By on December 12, 2016

2000 Jeep Cherokee

Spending pre-internet years living in a place where everything worth seeing, doing, or buying was an hour away, necessity dictated the invention of games to stave off boredom during yet another mind-numbing trip to civilization. Games of “Count the Potholes” were always popular, but the most creative was the “20-Year Game.” Here’s how to play:

Recall the year you turned 20 years of age. Not 20 yet? Go read Jalopnik. Got your year? Good. Now, choose a vehicle from that model year. Any vehicle you like — but here’s the catch: it has to last you for the another 20 years, serving you through all the minutiae of life. Keep in mind, you’ll have to maintain the thing, keep it in fuel, pay for insurance, not to mention signing the note for it in the first place.

For me, the choice is easy. In 2000, the Jeep Cherokee was still an agricultural thing, with a dead nuts reliable 4.0-liter inline-six under the hood and off-road prowess challenged only by the Wrangler and certain mountain goats. Chiseled good looks and an interior designed with a t-square made it macho and about as complicated as an anvil. If the Gunslinger character from Stephen King’s Dark Tower books had a vehicular equivalent, this’d be it. With a few essential comforts such as air conditioning and a trailer hitch, a Y2K Cherokee would show a price of about $25,000 (non-inflation adjusted) American dollars on its Monroney.

2000 Jeep Cherokee

Even fresh off the showroom floor in 2000, this thing was easy to work on and future parts availability was virtually guaranteed by dint of it being in production essentially unchanged for 16 years by the turn of the millennium. Add in space for a family plus enough macho swagger to warrant not cashing in my Man Card and the 2000 Jeep Cherokee makes my selection easy.

What’s yours? Choose wisely.

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278 Comments on “QOTD: What’s Your ’20-Year Game’ Vehicle of Choice?...”


  • avatar
    FormerFF

    1977 Dodge Tradesman van, customized with four captain’s chairs, and set up for cargo behind the second row. I’d need it to tow race cars to the track. It would work out perfectly because 1997 was the year I stopped racing.

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    That’s funny – I’m doing this in real life. I turned 20 in 1991, and I have a 1991 Miata, which is cheap to own, reliable as the day is long, and more fun than a cask of primates.

    It wouldn’t be the best choice if it were my only vehicle, but that wasn’t one of the rules. If it was, I can’t think of a better choice than your Cherokee.

    • 0 avatar
      hglaber

      Interesting. I also turned 20 in 1991, and in 2006 I bought a fairly-driveable 1991 F150 XLT Lariat (I6, 4X2). Probably would’ve made it to 2011, too, if not for those meddling politicians. But when you buy a truck for $700, use it for three years, then someone offers $4000 (or whatever the clunker deal was) even though the transmission is doing weird stuff, you take it.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      I’m doing this in real life too, turned 20 in 2002 and I have a 2003 S2000 which is identical to the 2002 model. I bought it in April 2007, which means I’m about halfway to 20 years. I plan on having it ten more years at least, and there’s basically nothing I’d rather have for that time period. It’s not my only car, so doesn’t handle all the minutiae, but doesn’t matter, I’m doing it for real.

  • avatar
    Loser

    1985 4Runner for me. An 85 5.0 LX Mustang would be great but not sure I could live with it that long.

  • avatar
    wintermutt

    funny, i really did this game. 20 years old in 1973, owned a 1971 el camino (chevy) until the year 2000. i put at least 240,000 miles on it. only major repair was one automatic transmission while towing a trailer across the USA at about 200,000 miles. car was stone cold reliable until first ujoints needed over 100,000 miles. Still the most reliable, best vehicle i have ever owned, my 2008 tundra does not even come close.

  • avatar

    I know others would believe I’d go for a 1984 Bronco. But let’s face it: the ’80s Broncos were ugly as sin. An answer exists across the street at the local Chevrolet dealer.

    I’d put my money in a 1984 Chevrolet K5 Blazer. Square, big, and classically handsome. The design will never look “bad” in the same way as other ’80s monstrosities. Also, you can literally put any engine in a K5. I’d be all over that.

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    1990 Civic Si hatchback.

    Peppy, dead nuts reliable, well-built, economical, and can carry a lot with the seats down.

    I actually considered one way back when I was 20, but bought an ’83 Accord hatch instead for cash.

  • avatar
    Turbo Is Black Magic

    2002 Corvette Z06, parts are cheap and plentiful. They tend not to break unless you just hoon it to death and when they do they are incredibly easy to work on. No rust to worry about body wise anyway. MPG’s on the highway are near 30 so once the new boss pisses off OPEC I won’t go poor filling it. Finally it works for track days as well. When it snows I tend to just not go outside, so that’s a non issue.

    • 0 avatar
      hgrunt

      I had a 2003 Z06… their reliability is a little overstated. Some parts aren’t cheap, though that’s mainly any of the plastic or rubber trim.

      Keep in mind, the powertrain might be reliable, but you’re still getting late 90s GM quality. Mine had weird little problems, including water leaks, bad wheel bearings, and a gas gauge that would malfunction under 1/2 tank of fuel unless you poured Techron treatment into it, and the car had around 45k miles on it. My advice? Ignore mileage and consider condition.

      I never got anywhere near 30 mpg average on the freeway. I’d generally see around 23-25 at 75-80 mph, and got around 16 city. That’s basically the same or better than the Forester XT I replaced the ‘vette with, so no complaints. People who see 30 are probably going 65 down a straight flat road or looking at the instantaneous reading, instead of a tank average.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Interesting question.

    2001 4Runner. In 2002 I had a 1995 Cherokee as a field vehicle that frequently overheated on us so I’m not quite sold on those. Very cramped inside but quite good off road. I liked the 4.0 six though.

    I’m playing a different version of the 20 year game now, a 2016 4Runner that I hope to keep in the household for 20 years. Well, 15 if we’re being honest. Few mainstream vehicles will stay interesting for 20 years.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Riding in a coworker’s fairly low mileage (115k) XJ with the 4.0L that has intermittent overheating and low oil pressure issues, I’m also a bit suspect on that mighty 4.0’s reputation in various car guy circles. Having said that I do know of at least several people with 200k+ miles in ZJ Grand Cherokees with these motors.

      The XJ is also the closest feeling to driving a Russian vehicle I’ve experienced here in the US, and for that alone I find them massively appealing (just not for long-haul duty). Somewhat cramped, crude, some engine smells, some gear whine, but a fairly soft ride from a long travel suspension. It hits all the right notes.

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        A friend took one to 500K.

        Part of the 4.0’s appeal in the Wrangler is that you can swap anything on the engine without a hoist, or even axle stands. Lord knows he did a lot of alternators, starters, water pumps, in the decade and a half he ran that beast.

        The 4.0 was reliable because it was under-stressed: just over 200 ft/lbs of torque, and less than 200 hp. Come to think of it, it earned it’s rep the same way Toyota did, it’s an under-stressed engine in a rust-prone body. It “always started,” but it would go to the junkyard just as soon as a (supposedly) less-reliable car.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        The biggest appeal of the 4.0L is that it is infinitely maintainable.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          “infinitely maintainable.”

          I’d change that to infinitely rebuildable to really highlight the difference between it and something like my 4Runner’s 3.4L 5VZFE, which I’d argue is every bit as “maintainable.”

          There’s just too many cases of the low oil pressure at hot idle on even middle-aged Jeep 4.0Ls, when added to the 99-01 head casting issues and all of the things attached to the motor (cracking exhaust manifolds, poor quality cooling systems) for me to really see what the true appeal is over something like the aforementioned ‘yota truck motor. I think the ultimate advantage may lie in being able to run in an absolute state of neglect with poor oil pressure, sludged up oil, and low compression on one or more cylinders. And again being able to tear it apart and rebuild it in most any engine or machine shop in the country.

          • 0 avatar

            gtemnykh,

            It’s a reliable american engine. That means it won’t run perfectly but it will get you where you need to go for a long time with little upkeep. And what upkeep will be required can be done cheaply and on a fix when broken schedule. Like the 318 in My Ramcharger sure it has lifter noise and yeah things break from time to time but they almost never leave you stranded. Oops engine down to 2 quarts of oil from leaking around the gaskets, starting to knock a little? No trouble top it off the knock quiets and you drive it another 50,000 miles.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            I’ve never worked on a Toyota 3.4L but I consider the AMC I6 easier/faster to work on than the 2UZ V8 in my father’s Tundra.

            Just the virtue of it being an inline engine gives it some DIY advantages over a “V” design.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            mopar that’s a perfect way to look at it IMO

            That coworker with the Cherokee has been driving it with coolant spraying over the engine bay for at least a few months (it’s not a commuter though, just weekend trips). Prior to this issue he had the radiator replaced so he was at a bit of a loss as to what it could be. We were looking at it and found a top radiator hose that had rubbed/cracked hole in it and coolant was dripping from there onto the fan and belts, etc. No worries, just replace it at your convenience. Now that’s not to say that my 4Runner wouldn’t have made it just fine with the same approach, but if I was losing coolant fairly rapidly and getting it sprayed all over the engine bay, I’d be having a conniption until I figured it out. And my motor’s alloy head would be less forgiving to an overheating scenario than I imagine that all-cast iron 4.0 would have.

            As an aside, who the hell doesn’t replace radiator hoses when they replace the radiator on a 15 year old car?!

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Alja the 5VZ is definitely easier than the Toyota v8s to work on, the one caveat is fuel injector/fuel rail access is under the intake manifold, but plugs are easy to get at, the t-belt is a peach to do as well.

            I definitely agree that the 4.0 is a refreshingly simple motor to work on, owing to its very old roots and inline orientation. It’d be perfect for a high schooler to cut his/her teeth on as a first car IMO. The underappreciated Jeep 2.5L would be as well of course.

          • 0 avatar

            I’m a fan of Toyota motors too I should say but they are a bit different then american iron. I had a 22r that was likely the easiest engine I have ever worked on. I bent a valve in it around 235,000 miles and kept driving it to work for a couple weeks on 3 cylinders until I found a truck to replace it. I also had a friend with a 22RE in a 4runner who lost a bearing about a mile and a half from his house. He heard a knock and the oil light came on. He went and popped the hood and the connecting rod was poking itself in and out of the block. He managed to drive it home. Not sure how many miles that truck had but I’m sure it was quite a bit.

          • 0 avatar
            cgjeep

            The earlier 4.0s are the ones that gained the reputation for long lasting. But it was also relative. In the early 90’s they would easily last 150k miles while most motors quit by or around 100k. They would also do it with very little maintenance. Also for the time they were very powerful (190HP 225 Pounds of torque in 1993). The Jeep 2.5 4cyl (not the GM one) actuality held up better,that was a 300k motor but the rest of the car couldn’t hold up.

          • 0 avatar

            I drove an 86 XJ with the 2.8 v6 from around 95,000 miles to around 130,000 miles. I can tell you the basic design was great and really one of the best out of the box offroaders I have ever owned. But man was it a pain in my ass repair wise. Those AMC ones and had all kinds of issues. The Mopar ones got a little better with way better drivetrains (4.0 and 4cyl) I see plenty with over well 200k on original engines but i have to imagine there were repairs along the way.

          • 0 avatar
            JustPassinThru

            “Those AMC ones and had all kinds of issues. The Mopar ones got a little better with way better drivetrains (4.0 and 4cyl) I see plenty with over well 200k on original engines but i have to imagine there were repairs along the way.”

