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View Full Version : Thinking about consolidating the DD and trail rigs into one



grumpyoldretiredcop
March 19th, 2015, 08:52 PM
So as the title says, I'm thinking about consolidating my DD (a 2003 Nissan Frontier) and my project/trail rig (a 93 XJ) into one vehicle. The biggest reason is to have a DD/trail rig that has seats for at least 4 and is not as much of a project as the XJ is turning out to be. I think between selling both of them and some possible gun sales, I can come up with 9-10K or so. Just for the heck of it, I checked out Carson Jeep... the least expensive rig they had was a Sahara, nice rig but no way am I going to pay the 16K or so that they're asking for something I'm going to scratch and dent on the trail. I'm already haunting Craigslist looking for alternatives. I'm looking for something with the same or less miles on it than my Frontier has (120K).

So far, I'm leaning towards either:

Early to mid 90's Wrangler - easy to lift, small size, more nimble on the trail, don't really want a DD that old but almost everyone selling a newer one than that seems to think their Wrangler is gold plated when it comes to price.

2000 to ~2007 or so Nissan Xterra - harder to lift beyond 3", but more comfortable, more interior room, less expensive than a Wrangler and way more towing capacity

Early 2000's Nissan Frontier Crew Cab - same comments as above

The last may turn out to be important as the wife and I are also thinking about a small travel trailer so we can go out and camp, then use the haul vehicle to make trail runs in the area. The Wrangler probably won't work well for that unless we can find a really light trailer.

Edit - I'm not thinking to lift whatever I get much, if any, beyond 4". I want some lift, but this is going to be driven way more on-road than off.

I guess I could use some advice from folks who've been doing this longer than me. It has to be one vehicle, and it has to come in under the stated price tags, don't want to take a vehicle out on the trail if I'm still paying on it. Thoughts?

Shawn Trooper
March 19th, 2015, 09:12 PM
When I was looking for a multi use vechicle, I was looking for the same qualities as you. With exception I wanted nothing to do with an American made vechicle. I needed something that could tow a boat plus hull the kids and all the cargo for a family of 5 and good fuel mileage. I had narrowed it down to 4, Isuzu VechiCross, Isuzu Trooper, Land Rover LR3 & Nissan Xtera. My first choice was the VechiCross but it only seats 4. Land Rover has to many problems and the Nissan to me was affordable but more than I wanted to spend and had poor fuel mileage. So as you know I went with a Trooper. I would look into one of them.

nevadayj
March 19th, 2015, 09:17 PM
I wouldn't buy a YJ, there are good TJ's now for about what you'll spend to build a decent YJ. With leaf springs all around and a fairly crappy interior the YJ will bring the suck as a driver. The TJ is still plasticy inside, but much better with coil springs,etc. Tons of aftermarket still and lots of used parts around to build one. Or maybe a grand Cherokee with a mild lift? Pretty cheap and plentiful, plus a better tow vehicle if you get a trailer. If you bought an Isuzu as suggested above, does anyone still work on those things anymore?

maxamillion2345
March 19th, 2015, 09:26 PM
FJ80 but a lot of em need some TLC in the front axle dept. and maybe do the head gasket, but once maintained they're reliable, strong rigs, run 35s f/r lockers, all wheel drive with selectable 4wd, and 3 rows of seats. All the amenities.

Low mile one might be right around your budget.

I'd rather have a 4runner but it's smaller and IFS so... I guess it depends on what you're after.

grumpyoldretiredcop
March 19th, 2015, 10:05 PM
Probably should add some clarification. I'm not thinking about an extreme lift, something about like 4" is probably going to be all I want to do.

I looked at Forerunners... looked at what it takes to lift one and what lifts were available and that was all she wrote. Never thought about an FJ, though. Edit - never mind. Looked up FJ's, had to put the fire out in my wallet. Not gonna happen in my price range!

As for the TJs, there's an example of folks thinking their Jeeps for sale are gold plated. Can't find too many TJs within that 9K price range. I would look at one if I found it though, not turning my nose up at it. I've had a YJ and didn't have a problem with the ride.

Looked at Troopers, but not liking the ground clearance. Lifting the Trooper has the same limitations as lifting a Frontier or Xterra, looks like. Finding someone to work on it if needed looks like an issue too.

Grand Cherokee... that's another one I never looked seriously at, thought they had a history of transfer case issues. Anyone havng a lifted Grand Cherokee and has some input would be welcome.

RelentlessTaco
March 19th, 2015, 10:19 PM
Probably should add some clarification. I'm not thinking about an extreme lift, something about like 4" is probably going to be all I want to do.

I looked at Forerunners... looked at what it takes to lift one and what lifts were available and that was all she wrote. Never thought about an FJ, though. Edit - never mind. Looked up FJ's, had to put the fire out in my wallet. Not gonna happen in my price range!

As for the TJs, there's an example of folks thinking their Jeeps for sale are gold plated. Can't find too many TJs within that 9K price range. I would look at one if I found it though, not turning my nose up at it. I've had a YJ and didn't have a problem with the ride.

Looked at Troopers, but not liking the ground clearance. Lifting the Trooper has the same limitations as lifting a Frontier or Xterra, looks like. Finding someone to work on it if needed looks like an issue too.

Grand Cherokee... that's another one I never looked seriously at, thought they had a history of transfer case issues. Anyone havng a lifted Grand Cherokee and has some input would be welcome.

