Bill is a big guy with an aging Ram truck that is approaching 300,000 miles. He wants something newer that can handle the abuse of his outdoor hobbies, but still be comfortable and reliable as a daily driver. What car should he buy?
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Here is the scenario -
I’m a big guy with a lot of outdoor hobbies, I need a big vehicle that can handle abuse and still be a daily driver. I own a 2004 Dodge Ram 2500 4 door 4x4, 5 speed with a Cummins diesel engine. I bought this truck brand new and outside of regular maintenance have only had to change out the water pump. It’s my daily driver in sunshine and in snow, took my kids to school and me to work everyday without complaints. It’s getting long in the tooth, nearly 300k miles and of course 17 years old and I’m looking to upgrade to something newer. I have a Ford Bronco reservation but I am beginning to have second thoughts.
I’m ideally looking for something rugged, dependable, future proof and I can spend up to $60,000. But no Jeeps, I’ve owned several and they break down too often.
Budget: up to $60,000
Daily Driver: Yes
Location: Placerville, CA
Wants: Rugged, reliable, future proof
Doesn’t want: A Jeep
You said you are a “bigger guy” so my initial assumption was that you needed a big truck. However, you have your eye on the new Bronco which is technically a mid-size SUV so perhaps you don’t need a direct replacement for the Ram 2500. While the retro-looking Bronco looks to be a sweet ride, Ford has had a few hiccups with the build quality. Furthermore, there are some unfortunate tales of reservation holders being told at the last minute that the dealer will be charging substantial premiums over MSRP.
If you want something that is durable and “future proof,” that is a Toyota 4Runner. The 4Runner hasn’t changed much in the past several years, and even though there may be an EV 4Runner on the horizon, I think there will continue to be a market for an “old school” gas-powered 4x4.
4Runners have always been a challenge to source at a reasonable price and given the current market getting one near MSRP isn’t going to be easy. Here is a Limited trim in that very cool green not too far from your location. Dealer says “call for price” which is usually not a good sign, but perhaps you will get lucky.
Tom’s on the right track with the 4Runner — spacious, off-road ready, and reliable to the ends of the Earth. In fact, my first thought upon reading your question was to look for Lexus GXes for those same reasons. But, the GX and that 4Runner share a fatal flaw: They could always be more rugged.
No, for the true outdoorsman, you want something that can be battered and beaten up without regard for replacing expensive plastics. Something with that same Toyota indestructibility, but more ground clearance, a durable bed, and a factory skid plate. You need a Tacoma TRD Pro.
This one is for sale not only in your budget, but in your town — that kind of convenience has to be kismet. A word of warning, though, for a self-proclaimed big guy: Definitely test drive one before committing. If the seating position works for you, fantastic, but if not look for a 2020+ model with the updated seats.
You absolutely could overpay for a 4Runner or a Taco, but you’d be much better off with this GX. Instead of making do with a ho-hum powertrain, you’d be sporting V8 power. You’d get comfortable seats, more interior space, much better amenities AND just as much “ruggedness” if not more. If you’re my size or bigger, you may find the Tacoma to be a little...tight. With this one you’ve got enough leftover in your budget to get started modifying it with a lift, wheels and tires and maybe to start thinking about a new front bumper.
In my opinion, one of the best examples of ruggedness and dependability is the GMC Sierra. Especially when it’s the off-road focused AT4 trim like the one you see here.
It comes ready off-road-ready from the factory. You get a two-inch lift, four-wheel drive with a two speed transfer case, 18-inch wheels with Goodyear Wrangler tires, and Rancho monotube dampers. Unfortunately, this one doesn’t have the optional 6.2-liter V8. But you still get the just as good 5.3-liter with 355 horsepower. Inside is not a bad place to spend time either with leather seats and all weather floor mats.
Personally, I think the Bronco would be a great choice. But if you’re looking for other options, there’s definitely nothing wrong with that. Similarly, if you end up buying a GX or 4Runner, I’m sure they’ll be solid picks. After all, when you think “rugged, reliable, and future-proof,” you typically think Toyota. And for good reason.
I could probably suggest a Land Cruiser to round out our already Toyota-heavy list of recommendations. But why not go with something a little more exciting like this 1997 Land Rover Defender 90? There will definitely be some compromises, especially in terms of interior refinement, creature comforts and safety, but it sure does look cool.
And while it probably won’t be as reliable as a brand new SUV, the recent restoration should help with that. Plus, you’ll probably be able to find parts for it long after the EVs take over, and we all work for Verizon Chipotle Exxon. Since it’s a diesel, you could also hypothetically run it on biodiesel in a future where gasoline and conventional diesel are no longer available. How’s that for future-proof?
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