Trying to select the correct vehicle for first overland build

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nuclear_runner

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No affiliation with the link, but as another plug for a van

These sprinters are getting popular for a reason. Apparently there are three up for auction now: all 4x4, low mileage, and 2017 yr model. Could do much worse as the beginnings of an overland project
Van is a no for me as it would not be a good daily driver, I don't have a place to store it, etc. I know people love em, but I don't think it's what I'm looking for.

The requirement for "new" will make finding a Full Size truck more challenging, but I'd strongly consider a FS truck. 12-13 years ago I went to go buy a Tacoma and ended up bringing home a 2007 Nissan Titan instead. They were the same price, the Titan gets 2mpg less, can tow 9200 pounds.
In 12-13 years it has been the most reliable vehicle I have ever owned. I am curious what was your bad experience with Nissan?

In the 12+ years we have had it, we have made several changes to our camping/overlanding approach, and a few years ago settled on a LEER camper, suspension upgrades and a HLSD rear differential. The truck is now so capable, far more so than I have the guts to push it beyond it's limits. And it pulls our boat or other trailers with ease, something a Tacoma would struggle with.

In 2021, $40K won't get you much. But, the latest Titan is a seriously underrated, under appreciated truck and can get very good discounts. I'd look at a Pro-4x because it has the locking rear diff, skid plates and shocks. Check the MPGs against a similarily equipped Tacoma, I'll bet they aren't far off from each other.

Speaking of Tacoma, have you driven one yet? If you are 6'3" you definitely want to take one on an extended test drive. They have a seating position peculiarity that some people find almost unbearable. I heard the floor is high and roof is low, causing you to sit with your legs out and seat tilted back a bit.

Me, personally, I am looking to replace my Titan as it is now almost 15 years old. I would consider the Tacoma, but the 3.5 V6 and the seating position are a no-go, also considered a Ranger but Ford will be updating that soon. The Colorado is a hard pass as a few co-workers had them and they were unreliable, even when brand new. I can appreciate the smaller trucks for tighter trails, and I have the 2022 Frontier in my sights now. Going forward we may no longer have a need for such a big truck, but it sure has been nice so far!
So, it took another look and honestly the reliability ratings for these trucks are excellent (my bad experience was in a van over 15 years ago...) and the value of their off road package is pretty good. I'd def have to wait for the 2022 Frontier though, the 2021 looks like it's from 2005 :grimacing: I was a bit nervous about buying the first year of a new gen but...
 

The Roach ...

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Van is a no for me as it would not be a good daily driver, I don't have a place to store it, etc. I know people love em, but I don't think it's what I'm looking for.



So, it took another look and honestly the reliability ratings for these trucks are excellent (my bad experience was in a van over 15 years ago...) and the value of their off road package is pretty good. I'd def have to wait for the 2022 Frontier though, the 2021 looks like it's from 2005 :grimacing: I was a bit nervous about buying the first year of a new gen but...

take a look at the Ford f150 with the power pack in it. there are plenty of suspension systems on the market.. and the hardest part of a overlanding build is taken care of for you (batteries, generator, etc).. so you can power your lights , fridge, etc.. .. just a thought.
 

SquishBang

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I'd def have to wait for the 2022 Frontier though, the 2021 looks like it's from 2005 :grimacing: I was a bit nervous about buying the first year of a new gen but...
I wouldn't worry too much about the next Frontier being a "first year" truck. The 3.8 V6 will have been in production for 2 model years, and the 9AT I believe has 3 years behind it. The rest of the truck is a revised 2005+ Frontier, known to be parts bin sharing with the Titan, parts developed back in 2004. Nissan is basically recycling an old truck and upgrading it's content and appearance big time.
I would expect a 2022 Frontier to be as reliable as a 2024 Frontier.
 

nuclear_runner

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I wouldn't worry too much about the next Frontier being a "first year" truck. The 3.8 V6 will have been in production for 2 model years, and the 9AT I believe has 3 years behind it. The rest of the truck is a revised 2005+ Frontier, known to be parts bin sharing with the Titan, parts developed back in 2004. Nissan is basically recycling an old truck and upgrading it's content and appearance big time.
I would expect a 2022 Frontier to be as reliable as a 2024 Frontier.
I guess the question is: how reliable will that be! A few places put the 2020 above the Taco which I struggled to believe but what do I know.
 

