A fully-loaded Wrangler costs almost $60,000, but there are plenty of used alternatives.
The latest JL generation Jeep Wrangler is an impressive off-road vehicle, but is far from the cheap, utilitarian transport it once was. A base Wrangler with a manual runs about $29,000 with destination. Want the top Rubicon trim with two extra doors and all the options? That will run you about $57,000. With prices ranging from around $30,000 to $60,000, it has never been more expensive to buy a new Wrangler. We like the idea of a utilitarian off-road vehicle, but we wanted to propose five cheaper, used alternatives.
From 2006 to 2014, Toyota sold an off-road SUV called the FJ Cruiser. The design harkened back to the original FJ40, which ended production back in 1984. All FJ models were powered by a 4.0-liter 1GR-FE V6 with 239 horsepower. It wasn't fast, but it could handle itself well off-road. Buyers could choose between a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic, though the manual is the one we'd recommend. This being a Toyota, the FJ Cruisers have held their value extremely well. Low mileage examples can command up to $50,000, but higher mileage examples start at around $10,000.
The Lexus GX460 is the second Toyota product on our list. The second generation Lexus GX debuted in 2010 with a new 4.6-liter 1UR-FE V8 engine. As with the FJ, the GX is an extremely reliable vehicle with excellent resale value. Still, we managed to find used examples starting at less than $20,000. Those willing to go a bit older with the GX470 can get one for around $10,000. The GX may not be the best looking SUV, but it is extremely off-road capable, three rows of seating, and the comfort and reliability of a Lexus.
Many buyers flock to the Jeep Wrangler because of its iconic looks and reputation. Jeep was once the ultimate off-road brand, but these days Land Rover is considered one of the most prestigious. Wrangler buyers clearly like a boxy design, which is why we selected the Land Rover LR4. The LR4 (also called the Discovery 4) was sold from 2009 to 2016. Engine options ranged from a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 to a 5.0-liter V8. We found LR4 models starting at less than $15,000 with the 5.0-liter V8. It won't be as affordable as the Jeep to maintain, but the Land Rover badge will impress the neighbors.
It has only been a few years since Nissan discontinued its off-road focused SUV, the Xterra. Nissan is rumored to be working on a replacement, but used models are currently a good deal. The second generation Xterra didn't change much while it was in production from 2005 to 2014. Power came from a 4.0-liter VQ40DE V6 engine with 261 hp. The Xterra Pro-4X was the most off-road focused model and it could even be optioned with a six-speed manual transmission. Like the Wrangler, the Xterra was very simple with an old school feel. Low mileage Pro-4X models top out at around $32,000.
The last car on our list is an SUV icon: the Ford Bronco. While everyone has been eagerly awaiting the arrival of a new Bronco, vintage models have been rising in value. The Bronco had many engine options ranging from a 2.8-liter straight-six to a 4.9-liter V8. We found plenty of first generation models, built from 1966 to 1977, for less than $40,000. It may seem like a lot of money for an old Ford, but we think prices will continue to increase and the Bronco will be a good investment.