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Car Buying III: What Do I Need To Buy My First Car?

car buying preparing for success before you buy a car at the dealer

The actual buying process can vary based on where you buy a car – from a dealer or an person. Here are a few tips for both situations:

Buying with a broker

When you buy from the dealer, you sign the papers in the sales room. When you decide to fund dealers (which is fine if they offer a better deal than your pre-approved offer), you will sign up for both financing and sales in the office.

This is a relatively straightforward method. Just be sure that you’re looking at all the paperwork and asking for any additional fees that pop up. Dealers would always hurry you into the paperwork, so you might end up charging more than you paid if you weren’t patient. Just go slowly, and take your time when you need it.

Buying with a private seller

Buying from a private party might be a bit different. It is particularly valid if the car is only loan, and the seller has no title in his pocket. It’s all right to buy a car with a connection on it, but it makes the operation a bit more complicated.

First, you ‘re going to have to check with the bank that owns the link. They’ll hand over the title to you or the new link holder at the time of sale. However, this could prolong the offer. This time, you can refuse some by making a deal with a bank that owns a connection. When the seller uses the proceeds to pay off the balance of the loan, you or your lender can sign the title as needed.

When you purchase from a private party, you will also need to make sure that you fill out a transfer of ownership document. This is supposed to come with the title. That should provide details about how many miles there are on the car at the time of the sale and how much the vehicle is being exchanged for.

Also, make sure the car registration is up to date. If this is not the case, you could be on the hook for any late fees associated with it. In fact, it’s a good idea to get proof of this before your scheduled date of sale. This way, the vendor will take care of this problem if they are currently behind the cost of the card.

A Continuation: Should I Buy New Or Used? Part IV

Car Buying II: How To Get Your First Car

car buying what kind of buyer am i?

First time car buying can be daunting. For many it can be the largest purchase of their lives. It will be something can affect you for years to come. Making the best decisions you can will save you money in the long run. 

There are two ways to get into a car. Pay all cash or finance it with a loan. You can also lease a car and eventually buy it if the lease contract has an option to do so. 

What alternative is better than that?

Because cars depreciate – lost their real value – very quickly, buying in cash is usually the best option. And if you’re looking to buy a beater that’s just going to get you from point A to point B, cash can be your only option.

Lenders typically have limits on the age or mileage of used cars they ‘re going to finance. So if you’re looking at $2,000 of high-mileage options, you ‘re going to have to plan to save money. Thankfully, since the price level is so much smaller, you don’t have to pay too much.

But what if you want a newer vehicle or need it? You may not want to pay $30,000 for a brand new model. But if you want your car to last a few years, investing in a newer, lower-mileage option up front can be a wise decision.

In this situation, it’s also a smart thing to save money if necessary. Those monthly car payments can be eaten into your budget quickly. With that said, most of the Americans who drive do finance their vehicles.

Perhaps, earlier rather than later, you need a ride. And it’s all right to invest if you get it correctly. Yet while you’re investing, take the five ideas that we’re going to tackle:

  • Keep the credit in sequence.
  • Put as much of the money down as you can.
  • Okay, consider the estimate.
  • Shop around for the perfect price on funding.
  • Plan to save more cash on your next vehicle.
  • Get your credit for the order

It’s important to keep your credit in order before you start shopping for a car. We’ve written extensively on how to do this, so in a second, we ‘re going to steer you to some other options.

But, first of all, let ‘s understand why this is so important. For better credit, you ‘re going to apply for better funding. This means you’re going to get a lower interest rate. And that could save you tons of money over the life of your auto loan.

Let’s say you’re planning a $10,000 car loan. With a score of 630, you can qualify for 7% APR at today’s rates. For a score of 700, you will apply for a 4 percent APR. (Note that these are all off-the-cuff definitions to give you the math.) You ‘re expecting a four-year term.

According to our loan payment calculator, you ‘re going to pay about $239 per month with the higher APR. With the lower APR, the contributions are going to be $225 a month. Plus, you ‘re going to pay a lot less interest over the life of the loan.

As you can see, it’s worth taking time to get your credit score in order, if at all possible. Here are some steps you can take to do this:

  • First, get a copy of your score so that you know where you stand.
  • Next, correct any mistakes on your credit report.
  • So, make all your transfers out of here on schedule.
  • Consider asking for adjustments of goodwill to existing missed payments.
  • Pay off your credit cards to increase your credit usage levels.

As you work on improving your credit score, start sowing as much money as you can for your down payment.

Put as many down as you can

Just like when you buy a home, when you buy a car, you ‘re going to put your money down. That is the cash you paid so you can bring in for the buying of a vehicle. It reduces the total amount of funding you ‘re going to need. And it’s a good idea to have a high down payment whenever possible.

There are a few major reasons for this: depreciation and interest costs.

First of all, let ‘s talk about depreciation. Since cars are exposed to a lot of wear and tear, they lose their worth very easily.

This is particularly true of newer automobiles. For example, this infographic from Edmunds shows that as soon as you leave the lot, a brand new car loses about nine percent of its original value! After one year, the car will lose about 19 percent of its value, and after just two years, it will lose 31 percent of its value.

Actual depreciation rates differ by type and build. Cars that continue to last longer would have a higher rating. Yet, still, the average vehicle is just 37% of what you paid for at the dealership five years after your purchase.

So, what does that mean for a car buyer? It means you can get yourself into the upside down loan really fast.

The upside down loan is when you owe more money to a piece of property than it is worth. Say you’re going to fund 100 percent of a new car for $30,000. You decide to sell it a year later to get something else. It’s only worth $24,300 now. If you don’t put any money down, you potentially owe the bank more than the worth of the car. Yeah, obviously, you’ve got to pay the bank money before you can sell the car.

It’s not a good financial place to be in. It really restricts your ability to make choices when you purchase your car in the future.

Fortunately, you can minimize these consequences by making a reasonable down payment on the car. If you’re buying a used car, it’s prudent to set down 10% of the vehicle’s selling price. If you’re buying something new, bump that down payment up to 20%.

These down payment amounts will keep you ahead of depreciation, so you’ll never end up on your loan. Of course, the larger your down payment, the smaller your down payment. That means reduced mortgage costs, less debt over time, and an much less risk that you’re going to finish upside down on your loan.

Understand the budget

Your spending would have a significant effect on how much car you will afford. And there are two parts to this puzzle: the overall auto loan and the monthly payments.

First, you need to look at how much you can afford to spend a month on car payments. This means looking at your current budget and determining how much you can comfortably allocate for this expense.

Potential borrowers are always going to have an view here. For the most part, borrowers don’t expect you to spend more than a portion – or a little less – to your mortgage income. So if you have a lot of credit card debt or an expensive mortgage payment, you may be more limited in your monthly car payment.

You’ll still want to know how much overall debt you ‘re able to pay off. If you’re working to stay debt-free, less is better off. Really, less debt is almost always better.

Irrespective of these figures, you ‘re going to want to put strict limits on both the monthly contribution and the overall amount of debt you ‘re considering. This is going to help you stay in control when you’re in a lot with a dealer who’s trying to upsell you.

Shop around for funding

Many first-time buyers are tempted to go to a dealer and take whatever funding they offer. But this isn’t a good idea, though. For one thing, the financing of dealers tends to have less favorable terms. And if you take time to shop around, you’ll get a better deal.

To do this, you just need to get a pre-qualified auto loan with two or three different lenders. It’s also a smart idea to consult with a bank or credit union of your own. And if you’re not a member of a credit union, you might just become a self-financing one. They tend to offer the best terms, and they are more likely to work with you if you don’t have excellent credit. When you have decent ratings, you might also find out more opportunities for lending platforms like Lending Club or Prosper.

The key is to compare terms from a few different lenders so that you get the best deal possible. You are eligible for a loan with little, if any, payments and the lowest possible interest rate. You might also ask about different terms of the loan. Often a shorter period coincides with a reduced interest rate, and the price will not be too much higher.

And don’t worry, shopping around will negatively affect your credit score. Putting too many credit applications will render your score. But scoring algorithms like FICO allow you time to shop around for large loans like this.

FICO will give you between 14 and 45 days to shop around. All your requests for the same type of loan within that period will be treated as a single inquiry. It’s a good thing! Since you don’t know which scoring model a potential lender is going to pull, it’s best to stick to the 14-day rule. Do all your pre-qualification shopping within two weeks of your purchase of your car.

As you’re shopping around, your goal is to find the best funding deal you can get. It’s a good idea to ask for funding that matches your maximum car purchase budget. If you end up in a cheaper vehicle, all the better.