            The V6 was of course a Chevrolet engine.

            AMC’s masters at Renault, just HATED that in-line six; and intentionally designed the XJ to NOT have room for it. It was to have the nice, neat, modern fours and V6s that Renault would teach Franco-American Motors to build.

            And of course that stopgap installation of a Citation engine in the XJ was, like all things of the era involving GM, a complete disaster.

            Meantime, south of the border at VAM…the Mexican banditos cobbled up a way to shoehorn their long-stroke 4.2 Mexican AMC-derived six in. They came; they installed; they saw it was good. The Great White Fathers in Kenosha were called to witness it, and they ascended duly impressed.

            And the Jeep product-planners changed direction, just a few months before Lido came to the rescue. So, yes…the in-line AMC/Jeep six installation was in fact an AMC production, even if Chrysler were the one to take the credit.

            In their defense, the icing on the cake was the later FI installation, which contributed to its high-mileage life when in Chrysler Jeeps.

          • 0 avatar

            Yeah I knew the 4.0 came too quick after then buyout to not be planned before hand. 2.8 was not that awful to drive actually but it was a pain to fix, I worked for a dealer group at the time with both Chevy and Jeep points. I used to buy engine parts from the Chevy dealer and save big bucks. (my emission air injection system was crap). I had more trouble with the damn AX5 transmission Used to eat (luckily external) slave cylinders. Also had issues with power windows and all the other power stuff regularly but man it loved being offroad.

    • 0 avatar
      MrH42

      I’m doing the same thing but with a 2015 4Runner. 21k miles in so far and it’s perfect. Once it’s paid off completely, I’m sure I’ll just add vehicles to the fleet, but plan on keeping it for along time.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        “I’m sure I’ll just add vehicles to the fleet, but plan on keeping it for along time”

        That’s more or less my hope as well. I turned away from the more engaging hot hatch or used entry level sports sedans I had been examining and went with the 4Runner as an overdue camping rig. I’m wishing I had just bitten the bullet and gone this route on our last vehicle purchase 4 years ago but we cheaped out and went too utilitarian on a used midsize sedan. As a result it’ll be awhile until something fun to drive is in the driveway, but we have a lot of plans for the 4Runner and plan on keeping it long term.

        • 0 avatar
          Quentin

          Owner of a 2016 4Runner here. My choice would be a 2002 4Runner Sport. I don’t recall if the 5MT was still available in 2002 or if 2001 was the last year, though. 20 year old me would have selected a 2002 WRX wagon.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Quentin ’00 Was the final year of the 5spd.

            I want to say that in 1999 you could hypothetically order a 5spd 4Runner, with both the locking rear diff and the multi-mode transfer case. AND ’99 is the year with the tallest factory ride height before they neutered them a bit for the rest of the model run (1 inch loss).

  • avatar
    vtecJustKickedInYo

    Ford Ranger 5 speed with the Vulcan V6 or OHV 4.0. Slow as hell, but cheap to buy, cheap to insure, and can go to the moon an back with no issues.

    Of course stupid me at 20 bought a B5 Audi S4 instead. However; after spending enough time at the side of the road and trying to figure out how to move all of my stuff between apartments, I got a Ranger.

    • 0 avatar
      3XC

      My hand me down 1996 Rangers with the 3.0 V6 and 5 speed manual was the most durable vehicle I ever owned. I basically neglected it while subjecting it to years of harsh short trip pizza delivery duty. Changed the oil whenever I got around to it. 189k miles before anything at all went wrong, a simple sensor conked out. What a tank.

    • 0 avatar
      3XC

      My hand me down 1996 Ranger with the 3.0 V6 and 5 speed manual was the most durable vehicle I ever owned. I basically neglected it while subjecting it to years of harsh short trip pizza delivery duty. Changed the oil whenever I got around to it. 189k miles before anything at all went wrong, a simple sensor conked out. What a tank.

    • 0 avatar
      rocketrodeo

      This is, actually, my plan, and I’m 14 years into my 20 year plan. Y2K model 2 door supercab. Bought it slightly used, the only 2wd on the lot at the time, at a huge discount. It is costing me next to nothing to own, and has depreciated only about $4000 since I’ve owned it. Have replaced ball joints, tie rod ends, tires, and shocks. Replaced plugs and the serp belt once. A few dozen oil filters and air filters and a barrel of synthetic 5w20. Trans fluid and rear axle fluid changed with synthetic. Added a BedRug and a cap. The pilot bearing is getting a little graunchy but there’s no point replacing it until I need a clutch, and there’s no sign that’s imminent.

      That’s it in 14 years. It gave me 24mpg on a 300-mile trip through the WV mountains yesterday.

      The 3.slow is reputed to be a more reliable engine than the 4.0, many going well into the 300Ks before needing major overhaul. Parts for this vehicle will be available nearly anywhere for pretty much forever.

  • avatar
    Tomsriv

    1998 for me. I would pick a 4runner with the 4cyl motor over the Cherokee. Had a 2000 in real life because it got 5mpg more than the cherokee and was still a truck based SUV so it was super simple to work on and maintain.

    I’m drawing a blank on a car from that year I would like. It was really the doldrums for good style. You remember how excited people were for the PT crusier? Because of how ugly everything else was. Pretty sad days.
    I had to look up Car and Driver’s ten best of 1998. Can you believe the Dodge Intrepid made the list? Probably not one of those still on the road.
    I would pick a Lexus GS300 or 400. Probably the 400 with the V8. Even though I care about economy and had some long commutes in my 20s Im a sucker for the sound of a V8.
    My current 20 year car is my ’06 Dodge Magnum RT. Great all around car, It does everything well.

  • avatar
    d4rksabre

    Funny, I turned 20 in 2007 and I’m currently shopping for a car to replace my TDI Golf that is getting turned in on Saturday.

    My short list of cars.com favorites happens to include several 2007 4Runners, including one without the sunroof which I really really like. That buyback money can’t get into my account soon enough.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

    Geeze, 2002? What 2002 would I have? The Fusion was not out, the Taurus was an overweight has-been marshmallow, I don’t want an IRS or a SOHC 4.0 Explorer/Explorer Sport. No GM or Chrysler product was worth dragging home in 02, 3800 availability notwithstanding. No appealing Toyotas or Nissans.

    Fine. I will reach really far.

    2002 Kia Sportage 4wd manual (these were still a true BOF SUV with a Mazda-derived 2.0L I-4).

    Disclaimer: I still see plenty of first-gen Sportages around, they are not a solid vault of reliability and stunning build quality, but its a good all-around vehicle with decent mechanicals.

    If not, a 2002 Honda Accord LX I-4/5spd sedan.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      FWIW ’02 was the final year of the 3g 4Runner (if SUVs are of any interest). No more rear locker option, but it did gain a multi-mode transfer case with a lockable center diff and a primitive first gen version of ATRAC, Toyota’s version of ABS-based offroad traction aid.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        SUVs are of interest, but I am not a 4Runner fan. If it were a Toyota, it would be a Land Cruiser with the I-6 if they still offered it in the U.S..

        Otherwise, the small and quirky Sportage would be my choice. If it was a two door vert, I would buy a hard top for non-convertible conditions. I didn’t realize they offered one until I found it recently.

        If only it were 2001, a Honda Prelude SH hands down. Higher maintenance costs than I’m used to (timing belt, valve adjustment, known VTEC solenoid oil leak I think it is, and requires midgrade or higher fuel I believe), but an enjoyable, sporty Honda that isn’t too racy or obnoxious. I’d keep it stock, maybe put on some modern Accord 17″ wheels if the lug pattern matches (I would think so, both 5 lug Honda cars).

        I didn’t like the 02 Accord coupe, but the sedan is handsome and as I said, a I-4/manual setup really in any given trim, though I really liked the 2002 Accord LX sedan 5-speed I drove when I lived in Oregon for a few months. I’d let the paint get faded like all cars of that age, then have it sprayed in that famous Honda blue (used on the, late 90s Civic Si, and Accord Type R in JDM).

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          “If it were a Toyota, it would be a Land Cruiser with the I-6 if they still offered it in the U.S..”

          It’s interesting that the FJ80’s I6 and solid front axle lived on in the LC105 overseas. 100 series body like we got but with “poverty spec” rear half-lights (no extensions onto the hatch), and with basically FJ80 running gear and widespread 5spd manual availability. Great trucks, an overlander’s dream.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

            Oh, so USDM was V-8 by 02? And not a solid front axle? Or was the LC not sold here? Forgive me, I’m not up on Toyota history from that era.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            The US LC100 was introduced in ’98. It is exclusively independent front suspension, 4.7L V8, driving through a 4spd auto and a full-time 4wd transfer case with a locking center differential. Locking rear diff was an option on ’98 and ’99 trucks. Later on in the run they went to a 5spd automatic, the engine gained a VVTi head that bumped hp and torque somewhat. Interiors got some refreshes along the way with increasing prevalence of a touchscreen NAV, rarer to see cloth interiors, bigger rims, etc. The LC100 run ended in 2007. LC200 took over from there with the Tundra’s big boy 5.7L motor, beefier rear axle and other components including frame from what I’ve read.

        • 0 avatar
          Tomsriv

          Good choice, I forgot about the Land Cruiser.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      I have changed my vote. I’ve talked myself into a Ford F-250 Super Duty 4×4 XLT down in Dave’s thread below.

      So, not that I’m dismissing my other options completely, I think I would get far more use out of the truck.

      “But fuel mileage…” B¡tch please. (Lol) I can find a 1993 Accord that has a burned up clutch for a commuter if I ended up with an office job in the city. Owning a big truck is owning something incredibly versitile and capable for whatever life throws your way. You can probably tow a trailer with enough of your personal belongings anywhere in the country with such a truck. Moving (even temporary) to accept a job would be as easy as loading up and going. No rental, no borrowing, nothing. I know people who are professional welders. They make upwards of $70 an hour. But, they travel, the jobs usually last several months.

      What do they drive? Dodge Cummins crewcab. Tows a 5th wheel camper trailer = no hotel, and familiar comforts every place you end up. The camper pays for itself because they also get per diem of $50-$100/day. The rv park certainly doesn’t charge that much, but a hotel would.

      The other a F-350 7.3L PowerStroke with over 350k. Same deal, but he saved on the truck and bought an extremely luxurious camper that he and his wife use for travel with the two little girls in the summer.

      Another has a half ton 2014 Chevy, carries his gigantic tool box, and can pull a bumper-hitch camper but he shares a camper with his brother in the Dodge Cummins. So, they commute to the job in the half ton.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        As long as says FORD on front, it’ll make it 30-50 years with just oil changes!

        • 0 avatar

          Gosh, I’m happy you’re back.

          • 0 avatar

            Long live Dead Weight. Honestly other then the couple times he went a bit too far he is pretty entertaining.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

            Yeah, I guess holding his breath and stomping his feet finally ran its course. How many months did it take?

            How else would we know that every modern Cadillac sold has a 2.0T? It isn’t true, but since when does that matter?

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Glad to be back!

            Let’s not fall into the trap of taking life, which is unpredictable, short, often unforgiving, sometimes incredible, and in general, a roller coaster ride, too seriously!

            Let’s agree to disagree respectfully, and let us also remember to troll lightly!

