You don’t have to splash a lot of money for you to own an adventure vehicle. You can get some pretty affordable ones under $10,000. The used auto market is the place to go for awesome vans, cars, and trucks that will give you years of service. As long as you give your rides proper service and maintenance, especially before going on off-roading adventures, they are likely to keep running for years.
For our list of affordable adventure vehicles, we decided to go with those that are practical and still available on the market. Here they are in no particular order:
Suzuki Samurai (1985-1996)
Starting off our list is this pint-sized off-roader. Don’t let the size fool you, the Samurai can crawl rocks, tear down trails, and squeeze into places where no other 4X4 can go. It is also easy to lift and customize it to your taste. The only downside is that finding one in decent shape is challenging. While the Samurai can’t be taken on the interstate, it is a great companion for off-road adventures.
Ford Ranger XLT (1998-2011)
Of course, a Ford Ranger had to make it to this list. If you’re a savvy buyer you can get one of these truck models for around $5,000 and with some custom truck modifications, have it looking and running like new. One with higher mileage may not be as reliable on the road and you may need to put a lot of work into it. The payoff is that it’s easy to get parts and this truck fits easily into any lifestyle.
Jeep Cherokee XJ (1987-2001)
This Jeep is a classic off-roader with lots of options for modifications and upgrades. With a little searching, you can get one with minimal mileage of it. Once you upgrade the tires and give it a lift, it’ll be ready to take on all sorts of outdoor adventures. Just ensure you purchase one that doesn’t have a lot of mechanical problems.
Toyota Tacoma (1995-2004)
The Tacoma is one of the most popular pickups worldwide thanks to its classic looks and reliability. At Dixie 4 Wheel Drive, we have worked on our fair share of this model as plenty of clients have brought theirs over to our auto shop to have them custom build to their specifications. To properly tackle off-roading conditions, the stock suspension has to be changed. The frame is also prone to frame rust and should be properly checked before buying one.
Toyota Land Cruiser 80 Series (1990-1997)
These vehicles are rare and you might have to shop for a while to get an 80-series Land Cruiser in good working condition. When you do find one it might have plenty of mileage under its belt and may need lots of maintenance. However, this is a respectable off-roading SUV with endless modification and customization options. The downside is that this vehicle really isn’t fuel-efficient.
Subaru Outback (1994- Present)
This might not be your first option in an adventure vehicle but the Subaru Outback is a solid performer with full-time all-wheel drive. It has a spacious interior, is efficient, and surprisingly rugged. It also handles remarkably well on snow which is why it’s popular in places like Idaho and Colorado. One common problem this model has is bad head gaskets which are expensive to fix. This is a vehicle that will serve you for years as long as you avoid overheating it.
Toyota 4Runner (1995-2009)
Another Toyota to make it to our list, the 4Runner is an affordable, reliable, and capable SUV. It can comfortably seat 4 adults and is versatile enough to run errands around town, handle long drives and drive down off-road trails. The downside to making this your off-roader is that it has limited approach angles and ground clearance.
Isuzu Trooper (1991-2002)
The Trooper can only be described as a workhorse of an SUV. This vehicle’s boxy shape gives it a roomy interior where you can comfortably stash all your adventure gear. It very spacious for a midsize SUV. These models were only available in the US until 2002 so if you find one, it’s likely to have decent mileage.
Mitsubishi Montero (1991-2006)
This vehicle comes from the family of Pajero Mitsubishi 4X4 SUVs that are sadly no longer sold here in the US. While they are hard to find, you can get one if you look hard enough. You’ll be rewarded with a fun and unique off-roading machine with plenty of space inside to pack your gear. It also has a rugged drivetrain which gives it decent off-roading capabilities.
Chevy Silverado (1999 -2006)
The Chevy has lots of fans across the country. The Silverado has 2 distinct generations i.e. before and after 2006. During the time it was available, this model was named Motor Trends’ Truck of the Year 4 times. Although this is a huge full-size truck, it is quite easy to drive and is comfortable inside. The 4X4 model will take you wherever you want to go without a fuss. This is a great choice if you want a huge truck and don’t mind the dent in your pocket when filling up the tank.
VW Vanagon Multivan (1979-1990)
This is a surprise addition to our list but we just love how this vehicle handles. You’ll probably get an older model for this van so be prepared to carry out plenty of wrench work should you purchase it. This van is roomy inside and can comfortably seat 7 people. With a lift and chains, it can handle itself very well on snow.
Toyota Corolla (2000s)
You’re probably surprised to see the Toyota Corolla making this list but hear us out. Sure this is a car and you won’t see it taking on the Moab Rim trail. However, its fuel efficiency, reliability, and light off-roading capabilities make this a great option for those looking for a budget adventure vehicle. Take care of it and it‘ll keep on going strong.