SquishBang

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I guess the question is: how reliable will that be! A few places put the 2020 above the Taco which I struggled to believe but what do I know.
The Taco likely suffers from some "new car" issues liking self-driving tech that would bring it's rating down compared to an old-schooler like a Frontier. Nothing unreliable about either truck, I am sure.
Another good thing about Nissan is Ghosn is gone. He really cheapened Nissans beginning back in the early 2000's, now Nissan is back on the right track (they are starting to get rid of the CVTs! yay!). Much like how Toyota is now headed up by an actual Toyoda family member, they too have improved greatly.
I am also looking forward to the new Tundra....whenever they finally release it!
 

reaver

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I was going to stay out of this, but for some reason I just can't.

Personally, my next truck will be a late model 2nd Gen frontier. I don't care if the interior is from 2005 (but that's me).

I would narrow what you're looking at down to 3-4 different makes/models. Then go test drive a bunch of them. Look at everything. Cost of ownership, cost of maintenance. Reliability ratings. Find forums for specific vehicles, and read up on common problems. Look at the aftermarket of these vehicles.

Are you the kind of person that drives a vehicle until the wheels fall off? Or due you tend to switch vehicles every 4-6 years.

These are all things to consider. Look at the specs and capabilities of each vehicle.

If you're not doing gnarly trails, you don't need a locker. And honestly, it's cheaper to have one installed than it is to buy a vehicle with one in it, usually.

In the end, don't buy something because we say it's the best, or because people on the internet say one vehicle is more reliable than the other. Buy the vehicle that suits your needs best. Full size trucks are great. They're super nice, super comfortable, and have gobs of clearance and power. But.... There are places folks with midsized rigs can go, that you just won't fit. Mid sized rigs are smaller and more agile, but they don't have the power or capacity that a full size has. There are pros and cons to every type and make/model. You just have to weigh them, and decide for yourself.
 

The Roach ...

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I was going to stay out of this, but for some reason I just can't.

Personally, my next truck will be a late model 2nd Gen frontier. I don't care if the interior is from 2005 (but that's me).

I would narrow what you're looking at down to 3-4 different makes/models. Then go test drive a bunch of them. Look at everything. Cost of ownership, cost of maintenance. Reliability ratings. Find forums for specific vehicles, and read up on common problems. Look at the aftermarket of these vehicles.

Are you the kind of person that drives a vehicle until the wheels fall off? Or due you tend to switch vehicles every 4-6 years.

These are all things to consider. Look at the specs and capabilities of each vehicle.

If you're not doing gnarly trails, you don't need a locker. And honestly, it's cheaper to have one installed than it is to buy a vehicle with one in it, usually.

In the end, don't buy something because we say it's the best, or because people on the internet say one vehicle is more reliable than the other. Buy the vehicle that suits your needs best. Full size trucks are great. They're super nice, super comfortable, and have gobs of clearance and power. But.... There are places folks with midsized rigs can go, that you just won't fit. Mid sized rigs are smaller and more agile, but they don't have the power or capacity that a full size has. There are pros and cons to every type and make/model. You just have to weigh them, and decide for yourself.

I totally agree with your statements. For a rookie... looking for a good starting point. recommendations are good. Most would agree a land cruiser is a good place to start looking. Jeeps have their fans as well... the cool thing about overlanding is you can find just about anything out on the trail. nothing is really "the best"... but some are not 'all that great'... but 'good enough'. not all of us go rock crawling... some never wade a stream. some bonzai into everything. it depends on the person. I have two rigs.. one for light duty... and one for hell and back. both are different.. both are capable... one is designed to get creamed... the other is designed to be comfortable. options. the best thing in life.
 

bgenlvtex

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I'm not going to slag Nissan, I seriously considered a Quigley NV.

But, I sort of addressed this in an earlier post. Mods cost money, supply and demand and all that applies here. Other brand vehicles (almost any of them) will have a far greater selection, availability, and cost where aftermarket accessories apply. If you are going to run the truck basically stock forever then the Nissan will probably be perfectly adequate and possibly even better than some of its competitors. But if you are going to modify it, I recommend researching availability of those modifications and their cost.

