Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

The perfect car for Haiti?


I’m thinking about getting a Land Rover Discovery to take down to Haiti (our first post in the Foreign Service). I love the look, moon roofs and seats in the trunk of the Land Rover. However, we need something very reliable and tough enough to constantly handle very rough roads… Would you still recommend this purchase, or should we go for another make with cheaper parts? We’ve found a 1997 Discovery with 118,000 miles on it (manual, but a bit of rust though) for $6100 and a 2003 Discovery with 70,000 miles on it (automatic, but great condition) for $9000… Would love to have your advice!



Ask a contact working down there what the staff and locals mostly drive or import. Remember you need parts and service.

These cars are troublesome in the US, and will be a maintenance nightmare in Haiti.

The best vehicle would be a Toyota 4 Runner with standard shift.

While I have never owned a Rover, over the years everything I have read agrees with Docnick. Start with a vehicle with good reliability history for that make and model, get one in good shape, and make sure you can get parts in Haiti. You aren’t nervous about going there with the current mess?

Your posting to Haiti may be delayed…Your need for a motor vehicle is questionable…

200,000 dead…“We like the moon-roof…”…I’m embarrassed to be an American…

Contact the Embassy in Haiti and see what they recommend. Maybe there’s someone at the Stae Department with experience in Haiti that can offer suggestions. Maybe Hiti’s embassy in DC has some suggestions. Bring your list here and we can talk about it.

Definitely not a Land Rover-tough, yes, but reliable? No way. Do as the other say, find out what’s recommended. Maybe a Toyota Landcruiser or 4Runner.

What I replied has been sent to the censor bin, maybe appropriately so but you have no clue, take a donkey a rooster and a chicken.

Of course nothing right now, but WHEN the time comes, they’ll need something.

Thank you all for your advice. Yes, we’ll be moving to Haiti in August to help with the reconstruction and development efforts. A reliable car is something we’ll need to be able to get us where needed. A Land Cruiser or 4Runner was what was previously recommended, but we were having trouble finding a manual for sale for a decent price. Any ideas of where to look?

I’d look at and, see what comes up. Good luck, and take care.

Consider a dual purpose motorcycle (basically a street legal bike with enhanced off road capabilities).

The weather suits motorcycles. Warm, but make sure you have high quality rain gear. You’ll have no problem with maintenance there, you can go places that a Land Rover can’t go, you’ll get perhaps 60 or more miles per gallon, and you’ll blend in with the locals.

The first car that comes to mind is a 4Runner or Toyota Pickup.

On Saturday, when I was at the auto parts store, I saw a Nissan Exterra that was modified for off road use. It had a lift kit, fat off-road tires, a snorkel for the air intake, and metal running boards on the sides. I think I would want something like that.

Consumer Reports has published bar charts showing reliability data for the various brands. The bar for Land Rovers is in a class by itself…well below all others. Since replacement parts will need to be shipped from Miami, an unreliable vheicle is not a great choice IMHO.

I agree with the suggetions for a Toyota pickup. Pickups are typically highly reliable, especially Toyotas, due to the ruggedness of their chassis and drivetrain. And their RWD design with shocks instead of struts makes repair easier. A 4 cylinder engine makes the package even easier to repair ahould it need to be fixed.

Don’t worry about the manual transmission. Get a low mileage automatic with 4WD. Avoid the Land Cruiser - it’s too expensive. You might also consider a Chevy Tahoe. It’s as reliable as the 4Runner. But do check to see what you can get repaired in Haiti, and what the cost of repairs is.

If I was to take a car to Haiti in the era after the earthquake I’d opt for something older, somewhat “beat up”, and a brand common to Haiti. Now is not the time to show up in a nice “showy” car of any make. Roads are not going to be good, you may need to haul stuff like building materials, and you want a vehicle local mechanics know.

Ford F150, or Explorer, Chevy PU, or Tahoe, etc. Nothing exotic, no Land Rovers, no Hummers, stick to the basics.

You will need 4WD, but I’d strongly recommend an automatic transmission instead of a manual. You will have to ride the clutch a lot getting around the debris. Just be sure to get the transmission fluid changed before you ship it down there.

The Toyota’s mentioned would be good, but consider a pre 2000 Nissan Pathfinder. They got way too big after that, with little room inside. A small Nissan or Toyota Pick Up would also be good because you will be able to haul stuff. If you need 4 doors, they can be had too, but the bed is shorter.

A larger 4 door 4wd Ford F150 could also work for you, but it will be harder to get around in some of the tighter locations. A similar Chevy would also work. I don’t think I would trust a Dodge though, some are good, some are not. I like the Dodge, but stateside, you can always get it fixed.

Many 3rd world countries are not very friendly to LARGE vehicles. The people that do own vehicles usually own small to mid-size vehicles. Most trucks are small. You’ll be very hard pressed to find a F-150 in a place like Haiti. I did several business trips to South America about 10 years ago. They had models of Toyota’s, Nissan’s, Fords and GM’s I had never seen before.

Inconspicuous might be on the list of priorities somewhere.