Having a pre-approved loan makes it easier for you to negotiate, whether with a dealership or an individual. The person you ‘re dealing with knows that you have funding in place, and they’re going to see you as a legitimate prospective buyer.

If you have been pre-approved, you will receive an bid message from the lender. This could be in the form of a blank check with a limit set, a certificate, or a letter. You ‘re likely to get a code to activate your loan online these days.

This doesn’t mean you’re going to use the money. It just means there’s money available.

Intend to save money for the next time

When we’re dreaming about owning your first car, let’s think how to make the experience even easier next time. If possible, you should try to have only one car loan in your life. After this first ride, you will use your car’s equity and any money you’ve saved to pay cash on the next ride.

To do so, consider making more space in your budget so you can save money for your next ride. For eg, tell me that you can happily afford a $300 / month car payment. Instead of taking up the full amount, try to pay $225 per month. Then save an extra $75 a month. Just consider that part of the payment for your car.

It doesn’t seem like a lot of it. But let’s say that your car loan will be paid off in three years. You ‘re going to have some equity in your car, plus $2,700 saved for your next vehicle. After your car is paid off, you can save the entire $300 per month you’ve spent on a car. At the end of the time, you ‘re going to have $6,300 in cash and your car’s equity. And you’re going to switch into your next vehicle completely debt-free!

First up, The Car

Now that you’ve worked out the financial aspect of this equation, it’s time to find out what kind of car you want to purchase. You’ll need to prioritize your needs and needs for a vehicle, and then look at the different types of cars that suit your needs. Then you’re going to have to shop around to find the car that’s best suited.

Identifying desires and wishes

You’ve already got an idea of what sort of car you can buy. So that’s going to help limit the field right off the bat. Yet there are still already a wide range of vehicles available to meet the target.

So now is the time to decide what you really need in a vehicle, and then a few things you might want.

I ‘m going to use my family as an example. We ‘re really planning a car shop in the next six to twelve months. Here’s what we do need:

A car that will last for at least five years

Sufficient seats for six or more people – enough for our family plus two or more.

Decent gas mileage in the city – because my husband is in our city for his job.

There just isn’t a lot on our list of needs. But there’s a lot on our list of needs, including:

  • External sliding screen
  • Back-seat heating and ventilation regulated separately
  • Leather upholstery-because children
  • MP3 and cell phone charging jacks
  • Build-in under-seat room
  • A trunk of decent quality

And our five-year-old would love to have TV screens in his back.

I would also like to see a limo-style roll-up window for children and adults. Still, unfortunately, I think the odds are slim.

So what do your needs and want the list to look like? Chances are it’s going to be arranged a little like ours. You ‘re going to get a few things you really need from a car, but a lot of stuff you ‘d like to have.

Do your research, please

Now that you know what you’re looking for and what you expect from a car, consider a few makes and models that would fit you. The bigger the quest, the easier it would be to shop for a vehicle.

You want to look at a variety of different topics while you’re studying, including:

  • The mileage you can expect from the make / model in your price range.
  • The actual five-year cost of owning the vehicle, which you can find here.
  • Public reviews for the car
  • Data about how long the car is going to run
  • General availability of the vehicle in your price range and in your area

It’s important not just to choose a make and a model that seems to have what you need and fit your budget. This is especially true if you buy used vehicles and want to own them for another five years or more. In this case, do your due diligence to ensure that your vehicle lasts long enough to meet your needs.

Travel about here

It’s special depending on whether you’re buying a new car or a vintage car. If you’re considering a brand new vehicle (which isn’t the right option, by the way!), you ‘re just going to need to find a few dealers that sell the make and model. If you’re buying used, you ‘re going to want to check online for the car lists.

When browsing around for a used car, consider purchasing directly from an customer. With due scrutiny, this will be a secure method that will eventually save you thousands of dollars. You can buy from an individual seller even though you fund the car. Here is a list of sites to consider when shopping around for a vehicle.

When you’re buying from a manufacturer, ask if they’re selling some sort of car insurance for some amount of time. If you don’t, you could try another dealer.

When browsing around for a used car, consider purchasing directly from an customer. With due scrutiny, this will be a secure method that will eventually save you thousands of dollars. You can buy from an individual seller even though you fund the car. Here is a list of sites to consider when shopping around for a vehicle.

When you’re buying from a manufacturer, ask if they’re selling some sort of car insurance for some amount of time. If you don’t, you could try another dealer.

For a broker, you can be able to get an extra cash discount – even though the cash is from a pre-approved loan bid. You can also question the dealer for dealer-based financing. First, don’t tell them what your offer is in hand. In this case, they may undercut the interest rate of the original lender! Here you can get more tips for negotiating with a dealer.

You will also determine the price while dealing with a private seller. Most of the buyers are eager to get rid of their vehicle as quickly as possible, and they’re likely to come down on their first selling price. You could also negotiate to leave the car at the same price if the seller pays for the inspection and any essential repairs that occur during the inspection.

Buying a car

The actual buying process can vary based on where you buy a car – from a dealer or an person. Here are a few tips for both situations:

Buying with a broker

When you buy from the dealer, you sign the papers in the sales room. When you decide to fund dealers (which is fine if they offer a better deal than your pre-approved offer), you will sign up for both financing and sales in the office.

This is a relatively straightforward method. Just be sure that you’re looking at all the paperwork and asking for any additional fees that pop up. Dealers would always hurry you into the paperwork, so you might end up charging more than you paid if you weren’t patient. Just go slowly, and take your time when you need it.

Buying with a private seller

Buying from a private party might be a bit different. It is particularly valid if the car is only loan, and the seller has no title in his pocket. It’s all right to buy a car with a connection on it, but it makes the operation a bit more complicated.

First, you ‘re going to have to check with the bank that owns the link. They’ll hand over the title to you or the new link holder at the time of sale. However, this could prolong the offer. This time, you can refuse some by making a deal with a bank that owns a connection. When the seller uses the proceeds to pay off the balance of the loan, you or your lender can sign the title as needed.

When you purchase from a private party, you will also need to make sure that you fill out a transfer of ownership document. This is supposed to come with the title. That should provide details about how many miles there are on the car at the time of the sale and how much the vehicle is being exchanged for.

Also, make sure the car registration is up to date. If this is not the case, you could be on the hook for any late fees associated with it. In fact, it’s a good idea to get proof of this before your scheduled date of sale. This way, the vendor will take care of this problem if they are currently behind the cost of the card.

After You Buy

Now that you’ve finally bought your first car, what do you do with it? Actually, you’ve got to take a few steps. Here ‘s exactly what you need to do:

Ensure the vehicle

Actually, if this is the very first car you ‘re going to own, you need insurance before you buy a car. A dealer won’t let you drive away without auto insurance, so you’re not allowed to drive a privately owned vehicle with no insurance, either.

Running a vehicle with no liability insurance is illegal in most countries. And if your car is financed, the lender will usually require full insurance coverage to cover their investment in the event of a total loss.

If you currently have a auto insurance policy on someone else, or your parents, you can move or apply insurance to your vehicle at the time of delivery. Even if you don’t have auto insurance right now, you would want to look around before you buy it. You will buy a contract that begins on the day you buy the car.

What’s with the distance insurance?

Many times, dealers will sell you a distance insurance scheme. It is particularly valid if you don’t have a big down payment on a vehicle.

Remember earlier that we were thinking about depreciation? As soon as you get your car off the lot, it’ll be worth less than it is now. So if you make a small or no down payment, you may be upside down automatically. If you wreck your car while it’s still upside down, your regular car insurance will pay for what the car was worth at the time of the accident. That could be less than the overall amount left on your auto loan!

In this scenario, the compensation difference can be a fair extra cost.

Gap insurance is an alternative form of policy that would cover the “distance” between the value of the auto and the remaining balance left on the debt if you paid the actual cost of the vehicle. If you’re making a small down payment, buying a low resale car, or putting miles on your car quickly, gap insurance might make sense.

Gap insurance also makes sense if you’re borrowing a longer-term car. The longer your term, the slower you ‘re going to pay down the principal of the loan. That means you might be upside down for a longer time. (Of course, if you plan to fund your vehicle for more than three or four years, you will first challenge the initial buying price!)

Also, dealers can sell a void insurance scheme when you close your car. But you can also purchase gap insurance independently, either through your regular auto insurance company or as an additional policy.

Sign your car

You’ve probably seen the dealer’s lots of cars driving around with paper license plates. They’ve always got a famous date on them. This is the last day on which the dealer-issued registration is valid. Upon this point, the vehicle driver will have his own license with the state to legally drive the car.

