I was browsing around online and I have seen many articles titled “Best SUVs Under 5k” or something like that. But they are basically vague lists of the same few trucks that everyone writes about. Sure they are helpful and a good place to start, but you’re not going to get anywhere staying on these lists. Wasting time I compiled together my list of the best off road vehicles under 5k.

So it got me thinking, what if I waste some time browsing current listings of trucks and vehicles and come up with my own list of REAL LIVE ACTUAL listings? So, how much $5,000 could get me? This time I searched only craigslist.com with these factors:

  • Any model year
  • All-wheel drive or 4×4
  • Manual transmission
  • Lift kit & winch included or bought within budget
  • Minimum 6 cylinder engine allowed

READ MORE: 10 BEST OFF ROAD VEHICLES UNDER 10k

So I went to craiglist.com and autotrader.com to see what I could find. I am located in Orange County so I searched within 300 miles of zip code 90032. So here are my top 10 Best Off Road Vehicles Under 5k:

1956 Willys CJ6

best off road vehicles under 5k best off road vehicles under 5kKelly Blue Book: $
Asking Price:
$4,500 OBO
Missing: Work

This guy is a project waiting to be finished. It’s in running condition so there is half the battle won. It will need a bit more work depending on how clean you want to make it.

Doing the work yourself you will save a bundle. Most of the work is just manual labor i.e. rust work, bodywork, sanding, fine-tuning things, install parts, etc. Taking this to a shop would be pretty pricey.best off road vehicles under 5k

Maybe you have a little brother or friends you can invite over and pay with pizza and beer to lend helping hands. If you’re really handy you could offer an internship to some kids at a local community college to learn the fine art of auto body sanding!

The rebuilt 327. It even has power steering and power brakes so you won’t get a workout simply driving the thing.

Ford Ranger SuperCab 4WD (1998)

best off road vehicles under 5k

Kelly Blue Book: $2,675-7,900
Asking Price: $1,250 OBO
Missing: Winch, dirt tires, lift kit, clutch, weather stripping, possibly more

I added this one in here because it could be a great deal. The Vulcan 3.0 V6 engine is an all-time great engine. It really is bulletproof. In the photos, it doesn’t say anything about the crash or any damages, just a “list of recommended fixes” by a mechanic. That is very vague and the low low price makes you wonder what type of fixes the list includes.

Common issues for this generation of Ranger is a cracked cylinder head. But if this truck had a cracked header it would be included in the listing. If there are no major issues you could luck out with a great ride that is well below the $10,000 budget.best off road vehicles under 5k

The owner states it will need a new clutch and there are damages to the liner and weather stripping. That is not too bad. It does have over 264,000 miles on it so it is expected to have some problems. I am 37 and my body is pretty creaky.

A lot of the parts are made for the entire second-generation models. That means there are few part changes. A new clutch kit is a cheap fix and at a shop, you can expect to pay about $500. Complete weather stripping. A lift kit can be done on a Saturday afternoon. Starting with this truck you can get on the road then off it for about half the $10k budget needed.

The bad sides include:

  • No negotiating power. With a $1,250 price tag they are starting so low there isn’t much room to go down. Also, the what-ifs of a truck priced this low.
  • Everything looks too great. Sometimes that means it was fixed from a previous WTF moment. Bring a mechanic that can spot potential red flags.

The good sides (more like great) are:

  • Price. It’s so low you really can’t go wrong unless the truck has the Corona Virus, Ebola, and stage 4 cancer. Spending this little really hedges your bets on its future.
  • Original owner selling. Typically an owner that keeps a car for 22 years will take care of it and put a lot of care into it. They aren’t buying a new flashy car every few years so their mind may be in the right place.
  • Parts are cheap and common. Your options for fixing anything that may come up are great. If this is your only ride you would be limited and proceed with caution here.
  • Beginner friendly. This could be an excellent start and a weekend project that can last for months. OEM (definition) and aftermarket parts are common and cheap.
  • Rangers are easier to work on than most with a shop manual. A beginner can make mistakes and still get the thing working.
  • Value in parts. If it’s a junker you would be able to sell it to a mechanic for not much less than what you paid for it. The engine is a beast and you may be able to part it out and recoup your money with leftovers.

This simple list shows an overwhelming majority of BUY than PASS. I would do it. I think you would too.

Suzuki Samurai – $5000

best off road vehicles under 5k

Kelly Blue Book: $
Asking Price: $5,000 OBO
Missing: Winch

These things are a blast. If you don’t mind cruising like a grandma to and from the dirt. You will probably drive as fast off-road as you do on road. The gear ratios are made for creeping up steeps rather than towing a house or straight-lining it with fury.

1999 Jeep Cherokee XJ 4.0L 5sp Manual

best off road vehicles under 5k

Kelly Blue Book: $ best off road vehicles under 5k
Asking Price: $3,200 OBO
Missing: Lift kit, tires, wench, paint job

 

best off road vehicles under 5k

1995 Toyota 4Runner 5-speed

best off road vehicles under 5k

Kelly Blue Book: $ 4,825
Asking Price: $6,000 OBO
Missing: Winch

A vanity project if there ever was one. The owner has done a lot of work to this bad boy possibly expecting to use it for a long time or simply to flip it. But with the work done it would be a hardflip.

I personally like the choice this guy made to filter all the listing photos with a soft black and white to create a dreamy-type feeling. How dramatic buddy.

His excuse is he is moving and can’t bring the truck with him but it would be a great truck to fill up and haul a trailer. Maybe his worser half is making him sell it and the black and white effect is the mourning of his lost manhood.