            JohnTaurus, may you have a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Festive Kwanzaa, Happy Festivus, or Saucy Pastafarianus!

            Viva Ford de Mexico!

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    Do the game instructions include a map of leaded gas sources?

    I’m feelin’ excluded here…

  • avatar
    ajla

    2005 Ford Crown Victoria LX Sport

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Ok 1986 for me and my first choice was Lexus LS , than I checked it came out in 89 so no go, so I would have to go with a 1986 MB 300e, a classic car when MB were built like tanks and parts would not be an issue, had one for a short time about ten years ago and it still ran great, pretty safe for today compared to the other choices in 86, not sure when MB cars lost their way but it was not with this 86 300 e , I would have to decide on a wagon or sedan, but lets be honest as a 20 year old the wagon is not making the cut, I will regret that decision about 10 years into ownership but not as a 20 year old.

    • 0 avatar
      Tomsriv

      Good choice! The 80’s were tough, but the MB were the best cars in the 80’s.

    • 0 avatar
      Beemernator

      The LS400 was my first thought, but that came out too late for my age. As my year is 1982, I will go with the W126 S-class.

      My dad still owns a 1983 version that is in regular use. It has outlived the E32 7-series that was bought to replace it and will probably outlive the W203 C-class that was bought as a retirement car.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    Easy. 2005 Sierra.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      Dave is so predictable. :)

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        A halfton has got to be high on the list of any vehicle you could expect to last 20 years reliably.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

          That’s true, but a 7.3L F-250 crew cab would be my choice. The aero crap they put on the Sierra 2500 with the fog lamps, etc, if my uncle ripped it off once, I bet it happened at least 4 times.

          Its just too low, and it fails to command the respect it deserves parked next to a much better looking Super Duty 4×4 Lariat. The grille, lights etc in the GMC is fine. But if I had one, I would put and aftermarket front bumper with integrated grille guard to do away with that cheesy lower facia.

          His (early 2000s) Sierra 2500 4×4 was/is a great truck otherwise, a far better truck than the 2005ish Chevy 2500 he bought to replace it (the “cat eye” Chevy, can’t remember the year, just that it was a POS). He used the HELL out of that GMC, he ran a logging company and that truck spent more time under pine trees and in muck you wouldn’t believe. And, he didn’t take it easy on it. I remember doing 45-50 down a heavily rutted logging trail, bouncing so hard you wonder how he kept control.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

          *I do realize you meant a half ton, but I was “upgrading” the theoretical truck to a 3/4 ton for myself. I would want a truck with higher capacity to tow larger trailers and haul heavy payload, as well as deal with mud, snow, etc with 4wd. That way, I would be able to put the truck to work for me, to use for jobs/work if need be, or just because its a job to get you decent money, depending on what you haul/use it for.

          Besides, if I had a nickel for every time I found a vehicle I wanted and could afford, but because it required towing, I had to pass it up, I could use those nickels to buy the truck to take advantage of all the barely-broken down vehicles I can fix myself and resell, or use/collect.

          I imagine a 2002 truck owned by me for 20 years would have close to 500k miles, lol.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    1989 Volvo 240 wagon (245)

  • avatar
    Dingorider

    I’m 19 and find that Jalopnik joke hilarious.

    • 0 avatar
      Carfan94

      I’m 22, been a TTAC reader since I was 18. I have always hated jalopnik, and refuse to read it at all. I wouldn’t recommend anyone under 20 read jalopnik, It’s a bad influence!

      • 0 avatar
        caltemus

        Basically the same sentiment here, with the exceptions being i’m 21 and I perused Jalopnik pre-kinja.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Add me to the choir of the disaffected. I still open up their front page every now and then, they have some neat CL finds, and the guy who wrenches on old XJs is worth reading. The guy buying and fixing/selling depreciated German stuff is entertaining as well. But most of the other writers’ styles/opinions are just nails on a chalkboard to me. Most try to give off the air of knowing how to wrench but don’t (hint: stop trying, it’s cringeworthy to watch)

          Titles like “You should be [insert verb] [insert noun] right now”

          Over the top use of expletives. Just makes me think of them sitting there thinking “teehee look guys I dropped the F bomb again!”

      • 0 avatar
        Dingorider

        I’ve never read Jalopnik but I do read Motortrend quite a lot.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    2004 Honda Insight!

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    2014 Dodge Challenger, which happens to be exactly what I drive. (I have to stretch the definition of a model year a bit to make the connection, but whatevs, I’ll take a 2013 if I have to.)

  • avatar
    nels0300

    Easy, Dark Green 1996 Acura Integra GS-R FOUR DOOR.

  • avatar
    2drsedanman

    Easy, 1989 Toyota pickup 4×4. Funny thing is, if the frame didn’t rust in two in twenty years, I could probably sell it for as much or more than the initial new purchase price.

    Second choice would be a Honda Civic CRX Si. With any kind of maintenance at all, both of these vehicles would easily make it 20 years.

    As a side note, I did buy a 1989 Mustang LX 5.0 5 speed brand new in the fall of 1989, when I was 20. No doubt that car would have made it too. Really regret selling that one.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Just what I bought half way through my 20th year, a brand new Corvette. Yeah I was making more in real dollars then than I am now, many decades later.

    Well maintained, I could probably sell it for about 50% more than what I paid for it.

    Unfortunately, I got part of the money to buy it by flipping a white on white, one owner, California plated 1959 Eldorado Biarritz convertible. One of just over 1,300 manufactured. Paid $6,500 for it and flipped it within one day for a profit of nearly $1,500. The only car that I have made money own.

    Unfortunately the same car would probably sell for over $150,000 today.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      One other regret about buying a brand new ‘Vette at the age of 20. In less than a year, I had my license temporarily suspended. The increased insurance cost convinced me to sell it for a new T-Bird which was perhaps the biggest lemon I have ever owned.

  • avatar
    peekay

    Born in ’52 so ’72 would be my year. And a ’72 BMW 2002tii would have been a good choice I think. A bit more affordable than the Porsche 911S that would have been my dream car then.

    Either one would be as good to own now as then.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    I turned 20 in 1991. In 2005 I bought a 91 Integra and I kept it for 9 years. Loved it then, I suspect I would have loved it more had I purchased it in 1991. So Acura Integra 2dr with a manual. Good performance (great in 91) last long time, cheap on fuel, cheap to maintain, and very practical with hatch. Best car I ever owned financially. Paid $1,550 for it, sold it for $1,500.

  • avatar
    jpwilliams76

    1996. Likely a Ford F150. Maybe a Panther platform.

  • avatar

    Turned 20 in 2001. At the time I would have bought a 3500 ram Cummins manual quad cab. Likely if I had it would still be around. Of course my two current cars are an 01 Volvo and 00 Durango so they were new when I was 20.

  • avatar
    omer333

    Tough call, do I go with a 1996 300zx in non-turbo flavor, or do I go with a 96 Pathfinder?

    • 0 avatar

      Pathfinder would be a good bet. I drove a 1999 model for 14 years with no troubles. It would have gone 20 years, but I traded it on something newer.

      In hindsight, I wish I had it back sometimes. It made a good truck to haul things and go camping.

      • 0 avatar
        omer333

        I have an aunt and uncle in Aladambama that bought examples of both machines new (traded the ZX in for the Pathfinder when they became grandparents) and seeing how well they held up was why I would want one of them.

  • avatar
    bobdod04

    Like others, I am living this game right now. I have a 2005 4Runner, and I’ve owned it for the last 7 years. I plan to keep it for as long as it keeps running. It would be awesome to get another dozen or so years from it, but its got 200k miles on it and I add about 20k a year, so I don’t think I am going to win this game…

  • avatar
    r129

    I turned 20 in October 2002. Does that mean I get to pick a 2003 vehicle, because they were on sale at the time? If so, it would be a tough decision between a 2003 Mercury Marauder or a 2003 Infiniti M45. The Mercury would definitely be easier to keep running, but I’ve always loved the styling on those M45s.

    If I have to stick to the rules, I suppose I would go with a 2002 Cadillac Eldorado, the final year of that model. I hear that once the Northstar’s problems are fixed, they can be quite reliable.

    Funny thing is, I have a 2002 Camaro convertible right now, and at the rate I drive it, it could probably make it to 2022, although I’ll be sick of it way before then. I didn’t choose that for this exercise, because I could never live with it as my only car.

  • avatar
    moorewr

    Hmm, 1991.

    I shall choose the Audi Quattro. This was the last year of production.

    There would be some horrifying mechanical and electrical problems along the way, but, hey, I know people who have kept theirs running all that time, and I know the parts are out there (well, ok, most of the parts). Why not?

    • 0 avatar
      moorewr

      As a follow up I should mention I owned a 1995 Audi S6 from 2012 to 2016, and on the whole I was impressed with its durability. Built for the ages providsed you never skimp on the scheduled maintenance and age/wear items (timing belts, coils, fuel pumps).

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @Moorewr: Is your avatar a screen shot of Sean Connery’s cameo in The Longest Day? Very nice. However my favourite Connery films in order i) The Man Who Would Be King, 2) Robin and Marian, 3) The Hill.

    • 0 avatar
      moorewr

      Other 1991 cars worth considering..

      Sentra SE-R.. my ’93 Sentra was a basket of problems worse than any Audi. But at leats there’d still be plenty of parts around for the B13.

      300ZX.. if it somehow survived it would have been worth something…

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      “Fire up the Quattro”. Anyone vaguely familiar with British TV during the first part of this century will recognize this phrase. It was so familiar that it was instrumental in getting David Cameron elected as P.M.

      • 0 avatar

        Not sure how it ended up in the hands of the Gene Genie, but given where British car making was during the Ashes to Ashes timeline, I can’t fault his choice.

        • 0 avatar
          moorewr

          It’s one of the tells about the Gene Genie in the show.. it makes sense as you find out more about him and his role.

          As for David Cameron, I’d hoped to never read his name again, now that the Conservatives have dispensed with his services.

  • avatar
    Ermel

    Having never bought anything even remotely newish, I play a different game: driving cars that are approximately 20 years younger than I am, but in my mid-forties. (In my twenties I drove cars that were roughly my age.)

    I wouldn’t bet on any of them to last me 20 years of uninterrupted service, but I am quite confident that they’ll still be mine 20 years from now.

    Now, the 20-year game. I’d pick a 1990 VW T3 Multivan with the 1700cc, naturally aspirated, 57 bhp Diesel. Bulletproof engine, reasonably solid drivetrain and chassis, plenty of cheap spares, enough rusted-out specimens around even in 1990 to have made me invest in a rustproofing treatment when new, practical, economical, and with enough charisma to not let me tire of it prematurely. (Before you doubt any of this, consider that I am in Germany.)

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    Ugh, 2002. If I was born in 1981, I would’ve said XJ cherokee as well. I was on Autotrader last week, could not find a post-refresh XJ 4×4 for under $10K.

    My current car is a 2002, and although its a blast I know it’ll break my heart sooner or later. Was the V6 Accord from that era available with a stick? If not, make mine a Maxima.

  • avatar
    DevilsRotary86

    2001. I think that I would go for a 2001 Acura Integra Type R. That or a 2001 Honda Accord EX Coupe. In both cases, 2001 was the last or next to last year of a very good generation for both cars. I guess I would also rock a 2001 Ford Mustang Cobra.

  • avatar
    its me Dave

    Ugh, 1981. I suppose a 2wd Toyota pickup would be okay.

