Car for Kenya

I will be living in Kenya for the next two to three years and need a reliable 4WD car/SUV that can navigate low-quality roads and that won’t break down, leaving a single woman vulnerable to the crime that Kenya is unfortunately known for. I loved my 2000 Nissan Pathfinder, but have to sell it b/c I can’t import a left-hand drive or a car older than 2001.

For reasons too complicated to discuss, the best options are to buy a car from someone who’s leaving the place where I’m working or buy on a Japanese used car website that many people recommend. I saw a few reasonably priced Nissan X-Trails. Are the y hardy enough–high enough clearance, enough power–for Kenyan roads? What about a Suburu Forester? Thanks for any advice you can give!

First, find out what fuel is used most. If it’s diesel, then look for a diesel vehicle. If you are going on dirt roads, look for high ground clearance and 4WD. You will need a low range to get out of mud; 4WD will be more able the AWD.

I vote for the Toyota Hilux , thousands of militants can’t be wrong.

Agree the Hilux is in use in developing countries worldwide. It’s a simple, rugged machine, and can run on lower quality diesel.

I got to play with one of these. I will give it the thumbs up as well. These things are like a tank; very rugged, little to no luxury.

Wait until you get there before buying a vehicle. A little “local knowledge” goes a long way…

Find out what is most common there and buy that. You will want a car that has parts and service available for it not a one of a kind for 300 miles around. Also people everywhere tend to find out what really works well in their area. We don’t know the area (roads, weather etc.) as the locals do.

What Joseph said. Get what they drive there. You might find that it is inexpensive to hire a driver so you don’t have to feel vulnerable. Get one with references.

What Kind of work will you be doing there?

You may not want to buy from a person leaving, but surely you can ask some of them for their recommendations. Does your company/gov agency have a sponsor program to help you with the move? That is where someone already there contacts you and provides information and answers your questions.

Why not, the person leaving might have done all the proper research and bought the right car. Also since leaving they are interested in selling the car, so can haggle a bit. And you know why they are selling the car, most probably not because it is defective.

Its very common for expatriates going back home to sell their cars to incoming expats. I spent 5 years overseas and would have sold my local car that way if it had not been a comapny car. Your local embassy or expat association has posts of stuff for sale, incluidng furniture, etc.

There are always odd import/export rules. I remember living Egypt that an import had a 100% tariff if vehicle was in country longer than a period of years. So every 3 years my parents imported used car was shipped back(really sunk in Mediterranean likely) and another used one brought in.

You might also want to look into Range Rovers. There seems to be a lot of those on any TV program that I watch that has anything to do about Africa.

If you have the National Geographic or a Network paying the bill, go for a Range Rover, but bring your mechanic with you. These vehicles are very photogenic but need a lot of support. The British ambassadors normally drive them to wave the flag, but their underlings would rather have a humble Toyota which is much more reliable and easy to fix.

On a trip to Kuwait, I met a sheik who was a real car nut, with Corvette, Ferrari, Jaguar Vandenplas V12, etc. in his multi-car garage. He drove me around the work site in a Range Rover (reserved for visitors), but when we talked about what he used in the desert, he mentioned only specially equipped Suburbans, since he forbade anyone to take the Range Rover to an isolated, hazardous place.

Similarly the Vandenplas was never allowed out of town, for fear his wife might not make it back in it.

Now that both these makes are owned by Tata of India , maybe their reliability will improve.

Range Rover uses a diesel in the third world. It may be more reliable.

I totally agree with Jos. Meehan. Ensure that parts/service are available for whatever you decide on. “Ain’t no good if it don’t work”.