Maybe you're looking in the wrong place for lifting a 4runner if you ended your search so quickly?
Theres no difference with IFS between say an xterra and a 4runner. Both will be limited to similar lift heights, have similar options available (mild to wild) and parts will cost similar. Earlier 4runner/xterra has the less desirable torsion bar front, newer ones have coil sprung strut's that are better than the earlier suspension. Further the 4runner is linked from the factory in the rear instead of the SUA setup under an xterra which will probably perform better with simpler modifications and potentially cheaper. IMO the 4runner has a much better aftermarket following than the Frontier/xterra so you should be able to mod a 4runner easier if anything.
A 4th gen(03-09) 4runner can even be made to reliably fit 35's with only 3" of lift and a little fender well trimming and slightly larger bump stops.
Maybe i'm a little partial to Toyotas, but they seem to make sense to me I guess. :cool:

willys dave
March 19th, 2015, 10:22 PM
I agree with Max, you say you want room, not any left once you have four people crammed in a Small Jeep. I also don't think you'll be pulling much in a Jeep either.The Toyota has the room, and capacity you are looking for, not to mention the dependability.Grand Cherokee may work also, depending on which one you get.Good luck and let us know what you find !

WJeeper
March 19th, 2015, 10:30 PM
Id say look into the Grand Cherokees more, I LOVE mine. I wish id have gotten a v8, cause the 4.0 I6 is not well set for towing. 4 inch lift and locker up front, I can go anywhere. Keep it 1999-2004 and you will keep the solid front axle, 2005+ stepped up to IFS. the 2005+ are very nice for power and luxury, but lifting one is less easy. They are fairly cheap compared to $10k, so you would have some left for upgrades.

maxamillion2345
March 19th, 2015, 10:36 PM
Id say look into the Grand Cherokees more, I LOVE mine. I wish id have gotten a v8, cause the 4.0 I6 is not well set for towing. 4 inch lift and locker up front, I can go anywhere. Keep it 1999-2004 and you will keep the solid front axle, 2005+ stepped up to IFS. the 2005+ are very nice for power and luxury, but lifting one is less easy. They are fairly cheap compared to $10k, so you would have some left for upgrades.

I agree. I'd be considering one of these as well.

grumpyoldretiredcop
March 19th, 2015, 10:40 PM
Good info on 4runners. Yup, guess I was only looking at earlier 4runner lifts - didn't even know there was a 2nd/3rd/4th gen. If I can find a newer 4runner within my price range that doesn't have 200+K miles on it, it'll go on the list. Same for the Grand Cherokee - I've seen several of those that would fall right into what I'm looking for.

maxamillion2345
March 19th, 2015, 10:41 PM
I'm not sure where you're looking but I routinely see 93-97 80 series land cruisers for under 9k. For one with low miles they should be right in that window though. Commonly ~7k for something with lockers and 200k and in great shape. Might not be ideal but its an option.

maxamillion2345
March 19th, 2015, 10:45 PM
Again I'd be after a 4runner, 3rd gen with a 3.4 and manual. I'd have a 4runner instead of my 80 of I could have fit this engine into one... But thats a different story. Anyhow, great rigs... 4th gens are cool too though, just like a Tacoma but with a bigger cab and a linked rear end and that v8 option.

grumpyoldretiredcop
March 19th, 2015, 10:51 PM
Max, I don't know where you're finding these low mileage Land Cruisers... I'm not seeing them anywhere. Most have over 200K that I see, not what I want in a daily driver. I don't want another project. Same is looking true for the 4runners, too... if I can afford it, it's got way too many miles on it. Too bad, I'd like to have that V8 option too, mo' power!

It's gotta be an automatic, otherwise the wife can't drive it. I've grown to prefer the automatic on the trail, too.

WJeeper
March 19th, 2015, 10:59 PM
https://reno.craigslist.org/ctd/4911163520.html

Exactly what I would get, maybe a tad high on pricing, but if in good shape, thats in the right area. give it a test drive, and i bet you'd like it.

grumpyoldretiredcop
March 19th, 2015, 11:02 PM
Oddly enough, I just looked at that ad! :)

WJeeper
March 19th, 2015, 11:02 PM
I think a 4Runner would be nice also, love Toyota's. But they are just not cheap. I think best capability w/luxury/space goes to WJ's. Maybe I am biased a little though :)

grumpyoldretiredcop
March 19th, 2015, 11:33 PM
That's okay... everybody on here has a bias one way or another. I'm still getting excellent info to help me make a choice of what my next bias will be! :D

BUILTnotBOUGHT
March 20th, 2015, 05:32 AM
My choice for a dd/trail/expo rig would be a 3rd gen 4Runner 3.4 5speed, decent fuel mileage, comfortable and reliable. Once my ford is payed off I'll be buying one for that purpose.

Mr_Scott
March 20th, 2015, 06:09 AM
My vote is for the Xterra or the 4runner, I've owned both and they are great for what you want to do. Aftermarket support the Yota wins by a landslide. Value, I give the nod to the X. 33"s bolt right on to a 2nd gen X and with a cheap coilover/UCA upgrade you can get a respectable amount of ifs travel. Plus, the option to Titan swap any or all of the front suspension/diff.

