What’s The Cheapest 4×4 To Buy?

When you don’t have much money to spend, but you still need to get through snowstorms, down forest trails, and across desert washes, you’ve got options. 

Especially if you believe modern all-wheel-drive systems offer all the 4×4 that most people need — as we do — you can find some cheap 4×4 used vehicles for $7,000 or less (in decent condition and with under 150,000 miles). 

Now, you can find old BMW X5s, Land Rovers, and Porsche Cayennes for very low prices, but they can quickly get expensive to own. 

We’ve focused our list of 10 cheap used 4×4 vehicles on reliable mainstream-brand vehicles, some with traditional two-speed transfer cases and others with all-wheel-drive. We’d like to add that when you’re spending this little money on a used vehicle, you can’t expect perfection. Look for something in good mechanical condition, not flawless cosmetics. Keep reading for our picks, in alphabetical order. 

Having added grip on the road when Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate is a big reason many car shoppers looking for a rugged and capable SUV. This is especially true for anyone living in wintry climates, or people who enjoy outdoor adventures where paved roads come to an end. 

In these instances, some of the most popular SUVs can wilt under the pressure of traversing anything more demanding than a muddy field, or a few inches of snow. Something more capable is needed, an SUV with an added degree of go-anywhere toughness and all-terrain prowess. 

While all-wheel-drive systems are impressive, having four-wheel hardware underneath your vehicle can make a big difference. This is why we’ve compiled a list of the ten least expensive SUVs with standard or available four-wheel drive.

SUVs and 4x4s continue to grow in popularity each year, with almost every manufacturer now trying to get a piece of the action. 

Modern 4x4s combine rugged styling, all-terrain ability and great practicality with comfort and polished road manners, ensuring near-universal appeal. 

However, they can also be expensive, leaving premium models out of reach for some customers. So to help out, we’ve rounded up some of the best cheap 4x4s and SUVs on the second-hand market.

Buying a used 4×4 or SUV is the best way to make your money go further, with plenty of older models offering the same current-generation qualities at a much lower price.

There are a whole host of reasons why this might be the right path for you. With more space and versatility than hatchbacks, SUVs also have a style advantage over traditionally boxy MPVs. 

Four-wheel-drive can be a handy tool as well, helping you stay one step ahead of the unpredictable British weather and generally giving you more confidence on rough surfaces.

If you’re like me, a potentially broke twenty-something that spends every last dollar on travelling, and an expensive 4X4 likely isn’t in the cards. 

These days, a full-size can cost upwards of eighty grand, and that’s before you start fitting all of the nearly-essential four-wheel-drive kits. 

Luckily, there are quite a few fantastic four-wheelers for those of us on a budget. They might not have Bluetooth, the latest styling, or the most powerful engines, but they’ll get you where you need to go. 

We’re looking for models that are easy to get parts for, simple to repair, reasonably fuel-efficient, and most importantly – cool.

For Some Suv Shoppers, Only Four-wheel Drive Will Do

Having added grip on the road when Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate is a big reason many car shoppers looking for a rugged and capable SUV. 

This is especially true for anyone living in wintry climates, or people who enjoy outdoor adventures where paved roads come to an end. 

In these instances, some of the most popular SUVs can wilt under the pressure of traversing anything more demanding than a muddy field, or a few inches of snow. Something more capable is needed, an SUV with an added degree of go-anywhere toughness and all-terrain prowess. 

While all-wheel-drive systems are impressive, having four-wheel hardware underneath your vehicle can make a big difference. This is why we’ve compiled a list of the least expensive SUVs with standard or available four-wheel drive.

What Is Four-wheel Drive?

Wait a minute, isn’t all-wheel drive the same thing as a four-wheel drive? While the names are used interchangeably on trucks and SUVs, there are important differences. In full and part-time all-wheel-drive systems, when sensors detect a wheel is slipping, power gets transferred to wheels with more grip. 

By and large, an all-wheel-drive system operates in the background, with little to no input from the driver. Sounds good, right? In most instances, this is more than enough to pull you through mud, snow, or similar mucky conditions. 

But four-wheel drive adds more capability. To start, you get lower gearing for crawling through especially treacherous terrain. 

A four-wheel-drive system is often more rugged and more highly adaptable to extreme conditions. For serious rock-crawling and other severe driving challenges, four-wheel drive is a must-have for many SUV shoppers.

The Best Affordable Used 4x4s

Toyota Land Cruiser Troop Carrier 70-series (2h And 1hz Models)

The LandCruiser Troopy is nothing short of iconic, and for a good reason, too. They’re tougher than a pile of rocks, big enough to sleep inside of, and parts are available almost everywhere in the rare case you break something. 

