Range Rover Starting at $15,000
Some say the Range Rover is the king of four-wheel drives. Its historic reputation as one of the most capable luxury off-roaders certainly doesn’t hurt that thought. What does hurt the Rangie’s reputation is its propensity for breaking. That being said, newer models have made great strides in quality, and nothing else can compare to a Range Rover’s blend of comfort, capability, and performance … when they’re working.
Buying a new Range Rover is akin to finding an elusive money tree, and then lighting it on fire. Depreciation is the most impressive skill in the Range Rover’s quiver, but that’s a problem for someone else with more money to burn. Expect to pay around $20,000 for a 2003-04 model with decent service history, though we’ve seen questionable examples for around $15,000 on Gumtree. If I was buying one, I’d go for the V8 over the diesel – it has a stronger transmission that’s less likely to break.
2005-07 Land Rover Discovery 3 Starting at $18,000
The Land Rover Discovery is famous for blending off-road capability with on-road refinement at a price point lower than that of the Range Rover. They’re also famous for their prevalence in wealthy suburbs as a run-around vehicle. You won’t find too much mud and dirt hidden in these 4X4’s nooks and crannies – but you’ll probably find a few crayons, lollies, and toys left behind.
We’ve seen them for as low as $18,000 with 250,000 k’s, but you’re far better off parting with a little extra money for a much-nicer example. For between $20,000 and $25,000, you’ll get a desirable yet slow 2.7-litre turbo-diesel model with under 150,000km on the clock. And you should go for the diesel, because the Ford-sourced petrol motor is underpowered and thirsty.
2005-07 Jeep Grand Cherokee Starting at $20,000
America’s off-road luxury wagon, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, hasn’t had the greatest reputation for reliability or comfort, but experience says they’re not as bad as people think. Powered by a 3.0-litre Italian VM-Motori sourced diesel engine, you can expect good fuel economy, plenty of power and respectable off-road prowess. Underneath they’re based on a previous generation Mercedes ML, so on-road manners are great.
You’ll be able to find a Jeep Grand Cherokee equipped with the 3.0-litre diesel engine for as little as $20,000 in respectable condition and still have room in your budget to fit a lift and a bull bar. Be careful of vehicles with sketchy service history or existing electrical gremlins – the Italians aren’t known for their electronics.
Lexus LX470 Starting at $10,000
Looking for a little bit more class and luxury than what a LandCruiser Sahara will bring you? Your answer is in the form of the Lexus LX470, which is essentially nothing more than a top-spec LandCruiser wearing a Lexus badge. They do not come in a diesel, rather they’re powered by Toyota’s reliable 4.7-litre V8 petrol engine, but don’t worry, the LX470 came standard with twin fuel tanks.
Prices range from as little as $10,000 for a late 90s model with high kilometres, to $25,000 for a mid-2000s variant with average k’s. Being based on a LandCruiser, this will prove to be one of the most reliable luxury vehicle purchases you can make. Some users have reported issues with the height-adjustable suspension, but it’s far more reliable than an air suspension system.
Porsche Cayenne S Starting at $20,000
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a four-wheel drive faster than the Porsche Cayenne S for under $25,000. You might not be aware that Stuttgart’s off-road raging beast is actually equipped with low range, and depending on the model even a rear locking differential and height-adjustable air suspension. They’re famous for going fast over almost anything (as they famously did in the Trans-Siberian Rally) provided the outrageous servicing doesn’t stop you in your tracks before you hit the dirt.
Expect to find a 2004-2005 model in good condition with service history for $20,000 – $25,000. Be sure to look out for cooling system issues, as early models are known for suffering from a broken coolant hose that ran between the engine’s cylinders. It’s pricey to fix.