What to look for in buying a Rig

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Fortgolfer85

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I’ve enjoyed reading through a number of the threads. My wife and I are avid backpackers and looking to add a capable vehicle to our garage to take us further on our adventures. This will also become my daily driver so some practicality in comfort is important. I have been looking at the 4Runner as well as new bronco coming out next year but ultimately need some advice as far as where to start from there? I see the badlands bronco comes standard with a sway bar disconnect, is this something I should see as absolutely essential in building the vehicle out? What other essentials to the vehicle do you guys see fit?
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OverLamb24

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Im coming from a similar situation. I recommend you outline what your goals for the vehicle. What type out pursuits are you looking for? Crawling, overlanding, getting to deep trail heads?

If this will be a daily think about reliability and mpg not to mention size.
Budget of course.
 
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Tango Tiger

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To answer your question about sway bar disconnect, that is not a necessity for overlanding. A sway bar disconnect is for increased articulation, which is useful for rock crawling.

OverLamb24 mentioned some good things to consider. Additionally, you may want to consider how much weight a vehicle is rated to carry. If you plan to modify the vehicle you may be well served to focus on vehicles that already have a lot of aftermarket support from well-established businesses. I’ll caution that there is typically trade off of comfort for Offroad capability. I’m not saying it’s impossible to have both, but usually the more Offroad capable a vehicle, the less comfortable it is as a daily driver. Then again comfort is a relative term.
 
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MidOH

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The new 4runners really aren't that great without a ton of work.

Wait for the Bronco. You don't need the disco swaybars. A wrench works fine. The lockers and Squatch package are must haves.
 

Billiebob

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Basics. Part time 4wd with a mechanical shitt lever., Fronr and rear lockers. A clutch for reliability. Gaz engine so it'll still be legal to drive in 10??? years. As a backpacker, consider those backpacking principles. How much water can you carry/load? How many clothes/food do you NEED!! What is the minimum you NEED to complete an adventure....... What is yer budget ???

Is a sway bar disconnect an esential??? No, it is a nice luxury but hardly an essential.
Essentials, power to keep the fridge, food cold.... but as packpakers.... that is actually a luxury.

The ultimate overlanders are simple. Easily fixable. Depending on where you travel, are mechanics readily available to fix it? Will it be reliable 100 miles from civilization in a desert, jungle or forest. But most important, where and when will you travel?

I know most of my criteria say buy used, clutches, mechanical 4WD links are unheard of today. Buy new if a dealer is always accessible and your AAA is current. Otherwise, I say old school wins.

Biggest factor, payload, Four Runners are proven fabulous, reliable vehicles. TONS of after market and on-line support. The Bronco has zero record....... Altho I think it is the best new vehicle in 20 plus years. It is BRAND new..... as was the Ford Pinto..... once....

ford-pinto-explosion-600.jpg
 
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Boostpowered

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Personally the 2 major things that I look for when buying is #1 diesel #2 4x4 with at least a limited slip in the rear.

What I look for and what the next guy looks for will be very differnt.
 
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pokerdawg

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It's hard to give an easy answer. I believe people that enjoy the thrill of rock crawling will look for the complicated terrain. Those are the ones that need large tires, suspension upgrades and etc. Some others may have it as a "nice to have just in case". So you have to ask yourself, are your future destinations maintained by US Forest Service, BLM, or your state park or are they so remote that the terrain will be unpredictable. I have the vehicles with lockers, big tires, and winch but in many of my trips I've seen stock vehicles on the same trail. Once drove up 10,000+ feet to an ancient bristlecone forest I was following a 2wd station wagon for miles and miles on dirt roads. I felt overdressed.

You simply have to ask yourself, how much of a monster truck do you need? I see plenty enjoying the outdoors in a Subaru. Maybe the new all wheel drive RAV4 is plenty for you.
 
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Boostpowered

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It's hard to give an easy answer. I believe people that enjoy the thrill of rock crawling will look for the complicated terrain. Those are the ones that need large tires, suspension upgrades and etc. Some others may have it as a "nice to have just in case". So you have to ask yourself, are your future destinations maintained by US Forest Service, BLM, or your state park or are they so remote that the terrain will be unpredictable. I have the vehicles with lockers, big tires, and winch but in many of my trips I've seen stock vehicles on the same trail. Once drove up 10,000+ feet to an ancient bristlecone forest I was following a 2wd station wagon for miles and miles on dirt roads. I felt overdressed.

You simply have to ask yourself, how much of a monster truck do you need? I see plenty enjoying the outdoors in a Subaru. Maybe the new all wheel drive RAV4 is plenty for you.
Just go watch some recovery videos on Matt's offroad recovery on the tube, those 2wd vehicles make it to the destination usually, but don't make it back out without help. And that's just in Utah. And don't confuse awd with 4x4 they aren't even close to the same one is for slick streets the other for offroad terrain.
I'm not despairing your awd or 2wd purchase just know its not wise to try and go everywhere in em your gonna get stuck faster and be more likely to break something or have to pay a hefty amount for an offroad tow.
 

