Forget drag racing, track days, or autocross; off-road driving is by far the most exciting motoring activity of them all. Contrary to all other driving experiences where you are limited to the specific venue, you have the great outdoors as your playground in off-roading. Sounds fantastic? Yes, it is, and the only thing you need is a trusty 4×4, full tank of fuel, some supplies, and a destination.
We totally understand if you started Googling off-road vehicles before you even finished reading this paragraph since the image of enjoying a beautiful sunset on a top of the mountain or deep in the desert is just so tempting. However, we also understand that you might have been shocked by the prices of some models…
Over $53,000 for base Raptor? Yeah, it is a lot. But, don’t be discouraged by high prices; there are many usable and pretty competent second-hand 4×4 models you can get for around $10,000 and have the same fun. Here are some of the best 4WD trucks under $10,000.
Best 4WD Trucks Under $10,000: Nissan Xterra
The second-generation XTerra is a perfect proposition for the off-road enthusiast on a budget since it has all the right ingredients at an affordable price. The 2005 to 2015 model comes with a 4.0-liter V6 with 261 hp, sturdy chassis, and capable four-wheel-drive. It is also equipped with modern features, so it is an excellent way to enjoy the wilderness but still have working A/C, heated seats, or Bluetooth connection.
The Jeeps hold their value well and seem to be immune to depreciation; however, there are still some Wranglers you can get for around $10,000. For example, the YJ or TJ generation models (up to 2006) are affordable and at home in areas where your phone gets no reception. Also, Wranglers are easy to modify, and very soon, you can build a serious off-road beast.
Best 4WD Trucks Under $10,000: Isuzu Trooper
Although Isuzu stopped selling SUVs on the American market, 1991 to 2002, Trooper is all you want from an affordable off-road vehicle. Big, boxy, spacious, tough, and dependable, it can carry all you need for great camping weekend. Just be sure to get an unmodified example with 3.5-liter V6 for effortless cruising, and you are good to go. The maintenance shouldn’t be a problem, since the parts are cheap.
Best 4WD Trucks Under $10,000: Jeep Cherokee XJ
The definitive `80s SUV is the legendary Cherokee XJ. Suppose you are looking for this model, better hurry up since prices are rising and rust-free examples are going to be valuable soon. However, if you find a decent car that fits your budget, you will be happy to know that it is very dependable, rewarding to drive, and easy to work on. Of course, look for 4.0-liter straight-six equipped models since they are most reliable and can take on the modern traffic.
Land Rover Discovery
Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
If you are looking for a bit of British flair while rock crawling or crossing the deserts, the Land Rover Discovery Series II is an excellent choice. Sold from 1998 to 2004, it combines all off-road qualities this brand is known for with luxury appointments and a comfortable cabin. The engine choices are good, and 4.0 or 4.6-liter V8 are powerful and smooth. However, the parts and maintenance could be a problem, especially compared to more common competitors.
Best 4WD Trucks Under $10,000: Subaru Outback
Even though the Outback is not your typical off-roader, you will be surprised how capable it is. For $10,000, it is an excellent combination of car-like driving dynamics and 4×4 off-road usability. It is ideal for family camping trips and for covering long distances. You will need something more serious for extreme rock crawling or winning Baja 1000 race, but if you are an off-road beginner, this is the perfect first car.
IFCAR, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
If you are looking for good-old big American-made, V8-powered, simple, and dead-reliable off-roader, you should consider 1992 to 2000 Tahoe. With distinctive design and decent equipotent, it is affordable and still has a lot to offer. If space is what you need, there is a longer, four-door model, but if you are looking for a more compact dimension and better maneuvering abilities off-road, then the shorter, two-door model is the one for you.