania. Fortunately we have regular speed-holding cruise control, because the active cruise control uses the same sensor and becomes inactive in the same conditions. It was infuriating in our loaner. I've had a few false-positives over the years, plus a couple where it didn't like my rate of deceleration. Interestingly it did not intervene at all when I had a deer strike a couple years ago. I don't mind the application of the tech, but I think they are setting a pretty high bar going forward. I'm also cautious of over-reliance on tech in vehicles.