  • avatar
    Rochester

    I was 20 in 1984. Sadly, I don’t think there was a single car available to the North American market in 1984 which could last 20 years while still actually being driven.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      The continual and occasionally obnoxious presence of mid-80s Volvo iron around these parts suggests otherwise. I don’t know what these people are doing to keep them going, but keep them going they do.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      Town Car would’ve done it.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      1984 cars I’d trust to make it 20 years, rust notwithstanding:

      Honda Accord
      Honda Civic
      Honda Prelude
      Ford LTD LX 5.0
      Ford panther
      Ford truck/Bronco with a 300 I-6 easy, the V-8s too.
      Same with GM trucks and full size SUVs
      Toyota Land Cruiser
      Pontiac 6000 with a 2.5 Iron Duke.
      Chevy S10/GMC S15 2.5L manual
      Ford Ranger 2.3L Manual
      Nissan Maxima I-6

      I know you may not like it, but a 1984 Ford Tempo could and did last 20 years. The HSC engine was based on the old Inline 6, it was bullet proof. They did a recall for faulty head gaskets, but Ford techs have told me its the easiest head gasket job, and the head/block almost never cracks or warps. It can happen, but it would take serious overheating. The little Mazda transaxles were not the greatest, but a manual would make up for its vague feeling shift action with reliability.

      Very similar story on the Iron Duke GM products. A great car does not a reliable engine make, but it doesn’t hurt. The build quality was acceptable enough at the time, but it was a far cry from more recent years.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        List of vehicles from 1984 that I’d fully expect to make it 20, 30 and even 40 years, with relative ease:

        ALL OF THE FORDS, LINCOLNS & MERCURIES!

        AS WELL AS THE MERKURS!!!

  • avatar
    mshenzi

    1980– not a ton of great 20 year choices out there. If I get to drive it gently, the first generation RX-7 or first generation BMW 3 series (2.3 liter 6, please!). If it needs to put up with 20 hard years, the first generation Honda Accord (1.8 liter, 3 door).

    • 0 avatar
      rocketrodeo

      Same boat here. The malaise era was ugly. Volvo 245, possibly, or a Ford F100 with the straight 6, or a Chevy C10 with the 350. There wasn’t anything Japanese yet that wouldn’t oxidize into a pile of red dust within ten years. As for the Bavarians, BTDT, my 2002tii was rusted beyond unrestorable by 1987. The 320i’s didn’t fare much better. I had several friends with Rx7s, and none lasted very long at all.

  • avatar
    Fred

    1972 I was driving a $400 Sprite, going to college, smoking weed and fornicating. I had no aspirations for a new car. Just wish I had a few hundred dollars more for something a little nicer, like a MGB.

  • avatar
    turbo_awd

    1991.. Got my first car in ’90: ’84 GLI (drove parents’ cars until then). Took me a while to get rid of the VW addiction: ’90 GTi 16v in ’94, ’94 Corrado in ’98 or ’99. None of those would have lasted 20 years without major work. To be fair, the Corrado wasn’t in great shape when I bought it. If I’d left the engine/transmission alone, it might have done ok for a while. As it was, I was on a first name basis with my mechanic and the shop supervisor, and had them on speed-dial. Results would probably have been similar with a ’90-91 Jetta GTX I was interested in instead of the GTI.

    In retrospect: the “best” (IMHO) Supra didn’t come out until ’93 (this was the heyday of super-imports). Best bang-for-the-buck-and-reliability would probably have been a Celica GT All-trac turbo. The car I dreamed about was the 300 ZX twin turbo. I guess with enough TLC, the ZX might have made it – the GT probably would have, and I never wanted a 2-seater in those days – always people/stuff to carry. There was also the Eclipse Turbo (and Chrysler variants) – no idea how reliable they were.

  • avatar
    Kosher Polack

    “Not 20 yet? Go read Jalopnik.”
    /uses the term “Man Card”

    Whoa! I’d better get back to 2004 before my head falls off!

    This would be a good time to get one of the 4thgen 4runners with the V8!

    But if I don’t have the cash for it at age 20 (I didn’t), then I think I could live with the first-gen Scion xB until 2024. It’d be loud and buzzy, and the rear bumper would fall off, but with proper care I think it would have been a fun car to really make my own.

  • avatar
    RS

    1975 Dodge D100. Regular Cab (remember those?) – 2WD, 3 on the tree, Slant 6, Armstrong steering, Manual brakes, AM radio – and it was BROWN. Good times. :)

  • avatar
    Adam Tonge

    2004 E55 AMG….but I probably can’t afford it and it will break.

    So I guess I’ll have to drive a 2004 F150 SuperCab.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    I turned 20 in 1977… the final year of production for the original Ford Bronco. I’d take one with 4-wheel drive and either the big six or 302 V-8. Air conditioning was available, so I’d check that box, too. Manual tranny, of course.

  • avatar
    RobbieAZ

    Given 1982 and the fact that I’m currently driving a Benz that I love I would go with another Benz, a 500SEC.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Well, I was born in 1964.5 (The “1964.5” Mustang had already come out) so I’m buying a 1984.5 Volvo 245 Turbo Intercooler. The 1984 model didn’t come from the factory with the intercooler, it was a dealer accessory, but by mid-year, the intercooler was standard equipment.

    All the foibles on this car are well-known by now and easily fixed. But on a factory hitch, and it would do anything short of serious off-roading.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    I know this refers to the year I turned 20 instead of the year I was born, but my parents bought a VW Microbus the year I was born, and it soldiered on for Daily Driver use until I was 21, when it grenaded it’s second (or maybe third, I’m not sure) engine. I think it had 220k at the time.

    That thing was a van with a Super Beetle engine (I think the spec sticker said 68HP), an automatic transmission to further sap the power it didn’t have, “front crash protection” that was merely theoretical, it had continual problems with rusty sheet metal, a windshield washer that instead of a $5 pump, required you to pressurize the tank by pumping air into the schrader in the footwell. The seatbelts would merely have served to keep your corpse from flying through the windshield while your crushed legs stayed behind in the passenger compartment.

    But before the invention of the minivan, it was really the ideal car for a family of five. The only chronic reliability problem it had was going through a succession of starters that turned out to be caused by a bad ground or something. It held a crazy amount of stuff, and had an all-vinyl interior impervious to trashing by messy children. Now that I think about it, while some of the springs were poky, that vinyl didn’t have a single hole in it when the thing died.

  • avatar
    NoDoors

    I want to say the 1988 Jeep Grand Wagoneer, but we all know the mileage would have killed me during the gas price surges. Instead, I’ll go with what I really wanted in 1988, instead of driving the ’70 Beetle:

    1988 Honda CRX. If I can’t have that I’ll have one of the Civics; all that greenhouse glass, low belt line. But I’ll take the CRX.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    1983 Toyota pickup or Toyota Corona

  • avatar
    don1967

    1987 Volvo 240.

    Up here in the salt belt there’s pretty much nothing left from 1987, but the Swedish bricks at least had a chance.

  • avatar

    1991, so the obvious answer would be a Honda Civic or Accord from that era.

    Instead, I’ll go with the Porsche 944 S2 – 1991 was the last year before 968 and it had the 3.0 liter 4 cylinder engine. Porsche had mastered rust proofing at that point and the 944 is fairly reliable and easy to work on.

    Other options would include the Mercedes Benz 190 2.6 or BMW E30 318ti. Old 944s have gotten pricey in the past few years, but there are a number of MB 190s and E30 BMWs to be had for less than $5k in good condition.

    I could go with an Alfa Romero 164 or Pugeot 505, both were still available new in the US in 1991, but keeping them going for 20 years would require Don Quixote levels of folly and access to public transportation.

    • 0 avatar
      Boff

      The 944S2 was going to be my choice for 1989. I actually owned such a beast 10 years ago, and I could definitely live with it another 20 years. Maintenance was pricey, but the car was built like a brick sh!thouse and was actually incredibly practical (it swallowed my drum set with ease). It even performed great in the winter with proper snow tires. The S2 had the Turbo brakes and suspension (mine didn’t have the M030 suspension, sadly) but without the Turbo headaches. Great car…unfortunately had to unload it due to cash flow issues.

  • avatar

    Let’s see.. Twenty for me was 1995. When I was twenty I was absolutely nutso for the Land Rover Discovery, but that’s not gonna last–I’ve already owned an 90’s XJ (1991 4.0 Sport w/5spd). So I’m gonna go with a Land Cruiser this time. (J80) That’ll prolly work.

    EDIT: I gotta pay for it? ’95 Civic Si hatch.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    1997 – GMC Suburban base SL trim, Vortec L31 350 V8, 4×4, and got to have the ambulance style rear doors. As long as I ordered the towing package for things like transmission cooling and other mechanical upgrades there isn’t much in life that the vehicle couldn’t get through.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    1983 – crappiest year possible.

    Still…

    How ’bout a Volvo 740 Turbo wagon, preferably in bright red? Always had a soft spot for that one.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    2009? Bleh. I guess I’ll take a rare 2009 4Runner Trail, the only year of the 4th gen to get a factory locking rear diff option and some Bilstein shocks as I recall. Or if money is no thing then a 200 series Land Cruiser in that nice deep green.

    EDIT just read the whole “paying for it” thing. Jeez at 20 years old, I’m not buying ANYTHING new, period.

    Rules of the game aside, I think my current fleet is a perfect pair of 20 year keepers (they just so happen to be exactly 20 years old). Both products of Toyota’s “fat” years of engineering, very well built with high quality components, relatively easy to wrench on, parts are easily available and affordable.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      “…at 20 years old, I’m not buying ANYTHING new, period.”

      I chose to ignore that part for the same reason. I could maybe have stretched for an Echo or Accent at that age. 20 years in an early aughts econobox, whoo-hoo!

      • 0 avatar
        moorewr

        The real 20-year old me (in 1991) was driving a battered, stripper 1983 Mazda GLC 3-door, brown inside and out, four on the floor, no AC, and chamois seat covers.

        Great Little Car, that was. Lasted me until ’93, and the only car I bought new until this year (’93 Nissan Sentra coupe).

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Easy…

    1995 Dodge Ram 2500 Cummins Diesel w/ Extended Cab, 5 sp, 4×4. You could get 40 years out of this rig if you wanted to.

  • avatar
    BigOldChryslers

    1995 Ram2500 quad cab, RWD, Cummins 12-valve diesel. I sold my ’94 to my brother a year ago, but I could’ve kept driving it another 20 years if I had to.

  • avatar

    Let’s see.. I turned 20 in 2014. I have a 2014 WRX but I don’t think I’d want that for 20 years. I probably need something that is uber reliable and remains presentable for at least a few years. I would probably go with a Lexus LS600h. Should be reliable enough for two decades, and remain presentable for at least 15.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    1997 and I have to hold it until next year… let’s go with a 5-speed T100. Has to be a J-VIN so the frame doesn’t die on me. Or, I could move to Japan and pick up a Stagea 260RS.

  • avatar

    I was going to say 2000 Land Cruiser or Lexus LX470, until I got to the part about having to pay for it.

    So I’d probably go with a 2000 Ford Ranger. Extra cab, 4wd.

  • avatar
    friedclams

    1990 Olds Cutlass Cruiser wagon with the 3.3L V6. Runner-up, 1990 Chevy Caprice, last of the boxes.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    “not to mention signing the note for it in the first place.”

