Show Notes for Podcast #4
The Top 10 Used Overland Vehicles 

SUMMARY

We discuss the merits of the best overland travel vehicles in North America, covering all levels of budget, capability, and payload.

SHOW NOTES

The complete article is available here: https://expeditionportal.com/top-10-used-overland-vehicles/

The used overland vehicle market is more exciting today than ever before, with high quality and capable options available from nearly every major automotive manufacturer. With so many models to choose from, you might be wondering which four-wheel drives make for the best second-hand overland vehicles? In 2011, we published our first US and Canada top ten used overland vehicle list, and it has been since been read over one million times. A lot has changed in the last eight years though, including the types of vehicles available under our original test’s $30,000 and 20-years or newer cap. We have also learned a few more things about overlanding vehicles since 2011 thanks to several circumnavigations of the globe. This has all resulted in a nearly new list for 2019, packed with excellent options for those looking to purchase their first overland vehicle or upgrade their current one. Regardless of this list and our opinions, the reality is that a traveler should drive what they can afford, and what they most enjoy driving, despite the make or model.

What makes a great used overland vehicle?
Typically, someone buying a used vehicle is looking for value, but they are also looking for something reliable and capable for travel too. At Expedition Portal, we feel the following criteria comprises the most critical attributes of an overland platform. Ride comfort, noise, vibration, harshness, and other less essential considerations are weighed in the final ranking, but the primary ordering is based on these qualities and our field testing results:

Capability: The vehicle’s ability to traverse rocky, muddy, and cross-axle terrain, including deep water crossings, severe side slopes, hill climbs, and descents.
Capacity: The vehicle’s ability to carry weight as measured by payload specifications and the interior storage volume aft of the front seats.
Durability: The vehicle’s ability to travel for extended periods of time (years) over rugged terrain while fully loaded without chassis or drivetrain failure.
Reliability: The vehicle’s ability to perform without engine, electrical, or support system failures due to component malfunction or workmanship error.
Value: Valuation of vehicle cost to content. Vehicles with high functional content will score the highest value ratings.
 
Land Cruiser 200
#1 2008-2010 Toyota 200 Series Land Cruiser EDITOR’S CHOICE AWARD
1,600 lb. Payload | $24-30,000

Pros:
Legendary reliability and durability
1600 lb. payload / 8,000 lb. towing / 440 lb. roof load
Exceptional long-distance touring comfort

Cons:
Bland styling and driving experience
Poor fuel economy
Limited in technical terrain due to overall size

#2 2005-2015 Toyota Tacoma

1,200 lb. Payload | $10-30,000

Pros:
Excellent reliability
Strong aftermarket support
Good trail performance

Cons:
Bed lacks robustness
Cheap interior materials
Tragic payload for a pickup

Our Experience: The Expedition Portal team has owned several Tacomas, and the author has driven or traveled with Tacomas from both Prudhoe Bay and Tuktoyaktuk, down to the Darien Gap. Our team currently owns a 2017 TRD Tacoma.

#3 2005-2013 Lexus GX VALUE AWARD
1,300-1,500 lb Payload | $10-30,000

Pros:
Ideal dimensions and wheelbase
Comfortable and competent on the trail
Excellent value

Cons:
Seat leather made from paper mache
No factory rear locking differential

#4 2010-2012 RAM Cummins 2500/3500

Up to a 5,000 lb Payload | $22-30,000

Pros:
Payload capacity more than the towing capacity of most SUVs
Robust drivetrains
Solid axle front and rear

Cons:
Large for some technical routes
Large for many developing-world villages
Limited service infrastructure outside of North America and Australia

#5 2009-2016 Toyota 4Runner

1,625 lb Payload (SR5 4×4) | $16-30,000

Pros:
Good technical terrain performance in the trail variant
Quiet and comfortable
Proper payload

Cons:
Needs another few transmission gears (only a 5-speed auto)
Dash designed by a half-blind 1980s boom-box designer wearing gloves

#6 2005-2007 UZJ100 Land Cruiser

1,470 lb Payload | $16-25,000

Pros:
Good balance of travel comfort and capability
Excellent reliability and global serviceability

Cons:
Difficult to find clean, low mileage examples
Weak front differential in earlier models
Lack of locking rear differential in later models

#7 2011-2017 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

1,050 lb Payload | $22-30,000

Pros:
Class-leading technical terrain performance
Strong aftermarket support

Cons:
Less payload than a Toyota Camry
Cramped interior and limited cargo volume

#8 1995-2008 Mercedes G-Class

1,550 lb Payload | $20-30,000+

Pros:
Extremely comfortable and capable off-road
High payload and generous interior volume
Robust and durable chassis and drivetrain

Cons:
Expensive to purchase and maintain
Poor fuel economy for North American models (i.e. non-diesel)

#9 2000-2003 Ford Excursion 7.3L Power Stroke
1,950 lb Payload | $12-28,000

Pros
Massive interior volume
7.3L Power Stroke
Excellent payload for an SUV

Cons
It is a large vehicle for technical terrain
Failure-prone transmission
Factory suspension unsuitable for backroad travel

#10 2010-2016 Land Rover LR4
1,488 lb Payload | $12-28,000

Pros
Excellent trail performance with air suspension and center/rear locking differentials
Most reliable Land Rover we have owned
Comfortable and quiet for long-distance travel

Cons
Still lags Toyota in reliability
Highly technical, which limits field repairability

Our Experience: Overland Journal built a project 2012 LR4, and the author has also traveled Southern Australia by diesel Discovery 3.

Honorable Mentions:
2011-2015 Nissan XTerra PRO-4X
974 lb Payload | $12-20,000

Pros
Excellent durability and reliability
Good aftermarket support
Good trail performance

Cons
Limited payload
Model no longer sold

1997 FZJ80 Land Cruiser
1,719 lb Payload | Over $20,000 for clean examples

Pros
Class-leading durability and reliability
Excellent aftermarket support
Around the world service infrastructure

Cons
Poor fuel economy
Prone to overheat with FZJ motor
Slow acceleration, even slower braking
There are better 80-series options now available for import

WHAT IS THE OVERLAND JOURNAL PODCAST?

The Overland Journal Podcast features the travelers, topics, and news related to the overlanding community and industry. This podcast is hosted by Scott Brady and Matt Scott, and is a production of the Overland Journal Magazine and the expeditionportal.com website.

Host Bios:  
Scott Brady
Scott is the publisher and co-founder of Expedition Portal and Overland Journal, and is often credited with popularizing overlanding in North America. His travels by 4WD and adventure motorcycle span all seven continents and include three circumnavigations of the globe. His polar travels include two vehicle crossings of Antarctica and the first long-axis crossing of Greenland. @globaloverland

Matthew Scott
Matthew is a leading expert in automotive adventure. He has extensively explored the world's most-remote places by 4WD, and is considered an industry authority on overland travel. Matt is the only American to ever become an editor of a major Australian 4WD publication, and has over 15 years of competitive auto racing experience. @mattexplore