While not my favorite setup of all time, the X did pull double duty there for a bit:
http://i57.photobucket.com/albums/g206/chrscott_01/Mobile%20Uploads/IMG_186372749487253_zpsqlrrvpmx.jpeg (http://s57.photobucket.com/user/chrscott_01/media/Mobile%20Uploads/IMG_186372749487253_zpsqlrrvpmx.jpeg.html)

braindead0
March 20th, 2015, 07:12 AM
The towing capacity nissan quotes is IMO overstated. I tow a slightly less than 3k lb travel trailer with my '07 fronty which they claim can town 6500#... I suppose it can if you don't mind driving 20mph as soon as you hit the mountains. I think ~3k is a more reasonable real world towing capacity maybe a bit more on 4wd due to the slightly lower gear ratio (mine is a 2wd)

Mr_Scott
March 20th, 2015, 07:34 AM
Agreed^ Prob tow 6500# in town no problem, soon as you're battling the parachute effect its a whole 'nother animal. My only saving grace was CA's 55mph while towing law:(

braindead0
March 20th, 2015, 07:51 AM
Agreed^ Prob tow 6500# in town no problem, soon as you're battling the parachute effect its a whole 'nother animal. My only saving grace was CA's 55mph while towing law:(Yeah.. I don't feel too bad when in CA ;-).. My setup will run up 395 to Susanville at the speed limit without much trouble, one we head up into the mountains things certainly slow down.

willys dave
March 20th, 2015, 08:37 AM
I am looking for no argument here but, Even though I have a couple of Jeeps,in my mind, I just think Toyota is a better vehicle almost in every aspect. My wife drives one, her last car was one, they have been great cars. I just don't know if you are going to get the dependability out of a Jeep product like you would probably get from a Toyota. It's one of those things I look at when buying because I have a tendency to keep my vehicles for a long time.

Toyota_James
March 20th, 2015, 08:54 AM
I'd vote 3rd or 4th Gen 4Runner. Very obviously biased but Toyota's have a very proven track record minus 3.0 v6, which even most of those have 200k+ on them. RelentlessTaco's G/F has a 4th gen and with the V8 that thing hauls ass and pretty comfortable to boot. And like he said it has a small lift and has 35's with minor trimming. Armor it up and it should keep up with most TJ's similarly equipped.

ManNamedJed
March 20th, 2015, 09:11 AM
I was going to post to consider a WJ Cherokee or an Xterra, but it looks like that has already been covered.

jfrey123
March 20th, 2015, 10:36 AM
Peril of using a DD as a trail rig is what happens if you break something bad and it's down for a few days? Might not affect you so much since your user name mentions retired... I'd be looking into what vehicles are common at Pick'n'Pull so you've got a source of parts if needed. Most of the import SUV's end up at the Airport Auto Wrecking yards where they charge you to pull the part for you. Just food for thought.

Nevadabackroader
March 20th, 2015, 10:44 AM
I'm biased as well, but I vote for the 4runner. Great vehicles. I'm actually planning on doing the same type of thing. Thinking about selling the 85 Toy crawler and consolidate light wheeling/expo/DD into my first gen Tundra. Not a huge aftermarket following but a mild lift with new struts and UCA's in the front and AAL in the rear, bigger tires, relentless fab bumpers/armor and maybe some other expo goodies should get me everywhere I want to go.

Shawn Trooper
March 20th, 2015, 01:49 PM
How about a full size blazer or bronco? You can find them for cheep parts are abundant and solid axels

grumpyoldretiredcop
March 22nd, 2015, 05:55 PM
Sorry folks, been away for a couple of days. Lots to think about here. Not worried about breaking a combo DD/trail rig as we'd still have my wife's car... it'd be my DD that would be broken, which we can live with (as we are at the moment, it's down until I replace the PS pump/water pump belt tension roller that failed on my way home Saturday).

Not considering a full size rig. That's what I contemplated when I was originally looking for a trail rig last year but was convinced by numerous members here, and backed up by my experience so far, that some trails around here are just not full-size friendly. I've been through a couple of places that I know I couldn't get a full size through.

I think it kind of comes down to this:

Would like to find, but hard to find in my price/mileage range (not buying a 200K mileage rig for my DD) but would grab in a heartbeat if I did:
4Runner (2nd gen and up)
Land Cruiser

Can find in my price/mileage range, can lift easily, but will have to blow off towing with it:
TJ
YJ

Can easily find well under my price and in my desired mileage range, can tow, but have to tolerate limited lift possibilities:
Xterra
Frontier Crew Cab

Can find well under my price and in my desired mileage range, can tow, can lift:
WJ (not as easily but can be done for my purposes)
XJ (harder to find)

I'll let you all know how it turns out. Thank you all for your insight!

braindead0
March 22nd, 2015, 06:07 PM
Make sure to think about what you're going to realistically tow and how well you want it to tow (mileage, keeping up to speed..etc) otherwise you might end up with something that's miserable to tow what you want to tow.

rlmjr58
March 22nd, 2015, 06:07 PM
Have the 2004 TJ Rubicon and love it don't see myself giving it up...
Have a 2004 WJ currently for my DD.V8, lots of power and comfort. Nice ones available in the 6k range and were probably fairly well maintained grocery getters. Lifting is a bit of a chore with very limited tire size with no cutting...
Had an 88 XJ with tow package some weight limitations for towing but did ok. have considered selling the WJ to pick up another with the spare bucks to do a 3.5" lift and still stay a dd. Easy to lift LOTs of aftermarket support not too spendy. 1996 - 1999 have some pretty good parts as in the rear difs being very strong and plentiful. pretty available and pricing from 3k to ?