When you’re shopping around for a car, check out the DMV or BMV website for your likely registration costs. Some cars are worth a few hundred dollars! If you need to, reduce your down payment so that you have enough money left over for this additional cost.

Also, check with your DMV to see what you need to bring in to register your car. You will often need to have a current driver’s license, proof of address, and possibly an additional form of identification.

You will leave it in the car until you get the paperwork. And be sure you ‘re going to have to pay for the annual registration and license renewal bill! After you purchase the vehicle, the average expense would be much lower, much of the time. You figure out as you sign how big they ‘re going to cost, and add them to the budget as a one-off expense.

Take good control of the engine

The best way to make sure you get the most of the miles out of your first car is to take good care of it. Consult the owner’s manual of the vehicle (you may find this online if your used vehicle is missing) and figure out whether you can expect to do routine repairs on the car.

Then find a mechanic that you like to work with for your repairs. It’s a good idea to work with a local mechanic who knows your car and its history. And when you find someone you trust, you can lean on them for advice on when to perform major regular maintenance, such as replacing timing belts and other things that will help your car last as long as possible.

Again, once you buy your car, you should be budgeting for maintenance costs every month. Even if you’re buying new ones, the cost of tires, oil changes, brake pad changes, and other regular items can add up really quickly!

Leasing

Leasing can be the best option for some. Leasing is basically a long term car rental. Gloss over the advantages and disadvantages and see if it’s the right fit for you. 

Advantages:

  • Lower downpayment
  • Lower monthly payments
  • More financially flexible
  • Possible option to buy after contract

Disadvantages

  • You don’t own the car
  • No modifications allowed
  • More expensive long term
  • Limited annual mileage
  • Damage fees upon return

The simple advantage here is that you can get into a car with a lower down payment and lower monthly payments. You have the option to break the lease and usually pay a months penalty. 

Other than that, enjoy owning your new car!

A Continuation: Preparing For Success Part III

Car Buying I: How To Buy A First Car. Where to Start??

So you want to buy a new car. Did you just spot a great deal on a 4×4 at the dealership you pass by everyday? Is old faithful on her last legs? Or maybe it’s just time for a long overdue upgrade? 

Sooner or later everyone has to get a new car or truck. It doesn’t matter if it’s your third or your first. There is an art to buying a new vehicle that some will learn and others will not. It’s crucial you learn the ways of the car buying tradition. You can save yourself a lot of headache and your wallet will thank you.

If you didn’t do your research you may accept, for example, a loan at 3.5% for 60 months. On a $20,000 purchase you would pay back $21,830 over the life of the loan. Then again if you qualified before hand for a 1.5% loan you will owe $20,772. That is over $1,000 in savings just by doing a few minutes of research.

Dealerships and private sellers try many things to get you to pony up more mula. Often they mark up the car’s actual worth and some add hidden fees to fatten up profits. Other dealers just mark up prices to offer their salesmen better incentives.

Whatever the reason, almost all dealerships can be talked down from their preliminary prices if you haggle properly. The savvy buyer will go in knowing they can talk the dealers down, if he or she knows the dealer’s lingo and sales gimmicks  going in, he or she will be more prepared to get a great deal.

Salesmen are there to make the company money, simple as that. While you’re trying to keep as much money in your pocket as you can. Most of the time it isn’t even the sales that is the problem. Dealers and salesmen have slimy ways of squeezing all the extra cash out of you they can with their “extras” or “add ons”. Many people sign off not realizing they bought all these extras after the fact.

Sales lingo is a language in its own. You should know when they are using this to their advantage and put something past you. In the following series of articles we will train you in exactly that. In this guide you will learn:

  • To spot a dealer’s scam
  • Best times to buy
  • Get a fair price
  • Get favorable financing
  • Open negotiations on the advantage

Buying a car doesn’t have to be scary. Many dread shopping for a new vehicle because the understand they may get ripped off. Don’t fear because this information will instruct how you can avoid exactly that.

The first thing you need to understand when buying a car or truck is both you and the supplier are looking to get or keep the most money possible.

If you get one thing out of this series is you should understand if or when to walk away. A deal can happen quickly and you are not the pro here. If you need some time to think, TAKE IT. Walk away if they are pressuring you. An ethical dealer will offer the same deal the following day. A good deal is a win-win for both parties, though, most of the time it is the consumer that leaves feeling unsatisfied.

In this day and age a ride is no longer a luxury it can be a necessity. The average person buys 9.4 vehicles in their lifetime, so you should properly research the correct way to do it so the process is as painless as possible.

When you are searching for your vehicle start with these 10 crucial tips:

  1. Visit FightingChance.com to find correct pricing, current dealer incentives, and sometimes some amazing offers. Often more valuable than kbb.com some people save thousands starting here.
  2. From July 4 to October dealerships are attempting to get rid of last year’s inventory to make way for new stock.
  3. Purchasing around Christmas time is also a wise more. Everyone is busy buying Christmas presents not cars. This makes some dealerships desperate. Salesmen may be more willing to close year end deals giving you more leverage for a better price.
  4. Buying online is becoming more popular. Search for rebates and deals online. You’ll be ready to jump on a deal too good to pass up.
  5. Print out the specs of your ideal car with your low ball offer and hand it out to all the dealers in your area. Let them compete with each other for your business. Tell them you will be ready to buy instantly if they meet those demands (does that sound like an auto hostage letter??).
  6. If you’re financing know your credit score before hand. You need to know what you rates you qualify because the dealer will and you may accept a high interest loan.
  7. Some dealers try to extort money out of you. You may hear things like your financing fell through and they need a higher deposit or they’ll offer a higher interest rate. Don’t believe it. If you know your credit score, and its above 680 usually, this should not and will not happen to your loan. Monitor your credit at equifax.com. It’s better to pay a little now than thousands later.
  8. If you trade your car in when it’s not paid off you may end up paying more in fees since the dealer doesn’t ever pay them right away. Get the dealer to sign a letter saying it will be paid off in 10 days.
  9. If you want a car the dealer doesn’t have in stock they’ll ask you for a deposit. This is standard practice. Pay a deposit of $500 at the most with only a credit card. If something happens you will have a chance to get the money back with a credit card dispute rather than if you pay with cash or check. Those payments you can kiss goodbye if something turns rotten.
  10. If you are hurting for a car the dealer will smell the desperation on you. You may end up making a foolish purchase in haste. They are here to make money. Don’t let them take advantage of you in that state of mind. Don’t wait until your car is on its last leg, or wheel. Take your time, find the right car, and make the right deal instead of rushing for a replacement.

There are things a dealer will do to make you as a buyer feel less than comfortable. Some things you should avoid as well. Here is a list of no no’s to avoid so you still get a good deal.

  • Don’t lie about the condition of your trade in. They will check out your car and ding you any way they can. They will sell your old horse and carriage for a profit to some other sap. Simple as that.
  • If you filed for bankruptcy recently you will have no chance getting financing for a vehicle. Better hit up Pay Day.
  • Don’t expect to get a deposit back. They’ll keep it and dine on ribeye and bourbon with no second thought.
  • Be honest with your credit score. They will run it once they get your SSN. They do that so they can try for a higher interest loan no matter what. You can negotiate this down if you have the credit swag.
  • Try to do your due diligence and find out the dealer cost on the car you want. Your first offer may be way over asking and you could get ripped off.
  • DON’T GET SOLD! This is the most important part. If you are flexible on the car or truck going in you will have more options. The dealer is selling himself or herself to you. If you like them you will buy from them. Don’t let that fool you. Keep your wits and hold your ground. Don’t let them dictate each step. Stop and think if you need time. Step outside if you cant think with them staring at you. Act like you need to take a phone call if need be.

Buying a new car is just like buying anything else on the market. Salesmen are there to sell. They try not to take no for an answer. They may use word and phrases designed to confuse you and throw you off in order to get the deal done.

Pro Tip: The ABC's (Always Be Closing) of sales. As a customer: Always Bitch & Complain.

Advertisers and marketers are there to mess with your head so that they can make you buy things. The best sales copy is amazingly well worded and delivered. Sometimes you don’t realize you’re being sold!

Sales strategists use carefully written pitches that show you are getting a deal when in reality you may be paying more than retail. Marketers use schemes like a percentage off sale on inventory when in reality the percentage off is a discount of the price they just raised before the sale and it is in reality the normal everyday price of the vehicle.

These strategies and more are designed to get more money out of your wallet. This is an introduction to a ten part series that will provide you all the knowledge you need to get a great deal on your next car or truck. So now you have a feel of where to start. Before you head to the dealer or call that weirdo on craiglist lets dive deeper so you’re 100% prepared to make this a good experience.