For instance "a lift" is probably one of the most common significant mods that people do to their truck. Is one available? If it is is it a good one? With other brands you will have 15 to choose from and a huge audience to survey to find what works and doesn't.
 

nuclear_runner

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I was going to stay out of this, but for some reason I just can't.

Personally, my next truck will be a late model 2nd Gen frontier. I don't care if the interior is from 2005 (but that's me).

I would narrow what you're looking at down to 3-4 different makes/models. Then go test drive a bunch of them. Look at everything. Cost of ownership, cost of maintenance. Reliability ratings. Find forums for specific vehicles, and read up on common problems. Look at the aftermarket of these vehicles.

Are you the kind of person that drives a vehicle until the wheels fall off? Or due you tend to switch vehicles every 4-6 years.

These are all things to consider. Look at the specs and capabilities of each vehicle.

If you're not doing gnarly trails, you don't need a locker. And honestly, it's cheaper to have one installed than it is to buy a vehicle with one in it, usually.

In the end, don't buy something because we say it's the best, or because people on the internet say one vehicle is more reliable than the other. Buy the vehicle that suits your needs best. Full size trucks are great. They're super nice, super comfortable, and have gobs of clearance and power. But.... There are places folks with midsized rigs can go, that you just won't fit. Mid sized rigs are smaller and more agile, but they don't have the power or capacity that a full size has. There are pros and cons to every type and make/model. You just have to weigh them, and decide for yourself.
First off, welcome to the party :tongueout:You raise a lot of good points. When I posted this, I realized I wasn't going to get The Answer, but was hoping to get some more opinions and try and break my Taco tunnel vision a little bit. Thanks for your comments, one of the best replies so far. I should have 100% said in my post I'll keep 15-18 years, as I've done with my current vehicle (I'll update it). I also plan on driving a LOT on the highway (either driving out west or just getting to trails) so I am also going to add smart cruise control to my wishlist.

I am a bit concerned about Ram/Ford beyond 5-10 years. My friends got a Ram 1500, loves it but has had to replace a number of doo dads (under warranty) and it seems to be the case on the forums as well. I think I'm going to make a list of all the vehicles I'm considering, trim it down to 3 or 4 based on aftermarket and reliability, and then do a deeper dive into the aftermark of the trimmed down list. Thanks!

I'm not going to slag Nissan, I seriously considered a Quigley NV.

But, I sort of addressed this in an earlier post. Mods cost money, supply and demand and all that applies here. Other brand vehicles (almost any of them) will have a far greater selection, availability, and cost where aftermarket accessories apply. If you are going to run the truck basically stock forever then the Nissan will probably be perfectly adequate and possibly even better than some of its competitors. But if you are going to modify it, I recommend researching availability of those modifications and their cost.

For instance "a lift" is probably one of the most common significant mods that people do to their truck. Is one available? If it is is it a good one? With other brands you will have 15 to choose from and a huge audience to survey to find what works and doesn't.
Nissan Frontier aftermarket seems decent, there are many lifts to pick from for example (based on a quick google). But you make a good point: it would suck to buy car X and then realize I can't built it how I want. I have very little experience working on cars outside of oil and tires, so that's something to consider as well.

I totally agree with your statements. For a rookie... looking for a good starting point. recommendations are good. Most would agree a land cruiser is a good place to start looking. Jeeps have their fans as well... the cool thing about overlanding is you can find just about anything out on the trail. nothing is really "the best"... but some are not 'all that great'... but 'good enough'. not all of us go rock crawling... some never wade a stream. some bonzai into everything. it depends on the person. I have two rigs.. one for light duty... and one for hell and back. both are different.. both are capable... one is designed to get creamed... the other is designed to be comfortable. options. the best thing in life.
Definitely part of why I came here was to to make sure I come in firmly around good enough. FWIW, I'm looking to land somewhere in the middle or slightly towards the lighter of your two rigs.

5th gen 4rnr
Considered it but didn't really see much point considering MPG and you have a bit less options without a truck bed.
 