As far as pricing of Wranglers in general (and Toys also) the high demand for capable rigs keeps the price high... so in a way they are like gold.

grumpyoldretiredcop
March 22nd, 2015, 06:49 PM
Fixed my summary. I'm not contemplating towing anything more than a small travel trailer (17 ft. max). We're considering waiting until we have the trailer and then replacing the wife's DD with a 4WD tow vehicle instead of using mine. That would make a Wrangler practical.

braindead0
March 22nd, 2015, 07:03 PM
Fixed my summary. I'm not contemplating towing anything more than a small travel trailer (17 ft. max). We're considering waiting until we have the trailer and then replacing the wife's DD with a 4WD tow vehicle instead of using mine. That would make a Wrangler practical.Seems like a reasonable plan. I'd recommend knocking off 20-30% from manufacturers tow ratings when looking for a tow vehicle if you want to be able to tow with relative ease in the mountains. I think newer vehicle tow ratings are based on more realistic data but it's been a while since I've looked. Good luck, run the numbers and ask around for real world experience on your tow vehicle..

McNasty
March 22nd, 2015, 07:47 PM
I know you said that towing is no longer a factor, but I just wanted to toss out there that I regularly tow with my TJ. My Jeep is on 35" tires, 4.88, with the 42rle. I also have upgraded brakes on the Jeep, an auxiliary transmission cooler, and trailer brakes. I wouldn't tow with a TJ without any of those things. The trailer is a small Fleetwood cobalt and fully packed I've only ever had it to just a little over 1,700 lbs. that was on a week long trip to Gold Lake. Towed from Reno to to the trail, down the trail, and back just fine.

I will admit it's not ideal, and even with o.d. off some of the steeper inclines had the rpm's a little higher than I'd like. It will go 75 all the way out to Lahontan though.

Really for the TJ to be any good as an overland vehicle you will have to tow at least a small trailer. Even with the back seat out you can only cram so much stuff back there. Unless you buy an LJ, which is way over your price point.

Rage.690
March 22nd, 2015, 08:19 PM
Find yourself a scamp trailer and poop in the woods and you can choose any rig you want. At 1300 lbs loaded no problem. As for lift and such, xterra would be cool just way more fab work. More comfy than a tj for sure. Will make it past that 130k mark for sure. Cheaper that yota

Shawn Trooper
March 22nd, 2015, 08:50 PM
2 gen troopers....
33" tires require 2" lift spacers or springs in rear T-bar crank front.
35" tires 3" lift same as 33 + 1" body.
37" tires 3" lift, with 2" diff drop, 2" body, some trimming, re gear & 1" wheel spacers.
200 Hp V6 167 fB of torq.
4000Kb tow capacity
17/20 MPG (if your not driving up Mt. Rose)
Factory LSD, 2/3 skid plated, 5 link rear suspension
10" of ground clearance with 31" tires
Roof rated to 980Lbs load.
Full frame
Reliable & easy to work on
Corvette LS1 & 320HP Lexus V8 along with a few more choice engine will bot directly onto the tranny and fit under hood
Cost of a 2 gen 1992 to 1997? 800 to 4000 bucks (mine was 800 in great condition)
Life expectancy 350K +

First gens are easier to lift but less power (160 HP 4cyl gas or diesel) 3rd gens have TOD and up to 230HP. The Vechicross is even more capable due to wider stance ( longer front control arms) factory installed lockers, full skid plates, and lower gearing in the T-cases.

And yes shops still work on Isuzu's. Isuzu makes a simple vechicle where just about every part is easily accessible. If I found a shop that said "we don't work on Isuzu" I would never take any other vechicle make to that incompetent shop.
Just some food for thought......

RelentlessTaco
March 22nd, 2015, 09:21 PM
2 gen troopers....
33" tires require 2" lift spacers or springs in rear T-bar crank front.
35" tires 3" lift same as 33 + 1" body.
37" tires 3" lift, with 2" diff drop, 2" body, some trimming, re gear & 1" wheel spacers.
200 Hp V6 167 fB of torq.
4000Kb tow capacity
17/20 MPG (if your not driving up Mt. Rose)
Factory LSD, 2/3 skid plated, 5 link rear suspension
10" of ground clearance with 31" tires
Roof rated to 980Lbs load.
Full frame
Reliable & easy to work on
Corvette LS1 & 320HP Lexus V8 along with a few more choice engine will bot directly onto the tranny and fit under hood
Cost of a 2 gen 1992 to 1997? 800 to 4000 bucks (mine was 800 in great condition)
Life expectancy 350K +

First gens are easier to lift but less power (160 HP 4cyl gas or diesel) 3rd gens have TOD and up to 230HP. The Vechicross is even more capable due to wider stance ( longer front control arms) factory installed lockers, full skid plates, and lower gearing in the T-cases.

And yes shops still work on Isuzu's. Isuzu makes a simple vechicle where just about every part is easily accessible. If I found a shop that said "we don't work on Isuzu" I would never take any other vechicle make to that incompetent shop.
Just some food for thought......