Have a good one and stay dirty.

Car Buying II: How To Get Your First Car

What Is The Best Off Road Vehicle To Build?

An off road build can be a daunting task for the inexperienced. You will buy and fix and fail and laugh and scream and throw things and try to figure out why you started in the first place.

This is why so many people have their garages filled with parts everywhere and a half-built, half unbuilt truck sitting there collecting dust instead of dirt and miles. So really what is the best off-road vehicle to build:

  • Ford Rangers
  • Jeep Cherokee
  • Chevrolet S10/Blazer
  • Toyota T100
  • Ford F-Series

These are the trucks that are the easiest to buy cheap, have parts readily available, and offer a great off-roading experience for novices and the more experienced.

But where do you start and how can you even begin? There are ways you can make it much much easier to finish that winter project and get it up and running in the hills when it gets warm. There are many factors to take into account.

READ MORE: 10 BEST OFF ROAD VEHICLES TO BUILD UNDER $10k

The first is a budget. You can have the sickest truck in the world but if you can’t afford to put gas in it or buy the right tires it won’t do you any good. You have to know what you’re getting yourself into and how you can get out of it if you need to i.e. finish it or sell it.

The top 5 things to take into consideration for the best off road vehicle to build are:

  1. Start with the end in mind
  2. Budget
  3. Parts availability
  4. Technical ability
  5. Resources available

1. Starting with the end in mind will force you to find out what you want to build i.e. A rally car? A side by side? A wall climbing monster? An ATV? A 4×4 you can drive from your garage to the dirt and back with Starbucks cups safely cradled in their cup holders and wireless cell phone chargers?

You’re going to find out what platform you will need and that is where you can start to plan to build your own off road vehicle.

2. Budgeting correctly will determine how much fun you can have. Are you willing to drop $20,000 on a newer truck that is already ready to go? Or maybe you want to buy a banger for $2,500, gut it, and slowly upgrade parts one at a time?

Whatever you decide your budget will limit how fast you can get out there and on what set of wheels would be the best off-road vehicle to build.

Don’t let this discourage you either. Some guys out there with a shiny new Renegade or Tundra and they’re scared to get it dirty? Then they get passed by those two guys in the banged-up Bronco or T100 that is charging harder than everyone else.

If you’re investing all your savings into a machine then you may be scared to get it out there and see what it can really do.

3. Parts availability is crucial to your off-road build. You may find a great deal on an older Expedition 4×4. It has a V8 and maybe some accessories so you’re off to a good start. But maybe it needs a lift kit, or you quickly realize it doesn’t have enough power to move it’s fat ass in the dirt and it’s just too awkward to move.

The parts you want are fitted for other trucks. The universal fit parts available are few and not designed for off-roading. You can get some close but maybe they’ll cause other problems you will have to fix down the road.

Maybe it would be easier to sell it and start over or just give up?

4. Your Technical ability should be taken into consideration as well. This includes your access to parts as well. We all have been to Harbor Freight to “rent” parts for a day or two. But having a set of wrenches to use for this long term and the recurring project is crucial. Also is the ability to use them. Buying older trucks that are easy to work on will save you a lot of time, money, and energy in the long run. 

Working on that Expedition would be a nightmare. A lot of trucks may require two people and a lot of aspirin. Most Jeeps or 80’s Toyotas would be child’s play in comparison.

5. The resources available to you are crucial as well. Shop manuals, forums, youtube, friends, mechanics, or neighbors all serve as resources. Buy a brand you constantly see in the hills and you may have a world of knowledge at your fingertips.

Buy an older or not so common off-roader and you may be learning a lot of things on your own. This is something to take into consideration. But for some people figuring things out on their own may be the best part of the whole process.

READ MORE: THE BEST PORTABLE AIR COMPRESSORS FOR OFF-ROADING

My first restore was a 1982 Yamaha 650 Seca motorcycle. I had a shop manual but I did a lot of things on my own and I loved it. I trusted my work enough where I wouldn’t kill myself on the freeway.

In the next few years, I did find missing parts around the garage. Doing it over again I wouldn’t change the process. But that’s me. And that’s what I enjoy and I know that about myself. Hopefully, you do as well. 

Building an off-road vehicle can be a daunting task for the inexperienced. You will buy and fix and fail and laugh and scream and throw things and try to figure out why you started in the first place.

Taking all of these things into consideration the following is a list of top road vehicles to build for 5 different builder types:

The Off Road Novice

Probably the most exciting place to be. Everything is new to you. You don’t understand everything and your first influences may shape how you move forward. After some weeks you quickly realize how little you know and you jump around from truck to truck.

This type will need to do more planning than the rest. This is your first off road build. This will decide whether you love off-roading or will frustrate you enough to turn you away. Maybe you have a limited budget and no experience, but you have been reading everything you can online and you spotted a juicy listing on Craigslist. Do you pull the trigger or wait for a better opportunity? I got you.

The 1st Upgrade

You’re no rookie anymore. You have your first ride and you quickly understand what it lacks and you’re ready to make an excellent decision. Maybe you’re tired of doing more repairs than riding. Or you’re constantly sitting shotgun in your friend’s monster. You want to do more but you want a better machine to do it.

The Wrencher

You spend time fixing rides for a living or you have a garage filled with flips you’re fixing up. How can you take advantage? You may not have an unlimited budget to work with but you can fix a junker better than anyone else on this list. Buy a junker and fix it up? Get an obscure ride and mod it when needed? What are the best rides for your skillset?

The “I Got Money To Burn and I Want To Tear It Up This Weekend”

Possibly the best situation here. You have little limits to what you can get. You don’t have the experience to understand how you want to ride but you can an awesome machine and learn quickly.

You’ve been watching youtube videos about renegades with 6” lifts climbing up walls or watching off roading fail videos over and over.

You want a brand new Gladiator to jump off cliffs on your next vacation. Or maybe your friend knows someone that knows someone that is selling a retired race truck and you want to buy a legit workhorse. Where do you start?

The Comfortable Retiree

You have more time than anything. Maybe you did some off-roading years ago and now you have the free time to get back into it. What has changed? What is different and what can you do to get back to it quickly?

Now that you know who you are. Let’s take a look at some of the best off-road vehicles to build for each type of builder.

What is the Best Off Road Vehicle To Build for The Novice?

If this your first project so you are going to want to take things slow and find the best deal you can. You are going to find lots of used parts from the junkyard. Hell, you might even find a junker and get it running.

You have more time than money. So you will be spending long weekends in the garage fixing things that went wrong and fixing your mistakes. But this is part of the learning process and it is almost more important than learning from a shop manual.

You are going to be looking at the following trucks. They are in order of preference keeping in mind purchase price, parts availability, mechanical aptitude required, and off-road ability.

The Ford Rangers were bulletproof. The drive train won’t give you issues. But you may have issues with other parts of the truck. But used parts and driveability will make this a very easy build.

I would put this one at the top of this list because it was my first truck. But I won’t. The Jeep Cherokee is a great first off road build. You can buy them cheap every day, parts are easy to come by, not too complicated, and you’ll have plenty of fun in the dirt.

The Chevy S10 and the SUV Blazer were the Honda Civic’s of the ’90s. They were very common, customized, and drove nice. Nowadays you may spend more than the others on parts or dig a little deeper for used parts. Off-roading won’t be as fun with the others, but they won’t break the bank getting up and running.

The Toyota T100 isn’t as common as the others on this list, but it will get you up and driving quicker than the others. It is incredibly simple and parts are dirt cheap. Universal parts can be used more than on other trucks. It is the precursor to the Tacoma so off-roading is part of its blood.

The Ford F Series is on this list because it is just so common. You can find older ones cheap and easy. Used parts are all over. 4×4’s with big engines are abundant. Driving is great for a heavier truck. A stripped-down off-roading F-150 could be the most fun mudder you can get.

What is the Best Off-Road Vehicle To Build for the Wrencher and the Upgrader?

You know exactly what you want and now you only have to see the truck and you’ll jump on it. You know what shortcuts you can take, which parts are not worth upgrading, and which type of truck you want.

What is the Best Off-Road Vehicle To Build for the Retiree and Mr. Moneybags?

You are thinking about how fast you can go. Or you want to keep up with the Jones’. The money will make up for any lack of patience. Check out how easy it is to find what you want when you have the cash.

Have a good one and stay dirty.