Fortgolfer85

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Thank you for your suggestion, I know that’s an impossible question for anyone to really be able to answer. My wife has a 2020 Subaru Outback and we have done very well with that on some very poorly maintained forest roads. Our primary backpacking location requires a drive over this road and it’s routinely popped the fenders out of place as we have limited clearance. That said I have yet to even have to use the “X mode” feature as the clearance of the vehicle has limited its capabilities far before the awd has. Part of our last trip we hiked the dusy ershim trail and it looked like it would be a lot of fun to do one day, that said hard for me to fathom getting a $50K rig that’s a toy and daily driver to take out and do that. The majority of my use will be paved as it will go to and from work, but I would like the ability to get out and take it further than the Subaru can go. I have seen some of the recovery videos Matt has posted and it seems a lot of that is after the fact items put on the vehicle. For the base vehicle to start with what would you recommend being important? Rear locking diff? Front and rear locking diff? Is a disconnecting sway bar something I want to look into? And all this comes at a price, I’m sure the short answer get what you can afford to fix or replace. In the end I can’t tell you exactly how hard it will be pushed, as the vehicle ages the harder I will push it I’m sure, as much fun as the dusy ershim or rubicon trail looks, we are hikers and backpackers the vehicle is meant to get us to extremely remote trail heads not to run the full trail. I am in need of a new vehicle within the next couple months and I want to get something that we can use as a tool in our adventures over the next decade or two.
 

ThundahBeagle

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Thank you for your suggestion, I know that’s an impossible question for anyone to really be able to answer. My wife has a 2020 Subaru Outback and we have done very well with that on some very poorly maintained forest roads. Our primary backpacking location requires a drive over this road and it’s routinely popped the fenders out of place as we have limited clearance. That said I have yet to even have to use the “X mode” feature as the clearance of the vehicle has limited its capabilities far before the awd has. Part of our last trip we hiked the dusy ershim trail and it looked like it would be a lot of fun to do one day, that said hard for me to fathom getting a $50K rig that’s a toy and daily driver to take out and do that. The majority of my use will be paved as it will go to and from work, but I would like the ability to get out and take it further than the Subaru can go. I have seen some of the recovery videos Matt has posted and it seems a lot of that is after the fact items put on the vehicle. For the base vehicle to start with what would you recommend being important? Rear locking diff? Front and rear locking diff? Is a disconnecting sway bar something I want to look into? And all this comes at a price, I’m sure the short answer get what you can afford to fix or replace. In the end I can’t tell you exactly how hard it will be pushed, as the vehicle ages the harder I will push it I’m sure, as much fun as the dusy ershim or rubicon trail looks, we are hikers and backpackers the vehicle is meant to get us to extremely remote trail heads not to run the full trail. I am in need of a new vehicle within the next couple months and I want to get something that we can use as a tool in our adventures over the next decade or two.
Based on this post, I'm betting a 5 year old Toyota 4Runner (hell, even a 10 year old 4Runner) will do what you need and for years to come. Honestly, the sway bar links can be removed by hand if that's even needed. And honestly, front and rear lockers certainly can help offroad, but it really might be overkill for what you are describing. That's for rock crawling and very difficult terrain, mud, and loose sand. No need to over do it.

The 4Runner has decent offroad chops, and is still a very comfortable and reliable daily driver with a lot of aftermarket and dealership support. Being body on frame, it will ride differently than a Subaru Outback, more truck-ish. But small truck, and comfy and nimble for an SUV

You can find a good used one for $25k in it's current generation. Even less if you go back to 2011, which is still the current generation.
 
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David C Gibbs

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Fortgolfer85 -
That 2020 Subaru Outback has lot's of chops. We replaced our 2007 Subaru Forester with a 2018 Tacoma Double Cab, Short bed, TRD Off-road. I haven't been able to get it into one of my favorite Fly-fishing holes; because I don't want to add sage pinstripping. The forester got me there, Now I just hike the 1/2 mile. That Outback is tougher than you'd think.
DG
 
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Billiebob

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The balance, a stock Subaru with limited clearance can easily be damaged by bottoming out.
Conversely the lifted pickup on monster tires creates stress which can over load and break the stock driveline components not yet "upgraded" of course the "upgrading" never ends.
vs, the box stock 4x4 with plenty of clearance, a few skid plates, maybe lockers but otherwise box stock relying on the balanced strength of the original manufacturers engineering, research and development.
Pick the one which will give you effortless capability box stock. There rarely a need to "build" the right vehicle.

Focus on the trip. Sleeping in comfort. Safe food storage. A way to pack out yer garbage.
 

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We've just been going through the same considerations and have similar goals to you. While it is not the most exciting or modern, we have decided to go with the 4Runner. It is capable, roomy and has tons of after market goodies, but the main reason we have gone this way is reliability. We are coming from a Land Rover product and it has come to the point we do not trust it to go any distance from a dealership! This has brought home to us that reliability is at the very top of our wish list, and the 4Runner is known to be bullet proof.