I built some bumpers for a 2nd gen Trooper a couple years ago. Beefy frame for it's size! Decent sized running gear under it too. seemed stout, but I dont know much about whats under them.

grumpyoldretiredcop
March 22nd, 2015, 09:41 PM
Shawn, all good points and I've seen what you've done with your Trooper. I've seen where it'll go... and where it wouldn't. :-X As for lifting a Trooper (at least a Gen 2), it's not much different than lifting a Nissan - a vehicle I'm familiar with and already know the strong and weak points of. If I go that way I'll stay with a crew cab Frontier or Xterra. No way am I going to take on some of the work I've already seen you do - I'm trying to avoid a "project rig" as a DD. There's not that much aftermarket out there for the Trooper compared with some of the other rigs I'm considering, either.

Dammit, Jim, I'm a retired cop, not an accomplished mechanic... :P


Find yourself a scamp trailer and poop in the woods and you can choose any rig you want. At 1300 lbs loaded no problem.

I'm waaaay to decadent for that... :P when we get a trailer, I better be able to poop inside or it's a no-go!

Shawn Trooper
March 22nd, 2015, 09:46 PM
Relentless Taco.......

Definitely an over built vechicle... I seen some pictures of that bumper you made on your web site. It is no less than stunning. I was thinking of having you build the same bumper out of aluminum for my Trooper. That is as soon as the wife gives me the OK...

Mr_Scott
March 23rd, 2015, 06:08 AM
Glen, If you do decide to go the Xterra route, let me know. I have the stock coilovers with spacers and the rear leaf springs with aal's already installed that I'd let go for the good guy price. Add about $400 in new upper control arms and you'd be good to go man:cool:

nevadayj
March 23rd, 2015, 10:09 AM
There is clean white TJ on Stephanie right off 395 for $9k asking. I saw it parked behind the post office in Minden last week so I assume the owner works there. Has a hardtop, ready for your touches!

grumpyoldretiredcop
March 23rd, 2015, 10:30 AM
So, finally went out and looked at my DD Frontier whose power steering/water pump idler failed... looked down by the bottom of the radiator and there is the idler nut, no idler pulley to be seen. Hope I managed to get it off the freeway in time to save the head gaskets, otherwise this project might be delayed for a long time. Guess we'll see after the replacement pulley gets here, I install it, warm up the engine and see if there's any water in the oil. :(

gird123
March 23rd, 2015, 12:13 PM
Hope the frontier is ok.

My 2 cents. I think the XJ is a great platform. I think you need an already built XJ.

http://stockton.craigslist.org/cto/4932776202.html

Nevadabackroader
March 23rd, 2015, 12:57 PM
I'm a Toyota guy but I have always liked XJ's. That one is exactly what I would want.

grumpyoldretiredcop
March 23rd, 2015, 10:16 PM
Yup, I could work with that and wouldn't mind going to Stockton for it! Hope it's still around when I get the Frontier sorted out.

MARKUNIT10
March 23rd, 2015, 11:27 PM
its always nice to have a cheap car that gets good mileage, toyota corolla, camry, echo, etc. :cool:

grumpyoldretiredcop
March 24th, 2015, 04:29 PM
Which is why my wife's Malibu isn't going on the block too!

raging renix
March 24th, 2015, 06:06 PM
I vote 4runner! with the 3.4, You could do some really cool stuff with them and the interiors are rather nice! you could even supercharge it long arm it and get wild or do a basic spacer lift and fender trimming to fit some pretty good sized tires. Or a WJ as others have said, my friends parents have one it makes darn good power that thing scoots! plus i think they look cool on 33-35 inch mud terrains:P

gird123
March 24th, 2015, 06:28 PM
http://sacramento.craigslist.org/mcy/4946354436.html

WILLD420
March 24th, 2015, 08:29 PM
I'll play devil's advocate here.

Towing and short wheelbases don't go well together in this country. We have wind, we have narrow twisty roads that go up and down mountains, and we have wide open spaces where you want to run 70 mph. None of those things go well with a short wheelbase, and by short, I mean anything shorter than a shortbed standard cab pickup. Even if you are running a small trailer, if it's not a pop up, the wind is going to blow you around like mad and you will white knuckle your way across HWY 50 or down through Washoe Valley every time.

You want to go on Jeep trails and tow. That is a very narrow window of capabilities, and picking the right rig is going to be very important. Gas mileage while towing will also be very important. Expect most anything lifted with 34-35" tires to get 10 mpg towing much of anything. You might see 12, you might get 9, so a fuel tank that only holds 18 gallons is going to mean gas cans along many areas.

You say you are ruling out a full-size rig. I can't blame you, but you would be surprised where you can fit one. A JK isn't that much smaller than some full size rigs and people are dragging those things everywhere.

If I had to pick something, under 10K that I would trust to go anywhere and last as long as I wanted it to, I would look at these options.

1. Toyota 4runner. Anything 98 and up will have a decent engine and transmission. With some upgrades, a small lift and some armor, they are very capable and get 13-14 mpg while towing a small trailer at sane and the 3.4 is a very dependable engine if somewhat taken care of, just get the auto version so spending the coin for a doubler won't be so high on your priority. 2003 and up is a whole new level of performance and durability. They have some very decent power and the off road capability is pretty good. The one downfall is they are fat for a mid size rig and they sit pretty low at the belt line. (The only thing you need to know is that Toyota's are not friendly for big guys, or people with blown out backs. They are designed around 100-160 lb people with size 7 feet.)

