In the used car realm, a budget of $10,000 can go a long way. That’s maybe even more true for off-roaders, where the prices on new models have climbed to El Capitan-like heights in recent years. Sure, the mileage on those used $10K rock crawlers may be on the high side, and those miles may have been a little more brutal than the ones on your average Lexus ES, especially if previous owners were genuine adventure seekers. But just think of that as “real-world testing.” It makes your new-to-you off-roader even more authentic.
Naturally, now that trail-cruising season is in full swing, we couldn’t help ourselves from parsing through the used car listings for some affordable off-roaders. Using $10,000 as a budget cap, these are the best off-roaders we’d buy right now.
2007 Toyota 4Runner SR5 4WD
4Runners command high prices and hold their value incredibly well, for good reason: They’re reliable, solid, and capable. Nearly 150,000 miles may seem high, but for a clean Toyota, that’s not bad at all. And luckily, I’ve still got plenty of mix CDs to slide into the dashboard player… — Will Sabel Courtney, Motoring Editor
Mileage: 145,280 miles
Original MSRP: $30,555
Buy Now: $9,495
2004 Land Rover Discovery SE II
For a short period of time, my dad owned a Land Rover Discovery II: the “Disco.” It was metallic gold, and it was my favorite car ever — until the engine overheated and caused a warped head. Typical Land Rover. 100K miles seems to be the breaking point on these aluminum-block engines. When it worked, however, it was the coolest thing to drive, with its extremely upright seating position and a cockpit that gave you the confidence to tackle any and all roads. The styling of these has aged extremely well, in my opinion; it’s one of the last boxy Land Rovers that looks fit for an African safari. I’d take one in green, but would pay close attention to the maintenance, of course. — Hunter D. Kelley, Associate Designer
Mileage: 86,065 miles
Original MSRP: $34,995
Buy Now: $6,598
1996 Toyota Land Cruiser
Sure, some might be put off by an off-roader — or any vehicle, really — with 312,409 miles on it. But as far as I’m concerned, that just means this ’96 FJ80-generation Toyota Land Cruiser can truly, madly, deeply take a licking and keep on kicking. Judging by the nearly endless photos in the listing (100, to be exact), she has been pretty well taken care of, all things considered. The exterior and interior look surprisingly good. Yes, there’s significant rust under the hood and on the undercarriage, but this four-wheeling beauty ain’t exactly your Sunday driver. She’s a well-traveled 25-year-old warrior (oh, if those wheels could talk) ready for her last hurrah. I’d love to hop in, slide a disc into the Sony CD player, tear around like a maniac and push the limits till she up and quits — then take my leftover $2,200 and buy rounds of Narragansett for everyone at the bar till the sun comes up. Is that so wrong? — Steve Mazzucchi, Outdoor & Fitness Editor
Mileage: 312,409 miles
Original MSRP: $40,258
Buy Now: $7,900
1995 Jeep Wrangler S
Even in base-level trim, a fresh-from-the-factory Jeep Wrangler is still a competent 4×4. Which means it doesn’t take much to turn the adept trail-rider into an outstanding off-roader. Take this particular 1995 Jeep Wrangler S; the only upgrade the owner saw fit to add was a set of grippy 33-inch Micky Thompson all-terrain tires. Despite having 146,000 miles on the ticker, I have no doubt in my mind this grunge child of the ’90s can still tear up a trail or two with ease. — Bryan Campbell, Staff Writer
Mileage: 146,000 miles
Original MSRP: $15,983
Buy Now: $7,999
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