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The Roach ...

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First off, welcome to the party :tongueout:You raise a lot of good points. When I posted this, I realized I wasn't going to get The Answer, but was hoping to get some more opinions and try and break my Taco tunnel vision a little bit. Thanks for your comments, one of the best replies so far. I should have 100% said in my post I'll keep 15-18 years, as I've done with my current vehicle (I'll update it). I also plan on driving a LOT on the highway (either driving out west or just getting to trails) so I am also going to add smart cruise control to my wishlist.

I am a bit concerned about Ram/Ford beyond 5-10 years. My friends got a Ram 1500, loves it but has had to replace a number of doo dads (under warranty) and it seems to be the case on the forums as well. I think I'm going to make a list of all the vehicles I'm considering, trim it down to 3 or 4 based on aftermarket and reliability, and then do a deeper dive into the aftermark of the trimmed down list. Thanks!



Nissan Frontier aftermarket seems decent, there are many lifts to pick from for example (based on a quick google). But you make a good point: it would suck to buy car X and then realize I can't built it how I want. I have very little experience working on cars outside of oil and tires, so that's something to consider as well.



Definitely part of why I came here was to to make sure I come in firmly around good enough. FWIW, I'm looking to land somewhere in the middle or slightly towards the lighter of your two rigs.



Considered it but didn't really see much point considering MPG and you have a bit less options without a truck bed.



It seems you are kind of headed to a Diesel Jeep Gladiator Rubicon.. or the new 4e version. I looked at them really hard before I bought my 2021 Defender 110.. I just wanted something I could use as a street car for trips... as I have the Land cruiser. 25 mpg is hard to pass up on the highway... and surprisingly.. I kind of love this thing.. I'm thinking about a trailer that I can pull behind either depending on the place I want to go. the rougher place.. the land cruiser goes.. if I did the cont. divide road again.. i'd take the Defender.
 

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Looking at your early post of important factors there is one that is a little down the list that jumped out at me. Reliability! It wasn't always at the top of my ”requirements” list, but it is now. We overlanded for several years in a diesel Land Rover product. Very nice vehicle in many respects, and loved the diesel, but for one thing. Reliability! It finally got to where we didn't have the confidence to go any distance from a dealership :-( The problem with the diesel was the environmental restrictions now placed on them. The whole DEF (diesel exhaust fluid) system was high maintenance and prone to failure ... and with a Land Rover product, failure isn't cheap!
Anyway... we readjusted our priorities and made reliability number one. We traded in on a Toyota, in our case a 4Runner as we prefer the SUV form factor. We have had Toyotas in the past and can attest to their bulletproof reputation.
We plan to keep this a looong time (as you said you also plan to), and now have more confidence in that outcome.
Keep reliability near the top of your list and avoid a lot of heartache (and expense, frustration, inconvenience and time lost on the trail).
My 3 cents worth (I'm Canadian, eh :-)
 

mariojd

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I have a Ranger FX4 that I'm now building up to be as capable as a Ranger Tremor, that Ford just released. I picked the Ranger over the Tacoma because of the godawful seating in the Tacoma, the Nissan was old and dated and I don't like GM or Chrysler products. Coupled with a pullkitchen and a Go Fast Camper, it should be a very capable adventure buggy.

edit:

I should also add why I didn't get an F150. It is huge, too big for some of the forest trails I typically drive on.
I just bought a Ford Ranger XLT Tremor 2021 waiting for my factory order for April
 

reaver

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I'm not going to slag Nissan, I seriously considered a Quigley NV.

But, I sort of addressed this in an earlier post. Mods cost money, supply and demand and all that applies here. Other brand vehicles (almost any of them) will have a far greater selection, availability, and cost where aftermarket accessories apply. If you are going to run the truck basically stock forever then the Nissan will probably be perfectly adequate and possibly even better than some of its competitors. But if you are going to modify it, I recommend researching availability of those modifications and their cost.

For instance "a lift" is probably one of the most common significant mods that people do to their truck. Is one available? If it is is it a good one? With other brands you will have 15 to choose from and a huge audience to survey to find what works and doesn't.
There's plenty of aftermarket support for the second gen frontier and xterra. Is it as widespread as a tacoma or jeep? No, but there multiple options for pretty much everything, ranging in price. Lifts range from simple spacer and shackles, to SAS and long travel using titan drive train and suspension components.

