Small efficient overlander

oldeskuel

New member
I'm hoping for some direction on the best small, reliable, fuel efficient overlandable vehicles. So, 4wd but no mud tires. And it has to do well on pavement too.

I've been thinking a suzuki samurai might be fun, but I wonder what else is out there.

All thoughts are welcome.
 

utherjorge

Observer
I like mine, but they are hard to find, and due to the difficulty finding parts, that's another mark against it.

Before I post a pic of mine, you can get a lot of great aftermarket support for Geo Trackers, and the four door ones have decent space. I wanted a convertible, though, so I avoided the four doors. First-gen 4Runner is a great choice.

 

BritKLR

Kapitis Indagatoris
As much as I love our 94 Sammy with TBI and thousands of off-road miles in Colorado and Utah I would not recommend it for Overland travel unless you flat tow it the area you want to explore. Once setup with people, gear, suspension, tires, etc they do not make very comfortable roadtrip cars. They have small engines and once loaded up you'll be lucky to maintain 50-55 mph much less in the mountains.
I'd second a early model 4Runner or similiar. Good luck and just have fun!504141
 

The Artisan

Adventurer
Hmm... I will consider that. I owned an '85 4runner in to mid 2000s, and it was a lot of fun. Was not built for overlanding. It did have electrical gremlins however.
Nice' I will have prototype camper ready for my cali sells rep fo expo west.
Kevin
 

Mundo4x4Casa

West slope, N. Ser. Nev.
Old School,
We need more perimeters on how far off road you are going to get; how much clearance you need and number of passengers. Overlanding has a lot of romantic connotations but none that pertain to everyone. My idea of Overlanding, and I don't even like the term, is long term, self contained travel, sometime over awful roads or trails. I've had 13, 4WD's including many hard core rock crawlers and boulevard queens, and only a few were deemed Overlanding approved. If you just want to go on a few rutted or snow/ice/sandy dirt roads taking very little stuff, then my answer was a new Subaru Cross Trek, mostly because of the very small package, improved drive/traction system with 'X-Mode' and great mpg- possible 35 mpg and 500+ mile range. I was going to add a 1-1/2 inch lift for better deep rut manners, but decided against it because the trailing arms hang down too far giving too little down swing. While the clearance is very good, the worst part is the approach angle. I can see they did that for aerodynamics, but it cuts down on the approach. Also a negative, no transfer case. with the new metal belt driven CVT the need is less for a t. case. But it's good enough for short or long runs and trying to get to town from our ranch on the West Slope Northern Sierra Nevada in winter. One other car comes to mind with your wants: a 1991-2001 Jeep XJ (the not-so-grand Cherokee). I've had 3 of them and driven about 300K miles in them. This is one of the best on/off road rigs ever and has stood the test of time. Why? Lightweight: 3000 pounds. Narrow. Not tall. Solid axles. Great approach, breakover, and departure angles. Towable without disconnecting the driveshaft. Great drive system (with the AW-4) and legendary 4.0L engine. They are getting harder to find, but still out there. I still have this 1999 with True Tracs and 2 inch lift:

Another item is: how much time do you want to have invested in fixing whatever you come up with to "Overlanding" standing? Many Japanese export small rigs have limited fix up support compared to the amount of aftermarket for the XJ.
As far as my 'Overlanding' rig it is a RAM pickup with a big drivetrain upgrade and an old Lance Lite Camper that will allow us to make our 120 day circumnavigation around the U.S., clockwise, staying within 200 miles of a international border or ocean, and camping on every beach that will allow vehicles.

jefe
 
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JKel

New member
I have to put a word in for the Isuzu Trooper. Cheap, roomy, and parts are definitely available.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Jnich77

Director of Adventure Management Operations
How about a regular cab, short bed full size truck? Plenty of interior room and lots of room in the bed. They don't suck gas, parts are cheap, and they are well built. Best part is you would make zero sacrifices when using it as a daily driver.
 

oldeskuel

New member
Old School,
We need more perimeters on how far off road you are going to get; how much clearance you need and number of passengers. Overlanding has a lot of romantic connotations but none that pertain to everyone. My idea of Overlanding, and I don't even like the term, is long term, self contained travel, sometime over awful roads or trails. I've had 13, 4WD's including many hard core rock crawlers and boulevard queens, and only a few were deemed Overlanding approved. If you just want to go on a few rutted or snow/ice/sandy dirt roads taking very little stuff, then my answer was a new Subaru Cross Trek, mostly because of the very small package, improved drive/traction system with 'X-Mode' and great mpg- possible 35 mpg and 500+ mile range. I was going to add a 1-1/2 inch lift for better deep rut manners, but decided against it because the trailing arms hang down too far giving too little down swing. While the clearance is very good, the worst part is the approach angle. I can see they did that for aerodynamics, but it cuts down on the approach. Also a negative, no transfer case. with the new metal belt driven CVT the need is less for a t. case. But it's good enough for short or long runs and trying to get to town from our ranch on the West Slope Northern Sierra Nevada in winter. One other car comes to mind with your wants: a 1991-2001 Jeep XJ (the not-so-grand Cherokee). I've had 3 of them and driven about 300K miles in them. This is one of the best on/off road rigs ever and has stood the test of time. Why? Lightweight: 3000 pounds. Narrow. Not tall. Solid axles. Great approach, breakover, and departure angles. Towable without disconnecting the driveshaft. Great drive system (with the AW-4) and legendary 4.0L engine. They are getting harder to find, but still out there. I still have this 1999 with True Tracs and 2 inch lift:

Another item is: how much time do you want to have invested in fixing whatever you come up with to "Overlanding" standing? Many Japanese export small rigs have limited fix up support compared to the amount of aftermarket for the XJ.
As far as my 'Overlanding' rig it is a RAM pickup with a big drivetrain upgrade and an old Lance Lite Camper that will allow us to make our 120 day circumnavigation around the U.S., clockwise, staying within 200 miles of a international border or ocean, and camping on every beach that will allow vehicles.

jefe

Thanks for the detailed answer. At this point, the subaru cross trek sounds like the best option. I intend to do a lot of road tripping on the interestates and a bit of light off-road/dirt road type of driving. In the past, I had a 02 toyota tacoma regular cab 4x4. It had everything I needed and more, except that it was too small. I would get another one 05-14, but they are expensive for what you get.
 

dreadlocks

Well-known member
Now this is what I'm talking about. However, the subaru crosstrek is proably a better and modern version!
VW Currently makes the AllTrack Golfs which are AWD and get excellent fuel economy.. can get em in 6MT, and are wagons.. but they are not setup like the country was for rough terrain, skid plates and a lift would likely be needed.
 

stevec

Adventurer
If your Toyota regular cab 4x4 was too small then a Samurai probably isn't for you, but the 2nd gen (1999-2003) Grand Vitara or XL-7 might be a good fit. The GV with a 5 speed and the 2.0L will get 25+ mpg easily. The 2.5V6 is nice but we had an XL-7 with the 2.7 and only got 20-21mpg.
 

Todd n Natalie

Observer
Thanks for the detailed answer. At this point, the subaru cross trek sounds like the best option. I intend to do a lot of road tripping on the interestates and a bit of light off-road/dirt road type of driving. In the past, I had a 02 toyota tacoma regular cab 4x4. It had everything I needed and more, except that it was too small. I would get another one 05-14, but they are expensive for what you get.
Crosstrek's are nice. What about Forresters or if you don't want the toyota tax a Colorado or Frontier? Did you have a budget in mind? That may help narrow it down.
 
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