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Discussion Starter #1
After riding a motorcycle and as a result 3 strikes (hit a deer, front washout , broken ankle) and the breaking of 20 bones, my wife and I have decided to buy a different toy to play with. We had ridden Route 33 across the WV line many times and drove up to Reddish Knob for the view, and always noticed the dirt roads that took off from the paved ones. We decided to explore some with my wife's 2013 Toyota Highlander and drove up Dunkle Hollow Road to Flagpole and across to Reddish Knob The Highlander did well, and we only spun a tire on one switchback, but it is so porky that we scratched the crap out of the paint when we had to straddle the ruts to avoid bottoming out, sooo we are going to buy something a little more suited to the job to save her paint job, and to be able drive a little more challenging trails as soon as we get the money out of our Goldwing.


I have always been a Jeep fan and after doing some research I think I would like to get a 2003-2006 Wrangler Rubicon. Ones around here are going for $10k - $15k with right around 100,000 on the odometer. Instead of asking the Jeep guys (because I know what they would say) , I figure I would ask here as to whether an FJ40 would be an alternative to what I am looking at and if it would have the same bang for the buck. I do not plan on any really hard core stuff, and no deep mud bogging, but do want to have fun in the woods, and be able to get to the trails in some comfort with AC cruise etc.


So is the FJ a viable alternative to a Wrangler?
 

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I'll pass on the offroading evaluation as I simply don't know, but I have two things to say.
1. FJ is a strange car that does not loose its resale value and some say, it actually goes up. Limited production, becoming yuppie icon, etc.
2. Why is that I have never seen them bad boys in the Middle East driving Jeeps on all kinds of crappy roads yet they all drive Lancruisers or 4runners or Tacomas?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I'll pass on the offroading evaluation as I simply don't know, but I have two things to say.
1. FJ is a strange car that does not loose its resale value and some say, it actually goes up. Limited production, becoming yuppie icon, etc.
2. Why is that I have never seen them bad boys in the Middle East driving Jeeps on all kinds of crappy roads yet they all drive Lancruisers or 4runners or Tacomas?
I am absolutely sold on Toyota reliability ergo my Wife's Highlander, But since this will be our third car, it won't be as crucial as it's abilities. Toyota is also a more global company than Jeep, and Jeep (Chrysler/ whoever their partner du jour is) probably don't even know how to get to the middle east much less sell cars there. :wink:
 

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So, I'm going to throw a wrench in your plans here....

The FJ Cruiser is a weird vehicle - I love toyota, but I hate what they did and how they did it with the FJ Cruiser. That's my opinion. In my opinion it was a poor attempt to bring an iconic 40 series to modern times, and it fell flat - the Land Cruiser community was not impressed. That doesn't make it a bad vehicle (though the cracking firewalls might make you question things) by any means, but Land Cruiser guys are pretty tough to impress. The Land Cruiser was, and really still is, the best Toyota 'flagship' major production vehicle in the world. There's a reason it's used by militaries and the UN.

Comparing the FJ Cruiser and a Rubicon is an odd comparison, even though most FJ Cruiser owners would disagree. They're both probably similar in basic off road abilities and with the FJ Cruiser you'll get far better reliability and less potential for breakage, and the Rubicon you'll be far better offroad (since the Rubicon is F/R solid axle with lockers).

Here's the wrench..... consider an older Land Cruiser.... whether it's a 40, 60, 80 or even 100 series (that basically covers 40 years of Land Cruisers) there's a lot of variation and options you can go for.

A 40 is limitless in what you can find.... from a pile of rust to be built up or an incredibly expensive ICON and everything in between. Basically from the 60's up to 1983 in the US.....

A 60 - I would recommend finding a stock drivetrain with a manual.... 1983 until 1990

An 80 - there is no manual - biggest downside by far. 1991-1992 had an earlier version of the F engine, 1993-1994 had the upgraded 1fz engine and older/stronger AT transmission, 1995-1997 were the rest of the years. Find one that's triple locked. This was the last body style, in the US, Toyota offered front and rear solid axles of any vehicles in their lineup. The 1998 100 series and on are IFS.

An 80 series is about the size of a 4 door Wrangler, in wheelbase/length. You can find really great examples with lockers, under 200k miles (don't let mileage on these scare you - ours is at 306k, 400-500k+ isn't unheard of) and modified in the price-range you're looking. I would say an 80 series, that's locked, would give a rubicon a run for it's money - depending on what your plans are.

If you want a vehicle that will do mild off-road and will require the least amount of hands on work, find a 100 series landcruiser or an FJ Cruiser. The only reason an 80 series doesn't fall in this category is because even the newest is 20 years old - and as such, connectors get brittle, maintenance should be done (etc). Doesn't take away from their abilities, though.

