Best 4WD SUV

I am looking for a used 4WD SUV that’s great in deep snow.

It also has to be reliable, easy and cheap to maintain (parts & labor) and inexpensive. Does such a car exist? I was considering a Jeep Cherokee, an Isuzu Trooper, a Ford Bronco and a Toyota 4-Runner.

Jeeps, generally speaking, do not have a good reliability rating, although they are great in deep snow and off-road conditions.

The last Bronco was made in 1996. Do you seriously think that a vehicle that is at least 14 years old could be classified as reliable?

The Isuzu Trooper was last sold in the US in 2005. While you may find one in good condition, there is essentially no dealer/parts support, as Isuzu has essentially packed up in the US in terms of consumer-grade vehicles, and only sells commercial trucks at this point.

And then we come to the Toyota 4-Runner. In addition to having enviable reliability, durability, and excellent off-road performance, an abundance of parts support exists for it.

If I were you, the only one that I would be looking at would be a 4-Runner.

How about a Ford Explorer? There’s loads of them out there, so parts should be cheap easy to find. The 4runner is another good choice because they’re popular world-wide, from Panama to Australia

Add Nissan Xtera/Pathfinder to your list.


Jeep Cherokee and Isuzu Troopers aren’t reliable and need frequent repairs, not cheap ones either.

Ford Bronco, must be an oldie. 4-Runners have a good reputation.

Likely the cheapest used SUV and most for your money is the one that sold the most, Ford Explorer. In general the Explored holds up pretty well too. Lots of them for sale so you can find a good one at a good price.

I bought my 03 trailblazer (used) based on vehicles I saw towing boats on the highway, and needed more room for the cats and dog and kids than a pickup could provide. Our lake has a sand launch notorious for stuck cars, plus I have a 500 mile commute with the boat. Sure I think it is the best because I own it, but I like the 2wd only option to save gas mileage, 4 auto where the 4wd has the front transaxle engaged, reducing gas mileage but kicks in to 4wd when needed and performs flawlessly for me so far, in addition to 4 hi and 4 low optional settings. I have never had a 4wd car before and know how to drive in the snow but rate my general experience with this vehicle in the snow as awesome. The tread is getting low, do I care? no, even in 2wd it is great. my 2 cents.

The only trouble with the 4runners (and Toyota trucks in general) is how much you’ll pay for one used. I think they’re nice rigs, but (around here at least) they’re absurdly overpriced used, and they’re frankly not that much better than other trucks*. If the OP is looking at Broncos and Troopers, I suspect his budget is going to limit him to 1980’s vintage 4runners. Still nice rigs, but I’m not sure they’re the best use of the money if you can get something else that’s younger and less beat up.

If the OP is looking at a sub-$2000 or so budget, I think the best bet would be looking at full size rigs. If you can get by with a pickup, that’d be great-- you can find an 80’s or early 90’s 6-cylinder or small V8 4x4 truck for a song. They’re okay reliabilty-wise, but much cheaper to fix than a compacts and/or imports. If you do need an SUV, Broncos, Blazers and Ramchargers are going to cost a little more, but still can be had for cheap and can be pretty reliable. I’m personally a big fan of the single-point FI engines that came in a lot of these trucks in terms of being reliable and easy to work on. The usual caveat of buying an old car that the condition of the invidual car you’re looking at is more important that the make and model applies as well.

*My most recent truck experiance is I sold my extremely rough, bare bones, rusty-as-heck, '89 Toyota 4x4 truck with 200k on the clock for $2000 and replaced it with a very nice looking '92 Isuzu Rodeo with 130k for $1000. The Rodeo (riding on the same tires that were on the 'yota) has proven just as capable off-road and the Chevy TBI V6 it has in it is a very reliable, simple and cheap-to-fix engine.

The last Trooper was sold in 2002. The Ascender replaced it in 2003 and remained in production until 2008.

“If the OP is looking at a sub-$2000 or so budget,…”

I think you are in the ball park. Broncos and Troopers have been out of production for a long time. At this age, it doesn’t matter what make it is. It’s all about proper maintenance.

I would stick with a Nissan pathfinder/xterra or a toyota 4runner the most reliability and tough mileage means nothing with these trucks. The trooper is good but isnt as hardy as the two first mentioned trooper 2 has the 3rd row if room is an issue. The Ford bronco is a little bigger, bulky truck in higher mileage not as hardy as the three, tough to find a well maintained one generally more problematic less reliable guzzler in comparison. I would erase Jeep from your thoughts unless you can find a low mileage one that has been meticulously maintained, or your mechanically inclined enough to fix it. Not as hardy as the 4 mentioned next to impossible to find a well maintained one very low quality cheaper truck. Jeep is said and quoted to be the worst used vehicle to buy.