This is a great truck with nothing wrong with it. It would be an excellent choice to his the hills with straight from this dude’s driveway. 4Runners are great in the dirt and you can’t go wrong especially with one such as this.

If you can negotiate and pry this one away for $5,000 you’ll be getting a truck that will give you a lot of enjoyment.

Here is a shortlist of work done:best off road vehicles under 5k
New:
Springs and Shocks with 3” lift
Head Gaskets
rebuilt Radiator
upper and lower coolant hoses
and newer Vacuum hose
Spark plugs
Rotor
Cap
Radiator pulley housing.
Timing belt assembly (Timing Belt, Upper pulley, Tensioner pulley)
Brake booster, master,& lines
Pressure plate
Clutch
Pilot bearing
Clutch Release bearing
Exhaust donuts
Brakes
Ball joints
Rotors (Wheel Bearings repacked and adjusted)
Transmission fluid
Transfer case fluid
Differential gear oilbest off road vehicles under 5k
Shifter guide
Injector seals
Radiator fluid
Knock sensor
Knock sensor cable
Oil and Filter (Delo 400 LE, Napa Oil filter)
Battery (this Summer)
Coolant
Hose clamps
Alternator (100 miles ago)
Alternator belt
Power Steering pump belt
A/C belt
Newer custom rims

– Nuff said

1992 Jeep Wrangler YJbest off road vehicles under 5k

best off road vehicles under 5k

Kelly Blue Book: $
Asking Price: $6,000 OBO
Missing: Winch

Badass. For only $6,000 you can get a full-fledged 4×4 with a straight 6. It is priced right so you may not be able to get it for the $5k budget. But you can try.

You can find equivalents that are 10 or 20 years older going for the same price or more. This range of Jeeps price points are relatively flat or slightly increasing. Buy it, put 15,000 miles on it, and keep it in relatively the same condition. When you go to sell you are going to get the same price you originally paid. Free education on basic truck maintenance and repair. Do it!

best off road vehicles under 5kbest off road vehicles under 5k

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toyota 4Runner

best off road vehicles under 5k

Kelly Blue Book: $
Asking Price: $4,000 OBO
Missing: Winch

1995 Toyota 4Runner V6best off road vehicles under 5k best off road vehicles under 5k

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

READ MORE: BEST OFF ROAD VEHICLES UNDER 20k

Jeep Cherokee

best off road vehicles under 5k

Kelly Blue Book: $
Asking Price: $5,500 OBO
Missing: Winch best off road vehicles under 5k

1988 Cherokee with a straight 6, manual, lift kit, mud tires, and a lot of off-road experience.

best off road vehicles under 5k

 

best off road vehicles under 5k

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1984 Toyota 4Runner best off road vehicles under 5k

Kelly Blue Book: $ best off road vehicles under 5k
Asking Price: $3,500 OBO
Missing: Winch

I love first-generation 4Runners. They are built for off-roading, and they can work forever. This guy for $3,500 is a great deal. Rebuilt engine, lift kit, and a strange paint job (or overcoat?) its got a lot you need. You can drive this straight to the hills and have a blast.

best off road vehicles under 5k

This guy bought it for his kid and I guess the love died out. Now he’s dumping it quickly. Opportunities like these are perfect ways to get a great deal. Do you know when you make an emotional purchase and then get buyer’s remorse a few hours or days later?

That’s the same with this type of deal and it something that someone wouldn’t normally do but they are making choices (sometimes poor ones) influenced by heart instead of brain. Cool. I’ll take it.

Another angle could be a quick flip. Offer $2,800 and get it for around that. do some minor bodywork and slap on a decent pain job and you could make maybe a grand or two in a few days. Not a bad deal if you’re savvy with sales.

1995 Jeep Wrangler

best off road vehicles under 5k

Kelly Blue Book: $ best off road vehicles under 5k
Asking Price: $5,000 OBO
Missing: 6 pack

Want a one-stop-shop for a couple or single dude staying in the boonies for a while? Well, look no further than this… thing.

The actual vehicle is a ’95 Wrangler 4×4 with a straight 6. The add ons are what makes this bad boy really intriguing. All the way down to the duel bottle openers on the rear panels you can tell this has been used quickly a bit for all sorts of shenanigans. Add a lift kit and you have no excuse to go get lost in the nearest woods this weekend.

best off road vehicles under 5k

 

best off road vehicles under 5k

 

 

 

 

 

 

best off road vehicles under 5k

 


MAZDA 323 GTX TURBO 4X4

best off road vehicles under 5k

Kelly Blue Book: $3,000-9,800 best off road vehicles under 5k
Asking Price: $3,000 OBO
Missing: Suspension, tires, anti-roll bars, turbo rebuild

WRX what? EVO what? between 1988-1989 this was the rally street wonder. Turbo, AWD, and a hatchback this is the prototypical rally car. Keeping it on the street may be a better idea. Finding parts can be difficult and pricey and if you want to work on this thing yourself you would have to include it into your fir year plan.

best off road vehicles under 5kMazda didn’t make it easy on anybody servicing or modifying this car. Power isn’t really exciting either with only 148 HP and 144 ft-lb of torque. At 2,590 claimed weight it has a power to weight ratio of 0.0571 (Toyota Sienna records somewhere around 6-7).

Compared to the 2019 310 horsepower Subaru WRX STI with a P:W ratio of 0.0899 or a more closely related 1992 Mitsubishi EVO I with 244 horsepower and a P:W ratio of 0.092 this thing will be pretty underpowered in comparison. best off road vehicles under 5k best off road vehicles under 5k

That rating was in 1988. Imagine how it performs nowadays.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for reading and stay dirty.