    Don’t forget this aspect! I just can’t see how a 20 year old can comfortably afford just about ANY reasonable option, short of a stripped out econobox.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    This game is for the birds! 1984? Kept for 20 years with upkeep a factor!???
    Accord, and angry about it.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    Easy — Toyota 4Runner. The Jeep Grand Cherokee I’m driving now gives me zero confidence that it will be running in 20 years. 10 years is probably even a stretch.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      What year Grand Cherokee?

      • 0 avatar
        White Shadow

        2015. It will probably be in the scrap yard well before 2025.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          Interesting. I was tempted to cross shop one of these with the 4Runner due to the Jeep’s more attractive exterior styling, interior materials, and reported driving dynamics but didn’t due to long-term reliability concerns and the smaller cargo area.

          • 0 avatar
            White Shadow

            I’m much more of a car guy, but I’ve always had a 4wd SUV, primarily for harsh NY winters. That said, I had two 4Runners in a row before getting the Grand Cherokee. Both 4Runners were amazingly reliable, with very little in the way of operating costs. I switched to the Jeep mainly because the 5th gen 4Runner styling is horrible and it has poor driving dynamics (heavy nose dive under braking, turns like a boat), and has ancient technology (5-speed automatic, no push-button starting except for the Limited trim) etc… It’s really so old now that Toyota should hurry with the 6th generation already.

            Anyway, I decided to take a chance on the Grand Cherokee for the first time. It looks good, drives almost as good as your average sedan, is extremely loaded with all kinds of tech (I got the Overland trim, which comes almost loaded). I’ve had my fair share of problems, which are mostly related to the 8-speed transmission, but in all honesty, I’m dumping the Jeep before the factory warranty expires because I have no confidence that it will run without major expenses after the warranty period. The horrible transmission makes me nervous, as does the air suspension. Both are big ticket items and both are known problem areas.

            I’m eagerly awaiting the 6th gen 4Runner in hopes that Toyota adds some modern features and cleans up the horrible styling. If they do, I’ll be switching back for sure because of the history/experience I’ve had with 4Runners.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Thanks. Any sense of fragility from a transmission will certainly kill confidence in the vehicle.

            And I hear you on the 4Runner handling and styling. I find the best way to corner in that rig is to grip the wheel with the outside hand, let your body lean with the vehicle, and wave a cowboy hat with the other hand, arm outstretched. Yeehah!

            Mine is red. I wasn’t going to pretend it doesn’t have an ugly mug by hiding it in grey.

            The age of the current 4Runner was, in some ways, a selling point for me. I want this to be a long term family asset and old proven technology is a boon for that. I don’t anticipate tiring of its strong points and getting the wandering eye when a new model comes out the way I would in a sedan or hot hatchback.

            Given what Toyota did to the new Tacoma, I wasn’t keen on waiting for the new 4Runner.

          • 0 avatar
            White Shadow

            Actually, if I could go back in time, I’d probably reconsider the 4Runner. Yeah, the styling looks like something out of a Predator movie and the driving dynamics are pretty much crap, but at least the damn thing will run forever without draining your bank account.

            The Grand Cherokee look great and drives great when it’s working properly, but that’s not all too often, at least from my experience. Plus, it’s hard to explain, but you can feel that it’s just not put together with the same quality as the 4Runner. In some ways, the Jeep feels cheap compared to the 4Runner. It’s a shame though, because the Jeep could really be a fantastic vehicle if it was higher quality and didn’t have so many nagging issues.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      What all is going wrong with it?

      I’ve recently found myself researching 2014+ Durangos as a possible “in 2 years” vehicle despite every alarm bell in my head ringing at the prospect of owning a Chrysler vehicle. It is quite a fetching package aside from of course poor off road ability (I need to learn to let go of that requirement I think).

      • 0 avatar

        Not sure what goes wrong in the new Grands, I have a cousin and a coworker with 2011’s and both have only had minor issues (rattling sunroof etc)
        I think my wifes next car maybe 2011 Durango with a hemi and a 5 speed auto.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          It seems to be mainly the 2014 + Durangos and Grand Cherokees that are problematic. The signficant revamp for 2014 included an all-new electronics architecture, which is where the issues stem from.

        • 0 avatar
          White Shadow

          2014 and up switched over to the 8-speed ZF transmission and they’ve been huge problem areas. However, the 6-cylinder and the 8-cylinder engines use different versions of the 8-speed trans. The trans used in the 6-cylinder versions is much more problematic than the one used in the 8-cylinder versions.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    An 1985-87 VW GTI 8V. Similar reasoning to Cherokee, different interpretation.

    I’m not an off-roader, but I like deserted, paved, twisty back roads. I don’t like using a lot of gas. I want to go from point A to B using as little time and fuel as possible (on 4 wheels, not 2, thank you).

    The GTI was a blast to drive–and still is entertaining. It could carry four people, 5 in a pinch, and their tailgating food and drink. It was reliable. Parts would be available. It was fuel-efficient. It was stylish. It was great in the snow. Even today, it’s viable car.

    I kept mine 13 years and 145k. I sold it, missed it, and was lucky to find another 86 in decent shape, which I’ve owned 16 years.

    While not quite as much fun as an 83-84 Rabbit GTI (it had 90% of the fun–the lighter, lower geared, LOUDER, manual steering Rabbit is simply more engaging and fun–when driven hard), it was twice as good for the everyday driving that makes up 95%. It was QUIETER, more relaxed highway cruiser, slightly roomier, the A/C could liquefy air, and the interior materials were much higher quality–and have held up MUCH better.

    My 2nd pick would be a late 80s BMW 325is. Quick enough (for me), fun to drive, classy. Not terribly efficient, but not a guzzler either. Reliable, though not cheap to fix. Terrible in the snow though…

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      I had an ’87 8V GTI, bought it new in ’86, after driving a 16v Scirocco. The 16v’s powerband was too far up the rev range for my use. Mine had unassisted steering, and I replaced the stock steering wheel with a Momo. It was as versatile as a car could be. One weekend I’d load it up with sailboards and a three friends and head to Florida for some sailing, and later in the month take it to Mid-Ohio for a track day.

      The only real problem I had with it was that the wheels were soft and would bend if you hit a pothole. After the first one bent, I should have gotten an aftermarket set of wheels.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    SC400 or LS400.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    1990 Nissan Hardbody 4X4 V6 with a king cab. Msnual transmission. Of course in Michigan it would have rusted out after only ten years unless I was washing and waxing every week.

  • avatar
    Ridgerunner

    1989 Taurus SHO. Really like the thought of a stick shift sleeper sedan with some serious engine porn under the hood. What I bought was an 1989 Escort GT because that was what I could afford and I liked how it handled with those fat low profile 196/60/15 tires.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      He would have been the wrong age at time of purchase for this exercise, but Conan O’Brien owns a ’92 SHO. I find his shtick of “I still own this crappy 1992 sedan” to be slightly irksome, since he undoubtedly liked it when he bought it and has liked it since. Non-enthusiast media types like 60 Minutes’ Steve Kroft eat the shtick up, though, so I guess that’s why he does it.

      ’92, coincidentally, was a year where people born in ’72 would have been spoiled for choice. In no particular order and depending on the initial budget:
      – Volvo 200 series still was in production.
      – Mercedes W201 and W124 were in production and still had vestiges of the 1960s and ’70s “not built to a price” Benz mojo. My then-boss had a W124, and I would guess that it’s still on the road somewhere, whereas the W210 that replaced it probably isn’t.
      – Several Lexus and Toyota models, from the LS400 on down.
      – Ditto for Acura/Honda, though my unscientific opinion is that the Lexuses and Toyotas were more durable. I feel like Sun Belt Hondas of this era lasted a long, long time.
      – I virtually never like a post-facelift car, so the styling of the post-’89 Ciera and Century bug me, but they still were in production in ’92 and had had any major faults ironed out years before. The four or five families I knew with A-bodies got very good service out of them. (Those all late-’80s models; I can’t vouch for the early-’80s ones.)
      – Slight disclaimer, as ’92 was the first year of production, but 7th-gen Buick LeSabres seemed to go on forever. Part of that probably was an owner base that skewed “careful retiree,” but part was undoubtedly the 3800.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        “My then-boss had a W124, and I would guess that it’s still on the road somewhere, whereas the W210 that replaced it probably isn’t.”

        I wouldn’t be so sure. Aside from rust issues, I’d argue the W210’s transmission is more robust, and the engine does not have as many weaknesses (head gasket, timing chains, wiring harness).

        • 0 avatar
          Featherston

          @ gtemnykh – I’m glad you objected. You made me realize I got my chassis codes mixed up. The troublesome Mercedes in question was a W203. I recall that the headlights (or rather, their power supply) went dead during the third week of ownership. My boss was a non-car person and smart enough to say, “This has to be user error on my part.” Nope, it turned out to be a legitimate electrical problem.

          She didn’t keep it very long. The W204 that succeeded it has been fine to my knowledge. (She’s a committed M-B customer through thick and thin, obviously.)

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I owned an ’89 SHO. Was a fun car for exactly the reasons you describe. Was really not a fun car to keep running. It ate engine accessories left and right, and also had a lot of failure and breakage in the interior.

  • avatar
    chaparral

    2005 -leftover Toyota Celica GT-S. Almost did exactly that but my folks talked me out of taking on a car note. Would’ve been paid off by now and just reaching middle age.

  • avatar
    clepperd

    Yikes! 20 years old put me in the middle of the horrendous malaise era. No really good choices here, but I will go with a 1982 Chevy K5 Blazer base model with a/c, 350 V8, and 4-speed transmission. Probably would be one of the better choices for driving it for 20 years, if properly babied.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Regular Car Reviews on youtube did a whatever-the-hell-it-is-they-do on a 1999 Cherokee. Not real fond of their English major on crack review style, but if you fast forward to the last minute or so, there is a sequence on the amount of steering play that had me laughing pretty hard.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    I was flat broke at 20 in 2006, and frankly affording any car was a bad and difficult idea. If you’d asked me though, I probably would have said Magnum R/T or Subaru Legacy GT wagon. Maybe a Toyota FJ Cruiser, maybe.

    With the power of hindsight (and using the search feature on fuel economy.gov to tell me everything in 2006 that got better than 25mpg on average), I’d probably pick a Toyota Matrix (regular 1.8 if I’m being sensible, torqueless high-revving XRS if I allow a bit of whimsy). They weren’t hateful then,a and they last. Although, a decade later, and i still don’t have children planned, so an Acura RSX would likely work as well.

  • avatar
    aaroncooke

    Born 1985, so when we fast forward to 2005. I’ll take a Lexus LS 430. I think this is actually the sweet spot of the LS cars. Hold the air suspension please, and we should be good to go.

    And if I can have a garage mate, I’d call dibs on an unmodified S2000.

  • avatar
    Meathead

    Any 60 or 70 Series Toyota Land Cruiser. Preferably a turbo diesel, manual transmission with aftermarket overdrive. Annual lanolin-based undercoat, lots of regular grease in the every joint with a Zerk fitting. Canvas (washable) seat covers.

  • avatar
    quaquaqua

    Well, I had a 2001 Camry, and it’s still the best car I’ve ever had (no, I’m no enthusiast, but I have a 2015 Mazda6 currently). But whatever, let’s go with the 2002 Isuzu Axiom (shush, it came out in 2001). I *still* think the design looks current. I know they were still crude underneath and I’d probably regret it living in a pothole-heavy area, but I don’t care, I still love that car, and I see a fair number of them to this day.

