Know how much you can spend on a car but haven’t made up your mind which one to buy? Here, we track down two used off-roaders with a mix of modernity and heritage for under R500 000 each…
Toyota FJ Cruiser
0-100 km/h: 8,57 seconds
Top speed: 175 km/h
Power: 200 kW
Torque: 380 N.m
Fuel consumption: 14,28 L/100 km (fuel index)
Back in the days when most Toyotas were considered too conservative, out came the Japanese firm with something totally left field; the highly capable, style-centric, suicide-doored FJ Cruiser. The FJ had everything needed to turn heads and it remains so to this day. Not everyone is a fan of large American-style vehicles but this one blended brute force with a dash of old FJ tradition to add sparkle to the streets and trails. No surprises, then, to find it was designed at Toyota’s design centre in California.
Circular headlamps (and bolt-on spots) were retro, remaining highly practical and attractive to the minds of many. Perhaps the one missing link would have been a diesel engine to increase its scope. Instead, a 4,0-litre petrol V6 mated with a five-speed automatic transmission did the pulling. It went on sale back in 2011, not that many were shifted in the last decade, but these vehicles will be well maintained and retain their value. In 2011, the price as new was R450 000 and even these early models can still fetch around R300 000 if the vehicle hasn’t been to the moon and back. That is 67% value retention over nine years!
The interior has plenty of chunky controls, rear suicide doors with hidden handles and it is a spacious five-seater with a large boot. Off-road capabilities come from selectable rear- or all-wheel drive with low range. Also switchable are the rear diff-lock and front limited-slip diff. The suspension comprises double-wishbones up front and a four-link setup at the rear offering up a quality ride both on- and off-road. There are precious few used examples on offer, but many have lowish mileages. As mentioned, prices aren’t cheap, but then it is a Toyota. In fact, similar model year Fortuners fetch comparable prices. Items to look out for are brake vibration and engine coolant slow leaks. It’s also worth checking the heating and air-con operation. The only serious issue, sadly, is fuel consumption. Around 15,00 L/100 km will see you paying more than your fair share in tax and gas. A five-year/90 000 km service plan is part of the package.
Space: 5 seats, 344/1 288 L
Safety: 6 airbags, ESC
Cost of four tyres: R10 724
Road Test: November 2012 (FJ Desert Cruiser AT)
Jeep Wrangler 3,6L V6
0-100 km/h: 10,70 seconds
Top speed: 180 km/h
Power: 209 kW
Torque: 347 N.m
CO2: 273 g/km
Fuel consumption: 14,00 L/100 km (fuel index)
There are plenty of similarities between the FJ Cruiser and Wrangler. Again, we have overt retro styling, circular headlamps and chunky mudguards and bumpers. Later models have LED daytime running lights added for good measure. The interior is a pleasing mix of new- and old-style controls incorporating round vents and classy buttons inherited from the days of the Daimler-Chrysler merger. The design philosophy was to make the Jeep customisable to suit any lifestyle, so fibreglass panels were used for the doors, bonnet and roof with sturdy catches for relatively simple removal. The upright windscreen even folds forward resting on rubber bonnet stops for a real wind-in-the-face experience, should you so wish.
Looking at the colour options of used cars in the classifieds, the whites and silvers always top the charts, but in the Jeep’s case there were a number of unusual bright green examples that really stand out. Another reason for the Jeep’s popularity was the choice of three- or five-door models and the option of the well-known 2,8-litre CRD turbodiesel model. This one can reduce fuel consumption from around 14,00 L/100 km in the petrol to 10,00 L/100 km, a significant saving in the long run. Re-circulating ball steering was somewhat vague on smooth roads but competent on poor roads and rocky tracks. As with the FJ Cruiser, low range is selected by a mechanical lever.
Rubicon models, when compared with the Sahara, add locking differentials to the package plus a lower low-range ratio for ultimate off-road capability.
Issues to inspect before buying include suspension components like tie rods, ball joints, steering knuckles and the steering stabiliser cylinder. The latter is easily damaged on rough terrain. If the check engine light comes on, suspect a faulty throttle position sensor. Also make sure you can handle the compromised interior space. The transmission tunnel is large so foot room is not great. A full maintenance plan lasts for three years or 100 000 km so chances are it will have expired.
Space: 5 seats, 392/1 472 L
Safety: 2 airbags, ESC
Cost of four tyres: R10 800
Road test: May 2014 (Wrangler 3,6L Sahara)