They don't make 'em like they used to.
Once upon a time, gas prices in the US were cheap. Like ridiculously cheap. So cheap in fact that the average gas price was around $1.50/gallon back in 2000. Adjusted for inflation that’s still only $2.06 today. The average gas price right now in the US? $2.80/gallon. That’s not bad at all, so perhaps now’s the best time to buy that off-road capable SUV you’ve always wanted. Not a crossover but an SUV. But what if you’ve only got a $10,000 maximum budget? Here are 8 old school SUVs that are in abundance in the used car market.
Remember the original Jeep Cherokee and not that funky-looking thing (which is actually a crossover) you can buy today? Of course you do. To many, this was the purest SUV you could buy for years. Although it’s not particularly big inside, its off-road capabilities are well proven and replacement parts are abundant and cheap.
Need something bigger than a Cherokee? Bigger as in massive? No problem, because that’s what the Chevrolet Suburban is for. GM has been making these things since 1933, so it knows a thing or two about doing a proper SUV. Suburbans from model years 2000-06 will fit that $10k budget.
Ah yes, the original Dodge Durango. Launched in 1998, the Durango, to Dodge’s credit, has remained a true SUV throughout its three generations. Fortunately, the first two generations you can find used, in relatively solid condition, for $10k or less.
It was the Ford Explorer, first launched in way back in 1990, that really kicked the SUV craze into high gear, especially among soccer moms. Today’s Explorer, sadly enough, has become a crossover based on the same platform as the Taurus. Fortunately, old Explorers are easy to find and you can get one, say around model years 2000-06, within budget.
Not committed to buying an American brand SUV? Just looking for something solid and reliable? The Mitsubishi Montero might be for you. Sure, it never quite achieved the status of the Toyota 4Runner or the Land Cruiser, but it’s still a Japanese-built rough and tough SUV. In fact, finding one for more than $10k may even be a bit difficult.
Before Nissan turned its Pathfinder into the "Mallfinder" crossover, it was an SUV when first launched in 1985. Obviously you can find the really old Pathfinders for well under $10k, but we found a few 2006 models that are still under five figures.
Speaking of Japanese SUVs, there is, of course, the Toyota 4Runner. It’s actually somewhat more fuel efficient than many think, and it’s damn reliable. It’s really a win-win choice. Model years 1996 to 2006 are your best bet within budget here.
And then there’s the Toyota Land Cruiser, one of the greatest SUVs ever made. It’ll easily consume all of your gear for a week of camping and then some. But prices will vary considerably, meaning that high mileage Land Cruisers from 1990 to around 2006 or 07 are in your budget. Want a Toyota SUV with fewer miles? See above.