In production since the mid-1980s, they’re also quite easy to find for well under ten grand, just be wary of cheaper vehicles with loads of kilometres. As a bonus, it’s hard to find a Troopy that hasn’t received some kind of aftermarket upgrade.

Nissan Patrol Gq Y60

The GQ Patrol is the workhorse of budget utility four-wheel drives. It’s not the prettiest, but its all-around coil suspension and available rear differential lock will get you through the rough bits with ease. 

They’re reliable, easy to fix, and available with a few different engines – though the petrol versions can be a bit thirsty. It doesn’t take much to find one for under six grand with some desirable modifications already fitted.

Navara D22

The rough-and-tumble ute that’s just as ready for a trip across the Simpson as it is the commute to work with a bunch of tools in the back. 

The Navara D22 benefits from still being in production, so even though the vehicle might have styling from last decade (or maybe two decades ago), it still appears relatively modern, and parts are widely available. 

It also gets decent fuel economy, in addition to being reliable and practical. As a bonus, they’re also considerably better value than the HiLux when like vehicles are compared.

Toyota Hilux 4×4

The Hilux is one of the most popular 4X4s in Australia for a good reason, they’re versatile, comfortable, reasonably fuel-efficient, and parts are available everywhere. 

You can find them used with a tray back and a few other accessories for under six grand and they’re also great for double-duty as a work ute. 

Expect a fair share of kilometres on cheaper models though, but then again, not even Top Gear could kill the Hilux, so we’re not sure you’ll have much luck.

Ford Ranger (2004-2012)

By the time Ford refreshed the Ranger compact pickup truck for 2004, it had been building the second-generation version, itself a re-engineered version of the original 1983 Ranger, for more than half a decade. 

Not only that, but the automaker would also continue building this version of the Ranger for almost ten more years with few major changes. With all of the bugs worked out, this makes the 2004-2012 Ford Ranger a good bet as a cheap, used 4×4 truck.

Highlights include an available 4.0-litre V6 good for more than 200 horsepower and a towing capacity of more than 5,500 pounds. 

Ford also offered an FX4 trim level that prepped the Ranger for serious off-roading capability. A downside to the Ranger is that it wasn’t offered in a crew-cab configuration. 

An upside is that it was uncompetitive when new, so resale values are low compared to a Toyota Tacoma. Note that the Mazda B Series pickup was the same thing as the Ranger, but with different styling.

Suzuki Jimny

As capable as a mountain goat, and about the size of one too, the Jimny is a tiny 4X4 that packs a mean punch. 

They’re cheap, they’re reliable, they usually have low kilometres, and they sip petrol like a mouse. 

You can get a mid-2000s model for under seven grand, well-equipped. Of course, a 4X4 this small means you’ll have to think like a backpacker and travel light – unless you are a backpacker…in which case the Jimny might just be your soulmate.

Toyota Land Cruiser Fj60

This generation of Land Cruiser is world-renowned for its durability. Toyota’s inline six-cylinder engine is nearly bulletproof, as is the rest of the drivetrain. 

Automatic transmissions weren’t offered until the FJ62 generation. Parts are fairly common for these rigs, and the entrance price is reasonable, with $3,000 to $4,000 buying one in very good condition. 

These trucks will go 200k or 300k miles with good maintenance. They were produced from 1980–1987. Fuel mileage is the weak point on these rigs.

Jeep Wrangler Yj

The first generation of this truck is starting to slip into the realm of cheap 4x4s. These trucks are really capable off-road and have the bonus of the soft top. 

There are obscene amounts of accessories on the market for these Jeeps so that they can be customized easily. In the Jeep crowd, they are referred to as YJs. 

As with the Cherokee, I would avoid anything but the 4.2L and 4.0L inline six-cylinder engines. Wranglers are capable of turning incredibly high mileage when they are taken care of.

Suzuki Samurai

Many people don’t care for these tiny rigs, but I kind of like them. If you are not in a hurry to get anywhere, are not too tall, and appreciate decent fuel mileage, the Samurai may be just right for you. They tend to be very basic and have a kind of cheap interiors. 

They are severely underpowered with anything but stock-sized tires. The good thing is that the aftermarket takes good care of these trucks. Some companies are also making conversion kits for installing VW diesel engines in Samurais, giving them instant credibility.

Chevrolet S-10

While the S-10 is not my favourite vehicle, I am gaining some respect for it. When equipped with the awesome GM 4.3 litre V6 engine, it is a great vehicle. Pickup, two-door, and four-door blazer models are available. First-generation models can be had very cheap, and second-generation models are getting cheaper every year.