The Best Off Road Vehicles Under 20k To Buy (2020)

I was browsing around online and I have seen many articles titled “Best Off-Road SUV Under 20k” or something like that. But they are basically vague lists of the same few used off-road vehicles for sale everyone drives. 

Sure they are helpful and a good place to start, but you’re not going to find out the best SUVs under 20k staying on these lists. I wanted to take a bunch of real-world examples and show why they are or are not the best off-road vehicles under 20k.

Ok, so it got me thinking, what if I waste some time browsing current listings of used off-road vehicles for sale and come up with my own list of REAL LIVE ACTUAL listings? So, how much does $20,000 could get me? I searched craigslist.com and autotrader.com with these factors in mind:

  • The model year 2010 or newer
  • All-wheel drive or 4×4
  • Manual transmission
  • Fewer than 100,000 miles
  • Lift kit included or bought within budget
  • Winch included or bought within budget

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.

This is my list of the best off-road vehicles under 20k. Why? I give you a unique and real-world analysis based on several factors. Read more and find out why I am right. Or don’t.

This is America after all:

1981 JEEP CJ-5 LAREDO 4×4

Kelly Blue Book: $15,285
Asking Price: $21,995
Missing: Nothing

A classic. This listing has everything you need to claim your weekend warrior status in the hills. You can drive it directly from the bank to the dirt stopping for a 12-pack and Slim Jims. 

The only issue is reliability. These things are built tough. Rust may be an issue. The good thing parts are cheap and readily available. Working on Jeeps is like a dream (if that is possible) and you will be able to be back on the road (unpaved road) in no time.

Equivalents are priced similarly so talking them too much below $20k would be difficult. These Jeeps are keepers though. You should be able to pass this onto your son or sell it when you need to pay for college. This one is my personal choice as one of the best 4×4 under 20k.

1991 JEEP WRANGLER 4×4

Kelly Blue Book: $6,460
Asking Price: $13,500
Missing: Nothing

I can repeat myself or you can reread the description of the 1981 CJ-5. Your choice. 

A possible upgrade could be more lights though.

2007 Cadillac Escalade EXT

Kelly Blue Book: $12,441
Asking Price: $22,000
Missing: Winch, Grill Guard

I made an exception with the transmission here. Forgive me. In fact, I don’t think Cadillac knows how to make manual transmissions (I know you’ll correct me in the comments if I’m wrong). This is one of the few SUVs under 20k here.

If they were asking $5,000 less than what they have, I would have ranked this higher. 

Side note: When you’re spending thousands and thousands on aftermarket parts and upgrades for your ride, don’t expect to recoup that money when it comes time to sell. Their vanity purchases and unless you have a famous last name you’re SOL.

This thing is a beast and I would love to ride around in the dirt with a Caddy. With 407 HP and 417 ft/lb of torque, it sits at a hefty 5,838 lbs. It’s got the power to weight ratio of about 6.9. Compare that to the PTW ratio of our #1 pick at 7.3 and you’ll be sitting pretty in the mud.

2012 Nissan Frontier 4×4 Crew Cab

Kelly Blue Book: $15,500
Asking Price: $18,000
Missing: Tires, winch, lift kit, power

Talk the sell down $2k and you have $4k to work with. Get a 6″ lift kit or just a 2.5” body lift and you still have plenty to spend on tires, a winch, and some power upgrades. At 261 HP and 281 ft/lb of torque, you won’t need to spend much. But more power is always better.

2013 Porsche Cayenne AWD

Kelly Blue Book: $18,589
Asking Price: $19,995
Missing: Suspension, tires, mud flaps

This Porsche has the same power to weight ratio as the others. You may be much more comfortable INSIDE than out. And with a suspension upgrade and tire swap, you’ll be styling in the dirt. Known for high-end streetcars the Cayenne is an able off-road machine. Another one of the SUVs under 20k. Super SUV.

They’re not as common due to being so cost prohibitive but older ones can be worth having if you don’t mind having higher repair costs and fewer off-road aftermarket options than the others on this list. 

2012 Toyota Tacoma Access Cab 4×4

Kelly Blue Book: $15,586
Asking Price: $16,900
Missing: Lift kit, tires, winch, power, 

Tacomas are at home in the dirt. Everyone knows that. The Access cabs are great with their shorter wheelbase and spunky handling. This listing is asking for under $17k. Get this thing for under $15k and you have a lot of room to add power, a winch, a lift kit, tires, a front grill, and other accessories that will make you smile.

Sell the camper as well and you’ll have a few hundo more to play with. 

READ MORE: WHAT IS A TRUCK LEVELING KIT?

2013 Jeep Wrangler 4×4 Sport

Kelly Blue Book: $20,854
Asking Price: $20,675
Missing: Realistic wheels, winch

This listing stood out to me because all I could think of was getting that green completely covered in dirt. That would be a better look than the atrocity I currently see. 

Well, it’s newer, it only has 36,000 miles, and if you sell those wheels you’ll be able to buy a winch. This is one of the best used off-road vehicles that will make your girl sitting shotgun dirtier than a third-year junior at rush week. 

2005 Jeep Unlimited LJ

Kelly Blue Book: $14,309
Asking Price: $19,000
Missing: Winch

This thing is loaded with extras. And a lot of quality extras; Dana axles, Smittybilt bumpers, Bilstein shocks…

It’s hard to believe it only has 55,000 miles for being 15 years old. It must have been a weekend truck and that’s about it. It’s priced a bit high so you can probably talk them down a smidge, pick up a winch, and hit the hills this weekend with no worries!

2013 Jeep Wrangler 4×4 Sport

Kelly Blue Book: $21,165
Asking Price: $19,995
Missing: Winch

With only 31,931 miles and a soft top, it’s only missing a winch. This line of Jeeps will hold their value as well. They’re tough, reliable, and you can customize them easily with lots o’ parts.

One more. Because, why not?

1972 FJ40 Toyota Land Cruiser

Kelly Blue Book: $12,450-$67,600
Asking Price: $15,000
Missing: Years, Lift kit, possibly everything

I wanted to add this guy here because while the point of having an off-road machine is to drive it. To own a classic truck can be different. Do you want to preserve it? Do you want to restore it to stock? Or do you want to own the best used off-road vehicles between your friends? If so, are you willing to work on it or pay a shop more than newer trucks?

Or maybe you could go all out and fully restore the beast with new upgrades and make it a one of a kind monster that any off-road enthusiast would drool over? For this price, I would take a chance.

READ MORE: BEST OFF ROAD VEHICLES UNDER 10K

I have included a BONUS LIST of cars that handle great in the dirt but are designed for racing instead of the above These are not part of the best off-road vehicles under 20k because they do not meet our requirements but they still are great machines that can be a lot of fun:

2014 Subaru Impreza WRX STI

Kelly Blue Book: $20,041
Asking Price: $20,999
Missing: Mudflaps

The STIs are badass machines. Everyone knows it. This guy can be got for $20k out the door. At 305 HP stock, it’ll float through the dirt all day. It has 99k miles which sucks balls, but Subaru’s reliability has greatly improved and the 2014 models are no different.

2014 Mercedes Benz CLA

Kelly Blue Book: $17,586
Asking Price: $18,000
Missing: Suspension, mud flaps, tires

A Mercedes in the dirt? That’s like seeing an honest politician. They’re very rare, but they’re out there. This top of the line (no AMG) Mercedes CLA has an all-wheel drive and manual shifting mode (manual/not manual?). 

Talk the seller down close to $16,000 and you can buy wheels and an airlift kit to get this baby off-road. If you do, send me a video of how its park assist does in the dirt. This could be one of the best AWD cars under 20k.

2012 Mini Cooper Countryman S ALL4

Kelly Blue Book: $11,444
Asking Price: $11,900
Missing: Turbo upgrade, Suspension, mud flaps, grill

Mini. Cooper. Off-road. Yeah, you thought an off-road Mercedes was strange. Minis are known for their surprising handling with their extremely short wheelbase and balanced chassis.

Reliability issues have been a problem in the past so due to your due diligence. These issues are usually minor and they aren’t involving major wallet-busting problems, but they can be enough to drive you nuts.

The price here is interesting. Get the car version of a Samurai and you can really turn some heads. For $20,000, you’ll have $9,000+ to beef up the suspension, tires, add about 100HP in a turbo upgrade, flaps, and maybe bumpers too. You may not make it to $17k with those upgrades. That means you need a new sound system too.

READ MORE: THE BEST 4×4 TRUCKS UNDER $5K

2010 Mitsubishi Evolution X GSR

Kelly Blue Book: $18,500
Asking Price: $19,000
Missing: Tires, possible engine work for weak compression

The listing shows the above blue book value for a car with possibly a bad cylinder. If there is engine work involved this could be a nightmare. I hope that is not why the owner is selling. I would go in with a low ball offer to mitigate my risk here.

