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Which used 4 wheel drive truck should we buy?

We are in search of a 4 wheel drive truck to be the “kids” car. We have two teenagers driving and a third on the way and need a third car.
We don’t want to more than say, $14,000 and would prefer to be under that.
We are thinking of either an old 2000/2001 Jeep Cherokee (not Grand) since the engines are bullet proof, they are easy and inexpensive to repair and with some searching should be able to find one in good condition with under 75,000 miles. My concern is the frame underneath since the car is so old and rust. You may already know, but Jeep stopped making the Cherokee in 2001, so that is the newest model we could get.
The other truck we are considering in a Toyota 4Runner. We could get a newer model year, but obviously it would be more expensive. Depending on the year, we would have the option for ABS breaks and some nicer features.
Safety is a strong consideration, too and it seems the 4Runner wins in that regard.
The car would be used around town, commuting 30 miles to the city if my oldest son gets an internship in summers, and possibly taking to college here and there.

Any opinions would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks in advance!

I loved the old Jeep Cherokees and owned several of them over about 15 years. They were very reliable. When they were discontinued…they lost a good customer. If you can purchase a newer Toyota 4Runner then that’s the vehicle I would recommend.

Both could work. I had a 2000 Cherokee that was a good car. Finding an old Cherokee with only 75K miles might be a real challenge.

I have an '01 Toyota Sequoia that is a real good truck. A Toyota 4 Runner would be fine and will have more luck finding a lower mileage one. Just start shopping locally and see what turns up.

Rust damage can’t be seen easily by most buyers, especially rust on the frame. When you have a good prospect, take it to a mechanic for an inspection that includes getting it up on a lift to check for rust.

Thanks Uncle Turbo and misssileman!

I tend to agree with your advice. The 4Runner will end up costing us more money but, in the end, should be worth it. We have a 2002 Sequoia with 220,000 miles and it’s a great truck, still going strong and have never given us any major problems! I’ll be sad when it finally goes. Toyota replaced the entire frame last year due to a recall-we really lucked out, no cost to us at all.

$14000 is over spending for a vehicle you could be worried about rust. Trucks that are primarily rwd are less safe without traction control unless you add weight to the rear.The 4Runner will be much more expensive but a 2003 to 2005 for $14000 is not out of the question. You can keep the frames from rusting by painting with grease and you can use linseed oil in the body panels. Rust need not be a problem if you do this once and a while.

Personally, unless you are commuting overland, you would be much better off getting a CRV, RAV or other Awd car that is newer. Unless you are going to tow or go off road these choices are a waste of money, gas and inconvenience keeping them on the road. I have a 4 Runner. But for reliable running around and commuting, mywife’s RAV does it just as reliably and much more cheaply. If safety is a strong consideration, a Jeep Cherokee of old should be crossed off your list and compact car based SUVs added on.

The Cherokee is unibody. There’s no separate ladder frame to rust in the first place. Also it seems that you are looking at SUV’s not “trucks”. With that said you really can’t go wrong with a 4 Runner. The Pathfinder would be worth looking at as well, The 2006-2010 Explorers with the 4.6L and 6 speed automatic are underrated IMHO and offer good value for money, and the Honda Pilot is a perennial favorite as well.

Here is my lack of understanding @liquidpet. You would like a vehical that at most cost $14000 as a third car that is safe and reliable and will be used for around town driving and commuting 30 miles. You are looking at off road vehicals that suck gas like you would not believe compared to plethora of better choices for your intended use? Any savings realized by only spending $14k will soon be lost by several teens running around town in an off road vehical. . I only throw this in because I’m confused by your choices and intended use.

I repeat. We have both a RAV and 4Runner. The 4Runner is a great vehicle, but really inefficient for running around town and computing for a single passenger and probably the next to last vehicle I would recomend for teens to just run around town in. My last would be an old Jeep Cherokee.