If you love older Jeeps, then seriously consider an actual FJ40. I do have one, and it rarely sees any use because I have had to build it so much, but to be fair it was a pile of rust when I got it. As a comparison, friend has an FJ40 he bought for around $15k and it had 36's on it and a rear locker, front limited slip..... friend brought a 2010 Rubicon with a lift and 35's.... The Rubicon surprised us in it's otherwise stock form - however, there were plenty of times the 40 was the support vehicle, and never the other way around. Your money does go further when you start to look at older, but modified, vehicles.
 

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Toyota=Toyota reliability
Jeep=LOL

^ If reliability matters to you then you know what to do. I Don't care how fun a Jeep looks it will always be a Chrysler with large wheels...

Toyota mkes plenty of SUV's and trucks for you to choose from... all with real-world reliability and ease of ownership...


..
 

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A stock Wrangler Rubicon will blow away a stock FJ offroad.
Solid front axle, crawler gear in the t-case, selectable locker front and rear.
 

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While I completely agree with you fourwd1, from the sounds of it, a Rubicon would be far overkill. They mention taking a highlander and not wanting to scratch it anymore - I am of the assumption with proper tires an FJ Cruiser could far surpass the off road abilities of a Highlander.

Part of why I suggested an 80 series with lockers..... bullet proof (within reason), stronger axles, lockers available, you can fit 33's stock, aftermarket support.... but still comfortable. The nice thing about the 80 series is that it's solid axle and has a stock coil setup.

An 80 series will also hold value better than a Jeep.


As for what Blackness said..... I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you're a bit uninformed. While Chrysler products are far subpar, especially as of late and being bought out by Fiat (and the giant turd that is the pentastar engine) - the years of Jeep he suggests are the later years of the 4.0L inline 6, which was probably the most tried/true/reliable engine they've ever made. I'm not saying everything else is going to fail - but when you're talking about a vehicle that you want to take off road that will get wet, dirty, stuck, hit things - things are going to break. Always.
 

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A stock Wrangler Rubicon will blow away a stock FJ offroad.

Solid front axle, crawler gear in the t-case, selectable locker front and rear.

I would agree with this statement.

However, having gone 4WD camping in the mountains in a new rubicon (friend's) back around 2009 or so, I did not like being out there and having all the electrical go dead while we were driving. Stopped, turned key off, then back on and we were good to go. It never happened again. For being out in the middle of nowhere, I'd rather have a vehicle that's more reliable. I trust my Tacoma with 192K miles out there more than I'd trust a jeep.

Now I have a coworker with a jeep in a jeep club. He says they're perfectly reliable once you replace the stock parts with reliable aftermarket parts. Personally, reliability is my number one criteria for any vehicle.
 

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I never had a problem with my CJ-5 or XJ.
They were as good as any of my Toyota's.
Granted they were 70's and 80's trucks, and things change.
But then Toyota's ain't what they used to be either.
 

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My FIL has a 2011 FJ. It is garaged kept and maybe has like 1k miles on it. The lucky times when he lets me drive it I feel confident in it's capabilities on or slightly off road. But the interior is what gets me. It looks much roomier on the outside than the inside.

I've only had experiences with older 80-90's era Jeeps but for the most part I'd say they are probably more reliable than their current offerings today (in some regards). I say a test drive is going to be the biggest decider for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for all the input, it followed pretty much as I expected. Though reliability is important, the reason I am going with the TJ vs anything older or newer is that they are as reliable as I would foresee needing. Newer ones have their quirks that appear to have been worked out, but are just too expensive to buy. In addition there is a plethora of aftermarket stuff for the TJ, not so much for the newer ones.

I like the idea of an older FJ, but they are rare, and when found also expensive. I do not even think I have seen for sale a 60 or 80 series in this area where a simple search for a wrangler yields many alternatives.

Though I have taken the Highlander off road, I am not satisfied to the roads it is capable of. I fully expect to explore the limits of a rubicon in conjunction with my own skill set. I am not dumb enough to explore with my Highlander the trails I would with a Jeep, so even if my own skill set may not be up to the maximum difficulty, I do not want my vehicle to be the limiting factor in my play time.
 

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Good luck - if you want to take it off road and push it's abilities as a rubicon, set it up with a proper 2 battery setup and add a winch. The I6 will be reliable, the rest is pretty questionable.

The Highlander isn't an offroad vehicle, no matter how much the others or Toyota will tout it's "4wd" abilities. I would put it on par with a Subaru. A few people out there might do a lot of modification and make it work, but it's really just putting it at par with a proper base off road vehicle.


The biggest problem with *most* Jeeps.... the people who buy them for "offroad" and ease to modify - they want to just buy off the shelf, bolt things on, don't think much about quality, and 'off road' will be a gravel road or a highly traveled road to a campsite. Nothing wrong with that other than it's more for 'show', but the thing I like about the Land Cruisers is that you have a great starting platform - and to modify/make it yours requires a lot more research and hands on.

As far as not finding any nearby - the reality is that east coast cars tend to get a bad rep because of rust - and as such, it's always something to consider to look further outside your area for a good non-east coast car. Sometimes the prices are a little higher because they know what they have - but consider looking on ih8mud.com in the classifieds.
 
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