    But the practical side of me says 2001 Highlander. Simple, roomy, small footprint.

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    It’s a year off, but my 1995 Volvo 850 Turbo. 227,000 miles and it’s only halfway through it’s usable life.

    The car’s old enough to drink, and I commute 100 miles a day with it.

  • avatar
    Tandoor

    94 Caprice. Won’t make 300k without a few trips to the salvage yard but I spent nearly the last 20 years fixing one B-body or another. Wouldn’t have known what to do with a new one. Probably wouldn’t throw a deer in the trunk until it’s at least 7 or 8 years old.

  • avatar
    Balto

    Not that I could afford it, but I’d probably go for a 2013 Flex. Always liked the look of them, I may actually seriously consider one once they’ve depreciated more. Either that or a ’13 transit connect.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Without giving away my exact age, let’s just say that a fairly-recent Lexus GX or LX would qualify under my 20-year-game; those would be my two picks.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    20 years of age brings me to 1974, which was a pretty dreary year for cars all around. I suppose a Mercedes 450SLC would do the trick and damn the upkeep costs – full speed ahead.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      @ tonyola – As the immortal Pepper Brooks said in Dodgeball, “Ouchtown, population you, bro!” Not much in ’74 seemed to have a 20-year life expectancy. The 450SLC is a good choice. Other than that, I think you’re looking at a Volvo, a lesser Mercedes (240D if you were more concerned about cost), or perhaps a pick-up truck. An uncle of mine did in fact daily drive a mid-’70s C/K for 20+ years. Grain of salt, as he’s a mechanic.

      On the plus side, your ’74 would have real bumpers and could be street parked with far less worry than could cars of later eras.

      Inspired by your avatar, I’ll throw out a wild card: a ’74 Mark IV. I think a surprisingly high percentage of these reached their 20th birthdays, though that–if I’m not just making up a fact, which I probably am–almost certainly can be attributed to first owners who babied them. Maybe there were “understressed 460” and “high profit margin allowing for a slow assembly line allowing for better build quality than you’d expect for the era” factors at play, though. I knew a man who was a Wiz Kid-era Ford exec, and a Mark IV was his last car. It was in great shape when he died in the early ’80s.

  • avatar
    Middle-Aged Miata Man

    My immediate response is a ’95 (“Fat”) Camry LE V6. Essentially bulletproof, durable and dead nuts reliable, inside and out. (You could probably convince me to move over to a 4Runner of similar vintage, but those were still pretty small inside and grossly underpowered in the mid-90s.)

    Out of left field, maybe – MAYBE – a Tahoe. 1995 was the first year for the 4-door, last for the non-“Vortec 5700” 350. Come to think of it, the ’96s with the upgraded V8 would have been out in time for my birthday.

    In any case, Tahoe mechanicals would probably go the distance just fine, but I doubt I could bear 20 years of GM’s failing trim bits and incompetent/apathetic service departments.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      In the same vein as the ’96 Tahoes, you would probably be able to find a new-for-’96 3rd gen 4Runner on sale with the vastly improved 3.4L V6 replacing the old “3.slow” 3.0L 3VZFE. 3rd gens gained an appreciable amount of legroom over gen 2 (adults can sit comfortably one in front of another), but they are still quite narrow by modern midsize SUV standards, and your legs are still kicked out in front.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      Nah you would be fine.

      Lots of mid to late 90’s burban amd tahoe on the roads here in CO.

      Met a guy at my kids soccer practice still rolling his burban that came with the 6.5 ltr turbo diesel. Had north of 250k on the odo. I want to say it was a 95′.

  • avatar
    racebeer

    Twenty years brings me to 1972 ….. so, gimme that Trans Am 455SD with a 4-speed, in red please.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I turned 20 in 1996, and that’s just a little bit too late for my very favorite Japanese machinery of the Weak Yen Era. So I’ll have to go with a car that seems pretty boringly predictable given the car I actually own: a 1996 LS400. That’s the 2nd gen, which was my favorite LS until the LS460 came out.

  • avatar
    Thorshammer_gp

    Lots to choose from for me, but I think I’d go for either a 2015 Ford Fusion (or a matching Mondeo wagon if it were available here) or a Chevy SS. I’m one of those weirdos that would still much rather have a sedan than a crossover for general use, and they’re two of the best-looking, IMO.

  • avatar

    I turned 20 in ’96, and I owned a 95 Explorer for about 14 years (2001-2015), so I’d pick a 96 Explorer XLT 5 door, and instead of the OHV v6/automatic, I’d ether go for the V8/auto or the OHV six and 5 speed manual.

  • avatar
    Sammy B

    2001

    oooh. Some good ones. Camry V6 5 speed, Maxima SE 20th Anniversary edition, Toyota Tacoma (though likely would have rusted away), 4Runner v6 5 speed, or Integra (type R or not).

    I would like to say the Integra, but for 20 years (and starting a family in that window), the Maxima or Camry probably would be better fit. Of those two, the Maxima more fun, but the Camry probably better suited to long term ownership.

    I think I’m going with 20th Anniversary Maxima (stick shift of course)

  • avatar
    raph

    Easy… foxbody Mustang. Huge aftermarket support along with with plenty of NOS suppliers to keep it going. Make mine a sedan with a 5.0 and a 5 speed.

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    That’s easy. 2013 F-150 SuperCab/8′ bed XLT 5.0 4×4 with the Heavy-Duty Payload Package, all the XLT options, trailer mirrors, Blue Jeans or Green Gem with two-tone (silver on the lower panels), Medium Light Camel interior. Only bad thing is that you couldn’t get that same model as a Lariat until 2015, so no brown two-tone fenders or leather seats.

  • avatar
    Jagboi

    1992 for me, can I fudge it a year and say I’d buy a left over on the lot 1991 Ford Country Squire Wagon.

  • avatar

    I turned 20 in 1997.

    Knowing what I know now, I would have picked up a Toyota Land Cruiser, which I’m positive that I would still own today.

  • avatar
    Zarba

    1981 Toyota Land Cruiser

  • avatar
    rcx141

    That’s easy. I turned 20 in 1985 in the UK. I’d buy a 2.0 Vauxhall Cavalier 5 speed. Properly maintained (just oil and belt changes, maybe a clutch change which can be done in half an hour) it would certainly still be running today, and for reliability, I would choose it over any of the super complicated bent wire and plastic diesel powered crapmobiles most Brits are stuck with these days.

  • avatar
    roverv8i

    1989 Honda Accord LXi 2 door, 5 speed.
    I actually owned that car. Wish I had had the sense to keep forever…..good things are wasted on youth

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Weimer

      Had an ’87 LXi hatch. The coupes were too expensive at the time (1994). Got wrecked (hit by a semi, not my fault). Bonus – insurance payout was for more than I paid for the car a year+ earlier.

      Had an ’83 earlier (sold due to transfer out of country) and a ’91 EX sedan later (wrecked too, again not my fault, got more money than paid). ’87 and ’91 were the same color (Seattle Silver). I would have kept each one of those if “events, dear boy” hadn’t occurred.

      Stopped buying 7-10 year old Accords after that because they began to get too expensive as used cars.

  • avatar
    mikey

    I turned 20 in 1973, With a 5 month old baby, and a 17 year old wife. I had 15 months seniority at GM. Sure, at the time, i had enough money to pay the bills. I was driving a 70 Camaro, it came, equipped with an “upside down ” loan with the Auto workers Credit union. The last thing on my mind was a car that would last 20 years.

    Fast forward 43 years or so, still have the same wife, and two 40 something daughters. Education, weddings, etc, all the things that are similar to so many others life experiences.

    I accepted a package from GM, and walked out the door on Dec 19 2008, { the very day that George W wrote the first {bail out cheque}. I honestly believed that i would be lucky to see half of my pension. I figured that my $35 K car voucher would be worth less, and not be as needed, as a roll toilet paper.

    The first day my voucher was valid was Jan i 2009. On Jan 3rd i traded my 2001 Grand Am GT in on a 2009 loaded LTZ Impala. My thinking was “I’m going to need another job, at least i will have a car that will last a long long time.

    Life changes, and not always “for the better” a whole lot of water, and vehicles ,have flowed under the bridge. Today my one and only vehicle is a 2015 EB Mustang. I’ve drenched it with” Krown rust inhibiter ” twice.. I spent a fortune on OEM winter wheels, and Michelin X ice tires. The kids bought me Weather Tech mats.

    The car is mine , free and clear, rather than a payment i have opted to stash X number of dollars per week to cover the inevitable repairs. Will an EB Mustang last 20 years in Southern Ontario ? Will I last another 20 years?

    I guess thats a couple of questions, that I don’t have an answer to…..yet.

  • avatar
    DougD

    As others have said, I’m living the dream and actually doing it.

    2001 Ford Focus ZTS. Manual transmission, Zetec engine and Krown rustproofing are the keys to Focus longevity.

  • avatar
    JustPassinThru

    For me, the choice is easy.

    It’s the same as yours – a Jeep Cherokee – in this case a 1978. I’d want the AMC six with a four-speed…and for all the reasons you give.

    Plus. The FSJ body, later to be re-christened the SJ but in its inagural years by Kaiser, known as the J-Series…was a classic coming out the gate. Like the XJ, it was a winner. It moved Willys Moters, renamed Kaiser Jeep in 1963, into an area where they could launch back into passenger cars. All that stopped them was the mortality of Henry Kaiser, who died in 1967…and Kaiser Industries liquidated to pay estate taxes.

    AMC knew it was a winner, too, and AMC styling head Richard Teague wisely kept his hands mostly off it. Renault, if they had doubts, could look at the sales sheet – and did, when they bought what was left of AMC.

    But…yeah. Strong-like-bull TRUCK…ladder frame, sitting up high; four-speed; torquey six. A later transplant of the modernized 4.0 might have been called for…or not.

    That would have been the time-tested, time-warp vehicle to own when I was that age.

  • avatar
    TR4

    20 years for me would be 1975, right in the Malaise era. Wouldn’t really want anything from that time.

  • avatar
    crispin001

    Easy: 1990 Olds Ninety Eight Regency. Yes, the regular one, not the Touring Sedan. Full membership in The Church of the 3800. Cloth bench seat so no center console to get in the way (the cloth lasts forever). A tractor in the snow…cruise all day on the highway. Optional trip computer lets me enjoy my hypermiling obsession. Easy to work on. Just put in a modern intake gasket and go, go, go….and look GOOD whilst doing it ;-)

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      This is also a good choice. I was driving an ’89 Electra up to late 2014, so getting a one-owner example to 20 years shouldn’t be too tough.

      • 0 avatar
        crispin001

        Yes!! I’ve owned both (still have my ’89 Park Avenue Ultra). In 2011 while working overseas, some scumbag broke into my storage unit and tried to steal my gray/gray ’90 Olds Ninety Eight (obliterating the steering column and fuel-filler door in the process). The Olds is still my favorite. The chrome was nicer than the Buick, the trip computer was great (it even had a rudimentary oil life monitor), and the cloth seats were pristine after all those years.