2. Toyota Tacoma. All the things a 4runner is, but in a truck. Less civilized and seating for 4 adults would be cramped in the older versions, but doable. Same seating issues, but decent cargo capabilities.

2.5 Landcruiser platforms. I only put this here because they cost a lot. There is a reason for that. The 100 series platform is very robust and about 7/8 scale on size. They are coming down in price and have some issues, but you won't find a better distance rig for wheeling and towing, with longevity that is unrivaled in many other brands. The 80 series are coming down in prices for some models and they are hands down one of the most capable rigs you can buy when modded slightly.

3. Jeep Grand Cherokee. Amazingly capable and cheap as the years go by. Low mileage can be found and the 6 cylinder versions can get nearly 20 mpg in stock form. Stay away from the 4.7 liter engine. It's complete crap when it blows up it costs more to fix than the truck is worth. There are weak points, but most of them have been solved by the aftermarket and junkyard parts are available. Stay away from the Dana 44 aluminum rear diff.

4. Nissan truck platforms, xterra and frontier. Decent, but the aftermarket support is limited and unless things have changed, gearing can be a problem. The older ones had small engines that were not suited for towing at all.

5. Ford Ranger trucks and Explorers. They have some limitations, but the platforms are pretty decent. Watch out for the explorers not being able to tow much of anything though.

6. GM products. Much more aftermarket support, but I think the build quality suffers, except for the engines.

I think you should look pretty hard before putting money down on anything that doesn't still have a dealership in operation. They might be good platforms, but buying parts in Elko on a Saturday afternoon might be impossible and being stuck in Eureka or Hawthorne for 3 days waiting on overnight air delivery would suck.

Like many things with a rig. Proper planning of the purchase and intended use will pay huge dividends in the long term. Buying a rig that you cannot regear to compensate for the tires is pretty pointless. Gearing here in our area is worth 10x what a cold air intake and headers will ever be able to do and there are a lot of rigs that look good on paper but they don't hold up when you actually get out there and start using them. BTW, don't buy anything with a supercharger on it if you like towing in the summer and not running into issues and don't be mislead into the false economy of a low entry price that comes with achlles heels like weak engine castings (Land Rover's) or weak axles (Nissan Titan) or too small engines (GM with the 5 cylinder inline motors.)

Dirty Harry
March 25th, 2015, 07:54 AM
What trails are you interested in doing and what size trailer are you planning on pulling? These are kind of at opposite ends of the spectrum so finding something to do both will be difficult, but you already knew that. One thing that has not been mentioned is towing a single axle trailer with a vehicle with rear coil springs. I towed my parents' pop up trailer with their WJ Grand Cherokee and it swayed the entire time. For towing I prefer rear leaf springs.

That said, I had a 3rd Gen 4Runner that was pretty great for the uses you are describing. It was comfortable, got reasonable mileage, and very reliable. It wasn't a great rockcrawler but I did trails like Steve's Loop and Deer Valley in it, and with upgraded shocks it easily blasted down rough roads. I never towed with it, kind of like rockcrawling I think that you "could" tow with it but it would be less than ideal.

I have a friend selling a Dodge Dakota with a V8, five speed, and solid front axle that might be a good fit for what you are looking for. It holds four people comfortably, could tow, and is a good size for the trail. His price is pretty close to your budget, PM me if you want me to put you in touch with him.

grumpyoldretiredcop
March 25th, 2015, 10:07 AM
Thanks, Harry. That's a good looking rig and might be right up my alley; I'll have to see how much fixing the Frontier will need before this goes any further.

Will, all good thoughts and I've had most of them in mind. I am looking for the best compromise I can get; if that doesn't work out, the towing concept goes out the window and we replace the wife's Malibu with a more suitable 4X4 tow vehicle (a WJ would be a good choice there, I think) when the time comes. Since we haven't found a trailer that we like and can afford yet, that's not so big a deal. I'm not looking at going so big on tires that regearing will be an issue, so at least I don't have to think about that!

If I've blown the head gaskets on the Frontier, the worst case is that it'll be expensive enough to fix that I have to sell the Cherokee, use that cash to fix the Frontier, and at that point I'm stuck with keeping it. If that happens, I'll put an UCA lift under it, 31's, and leave it at that. Hope not though.

Edit - got the new tensioner installed. No water in the oil, no funny smoke, drove it from Minden up to Tahoe on 50 and back down on 207. Temp gauge stayed pinned to the halfway mark the whole time, no loss of power. I'd say that I have officially gotten lucky and the project moves forward. Putting the Cherokee up for sale as soon as I get the cat replaced, then the Frontier goes up on the block. Once they've sold, we'll see what we have to work with! <big sigh of relief> :D

grumpyoldretiredcop
April 13th, 2015, 07:18 PM
So, still looking. The focus at this point is attempting to find something with reasonable mileage that I can pick up without selling my daily driver. Keeping the Wreck until it's done in case I don't find anything that works - if that happens, I might be sinking the bucks into the Wreck instead.