Ford F-150

The Ford F-150 is a very good vehicle and has been the top-selling truck in the U.S. for many years. They are very common and come in many configurations. I don’t care for the IFS front suspension. 

These trucks just keep going and going. They are extremely common, and the widespread availability of junkyard parts is a huge plus.

Ford Explorer (2006-2010)

Ford made a bunch of changes to the third-generation Explorer for the 2006 model year, making it a much better SUV than it was before.

With rugged body-on-frame construction, seating for up to seven people, a choice between V6 and V8 engines, and a range of trim levels spanning from basic to luxurious, the 2006-2010 Ford Explorer represents value. 

Cargo volume measures 45.1 cubic feet behind the second-row seats, with up to 88 cubic feet available. Plus, when properly equipped, it can tow up to 7,300 pounds. Note that the Mercury Mountaineer and the Lincoln Aviator are the same things as the Explorer. 

However, stay away from vehicles equipped with the optional air suspension, which is costly to fix when it breaks.

Honda Cr-v (1997-2006)

If you find a well-priced first-generation (1997-2001) or second-generation (2002-2006) Honda CR-V that’s been well-maintained by its owners, buy it. With proper care and maintenance, they’ll faithfully serve any budget SUV buyer for years yet to come. 

Both are boxes on wheels, sitting high off of the ground with impressive centre clearance. When equipped with Honda’s Real Time four-wheel-drive (4WD) system, they automatically transfer power to the rear wheels when necessary to maintain traction. 

This is useful when it snows or for scrambling down a well-beaten path, but not for serious terrain. Indeed, the early versions of the Honda CR-V are best used for commuting while getting decent gas mileage, carrying up to 72 cubic feet of cargo (second-generation version), and providing dependable service in exchange for regular maintenance.

Kia Sorento (2003-2009)

The original Kia Sorento was a rugged, body-on-frame SUV with rear-wheel drive or 4WD. 

Designed to outlast its original 10-year/100,000-mile warranty, styled to appeal to a wide variety of buyers, and roomy enough for five people or as much as 66.4 cubic feet of cargo, the Sorento is an often-overlooked gem on the used SUV market.

Kia offered the first-generation Sorento in LX, and EX trim levels, each decently equipped and comfortable. Upgrades included leather seats, automatic climate control, a premium sound system, and more. The 192-hp, 3.5-liter V6 won’t win any drag races, the Sorento gets terrible fuel economy due to its ponderous weight, and towing capacity is limited to 3,500 lbs. Still, this SUV is capable when the pavement ends and is dependable when cared for properly.

Mitsubishi Montero Sport (1997-2004)

Remember when Mitsubishi made cool cars and SUVs that you wanted to buy? The rugged Montero Sport was one of them, powered by a four-cylinder or a choice between two V6 engines and equipped with rear-wheel or 4WD.

Based on the same engineering as the larger Montero, the Montero Sport is a durable SUV that’s ready for the rough stuff. It seats five people, carries a whopping 44.3 cubic feet of cargo behind the rear seat, and can manage 79.3 cubic feet with the rear seat folded down. When properly equipped, the Montero Sport can tow 5,000 lbs. 

Updates for the 1999 and 2000 model years brought more power, refinement, and equipment, but there’s no hiding the rugged truck hiding under the SUV bodywork. On pavement, it drives like what it is.

Nissan Xterra (2000-2004)

When Nissan debuted the original Xterra at the start of this century, SUV buyers went wild for its stepped-roof design with dual roof racks, purposeful styling details, and tough Frontier pickup truck underpinnings. A low price and a promise of reliability were also strong draws for the Xterra.

Offered in two basic levels of specification, equipped with a four-cylinder or a V6 engine, featuring a manual or an automatic transmission, and offering rear-wheel or 4WD, the first-generation Xterra was anything but refined. 

But that’s what made it so appealing and charming. It was made to get dirty and looked best with mud splashed all over it. With the V6 engine, the Xterra can tow 5,000 lbs. 

Cargo space measures 44.5 cubic feet behind the rear seat and 65.6 cubic feet with the rear seat folded down. Find one that hasn’t been thrashed, and it should prove a good, affordable choice for travelling well off the beaten path.

One of the most pronounced trends in the passenger car market over the past 10 to 15 years, has been the transition from estate cars to SUVs and 4x4s. 

Most of these vehicles do the work of family cars, with some perhaps also serving as weekend lifestyle accessories, and many of these SUVs and crossovers can be bought in cheaper 2×4 variants. However, some people need – or want – a proper 4×4, or at least all-wheel-drive.

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