I agree with @FoDaddy about the Explorers being underrated

Wow! Thanks to everyone for their input! I do just wish to clarify that we would be using the SUV some off road in the summer as we live in a town that has a 4 mile barrier beach that is only 4 wheel drive accessible. Our Sequoia is great for this, but with over 220,000 miles on it, not sure how much longer it will last us. We also need a truck that will tow a boat and again our Sequoia is fine for now, but I’m trying to look into the future. We also have two large dogs. Although the car will be primarily used by the kids, it will be a family car, as well and I see this car being used for a bit by myself once the Sequoia dies until we buy another car.
Regardless, so many great ideas to consider…we have looked at the Pathfinder a bit a while back but will reconsider. I personally like the Honda Pilot, but my husband’s not a fan. The Explorer may be a good choice and nice to know what years to look into. I would imagine far less expensive than the 4Runner, too. The idea about the Cherokee was really price. We can pick one up for $6,000 to $8,000, but I’m starting to realize perhaps we spend a bit more to get a newer model that will last us longer with less potential issues.

Feel free to continue with any advice and thanks again to everyone who gave input! All great ideas!!

That’s a different perspective. . Used 4Runners from 2004 and 2005 and up to 2007 possibly for around $14k. They are amount the most capable, reliable and comfortable of all the intermediate truck based SUVs made. They also had a v8 model for that generation. It won’t tow as much as a Sequoia, but if does well up to 5k pounds or so. They also had a lot of standard features so even the base sr5 will be equipped well with climate control, power lumbar support and all other basic power equipment. The Pilot tows up to 5k and would do well in sand. It IS much bigger inside and has third row seating. It also handles like a car. Consider too the Honda Ridgeline which uses the same underpinnings as a Pilot. The Pilot does not have a frame which is not a big deal for your use or low range gearing so it would be restricted more then a 4Runner. Cheaper still is the Nissan XTerra and Toyota FJ. They do everything a 4Runner does but are more crude and much less comfortable. The Pilot is the most comfortable and handles the best.

The 4Runne and Nissan Xterra are great choices, I know fans of both, any interest in a Jeep Liberty which essentially replaced the Cherokee? Pilot or Highlander would be more car based and not as good on the beach.

Jeep Liberty has the reputation of being a total POS

If you want to take the family including dogs on your beach trips, you might want to look at SUVs that seat 6. The Explorer and Pilot can have a 3rd row, but the 4Runner and Xterra cannot. If you can seat 3 in the back and the dogs in the cargo area, any of the SUVs mentioned could work. Of course, larger trucks exist like the Tahoe, Armada, or Expedition. But gas mileage is poor. If the SUV isn’t used much, the gas cost might be a smal price today for the extra room if you need it occasionally and want it.

I agree.
The Pilot and Highlander have surprisingly decent traction, both with locking differentials. IMO, where they fall short is the type of off roading where undercarriage protection is needed along with lower range. General beach work should be fine with decent tires depending on the floatation needed as conditions can vary greatly. If a Sequoia can do it on the beach they travel, a Pilot or Highlander surely can. A Jerp Lberty is definitely a cheap alternative in more ways then one. There are plenty around used too. But, their drive train is a big step down, even from the classic Jeep Cherokee I feel. Still, a very good suggestion as far as $$$$ is conserned.

I don’t think the Highlander has locking diff. My mom and stepdad have a 2010 AWD model, and as far as I can tell there’s no way to lock the center diff for a 50/50 split nor are the front or locking or even limited slip. Basically it’s made to keep you on the road rather than take you off of it.

It won't tow as much as a Sequoia, but if does well up to 5k pounds or so.

The 4runner with the V6 can tow 5000lbs. If you replace the factory hitch with a better frame hitch it can tow up to 6500lbs. The V8 can tow 7000lbs.

The Xterra and 4runner are the only body on frame mid-size SUV’s left that I know of.

220k on the sequoia? maybe thats due for replacement first? you might need 2 different trucks

@Dagosa I suggested the liberty because that’s what my uncle bought when he couldn’t buy another new Cherokee, a co-worker loves hers more than you could ever understand.

That’s strange. All RAVs awd from 2006 on and my friends 2006 awd Hylander had a locking center diff button. It locked the open CD to 50-50. The only different Awd toyota drive train I am aware of is the hybrid Awd which uses a completely decoupled electric motor. The Pilots ( my neighbor) have one and it works very well. Just assumed since earlier Highlander and all other car based system Toyota SUV had them, the Higjlander would too.