It would be best to meet them at a mechanic I trust to run some tests. If the mechanic signs off on it then I would be happy to get this for (much) less than asking. This bad boy is almost one of the best off-road vehicles under 20k listed. Why?

On the street or the dirt, these EVOs are AWESOME. You can average 100 MPH from your garage to the top of a hill and back while sipping your half-caf/decaf/decaf caramel cinnamon frappuccino latte macchiato with soy milk.

I hope you enjoyed the list of our list of the best off-road vehicles under 20k. It can change quite a bit but overall you are going to see a lot of the same craigslist trucks and cars make these lists. Jeeps, Toyotas, Subarus, and Evos are home here, and for good reason. They have long histories of off-roading dominance. 

Agree or disagree? Did I make a serious boo boo? Let me know in the comments below or forever hold your peace.

Thanks for reading and stay dirty.

Cars That Look Like Jeeps But Aren’t (Wrangler Replacements)

There is only one Jeep. However, there can be others that look as stylish or MORE stylish than a Jeep. Right? The Wrangler is a timeless off-road machine that has found a home in countless garages. Well, maybe you’re the type that wants something different?

Maybe you want to set yourself apart from the already unique group of Jeep aficionados? Take a look below where we pick our favorite cars that look like jeeps but aren’t. Are there many to choose from? Are they worth it? Can you customize them with readily available parts from aftermarket stores or even the junkyard?

Yes? No? Maybe.

Consequently, the following list includes our picks for the best cars that look like Jeeps but aren’t:

  • Toyota FJ
  • Toyota 4Runner
  • Suzuki Samurai
  • Suzuki Jimny
  • Mercedes-Benz Unimog
  • Land Rover 88
  • Hummer H2
  • Ford Bronco
  • Mahindra Roxor

Toyota FJ

toyota truck that look like a Jeep
1963 Toyota FJ40 Landcruiser 4×4

Debuting in 1963 and selling until 1984, the FJ40 needed only two years to become the best selling Toyota. It’s 135 horsepower inline 6 was a virtually indestructible engine but they were usually swapped out in favor of the small block Chevy that offered more power.

READ MORE: THE MOST AGGRESSIVE OFF-ROADING TRUCK TIRES

Nowadays you can pick one up for around a mere $50,000 fully rebuilt. There are many trucks that look like Jeeps and the FJ may be one of the few literals. It’s round headlights and open roll cage design are mirror images of Wrangler ancestors.

Toyota 4Runner

toyota that look like Jeep
Custom ragtop on a 1987 First Generation Toyota 4Runner. Racing stripes came stock from the factory. Perfect for outrunning cheetahs.

The 4runner is a staple in the truck community. It is an SUV built on a truck frame. It makes the ride on asphalt not as smooth as say the Landcruiser or Highlander but its off-road capabilities surpass any other vehicle with a Toyota badge.

With a removable fiberglass camper shell, it could become an open back summer cruiser. The original model came with a turbocharged V6 that worked great off-road. You can find the first and second generation 4Runners with a lot of wear starting around $3,000.

Newer models are more conventional but still have the off-roading spirit with the features to make a worthwhile day in the mud. The 4Runner has for decades been one of the most popular Toyota cars that look like Jeeps.

toyota suv that looks like a jeep
2018 4Runner TRD Pro. Beautiful sunset included.

Suzuki SJ, Sidekick, X-90, Jimny…

suzuki samurai that looks like a jeep
The torquey zippy little guy that cant go fast but it can climb up walls

The long-standing Japanese legend from Suzuki started out as something completely different than anything Suzuki has ever produced. Just look at it. The cute little boxy 4×4 coupe truck was in a league of its own. Less truck and more compact it may more cars like a jeep than trucks.

Nowadays Suzuki produces something completely different. From their humble beginnings, who knew Suzuki had it in them in 2020 to produce a small boxy 4×4 coupe truck?? I for one am shocked

suzuki that looks like a jeep
The cute little guy. The 2020 model (pictured here) gives you about 100 HP. Not too overwhelming as it only weighs 2,370 lbs. That’s a power to weight ratio of 4.2. That’s along the lines of a Dodge Journey. Booya.

All jokes aside Today’s Suzuki is a fun little machine. It starts at $23,990 with two trims options. It has all the off-roading capabilities with its ladder frame, low range gearing you would expect with modern additions like hill assist, brake assist, driver assist and soda drink assist (don’t ask for a source on that last one).

 Mercedes-Benz Unimog

Mercedes benz that looks like a Jeep
1976 Mercedes-Benz Unimog 406 Doppelkabine. The name just rolls off the tongue.

Sold under the Mercedes-Benz brand the Unimog is a Daimler manufactured long-standing post-WWII marvel. For cars that look like a Jeep but aren’t this “car” is the most aggressive on this list.

Designed as a cross between a tractor and truck it gets the best of both worlds. It designed to perform deep in the jungle and be able to be parked in your garage. It gets more ground clearance than other vehicles of its size and has a switchable front or rear or 4×4 wheel drive.

mercedes looks like a jeep
Older beds don’t offer much use. New models are larger and designed for commercial use.

READ MORE: WHAT ARE THE MOST FUEL EFFICIENT JEEP WRANGLERS?

mercedes truck that looks like a jeep
1955 Unimog Single Cab with a soft top and a bed

Today they are used in Europe for anything and everything. Snowplows, military vehicles, personnel carriers, and even in racing. The ultimate do-it-all will do it all for you as well. In the states, they’re hard to find but you would love them if you did get your hands on one.

Not known for their offroading nor 4×4 nor truck lines, we have included two Mercedes that looks like a Jeep. Two.

Mercedes-Benz G-Class

mercedes that looks like a jeep
Straight out of Normandy and Stalingrad. Not the worst ride if you got $100k laying around

Probably the most expensive cars that look like jeeps on this list may also be the least practical. The G-Class is another Daimler made truck sold under the Mercedes brand (second longest-running after the Unimog).

Since its introduction in 1979 its always been a luxury truck. All the bells and whistles available were generally offered. That’s not to say it was only used this way. A filmmaker took a G-wagon 11,000 miles through Siberia through temperatures reaching -63 F and the thing didn’t break down once. #G-status.

mercedes benz that looks like a jeep
6×6 Masonry G-wagon for when Google maps confused you & you forgot the 3rd reich

The thing style-wise has been basically unchanged for over 40 years. New base models with 400+ horsepower start around $130,000. Look hard enough and you can find used models with the AMG package under 100,000 miles spitting out 500+ horsepower for around $45,000. #balleronabudget The G-Wagon is one of the most expensive cars that look like Jeeps but aren’t.

Land Rover Series II

Land rover that look like a Jeep
1960 Land Rover Series II 88 4×4. It is a thing of beauty. It came out 7 years before the Bronco but some still say Range Rover knocked off Ford.

Yeah, that’s a vintage post-WWII Range Rover Series 2 88. It came standard with 4×4. The model improved for a couple of decades shedding numerous names. The Truck is part Bronco, part Thing, part Willy, part FJ, and at the same time none of them as it predates all. Production started in 1958. Give the Brits credit for doing something stylish for a change.

Hummer H2

hummer that looks like a jeep
The monstrosity that is the Hummer H2. The slow, gas sucking, 0 visibility family wagon has come and gone. Hopefully for good. Sorry rappers.

I thought long and hard about this one. Is it worth it to put this POS on this list? Yes. Yes, it is. The Hummer H2 was an eyesore then and a cold sore now. In the wake of gas price surges, the H2 was the soccer mom and rapper’s dream.

hummer that looks like a jeep
This single cab in 2008 looked pretty sweet, I cannot lie

It didn’t handle or perform well and it was as reliable as that smashed up condom you had in your wallet since sophomore year. You couldn’t see out the sides or back worth a damn. They got about 2 gallons per mile and the base price was $49,395 (not including the $4,000 gas guzzler tax). The H2 is our choice for the worst cars that look like Jeeps but aren’t.

Neato.

Ford Bronco

ford that looks like a jeep
1975 Ford Bronco Hardtop in a not-so-stock flat black and a lift kit.

Oh yeah. That is more like it. I apologize to anybody that got offended by my honest view of the H2 above. It’s just a real POS. Ford has a long history of classic and beautiful autos. They surely didn’t tarnish that history with the early Broncos.

ford bronco cars that looks like a Jeep
A render of the Bronco with a detachable hardtop. That thing is sexy and it knows it.