        Had it towed away for scrap with new tires. I could have driven that car anywhere it was so tight. Grrrrrr…..still mad about it. There’s one on Autotrader I might get myself for Christmas to ease the lingering pain after all these years, even though it’s the wrong color.

        PROPER cars have whitewall tires and hood ornaments ;-)

        I need help…I know.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    Meh. I would have to choose a ’98 something (late in the year, so I guess technically ’99 model year.)
    The only cool and good looking car built that year was the Honda/Acura NS-X, and I guess it wouldn’t be impossible to keep for another 20 years, If I were allowed to modify it a bit to not get bored of it (I’ve never yet kept a driveable car for 3 whole years)
    But in my opinion, there weren’t many interesting cars build in the 90’s at all, especially the late 90’s. The Germans were at an all time low as far as build quality , design and reliability goes, the Americans had not yet gotten back on their feet after the crash in the early 70’s, and Japanese cars, despite being quite advanced and technically awesome were still not very good looking or comfortable.
    If I could choose a year I would totally go for cars that are 10 years older than me.

  • avatar
    nels0300

    It seems that a lot of people in here stopped reading before the part that says:

    “you’ll have to maintain the thing, keep it in fuel, pay for insurance, not to mention signing the note for it in the first place”

    The only “correct” answers are something Honda, Toyota, or Panther, GM B-body, Jeep w/ inline 6, full size GM/Ford truck if you can afford the gas.

    • 0 avatar
      OldManPants

      Yeah, cuz boxy Volvos were such trashy trinkets.

    • 0 avatar
      moorewr

      My real-life experience with 20-year old Audis say otherwise.

      • 0 avatar
        nels0300

        My real life experience is that I live in a decently sized metro area and I don’t see too many 20 year old Audis on the road compared to other makes.

        • 0 avatar
          White Shadow

          That’s because 20 years ago, not many people were buying Audis. Even today, comparatively speaking, not many people are buying Audis. They just aren’t really common cars. But I will admit that you probably see more A4s on the road today than you’ve seen all other Audis combined in the past.

          • 0 avatar
            moorewr

            As White Shadow says, they weren’t common here new. Also, the cost of deferred maintenance or neglect is probably higher than many other brands.

            Some Audis (and VWs) between about 2003 and 2011 really did have fatal reliability problems, and ruined the brand’s reputation. Properly maintained, I’d put a C4 manual (especially an S4 or S6) up against any Japanese car of the era. Sure, you’d find yourself cursing Ingolstadt oer small stuff like window regulators, but the engine and transmission are bulletproof.

            Just don’t skimp on the timing belt replacement schedule..

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Weimer

      It’s something Honda, but that is why I put down ’90 Civic Si hatch. Heck, I’d probably *still* be driving it, as it would have met my needs then (except for the desire at the time to not pay a note, I could have afforded it) and since. Sporty (enough), get me around town with my friends, transport enough of my stuff around the country as needed (I was in the Navy and have made multiple coast-to-coast moves), and been a fine commuter now that I’ve been roped in and living the suburban lifestyle. And it’s cheap to operate and fix. The only update it would have needed was an upgrade to R-134.

      The only other choices would have been a Nissan or Toyota pickup, because everything else was unreliable and/or garbage in 1990.

  • avatar
    St.George

    I would go for a 1993 Lexus LS400 or most likely a 1993 Toyota Landcruiser.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    easy peasy… 1988 honda civic wagovan.

  • avatar
    otaku

    Let’s see. I turned twenty back in 1992. That summer I picked up a slightly used ’91 Ford Escort GT with around 20k miles. I drove it for the next six years with no problems whatsoever. Fun little car that was still ridiculously practical. Even on just all-season tires, the thing handled some of the worst winters New England could dish out without breaking a sweat. I probably would’ve kept it, but it was pretty loud on the highway and the stiff suspension was starting to take a toll on my nerves (and spine).

    So I handed it over to my brother who drove it to work every day right up ’til about the end of 2007. By that point it had almost 210k miles on it, the A/C didn’t work, and most of the gauges on the instrument panel were pretty useless, but it just refused to die. Hell, it was still averaging about 30 mpg. The entire time my brother owned it, I think he might’ve washed it twice, and yet by the time he traded it, there was just a bit of rust showing on the tailgate.

    I have no doubt that with a little extra TLC, it would’ve easily cleared the 20 year hurdle.

  • avatar
    scrubnick

    Old Guy bought a car when he was 23 (1973). A ’71 Datsun 510. Still has it and drives it occasionally today. My choice? 2004 Civic Si. Quite livable.

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    Seeing that if you were 20 again and bought a new vehicle with the expectation you would have it for 20 years, it seems a lot of these responses are….SUV/CUVs.

    Does everyone understand now just *why* that form factor is so popular?

  • avatar
    AlfaRomasochist

    I turned 20 in late ’96, so I’m going for a ’97 MY car – E36 BMW M3 4-door 5-speed, in Estoril blue, natch. Yes, I’ll probably rebuild the cooling system and VANOS every few years. Don’t care.

    If you’re going to be snotty and make me pick a ’96 I’d have to pass on the M3, since they were only available in 2 door version which would be a pain over 20 years. GM B-body then – either an Impala SS or a big, bad Caprice wagon with the LT1 and third row seat.

  • avatar
    zoomzoomfan

    2009 (I was born in November 1989). Let’s see. A car from 2009 that will last me for 20 years with little to no issues. I guess, in November of 2009, the auto market was in a sad enough state that I could get a then-new 2009 Accord for at least a little cheaper than normal, right?

    I’d get a 2009 Accord EX V6 sedan. I figure that the Honda-ness of it ensures reliability and easy-to-locate replacement parts for a couple decades.

  • avatar
    VaderSS

    1990 Suzuki Samurai
    super fun and goes anywhere.

  • avatar
    CobraJet

    1972 Ford F100. I did have a 1974 F100 that I drove for 20 years. It was still running as of a couple of years ago.

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    WOOHOO!!! I turned 20 in 96 which means I can do the NSX! Supercar with Honda reliability! Supra Turbo is also on the table. Great time to be alive!

  • avatar
    FalcoDog

    Boy, it would be 1983 for me. Cars were sooooo bad then. If I had to choose, I’d pick a Crown Vic. First gen panther. 5.0. I could keep one of those running forever. The only cool thing about those cars is that the more ratty they are, the better they look.

  • avatar
    JREwing

    I turned 20 in 1998, so I was a bit late to the party for some choices (Impala SS, Taurus SHO, the *fat* 1992-96 Toyota Camry), a bit early for others (V6 Accords weren’t out with a stick until much later, for example, and the slushbox on those liked to grenade). Thankfully, in 1998, you could actually option a 5-speed (or 6-speed!) manual!

    So, here’s a few that I would’ve gone for:

    Don’t care about fuel mileage:
    – 4-door Cherokee with the 4.0L I6 and 5-speed

    – Chevrolet Silverado Z71
    ext. cab, 6′ box, with the 350/5-speed manual

    – Ford F150
    ext. cab, 6′ box, with the 5.4L/5-speed manual

    – Dodge Dakota R/T with the extended cab. Yeah, that’s tempting…

    Choices for when, maybe, I give a crap about mileage:
    – Ford Contour SVT (200hp from a rev-happy V6 + 5-speed manual)

    – Toyota Camry LE (V6 + 5-speed manual)

    Do I have to swear allegiance to GM? (I did live in a GM town). Well then:

    – Buick Regal GS (supercharged 3800 forgives a lot of sins)

    – Oldsmobile Intrigue (w/ the 3800)

    – Oldsmobile Eighty Eight LSS

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      The 5.4 F-150 never had a manual option. The 5.4 Super Duty, yes, but there was no transmission that could take the 5.4’s power and still fit in the F-150.

      Those all sound like neat choices otherwise.

    • 0 avatar

      I had a friend who had 2 contour SVT’s fun cars but he dumped them both when they got older do to some engine issues (one he sold to his brother who I think kept it until it was around 10 years old). But when they were new they were awesome. He had a fully loaded black one that was badass.

      Love the RT’s drove several and I have seen a couple for sale under 5k lately in decent shape.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Methinks you are swearing allegiance to our Church, not GM, my son.

    • 0 avatar
      friedclams

      For 1998 I’d pick the LSS. The best large FWD sedan GM ever made. I owned one and gave it to my dad, he’s still driving it. What a ride, and bombproof.

      I believe Intrigues are less robust and less roomy.

  • avatar
    fatoldaggie

    ’86 … any Chevy / GMC truck. Probably a Suburban.

    2nd choice – a CJ-7

  • avatar
    Stevo

    1990 Accord Wagon, if I was smart. Of course I had just purchased my first car, an 86 Jetta so I know I would have lusted after a 16V GLI. I still see that era Accord frequently. Jetta? Not so much.

  • avatar
    Dann

    I turned 20 in 2004.
    As something that I would have to live with day-to-day, I would go a Holden VYII Commodore S with the last of the L67 engines.
    Or, if one of the 350 made happens to fall into my lap, a Holden Commodore VYII SS wagon with the LS1 engine.

    In reality, 20-year-old me was driving a 1990 Toyota Corona EXIV hardtop import, or a 1989 Ford EA Falcon S sedan, depending on when in 2004.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    For me, just about any 1968 mid-size or larger would last 20 years, if you maintained it. I had a ’68 Mercury Montego MX with a mechanic-installed 351 that I bought in 1972, and sold it to a guy who bought it for his kid in 1977. The kid blew the engine, and his dad put a junkyard 302 back into it. The kid drove it at least until 1991, that’s the last time I saw it. If I hadn’t sold that car, I might still be driving it.

  • avatar
    jimmy2x

    Well, if I could have afforded it , would have been a 1967 Pontiac GTO. Actually was stationed in Japan at the time. Bought my 1st car there, a 56 Chevy Belair with a V8 and 4 speed Hurst shift on the floor which had been installed by one of many previous owners. Was a great car, but not good for driving in Japan. Paid $300 for it.

    Best car (or at least the one I loved) was a 65 T-Bird. I recall crossing Texas in I-20 at between 95-100 mph in the heat of July. That big 8 never whimpered. Good times, and yes I’m old. Still a bit nutty about cars.

  • avatar
    ArialATOMV8

    I’m going to be turning 20 in 2017 so, choosing a car for the next 20 years will be extremely hard. This is during a time where evrything is electronic and, pretty complex. Also, the choices are not that good these days (and I’m not going to cheat by getting something not offered in this country)

    I’m going to take a risk and get a 2017 Tundra Limited extended cab. I’d work out a payment plan by breaking the big amount into small monthly payments. Its crash test rating is acceptable but, I’m getting a safe driver discount anyways and, about to age into the low risk group early in this car’s life (so far no accidents and, I’m a careful driver “familiar” with my car’s limits lol). If I’m going to be driving something for the next 20 years, it better have a V8 or else it will get old real quick! Its also as close as I’m going to get to a reliable modern truck and, should easily pass 200k with no major repairs. Surprisingly, this truck also has decent aftermarket support so, I can increase the MPG/performance of the engine right out of the factory!, since its a truck, it will handle fine in the snow if I choose to stay in New England! To ensure it lasts, it will get washed regularly, parked in my garage when not in use and, after every winter ride, hosed down to avoid rot (learned my lesson with Parents 03 Land Cruiser)

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      “I can increase the MPG/performance of the engine right out of the factory!”
      Now, there sure are some power-adding options for that 3UR-FE beast, namely the TRD supercharger, but trying to throw money at that motor to get better fuel economy is a fool’s errand if I ever heard one.