I've kissed a few frogs over the last couple of weeks, but today I looked at a Cherokee with amazingly low mileage and in very good shape for a price that I can afford. All it's going to need is a mild (3-4") lift, 30-31" tires and offroad bumpers with recovery points. Just gotta wait until the owner is back from a work trip to finalize the deal!

I'm not stopping the search, though. Still looking for a Wrangler, Xterra, Cherokee or Frontier crew cab in the 4K price range with reasonable miles. Don't care so much what year it is as much as how used it is. Called on a couple of ads from CL today, no response though. Figures, that's CL... :(

grumpyoldretiredcop
April 14th, 2015, 10:59 PM
Saw a 93 (I think) green YJ with a serious lift for sale in a small used car lot just west of the Gold Dust West in Carson City. Anyone on here familiar with it or know about it?

Shawn Trooper
April 15th, 2015, 05:01 PM
CL deal of the day. I know this is defiantly not your first choice but some food for thought.... 400 bucks for a running vechicle. Add 3000 for lift, wheels, sliders. It would do well on the trail. http://reno.craigslist.org/cto/4980223208.html

braindead0
April 15th, 2015, 05:24 PM
CL deal of the day. I know this is defiantly not your first choice but some food for thought.... 400 bucks for a running vechicle. Add 3000 for lift, wheels, sliders. It would do well on the trail. http://reno.craigslist.org/cto/4980223208.htmlNo title.. I wouldn't touch it, and the entire ad "Does run no title nice tires 8 percent" if you do want to check it out I'd go armed.

grumpyoldretiredcop
April 15th, 2015, 06:30 PM
Yup, no title, no buy. For someone who wants to mess with it (or deal with the mess, as the case may be) that wouldn't be a bad deal.

Ben
April 16th, 2015, 07:28 AM
Not worried about breaking a combo DD/trail rig as we'd still have my wife's car... it'd be my DD that would be broken

Land Rover for you. The 108 inch wheelbase Range Rover LWB would be perfect for DD, four people, trails, and light towing. They're getting tougher to find in nice condition, but you're likely to find a nice one in your budget if you're willing to drive a few hours, or you can get a rougher one and fix it up within your budget. The SWB Range Rover and Discovery 1 are also worth considering, though at 100" they're performance is biased toward the trial rather than highway and towing. The P38 Range Rover and Discovery II are compromised in many ways and I don't recommend either.

The Range Rover Classic, Discovery 1 and Defender suspension is more ideal for trail use than any other 4x4 save for perhaps the TJ and JK which can be made to flex a little better in front, and I think the Land Rovers are better than the Wranglers for daily drivers. The main shortcoming offroad is the Land Rovers are practically limited to a 3" lift and 33" tires, so while they don't make the best hardcore rigs, they're quite good for trails. Their shortcoming on the street is they lack 21st century creature comforts, most of which are detestable anyway.

Ben
April 16th, 2015, 07:42 AM
Here is an example of what I'm talking about. I have no clue about this particular vehicle and am not recommending it, but it is advertised already with 3" lift, tires, bumpers, and sliders. The price is on the high end. The alternative would be to find a stock vehicle and do your own work. It wouldn't be far less expensive, but you could make your own choices. http://sfbay.craigslist.org/nby/cto/4978053185.html

Shawn Trooper
April 16th, 2015, 10:08 AM
. It's a 03 so it has the better Ford V8...This Rover is pretty bad ass

braindead0
April 16th, 2015, 01:11 PM
Sure looks nice..

grumpyoldretiredcop
April 16th, 2015, 02:53 PM
Maybe, if I were still considering consolidating the two. I just can't bring myself to sell the Frontier for now, so am concentrating on the search for a better trail rider that I can buy with cash in the 4-5K range. The other issue that bothers me about the Range Rover is maintenance costs, which I hear rival or better a BMW... note the wording of that ad, "not free of leaks", which by my information describes just about every RR with significant mileage. They also have their share of corrosion woes (http://www.landroverclub.net/Club/HTML/Range_Rover_classic_problem.htm). In any case, still working on the purchase of the low mileage Cherokee mentioned in post #53. If I can latch onto that one, it would leave me about 5K in price difference between it and that RR. That's a lotta off-road accessories!

That RR does look good though. Given that it's from Healdsburg (an area I know well!), it's probably never even seen dirt unless it was a dirt road.

grumpyoldretiredcop
April 19th, 2015, 06:46 PM
Search complete, picking it up tomorrow. 91 Wrangler, needs some minor work but basically stock and in good shape. Looks like it spent a fair amount of its miles as a toad from the gravel dings in the windshield frame. Think some desert tan Rhinoliner will fix that...

Now I don't need to sell my DD, but will soon have a Jeep better suited for the trail than the Wreck. Looking at 4" lifts and probably no larger than 31" tires. For the moment, thinking that the wheels/tires from the Wreck will work well enough until I can afford better rubber for it.

http://i619.photobucket.com/albums/tt279/grumpyoldretiredcop/91%20Wrangler/91%20YJ%2001_zpsvnn1ezas.jpg

gird123
April 19th, 2015, 07:43 PM
Looks nice!

rlmjr58
April 19th, 2015, 10:40 PM
Nice find!