This render is amazing. Yeah, yeah, yeah it’s too good to be true. But this COULD happen according to rumors. well, so much for safety concerns. Avoid freeways and you should be good?

ford brongo jeep lookalike
Actual photo of a real-life and breathing 2020 Ford Bronco in blue.

Finally, after 25 years of hibernating Ford has done something smart. Maybe it has to do with the fact that they are waving the white flag and ceasing production of all cars not named Mustang. They woke the OG SUV from its hiatus and debuting it new and fresh for 2020 (2021?). It is a couple of decades too long. But it is most definitely worth the wait.

Mahindra Roxor

Mahindra Roxor one of the most blatant cars that look like Jeeps but aren't
Mahindra Roxor in the wild. The Indians are finally getting in on the off-road fun. Can you blame them?

In a battle for cars, the looks like Jeep but aren’t this Indian car manufacturer Mahindra is joining the party. They came close, in fact, that they were sued and lost because the Mahindra looked TOO much like a Jeep so Mahindra had to redesign the front end before it could go to market. Well done. Or not.

roxor that looks like a jeep
2020 Roxor with the updated grill that does not resemble the Jeep Wrangler

Their take on the Jeep looks more like a Disneyland theme park ride than anything you would want to take seriously and it is exactly what they call it, a side by side. I didn’t think it could be done, but, this thing makes the Jimny look big.

The turbo diesel 62 horsepower seems impressive at first but given its curb weight of 3,035 lbs, it’s going to need all 144 ft/lbs of torque. Throw a couple of hefty linebackers in there and some gear you’re looking at 3,800 lbs out the door. Priced at a modest $16,599 all you have to do is decide whether you want yours in red, white, or blue.

Honorable Mentions

Ariel Nomad

ariel that looks like a jeep
I know, I know, the resemblance is uncanny.

Nissan Titan

nissan that looks like a jeep
Oh so shiny.

Ford Explorer Sport

explorer that looks like a jeep
Good ol’ Ford Exploder getting up there.

Chevrolet Blazer

ford blazer that looks like a Jeep
IS that rear-wheel drive? IS IT??

Chevrolet Suburban Sport

chevy jeep look like
The owner must be tall. 12″ lift with no floorboards.

Ford Ranger

ford ranger that looks like a jeep
To me lifted Rangers look like someone with an excellent poster. Maybe it’s a good design?

Ford Raptor

ford raptor that looks like a jeep
Shhhhhh. 1:1 sized Raptor…

Have a good one and stay dirty.

What are Some Cheaper Jeep Wrangler Alternatives?

For a lot of people, the Jeep Wrangler is what they think of when they imagine off-roading. In the past, there were only a few trucks available. Nowadays there is a huge market for off-road vehicles. What was once the standard is now one of many in a crowded field.

You are stuck between a Jeep Wrangler or similar? Are you die-hard GM or Ford? Or maybe you always had a thing for the quirky Samurai. So what are some Jeep Wrangler alternatives?

Even the older models like the Ford Bronco and the Toyota FJ are useful options. There are many Jeep alternatives that cost less. Some may even provide better value, lesser brand appeal, and cheap generic aftermarket parts.

What Trucks Have As Many Aftermarket Or OEM Parts Available As A Wrangler?

Jeeps have such a long history it’s hard to find aftermarket part stores with catalogs rivaling those of the Wrangler and toe community that share the same passions of Wrangler owners. 4Runners do come close though. They have over forty years of history with a very solid following. Most off-road stores have a wide range of accessories and performance parts for the Toyota off-roading machine.

Models that have a multi-decade history such as the Suzuki models, Blazer, Pathfinder & Xterra all have a decent offering of OEM replacement and direct fit aftermarket parts that can be readily available online. While Ford mostly focuses on performance off road parts for its popular F line of pickup trucks.

READ MOREBEST USED 4×4 TRUCKS UNDER $10,000

Can I Work Them If I Can’t Afford A Mechanic And They’re Not As Reliable?

1994 Chevrolet Blazer raised and braised. This is what a hangover looks like in an SUV.

One of the best parts about owning an old Jeep or similar off road truck is the joy of fixing them with your bare hands. Well, a lot of times you will find yourself tinkering with them even when nothing appears wrong except for the fact that you can’t ignore getting greasy.

Ask any true Jeep owner what shop they take their Jeep to and they’ll point to themselves. The physical toll these off-road machines are put through and the love they require are parts of the satisfaction of owning a Jeep.

The reliability of these trucks goes as far as the wrench swung at them. A daily driver with 300,000 miles isn’t unheard of. the AMC 4.0 inline 6 engine is a tank. Older Jeeps can be unreliable but it is usually due to an electrical failure or the suspension taking a dump.

A monster Ford Bronco turned F350 with Dana 60s. Is that a Periwinkle Blue?

The simplicity of Jeeps is one of their biggest strengths. The ability to work so well and handle and be so reliable for how simple they are makes the Jeep a wonderful home project. Newer and forevermore complex trucks may require advanced knowledge and schooling. Some even need a computer to change to dang oil. 

For the purpose of this article, we are looking at cost. Cheaper Jeep Wrangler alternatives usually mean older models. Think pre 2001~. Jeeps are still highly desired and they hold they value longer than other trucks (even though they may not warrant the higher resale price. Keep reading).

First-generation 4Runners are great for engine swaps, suspension upgrades, interior work, and remove the rear “camper” shell to make it an open rear summer cruiser. Upgrading with the availability of non-OEM parts makes the 4Runner one of many excellent Jeep Wrangler alternatives.

Can These Trucks Handle Off-Roading?

ford ranger or jeep wrangler off road
1994 Ford Ranger. Slightly modified.

If you’re looking for a replacement with less investment than a Jeep but with the ability to have fun off the pavement you’re in luck! Some older trucks excel in the mud. 

4×4 Ford Rangers with their 3.0 Vulcan engine with 155 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. It was used in models from 1986-2008. It is virtually indestructible. The more season driver may desire more HP but it is an excellent option for a novice on a budget.

First-generation 4Runners with lift kits can be found sold for those on a budget. Check craigslist or even maybe you can get lucky on autotrader.com. 4Runners are great overall vehicles and they do very well in the mud. I’ll include the T100 here as well as older models are basically a stripped-down 4Runner.

Mid 90’s Blazers are readily available and can be got for under $2k. Their weight distribution and size make them a viable option for off-roading. If you add a lift kit, and some tires you may be the most comfortable person out there. The Blazer is a road SUV that is built to go off-roading if absolutely necessary.

1987 Toyota 4Runner with a hardtop. Speed bumps are easy to manage when you add a lift kit to trucks like these. Be careful around school zones tho.

The price point and availability of the older (and lighter) Mitsubishi Montero equivalent of the Wrangler is almost astronomical compared with the Wrangler so we won’t say much more than that. Xterras and Pathfinders have off roading ability but you won’t have as much fun as in the others in this section. 

Of course, Suzukis and other Jeeps can be great for off-roading as well. If you are thinking about racing in the Baja 500 then a Jeep will get you home in days instead of hours. They are just not built for speed.

If you have visited any local parks or off-roading scenes you will have noticed a lot of different trucks being thrown about and tested to their limits and beyond. A T100 with a big winch or maybe even a lesbian Suzuki driver making all the other drivers look bad and jealous.

Nowadays it is common to show up with many Jeep Wrangler alternatives. Style, preference, price, and many other factors come into play.

Is Buying A Wrangler With A Salvage Title OK?

The friend that caused the crash: “That should buff right out.”

Buying a salvaged vehicle, or a vehicle that has more damage than that vehicle is worth can sometimes be an excellent way to find a great deal on a normally much more expensive vehicle.

Samcrac on YouTube has an excellent channel where he buys and repairs salvaged high-end vehicles. Watching his channel makes it seem anyone can buy a flattened Land Rover and make it new and shiny again.

If you’re handy with the wrench and you don’t need your off-roader as a daily driver then buying a salvaged 4×4 can give you great a great option. The most important thing to keep in mind is the type of damage. Was it in a wreck? Was it water damaged? Can you find out directly from the owner what happened? Were the repairs done? And if so, ALWAYS have a trusted mechanic check the work quality. 

It is hard to believe this is the same truck. Reddit user JohnRedcornXL did a fancy job. No bull

If the $2,500 Wrangler rear-ended someone on the way home and insurance put a salvage title on it, this could be an excellent find where you can buy and tow the truck home and do some minor framework yourself. On the other hand, if it was in an accident where there could be frame damage you’ll have to ask yourself if this is work you can successfully do. 

