New to overland, need some advice

Howdy,
I am new to the site and overland adventuring in general. I am not to to the 4x4 world and have had a few 4x4s in my life. I am looking for some advice, and hopefully a comparison between the two vehicles.
I most recently had a 77 CJ5 that was a great toy, but it had no top/doors and the V8 was loud (my fault, long tube headers and Flowmasters, fenderwell exit). In the end, as my wife and I's interest changed more to camping and maybe some more long distance travel, we had to let our Jeep go. It wasn't easy. I dumped a lot of money into it and it was an absolute blast.

Now, I am looking to go on an overland trip next summer through the southwest, starting in Texas and I would like to go towards Moab or Arches NP, it's been my dream since I was little. I have been looking and comparing multiple vehicles for this, I have considered a large number and through some total nerd pro/con charts, I have narrowed my search down to either a 3rd generation 4Runner and a Jeep Grand Cherokee WJ (1999-2004).
I have had several Jeeps, and I'm not a huge fan of Chrysler's quality in general, but aside from a Blend Door actuator failure on the WJs, the V8 and 5 speed seem to be a pretty good setup. Aftermarket support is so-so (spoiled on CJs and wranglers). Overall they seem reliable and with solid axles, pretty capable. Local pricing is around $2500-4000 for a decent model.

The Other option, a 3rd generation 4Runner, seems to be a better choice for some reason, even though on paper, the WJ seems better. Availability is much better locally (central Texas) and the aftermarket is much better for this, although expensive. A quick search locally reveals models around 200K miles for around $3000-4500. I know the reputation of the 3.4L is that it will survive until there are only cockroaches roaming the Earth.

Obviously, since this is a Jeep section, I expect there to be some more support for the WJ, or another Jeep, here. I am looking for some input on both models, hoping to be able to make a decision pretty soon, so I can start getting it all ready and head out and do some Shake-downs on it before heading out next summer. I know very little about Toyota trucks, I have helped a coworker with his late 80s Land cruiser (80 series? its the smaller one) and the wiring was a total pain in the *** because of the rotating ground, not a standard 12v DC system.

What my goal is, is to have a vehicle that I can put 32-33 inch tires on and take over the road as well as some moderate trails/offroad. I doubt I will do much rock crawling with it. I learned my lesson from the 35s on my CJ, that starts to get expensive between the lift and axle upgrades. I may put a RTT on at some point, but that is still up in the air (no pun intended). I would like to put a Winch and front bumper on, possibly a rear for a Swing out spare. Other than that, I would like a ride that is pretty decent and is something I wouldn't mind spending a week or 2 driving. My parents are going with us and they have a mostly stock 2012 JKU sport with 2 inch lift and Rubicon tires. My total budget is around $6500. I have 4500 in hand for a vehicle, so about 2000 in upgrades, maybe more if I can find one cheaper.

Thoughts?

Thanks A lot!
-Roger
 

SilicaRich

Wandering Inverted
I would search for a clean 4 door model XJ. You can get some exceptionally clean specimens for $4k or less with 150k-200k miles, not an issue for the 4.0 in those things. I know that you would prefer 32-33 inch tires but you can stick 31" tires quite easily under an XJ and be quite capable without sacrificing road manners or needing upgrades elsewhere. Also, Jeep accessories tend to be cheaper and more available than for other brands.

Otherwise, I see no reason in not trying to find a Toyota whether it's a 80 series or 4 runner. They will likely have higher miles but that's child's play with Toyota motors.
 
Thanks, I will keep looking, I like Jeeps and I am familiar with their operation and it's more of a platform I'm familiar with. Unfortunately around me XJs are very expensive in any condition other than ragged out or 2wd.
 

kenaero

Observer
Hate to be the party pooper on the Toyota reliability scene.....but my family has owned 2 4Runners, and both puked the head gasket at 80k. Find a nice 4.0 WJ with, I think Quadra-Drive 2, and go for it!
 

1Louder

Explorer
Love my Toyota. Others love Jeeps. I find Toyota to be WAY more comfortable for long drives. For overlanding either is fine....
 

Jeeper4life

Adventurer
Hate to be the party pooper on the Toyota reliability scene.....but my family has owned 2 4Runners, and both puked the head gasket at 80k. Find a nice 4.0 WJ with, I think Quadra-Drive 2, and go for it!
I think only v8's came with the vari-lock axles if that's what you are getting at. I could be wrong though.
 

tgreening

Expedition Leader
When you're looking at Toyotas with high mileage and thinking "250k miles is nothing on Toyota motor Xxx", keep in mind everything else on the vehicle likely has 250k on it as well, and unless you have documented proof you have to assume so. Even if the biggest like motor, tranny, xfer case, etc have been maintained, there is still much that likely has not, such as switches, wiring, window motors/hardware, and all those other incidentals people give no thought to. Wiring issues on older high mileage vehicles can be a real pain in the arse.

