No matter where you live, having a four-wheel drive vehicle (4WD) gives you the flexibility, and peace of mind, that when it comes to the weather ever taking a turn for the worse, a reliable and capable 4WD vehicle will be unmatched in its effectiveness. Or, if you’re the adventurous type and reaching inaccessible locations with the conventional car isn’t possible, a 4WD vehicle could become your trusty steed. Whether it’s for the utilitarian crowd looking for the simplest way from A to B, a winter beater, or the upper scales of luxury, these four-by-fours can turn even the scariest situation into something you can handle.
If you’re looking for something reliable, built to last, and you don’t care for lots of bells and whistles, look no further than Toyota’s T-100 series of trucks. Toyota produces some of the most reliable automotive products on Earth, and these pickups are no exception. With incredibly stout engineering, seemingly overbuilt parts, and an optional 5VZ-FE V6 motor that almost seems bulletproof—with many stories of them surviving apocalyptic conditions—there’s a reason owners swear by them. Many of these Toyotas become prized possessions within their environments, and finding them with over 250k miles isn’t unheard of. If you need a capable truck for carrying gear and hitting the local mountain, the T-100 is a great choice.
There’s a reason this decade old sport utility vehicle holds its resale value so well: reliability, capability, and luxury. The Lexus LX470 is essentially a rebranded Toyota Land Cruiser, with many of its owners waxing poetic about the reliability of the SUV. Even with 100k-plus miles, the LX470s still demand upwards of $22k for a 10-plus year old SUV. However, with luxury chops on par with the sedans in their lineup, this SUV is as capable as it is full of comfort, and if maintained properly, will run for years and years.
A spartan hauler that ruled the roads before the SUV craze hit everywhere, the 1994-2001 version of the Cherokee is reliable, capable and can be had for a non-wallet-crushing amount. They are known for motors that won't quit and with simple maintenance can be kept running for years. It's a compact SUV that's big on capability and functionality with timeless looks to boot. The four-wheel drive is legendary, gas mileage is decent thanks to lightweight construction, and it’s practically built for hauling everything from outdoor equipment, kids, dogs, and gear for the next odyssey.
With seating capable of up to nine humans, and a closed body built on top of GM’s Silverado truck chassis (but with more overall comfort), the Suburban and Tahoe are great for hauling lots and lots of people and stuff. Being born from a truck, the towing capacity is impressive, with the 2500 ¾ ton models being able to tow up to 9,600-pounds. Fuel economy is nothing to write home about, but a large capacity tank allows for extended mileage trips. If you have a large family and like simplicity, the Chevy Suburbans and Tahoes are an excellent choice.
Probably the most expedition-type SUV out of the whole bunch, the Land Rover Discovery Series II makes you want to get out and explore the great unknown. If there was ever an SUV to strap a ladder, roof racks, and a snorkel to, the Disco is among one of the top candidates for all of the above. Reliability suffers, but most owners agree it’s a love/hate relationship in which you pay for the experience thanks to quirky British quality control. And this is not to say the Discoverys fall apart, more so that you have to make sure you get a model that’s been taken care of.
The coolest, most recognized vehicle of them all has to be the Jeep Wrangler. Sort of the 4x4 convertible, the Jeep is great at enjoying the summer, exploring the trails, and all sorts of general chillin’. If there’s one automobile that personifies summer in California, we think it might be the Wrangler with its iconic looks, no frills interior, and rugged sense of adventure. We’re not sure of any other vehicle that you can take the doors off of one minute, and spray down the entire cabin to wash it the next. Though, with that second option, make sure you take the carpet and drain plugs out.
More Swedish practicality than you can throw a stick at; the XC90 will gobble any challenges of being your go-to people mover. Famous automotive personality Jeremy Clarkson has owned three and is quoted as saying the Volvo has no equal in terms of packaging and carrying things. It’s a utilitarian Swiss Army knife with a pickup truck’s worth of luggage space. With the first generation (2002-2014) you have a wide range of engine, drivetrains and even face lifted options after 2007, so finding one right for your tastes is just a matter of searching.
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