Ryan lives in the Texas Panhandle, which is prone to flooding. He wants something with a little lift on it that can carry car parts for projects. Other important requirements are that it must not be domestic and he wants to be able to change it easily. Which car should he buy?
Here’s the screenplay:
I live somewhere with regular major flooding and need something with ground clearance and space for project car parts. I really like classic Land Rovers, but I don’t feel like servicing them. It could be an SUV, or an Outback-style, 2-door, or RX-8-style 4-door pickup truck. Must have substantial aftermarket so I can play around with it, a good car for road trips and light camping. MAYBE a truck. I really don’t like cars at home. My budget is up to $60,000.
Budget: up to $60.00
Place: Texas panhandle
Daily driver: Yes
want: Higher ride height, room for parts, easy to adjust
Do not want: All of the Big 3
Expert 1: Tom McParland — New Old School
Ryan, if you’re concerned about flooding and other hazards, you want something as indestructible as possible, and that means a Toyota 4Runner. It won’t be the fanciest ride, nor the most fuel-efficient, but what it lacks in refinement it more than makes up for in durability.
Aftermarket support for 4Runners is super solid. If you want a lift kit, snorkel or overland it’s all there, if you have the money to spend. Your biggest challenge with the Toyota is to buy one at a reasonable price in a reasonable amount of time. I did a 200 mile search from Amarillo and found only four new vehicle listings. A wider net gives you many more options. Personally I would forego the top dog TRD Pro which will undoubtedly have a huge market premium and instead get a trim that is easier to find and spend the balance on mods. Here’s a very cool one TRD Off-Road Premium in Lime Green listed in AR. This one may or may not actually be available, so it will take some footwork to see which dealer has an incoming car that hasn’t been talked about yet.
Expert 2: Owen Bellwood – Cruise you never lose
Ryan, the 4Runner Tom suggested is a good place to start, but it’s not quite the right recommendation for you. Heck, it might not even be the right Toyota for you. I think the Toyota you really want is the FJ Cruiser, probably the coolest car Toyota has made.
If you want something with ground clearance, the FJ Cruiser has that. If you want something with RX-8 style doors, the FJ Cruiser has it. And if you want something good for road trips and camping adventures that costs less than $60,000, you guessed it, the FJ Cruiser has it.
Despite only being for sale here in America between 2007 and 2014, there are still some nice FJ Cruisers out there that will fit you up to a T. This lush blue specimen would be perfect, and with only 13,000 miles on it, it’s basically as good as new. Or, if you want a manual, then there is also this beautiful FJ Cruiser from 2014 with your name on it.
Expert 3: Collin Woodard – Toyota is boring
Sure, the 4Runner and FJ Cruiser are good SUVs that will probably do everything you ask for, but come on. They are so boring. Everyone and their brother buy one when they’re looking for a safe, reliable off-roader they can customize. If you get one, wherever you go, you’ll run into someone else who has one. It’s just such predictable choices.
I say be brave. Think outside the box. Dare to be different. If you can justify the wait before buying, order one Ineos Grenadier. For just under $60,000 (probably), you’ll have a rugged old-school SUV that no one else will drive. Whether you’re parked at Walmart, fording floodwaters, on an off-road trail, your “Technically not a Land Rover Defender” is almost guaranteed to be the only one in sight.
Is it a bit risky? Secure. But what is life without a little bit of risk? And if you can stretch your budget a bit, you can upgrade to the Trialmaster Edition (not Trailmaster. Trialmaster), which comes standard with a snorkel. No flood will hydrolock your engine while driving this BMW powered SUV.
Confuse your family. Impress your friends. Make new friends everywhere. Get the Ineos Grenadier.
Expert 4: Andy Kalmowitz – You don’t have to defend this choice
Ryan, my good friend, there is one vehicle that is the obvious answer to your riddle: the Land Rover Defender 90. Hell, it’s such a good answer it’s even the main image for this article.
You could even jump for a 110, but we all know two doors are cooler than four. With the Defender 90 you get an almost new vehicle, great looks, crazy off-road capability and usability. And either way, for your budget, you can get a relatively low mileage Defender 90. If you play your cards right, you can get a brand new one. It will be difficult to make it happen, but it is possible.
I’ve driven hundreds of miles in Defenders and they are a joy to drive on the highway. They are much smoother and quieter than anything else you will find on this list. Plus, they hold onto their values so well that you won’t lose your shirt when (or if) you go to sell it.
There is also a huge catalog of accessories and customizations that can be done to make it exactly the vehicle you are looking for.
Found one for you in Jersey City, New Jersey that fits the picture perfectly. It’s a 2021 with less than 30,000 miles and it costs less than $60,000. It’s a really nice spec to boot. You really can’t go wrong with black on black with aluminum and wood in the interior.
Ryan, do the right thing, buy a Defender 90. You said you didn’t want an old Land Rover, so how about a new one?
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