Food for thought.
 

AggieOE

Trying to escape the city
When you're looking at Toyotas with high mileage and thinking "250k miles is nothing on Toyota motor Xxx", keep in mind everything else on the vehicle likely has 250k on it as well, and unless you have documented proof you have to assume so. Even if the biggest like motor, tranny, xfer case, etc have been maintained, there is still much that likely has not, such as switches, wiring, window motors/hardware, and all those other incidentals people give no thought to. Wiring issues on older high mileage vehicles can be a real pain in the arse.

Food for thought.
This is what made me nervous about going for a high mileage Toyota LC or 4R... Good powertrain but there's a lot more to a car than just that.
 
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lumpskie

Independent Thinker
I've got a Tacoma with 250xxx miles and a Grand Wagoneer (Only 140xxx miles). The waggy is kind of similar to a WJ and the 1st gen tacoma is VERY similar to the 3rd gen 4Runner. I love both vehicles. Get the vehicle in the best condition for the best price.
 

Weeds

Adventurer
I had a 97 ZJ for several years until I bought the Rubi. I had the 4.0. I replaced the springs and added 31" tires. We took it to Utah from Washington twice. It was a good camping, hunting, overland rig. It had 4 wheel disc brakes and the transfer case with all wheel drive and low range, I forget the number. I had very little problems. I bought the rig with 100,000 miles sold at 150,000 miles.

If you go GC look for the soccer mom rig that has been maintained well, mine had not left the Seattle area when I bought it.

Good luck in your search.
 

VistaCruiser

Observer
WJ, V8, QuadraDrive, 245 70R17, 2.5" lift. That was my recipe for a solid, reliable, capable rig. Full size spare fits in the well still, nothing needed to correct geometry, a dream to drive on highway and mixed trail. I've only gotten winched up the waterfall at Grizzly Lake and the "wall" at Poughkeepsie Gulch, Colorado. Black Bear, Tin Cup, and Mosquito passes have been done as well with no issues, for comparison.

Sam
 

chasespeed

Explorer
99 Limited 4.slow, SelecTrac, locked rear, LSD front, 4.11s, and Clayton long arm, winch plate, blah blah.

Great road manners, even on the highway.

It's been good to us so far. Have a Jk 44 ready to bolt up in the rear(locked, trussed, etc), as I'm done putting money into the 35.

It's thirsty. 12-14mpg if it's only street driven.

I worked for a Jeep dealer when the WJ came out, and that certainly influenced my choice/options/etc.



Good luck.

Chase
 
Thanks for the input everyone, I'm still looking around to see what I can find. Wish I could just buy both, Ha!

If I get a WJ, it will be a V8, mainly due to the transmission. The 4.0 transmission doesn't seem to have a stellar reputation. In fact one of the grand cherokees (4.0L) I looked at this week wouldn't even shift into 3rd gear. Also, the 3.73 gearing. Although, the 4runners do start off with higher gears, 4.10-4.30.

I am aware that the D44A isn't a true 44, actually seems better except the aluminum part (what we're they thinking?).
For lift, I would really rather do a long arm lift due to comfort and it really isn't much more expensive (RC). Im not sure on the death wobble, in terms or LA vs SA lifts. My JK had a 3 in short arm and i never had DW issues in 45k miles.
There are very few V8 4x4 WJs in central texas in any condition, let alone one that I would spend my hard earned money on.
Also, on the head gasket issues at 80k on the 4runner, that likely wasn't a 3.4L, it was probably a 3.0 (3.blow) from the early nineties. It's possible, but the 3.0s were known to have this issue (why I'm looking at 3.4Ls.

Again thanks everyone. I'll definitely start a build thread whenever I get one. I was delayed this week by an outstanding fish-slaying trip to the Texas gulf coast, 2 days, 200+ fish caught between a buddy and I. Couldn't keep a line in the water!
 

MOguy

Explorer
I had an 01 Grand and now have an 04 4Runner. Both HD a 4.0 6 cylinder. The jeep has the straight 6 and the 4Runner a V6. There is no comparison between the 2 motors. The toyota gets much better mileage and has much more power.

I do a camper, the grad has a HORRIBLE tow vehicle, the 4Runner is a very good tow vehicle.

I had to rebuild the trans on the grand at 120k.

The grand hard a straight axle so for more serious off roading that has advantages over the Toyota IFS.

The toyota has some erything effective traction controls you cannot turn them on and off. For harder off road these traction control aids could work against you but there is a way to defeat them. The 4Runner use Torsen diffs which has are far better than what the diffs in the grand.

The 4Runner is on a frame the Grand is a uni body.

For me I wouldn't get another grand but I would get another 4Runner.
 
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