      “since its a truck, it will handle fine in the snow if I choose to stay in New England!”

      A pickup truck would probably be my last choice for sure footed winter driving. The poor weight distribution alone ruins things, 4wd or not. Short of really deep snow, I’ll take my snow tire-shod FWD midsize sedan over a truck any day of the week for winter commuting or long highway trips.

      • 0 avatar

        I have found 4wd pickups to be fine in winter but they really need the 4wd turned on. My 87 toyota pickup was night and day in the snow with 4wd on and off. My dakota was the same way. My jeep and ramcharger were far better in both 2wd and 4wd but I would take a 4wd pickup over a lot of FWD cars.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          I’d honestly take my snow-tire shod ES300 over my snow tire shod 4Runner for winter highway driving. The 4Runner’s tall and bouncy suspension and high profile makes it a real handful in crosswinds and crossing over expansion joints can unsettle it. Short of a real ‘snowpocalypse’ where I need the clearance and 4wd to chew through deep snow, I’ll take the better handling and more favorable weight distribution of a FWD sedan on snow tires any day. Additionally, my 4Runner only has a part-time 4wd system, a multi-mode version of the t-case with a free-wheeling center diff would be preferable for that kind of winter driving. My old MPV “All-Sport” really hit the sweet spot: longer wheelbase and more car-like ride and handling (even though it was still solid rear axle) for better stability over those expansion joints on the highway, better weight distribution than the 4Runner, and a 4wd system with an open-center diff mode. With snow tires, that thing was a real pleasure to drive on snowy roads, like at 4am across Western NY before the plows came through on I86. I never actually turned 4wd on unless there was really bad slush or icy conditions.

          I’ll sum it up as 4wd being a necessary clutch to make a pickup even somewhat manageable in winter conditions, whereas something more mundane and FWD is to me less of a white knuckle experience at higher speeds in winter conditions assuming I have snow tires.

          • 0 avatar
            ArialATOMV8

            That Gen 4Runner is the pinnicle of the lineup and, i’d gladly take it over many other cars these days. Your right about weight distribution too.

            By the way, I generally what are your thoughts on the newest gen 4Runner?

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            I’d call it in a way a return to the trajectory of the 3rd gen trucks (ground clearance wise especially), rather than the “softening” of the 4th gen which if it hadn’t been for the existence of the Highlander in Toyota’s lineup, could very well have seen the 4Runner take the path of the Explorer and Pathfinder.

            Yes there has been some decontenting in the form of losing a multi-mode style of 4wd system (2Hi, 4H unlocked, 4H locked, 4Low) on non-Limited trims, the upshot is we have an honest to god manual transfer case lever on the Trail trims. Loss of the V8 is unfortunate, I don’t see why they can’t make one seeing as it’s a restyled Prado and the GX in the Lexus dealership next door get’s Toyota’s excellent 4.6L V8. This option would be a boon to guys that want to get out to the wilderness in their 4Runner, but also bring a trailer of dirt bikes or something. 4.0L is no slouch mind you, just very hampered by a very eco-minded throttle calibration. Put your foot into it and the 4Runner with its ‘ancient’ 5spd will keep up just fine with a Pentastar+8spd Grand Cherokee.

            Purists complain about the size/weight gain with every generation, I’d argue the weight is right in line within the context of modern cars, and size is just about perfect. 47cu ft of cargo room with seats up, 90 with seats down are excellent numbers, better than most midsize crossovers actually. All while retaining a pretty short wheelbase and overall tidy footprint. Another bonus to the larger size is that we finally have a more traditional “chair” style seating layout rather than the legs-out style seen in older 4Runners and still in Tacomas.

            Overall, if I weren’t such a scrooge, I’d sell my 3rd gen Limited and buy a Trail Premium ASAP before Toyota finds a way to screw it up.

  • avatar
    E82

    This is an easy pick for me. A 2000 Bmw E39, most likely a 528i with stick under 100k miles or a little over. As soon as i get it, i will do regular maintanance including valve cover gaskets and tuneup and am good to go. My last one 1999 lasted 240k miles until I wrecked it. Bulletproof and reliable, changed my perception of bmws, well maybe its only the e39s that are that reliable. Seen a few with close to 300k. I tried to buy a camry, accord and even 1999 Tl FWD but I couldn’t do it. Not becz of reliability but the driving experience of my last 528i was unimaginable. Ok my current 01 e39 has 180k and that thing runs like a churm. So for me, an e39 is my winner

  • avatar
    gosteelerz

    1988
    Can’t decide
    Either a Lincoln Mark VII LSC or Thunderbird with 5.0.
    Prefer to have the Lincoln but not sure about those air springs.

    Had a 1987 5.0 Mustang at the time but it became the target of thieves by the early 90s. You couldn’t even go to the movies without worrying about your car being stolen.

  • avatar
    ptschett

    2001-me was already too contrarian to accept the premise, but would be willing to give a Navy Blue WS6 Trans-Am a try if the price is right.

  • avatar
    cak446

    This is an easy one for me. I was 20 in 1998, so I’d buy a 1998 Dodge Ram 2500 extended cab short box with the 12 valve Cummins and a 5 speed.

    The 1998 Cummins is the holy grail of Dodge trucks. It was the first year you could get the short box in the 3/4 tons, and the first year of the quad cab with the suicide rear doors. The interior was also upgraded in 98. All these upgrades were only available with the all mechanical 12 valve Cummins for half a year, before they switched to the computerized 24 valve Cummins due to emissions.

  • avatar
    glwillia

    2000 BMW E39 528iT wagon with the sport, premium and cold weather packages and a 5-speed manual.

    I drive something pretty close to that now, a 2002 530i E39 sedan with sport/premium/cold weather and the manual. It only has 65k miles and I plan on keeping it a looooong time. I DIY almost all my repairs/maintenance so the infamous BMW running costs aren’t as much of an issue, and their naturally aspirated I6s and manual gearboxes are quite reliable.

  • avatar
    quickson

    Add me to the list of people already doing this. A couple of years ago, my Scion was falling apart and I needed to move, so I killed 2 birds with one stone and traded it for a 1998 Ford Ranger XLT with 43k miles on it. Old guy was disabled and drove it right around 3k miles/yr. Only downside was he drove it partly by feel, so there’s a good number of bumps and creases along the drivers side. Manual everything, 2.5L 4-banger. It’s moved us twice, gets mid-20s mpg, and I drive it to my office twice a week at a 95-mile round trip. Dead reliable, does everything I need and nothing more.

  • avatar
    Frylock350

    That’s easy for me, a GMT800 Chevrolet Suburban.

    All the GM trucks and b-bodies I’ve owned have been fantastically reliable. This is also back when the pricing for the things wasn’t so high.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    It seems that so few people actually read the rules of the game. You have to be able to afford this 20 year car at the age of 20 (which for many means having the credit score to afford a loan) and keep it running for 20 years. Plus, most people’s lives between 20 and 40 years of age can take dramatic shifts in priorities.

    I love it when people say they’d get a 300ZX (or something equally sporty) without ever thinking about the first job, first house, first kid. That 300ZX (or something equally sporty) will suck balls when you have to figure out how to wedge a car seat in there…

    That said, I turned 20 in 1982. Outside of pony cars back then, there was little else I was interested in. For a 20-year car, I would think that a pick-up truck or SUV would be one of the few things that would last through all of life’s surprises and 20 rust-belt winters.

    I’ve played this game before and my answer remains the same: a 1982 Eagle Wagon. Bulletproof drivetrain, the highest utility of all of the bodies while still retaining some car-like qualities.

    One of my brothers actually played the real-life version of this game (unknowingly) with that exact car. Well, almost 20 years, it was totaled in an accident 17 years in.

    • 0 avatar
      glwillia

      Most 20 year olds are broke, so that would be a pointless thought exercise. But I’ll answer with the vehicle I was actually driving in 2000: a 4cyl, 5-speed Ford Ranger–I could and did afford it at 20 and it would last 20 years, easily.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      “It seems that so few people actually read the rules of the game. You have to be able to afford this 20 year car at the age of 20”

      That’s actually not explicitly stated. It could be inferred, but then the game is boring because broke-arse 20 year olds can’t afford new cars. Additionally, the article’s author posited a 35,000 in-2016-dollars new Jeep as his answer, so the comments in this thread follow that example pretty well.

      • 0 avatar
        Tomsriv

        The car I bought when I was 19 in 1997 was a ’71 Buick Riviera with a 455! And I have had it almost 20 years! But it was only my daily driver for the first 5 years. The fuel costs and filling up every other day made it impractical. I used to drive it daily on the PCH to my internship in Malibu. Those were the days.

  • avatar
    hgrunt

    At 20, I wouldn’t have been able to afford any car.

    If I had a choice, or were 20 today, had to choose a car for 20 years, it’d probably be an E46 with the M-Performance package, or an E46 Touring (wagon) if I could find one in stick.

    I got very well acquainted with my ’03 330i sedan. Didn’t find it hard to work on, or particularly unreliable (though a little more maintenance than I’m used to) and it’s been the most well rounded car I’ve ever owned.

  • avatar
    furiouschads

    1978 brown Ford Fairmont wagon with 86 hp 4 cyl and manual 4-speed. First year of Fox platform. The American 145.

  • avatar
    smapdi

    ’04 Tracker/Sidekick, or ’04 Tacoma. They can all do 200k miles, are reliable and versatile.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I go with my 99 S-10 extended cab 5 speed manual with an I-4 and aluminum wheels that I have owned for almost 18 years and plan on keeping it for several more years. Nice size, easy to drive, decent mpgs, and the 5 speed manual is more engaging than an automatic. A very decent handling truck that is not too big and handles reasonably well on hilly curvy roads. I never planned on keeping this truck that long but it has been very reliable and enjoyable to drive.

  • avatar
    DownUnder2014

    I don’t think anyone is still reading this, but seeing as 20 for me is next year, probably a 2017 Toyota LC70 (either DC or Wagon) Workmate.

    Runners-Up are (in order):
    2017 Toyota 4Runner SR5 (only at the top because of the proven technology inside, if only the 6-Speed from the Tacoma was fitted)
    2017 Nissan Patrol Safari (4.8 TB48DE I-6/5-Speed Manual)
    2017 Ram 2500/3500 Tradesman (SRW, HID headlamps, 6.7 TurboDiesel I-6/6-Speed Manual)
    2017 Chevrolet Suburban LS (Must have Front Bench Seat/would add 6.2 V8 as well from the Russian spec Tahoe). As an aside, I wish the 2500 could have a front bench (GM Fleet says front buckets standard)

    I also wish the Ford Excursion was still sold, otherwise I’d have put that in as well…

    But honestly, affordable, probably an econobox of some type. Or maybe an old Falcon. If not either, maybe a late 1990’s Triton/Ranger etc.

    I already drive a 1996 Corolla, so that would my choice of small car. Which also means I actively play the 20 year old car game right now.

    • 0 avatar
      Tomsriv

      For new cars I would say a Honda CR-V would be a great all around car, but then you would have to turn in your man card. A 4 door Wrangler is probably the closest to the Cherokee XJ that the writer has. And will probably not go down in value much. Plus the 3.6 engine is used in everything from the Avenger to the Durango and has already proven itself to be a great engine.

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