I think a spring over lift will do the four inches you are looking for on the YJ.

renoanyone
April 20th, 2015, 07:20 AM
You have yourself a terrible disease. Nice yj.
Spring over and massage the seams over you can 35's

Fernley818
April 20th, 2015, 07:31 AM
You have yourself a terrible disease. Nice yj.
Spring over and massage the seams over you can 35's

I second that! A 4" lift is a bit much with only 31s

Dirty Harry
April 20th, 2015, 07:42 AM
Personally I would not recommend a springover, particularly if you only want to run 31s. Dana 35 rear axles have weak axle tubes, you need to fabricate an anti-wrap bar, there is no inexpensive steering solution, you will need a slip yoke eliminator... the costs add up quickly to do a springover the proper way.

Since your goal is only 31s though, a combination of new leaf springs, longer shackles, high clearance fenders, and/or a small body lift will provide plenty of clearance, cost less, and have you on the trail soon.

grumpyoldretiredcop
April 20th, 2015, 07:49 AM
Good advice from all - 4" may be a bit much. Not into body lifts, but need to refresh the tired stock springs and shocks, so maybe something more like a 2 1/2" lift might be more in line for what I want. Not looking to build a crawler, just something that will do Bill's idea of "stock doable" without worry... or the banging of belly parts against obstacles. :P

Toyota_James
April 20th, 2015, 08:42 AM
You have yourself a terrible disease. Nice yj.
Spring over and massage the seams over you can 35's

Shit no lift, sawzall and a big feckin' hammer and you could fit 35's no problem.

Toyota_James
April 20th, 2015, 08:46 AM
Personally for what you want to do I'd say minimal lift and ample armoring is the ticket. Keep it low and put a nice skid plate and sliders and you'd be ahead of the game.

grumpyoldretiredcop
April 20th, 2015, 09:03 AM
Shit no lift, sawzall and a big feckin' hammer and you could fit 35's no problem.

I know who I'm not letting near my YJ... :P :D

WILLD420
April 20th, 2015, 09:28 AM
Personally for what you want to do I'd say minimal lift and ample armoring is the ticket. Keep it low and put a nice skid plate and sliders and you'd be ahead of the game.

I agree with this too, but one thing to remember is you will drag a lot on the harder trails. If that bothers you, then you have to find the compromise between handling and off road.

grumpyoldretiredcop
April 20th, 2015, 02:27 PM
^ Yup, that's the compromise. Gotta keep it low enough that the wife won't flip it over as abrupt turns are her specialty... (oh, where's that "hiding behind the sofa" smiley when I need it??). Focusing now on spring under axle lifts, 3" and below. If the trail is hard enough to drag with that and 31" tires, that's a trail I won't repeat. Not so different from right now.

Deluxxx
April 20th, 2015, 02:32 PM
^ Yup, that's the compromise. Gotta keep it low enough that the wife won't flip it over as abrupt turns are her specialty... (oh, where's that "hiding behind the sofa" smiley when I need it??). Focusing now on spring under axle lifts, 3" and below. If the trail is hard enough to drag with that and 31" tires, that's a trail I won't repeat. Not so different from right now.

Whats the plan for you ol xj?

grumpyoldretiredcop
April 20th, 2015, 02:34 PM
Gotta put a new catalytic converter in it, then it goes on the block. Part of the cash from that will cover the lift. Thinking about ditching the Wrangler's hard top too, it rattles too much with the slider window door upper doors.

Deluxxx
April 20th, 2015, 02:48 PM
Gotta put a new catalytic converter in it, then it goes on the block. Part of the cash from that will cover the lift. Thinking about ditching the Wrangler's hard top too, it rattles too much with the slider window door upper doors.

How much you thinking

grumpyoldretiredcop
April 20th, 2015, 03:12 PM
Don't know yet, haven't had time to look it up (if you're asking about the top). If you're asking about the XJ, I'll probably put it up on CL for $1900 or thereabouts. This will be with the wheels and tires from the YJ on it or you can opt for the Jeep alloys and tires that were on it when I got it. Either set of tires are good. At that price I'll also throw in the set of rock sliders/steps that I have also.

grumpyoldretiredcop
April 20th, 2015, 03:38 PM
Had to laugh, a guy chased me off 395 and all the way up Johnson, finally caught me at the end of Johnson and wanted to know how much I wanted for the Wrangler. It still had the "For Sale" that the PO painted on the back windows... got it home and wasted no time in getting that paint off. :eek:

gird123
April 20th, 2015, 06:36 PM
Are you looking in to lockers?

Toyota_James
April 20th, 2015, 07:56 PM
You should keep that hardtop. They're nice in the winter. You should do what I do with the 4Runner. First 80 degree day- pull the top off, Second snow storm- put the top back on. As far as the rattley sliding windows, I'd just silicone the offending window shut as they would only be on in the winter but I suppose you could always buy new rubber for it.

grumpyoldretiredcop
April 20th, 2015, 09:28 PM
^ Wish I could do that, if I could I'd hunt up a pair of full steel doors and that would be that, but I can't mount a hoist to the garage ceiling of our leased house and without that, I can't pull or install the top single-handed. Even if I could, the only places to put it are exposed to the weather. That's a heck of a thing to do to a perfectly good hardtop that someone else can use. It's not the windows that rattle, it's the whole upper hard half-door. At least I've got the rattling of the whole top quieted down a bit... it's good if you check to see if the PO used more than two bolts to hold the top down! :eek:


Are you looking in to lockers?

Not at this point, it's intended to be a trail rider and I can't afford a good locker right now anyway.