Roof racks, bed racks, bumpers, sliders, skids, everything is there.

I know all this because I did my research before buying my 03 X. I opted to get the first gen for reasons that fit my goals and what I wanted to do. Having an overbuilt drive train didn't hurt, and I knew the weak points in the rig before I handed over the money.

I'd looked at tacomas and 4runners as well. 4 runner was way more than I wanted to spend than I paid for the X ($5800 with up to date service and 133k). A 4runner in the same condition would have been at least double that.

I WANT to like the Taco, but there's just SO many things I don't like about driving one. In the end I decided the first Gen X ticked all my boxes.

That's basically what I think you should do. Figure out what you need now, and what you think you'd like to do in the future.

If the vehicle can't do something out of the gate, that's not a deal breaker, if the aftermarket can solve the problem.

If a full size is in the mix, seriously consider both the tundra and titan. If you want to sleep in the bed, both the taco and Frontier offer long bed options as well.
 

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I'm a huge fan of the Jeep JKU Rubicon. I purchased mine all decked out with lift, tires, winch, lights for 37k and super low miles. As you can see in the picture below, it will sleep two people with the xprite mattress kit (I'm 6-2). I could easily haul 2 mountain bikes (front wheel off) in the back. Very reliable and comfortable daily driver and excellent overland rig. iphone download 3.3.18 4697.JPGiphone download 3.3.18 4745.JPG
 

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I think the ZR2 Bison with the diesel would be a good fit for your parameters as well. If I was starting a new build for overlanding, thats what I would go with
 

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Man I would love a van! My wife would give me serious stink eye over it, though!
Another option is to get a Nissan NV2500/NV3500 tall/long van with the V8, and convert it over to 4WD myself. The NV is based off of a Titan and the Titan 4WD stuff bolts right up. Then I'd build my own interior for it.
Another benefit of the NV chassis is that it has a typical long truck hood making any necessary repairs easier. However, these vehicles are very durable and reliable, you likely won't need to get under the hood very often for anything other than maintenance.

I'd just go box truck F550 4x4, if I was going that big.
 
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DRAX

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I've owned/own many, many Jeeps (Wife has a 2016 Grand Cherokee currently), full-size trucks (Ford, GM, Dodge, Nissan), etc but the truck in my avatar/sig has been the best combination of everything so far. Since even the long-bed mid-size trucks won't have a bed long enough for you to sleep in that means you have more options since bed length doesn't matter as much. As such, I'd recommend checking out a Colorado ZR2 or ZR2 Bison, I'm partial to diesels but the V6 is also a solid option. The ZR2 will give you excellent capabilities while maintaining great on-road manners and comfort that a Rubicon (Wrangler or Gladiator) just won't have, because I've owned a Rubicon as well. There is a solid aftermarket for them, too. I'm 6'1" with a 36" inseam and have plenty of room.

If I didn't have kids and were in the market today I would probably go with an ECLB (Extended Cab Long Bed) ZR2 or ZR2 Bison with the Duramax, get an extra foot of bed length and still have storage space inside the cab while maintaining the short wheelbase of the CCSB trucks. If diesel isn't your thing then the 3.6 gasser has plenty of power as well.

Having driven both my mid-size truck as well as an F-150 with the 2.7EB on trails in Colorado it reaffirmed by decision to go with the mid-size truck. It's just so much easier to maneuver on trails not to mention much easier to manage in cities and tight parking areas.

I also wouldn't be opposed to a Gladiator, however the common complaint that I hear is that people 6' or taller have problems with leg room due to the driver's seat not going back far enough. I haven't driven a JL or a Gladiator yet to be able to compare it to the JKUR that I had, but with my JKUR it was a chore to take on long trips. Noisy, twitchy in the wind, not the greatest ride quality on less-than-perfect roads, etc. Maybe I'm just getting old and prefer something a bit more comfortable and refined, who knows. :)

Good luck with your search! I can't wait for summer and a nice, long road trip again.
 
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