Water damage can be very expensive to fix since it can affect so much of the vehicle. This means possibly replacing the interior, the dash, and electronics. Flushing or even rebuilding everything under the hood. Or it could be as simple as ripping out everything that smells, a thorough cleaning, and lots of lube. 

It really depends on the situation and the extent of the damage. Sometimes buying a salvaged Jeep can be the best option. You will be forced to learn how to fix your car in case (or when) the situation happens in the future.

You will have to invest in tools and knowledge of your new-found hobby. “Necessity is the mother of invention” and in the matter of fixing older Jeeps “necessity is the guardian of ability“.

Here is all the information you need to compare what we find to be the top four Jeep Wrangler alternatives. Broken down into table in direct comparison. Stats include the Jeep Wrangler, CJ, XJ, and equivalents from 1970 until the present day.

So What Is A Cheaper Alternative To Jeep Wrangler?

  • Toyota 4Runner
  • Suzuki Samurai
  • Chevrolet Blazer
  • Nissan Xterra

How does each compare to the Wrangler? Let’s take a look at each in detail to see how they compare:


jeep wrangler vs suzuki jimnyWrangler good. Suzuki bad.

In a head-to-head matchup, the Samurai is pretty meager. On its own, the Suzuki is a fun ride for a select group of people. It’s severely limiting capabilities are too much to warrant any type of comparison in any aspect to a Jeep.

The quaint ride can be fun and joy if you don’t need to haul a lot of stuff or are a grand group of 2-4 looking for a sweet day trip.

Cargo space with four people is made up of little more than cup holders. RVers commonly tow these bad boys (emphasis on boy) behind their campers for quick trips in and around town.

They barely haul 1000 lbs. on a good day. They are torquey for how they’re built and the drive train allows for slow but high-grade ascents. The 4×4 makes it so they can get in and out of a lot of foolish roads.

When comparing these guys it’s completely one-sided. The Wrangler is a specialized ride being ideal for slow-moving steep and crazy ascents and descents. In any other application, the Wrangler is always lacking. The Samurai even more so.

Little more than a glorified shopping cart the Samurai can be a great off-road vehicle. The largest engine it was equipped with is a 4 cylinder 12 valve 2.1L turbo diesel yielding the power of 108 Clydesdales. They can be easily converted to run on vegetable oil as well.

Finding aftermarket parts to widen the axles is easy as are suspension lifts and body lifts. Engine upgrades are less common unless you can throw a wrench. Suzuki has never really developed a large aftermarket business as the other brands have over their histories.

The market is kind to Samurai’s overall. Inventory is plentiful for used vehicles given its history from 1981-1998. Pricing is also wonderful.

For as little as $2,000 you can buy one of these guys and have some fun with it without too much upkeep. If you are game, forget about everything and snatch up one of these strange and quaint rides.


jeep wrangler vs chevy blazer

The Chevrolet Blazer is a great option for a lot of reasons. The Blazer can be modified and used as an extreme off-road machine. The affordability and availability of aftermarket parts are motivating. You can make one as stock or modified as you want.

The universal fit parts are almost endless. Performance parts fitted specifically for your year and model type Blazer are boundless. It is a Chevrolet and the line has been around for decades.

Its practicality also makes it more of a weekend warrior, family lugger. IF you want to go camping and fit a fair amount of fixings for your weekend getaway, you will be better equipped than a Jeep. The Blazer is more the size of a Grand Cherokee to give you an idea. Plus it will give you a much smoother on-road ride, quieter cabin, and more heat of A/C convenience than a Jeep ever could.

Performance-wise the Jeep will give you more in certain aspects. Torque, engine choices, gear ratios all favor the Jeep. This way the Jeep performs much better off-road.

The Blazer is more rounded out, so while you won’t create the best rock crawler with a Blazer, it will perform pretty good on the dirt, and much much better everywhere else compared to the Jeep.

Plus if you are seriously planning to have fun on your next vacation, you will be able to drive 60MPH through the Rockies no problem hauling a 5,000 lb trailer loaded up with ease in the Blazer.

The Jeep will give you more trouble than it’s worth making you think it would be easier to just rent locally than haul your own goodies.

The Jeep will of course make you look cooler, so if a certain image plays a factor then you can’t go wrong with a Jeep Wrangler. And if you don’t need to ride comfortably on asphalt or have a daily driver the Jeep can be a much better choice.

The Blazer is an SUV. It is designed to meet a long list of requirements, while each performing at an acceptable level, it simply won’t wow in any single category. From a daily driver to a weekend warrior it will do it all like a 40-year-old with no health insurance. There are many Jeep alternatives and this comes up as the second worse on our list.


jeep wrangler or nissan xterra

The Nissan Xterra proves a worthy competitor to the Wrangler. It scored dead even against the Wrangler in the head to head.

Its greatest value over the Wrangler would be its resale value. You can find bargain Xterras on the market for pennies compared to the Wrangler. The reliability is also superior to that of the Wrangler.

The resale value difference may be due to the legacy of the Jeep name more than that of the actual product. It is hard to argue with that.

Though one may have a legitimate argument if they are looking at their Jeep in pieces in their garage while their friend in a lifted Xterra is riding in the backcountry every weekend.

Aftermarket parts are plentiful for both may be the advantage of going to the Wrangler.

Engine choices and resources available heavily favor the Wrangler so for novices an Xterra may not be the best choice but depending on one’s aptitude or tenacity an Xterra may be exactly what you are looking for.

Performance specs heavily favor the Xterra equipped with a V6. Towing is rated at 5000 lbs while the Wrangler’s greatest towing capabilities have been about half of that.

Cargo space is also very pro Xterra. It is a closed cabin SUV while the Wrangler is typically a two-door open 4×4 that has to fit a back seat with a limited trunk.

Add to the fact that adding anything on the roof would require special racks while on an Xterra you would need to buy some straps or be really lucky with some shoelaces or duct tape.

Overall each truck has its strengths and weaknesses. The Wrangler excels at the Xterra’s weaknesses and vice versa.

Overall, unless you need something specific, you can’t go wrong with choosing either. Except for looks, the Xterra is one of the most equal Jeep alternatives.


Which is better a 4runner or a Jeep Wrangler?

The Toyota 4Runner and the Jeep Wrangler have a shared history. The Wrangler comes from a big family of post-WWII classic vehicles made for the mud. The 4Runner is based on the Hilux which is an off-road focused pick up truck.

The 4Runner debuted a year after the Wranglers in 1984 but the Wrangler has outsold the 4Runner by about 1,000,000 units overall.

The off-roading culture for Jeep is common with the 4Runner less so. Aftermarket options are plentiful for both.

Wranglers are more common in the used marketplace (including 4 cylinders) but comparing V6 models the 4Runner is slightly ahead.

The overall reliability between the two models isn’t as close as the overall numbers show. The reliability of the 4Runner isn’t a good as the overall Toyota brand. But it still is more reliable than that of the Wrangler or Jeep. 4Runners’ inventory is much higher than that of Jeep’s.

Off-roading abilities for both are about even. Jeep for slow-moving 4x4s may have the advantage, 4Runners in all other aspects.

Online resources and engine choices favor the Wrangler most likely due to it having a long brand history.

Overall performance including payload, towing capabilities, and cargo space heavily favor the 4Runner.

Not including paved road handling the 4Runner still takes the cake in overall performance and ability over the Wrangler.

The Wrangler is at a disadvantage being owned by multiple companies throughout its history. Sold to Chrysler in 1988 the Wrangler line has changed manufacturing hands over time.

If you are looking for a truck that you can load the family up for a week of camping, haul a trailer of quads and motorcycles, and take the 4Runner off-roading as well, this will serve you much better than a Wrangler can. The 4Runner barely squeaks by as our pick of the best of many Jeep Wrangler alternatives.

READ MORE: THE BEST CARS THAT LOOK LIKE JEEPS

So are you chomping at the bit for a new project? Or maybe you’re tired of watching others have fun climbing rocks or wading through mud in their 4x4s? If you are dead set on a Wrangler, great! But there are many Jeep Wrangler alternatives that fit any need. I hope you have found this information helpful in your decisions to get a Wrangler or the many other options for on and off-road fun.

If you have had experiences you would like to share then leave a comment below!

Have a good one and stay dirty.


Disclaimer:
We have purposely left out any Dodge, Hummer, or Subaru brands for the reader’s moral and mental sake. It is a small token of our good faith in providing you the best and most comprehensive information on this subject.

Also, we do not in any way own or have affiliations with Suzuki or its affiliates.