Car Life Nation

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

A popular used car, a white 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee, is parked on the side of a road in front of a vibrant sunset.

Used Cars: Off-Road Capable and Affordable Fun

If you’re on the hunt for used cars, there are going to be lots of options out there to choose from. Especially with the many categories available, it can be challenging to know or find what you are looking for. You have cars, trucks, and SUVs, and then each one of those will have multiple trim levels and configurations, let alone brands you need to narrow down as well. To make it easy, we’ll talk about some specific vehicles today that would make for excellent choices if you’re looking for two things: in particular, an affordable deal and off-road capability.

When it comes to off-road brands, there’s one that’s known worldwide as the best of the bunch, and that would be Jeep. The Jeep brand of rugged and reliable vehicles was born out of necessity during a time of war. Today those same attributes apply, but now for mainly recreational purposes. In short, we know Jeep vehicles as dependable machines that are ready to tackle any fun adventure you may have in mind, from rock-crawling to camping out with friends or family in the woods. And don’t worry, they’ll do just fine on the pavement as well.

Off-Road Ready at a Reasonable Price

While you could be thinking it wouldn’t be within your price range to afford a vehicle like a Jeep that’s 4WD-capable, you may be in for a surprise. Jeeps, just like many used cars, can be found at affordable prices on a very common basis. Plus, you wouldn’t be dealing with models that are high-mileage and years away from the current releases. Instead, used late-model Jeeps with low mileage can be found at very reasonable prices, which means it’s easier than ever to be in an adventure-ready vehicle without breaking the bank

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Starting with Jeep’s current most extensive North American SUV offering, we have the Grand Cherokee. There will be a variety of configurations out on the market, but if you’re looking to go off-roading, then you’ll want to avoid the 2WD models and stick with the 4WD versions. All Grand Cherokee trim levels can be found with 4WD, and some of them, like the Trailhawk and SRT, will always come with 4WD.

For a late-model Grand Cherokee like the 2017 version, it’ll most likely come equipped with a 3.6L V6 engine with up to 295 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, although it’s possible you might see a 3.0L EcoDiesel V6 or rarely a 5.7L Hemi V8. The 3.6L V6 will be more than enough to hit the trails, though.

For the best off-road experience, you’ll want to look for a Trailhawk trim that comes included with 18-inch off-road wheels, air suspension, and an electronic limited-slip differential. You’ll also get Quadra-Drive II, which is a 4×4 system that’s always active and can send torque to the wheel with the most traction, for when you’re in a sticky situation.

Cherokee Trailhawk

A red 2017 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk is climbing over rocks on a desert mountain.

If you’re looking for a slightly smaller option than the Grand Cherokee, the Cherokee could be the right fit for you. Among used cars, the mid-size SUV category is one of the most popular, and the Cherokee is no exception. Late-model versions from 2017 will feature the Sport, Latitude, Limited, Overland, and Trailhawk trim levels. For the best off-roading experience, we recommend searching for a Cherokee Trailhawk, which is only offered with 4WD and also comes with Jeep’s own Trail Rated badge.

The Trail Rated badge is only given to Jeep 4WD vehicles that have passed a series of difficult tests spread out between the five categories of traction, water fording, maneuverability, articulation, and ground clearance. It may be Jeep’s own rating system, but the fact that not every Jeep is capable of succeeding in these tests means the ones that have succeeded must come with some exceptional capabilities.

The standard engine for a 2017 Cherokee is a 2.4L I-4 with up to 184 hp and 171 lb-ft of torque. Another option is the 3.2L V6 with up to 271 hp and 239 lb-ft of torque, which will provide you with a lot more power.

Jeep Wrangler

The Wrangler is perhaps the most iconic of all Jeep vehicles as it’s the one you’ll commonly see in the outdoors, roaming rugged trails and climbing over rocks. We only include the Wrangler on the list because of its popularity. Unfortunately, the fact is it’s going to be a lot harder to find late-model Wranglers that can match the affordability of other vehicles within the Jeep lineup.

Still, you’ll be able to find Wranglers from 2017 that come at much more reasonable prices than if you were to buy one brand new. The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited will be one of the more common options found, as more people are interested in the extra space allowed for cargo and passengers. All Wranglers, whether 2-door or 4-door, come with 4WD as the standard. Any trim level on the Wrangler or Wrangler Unlimited will be suitable for off-roading. Although, the best available option will be a Rubicon, which is basically the equivalent of the Trailhawk trim you find on other Jeep vehicles. This trim comes with extra equipment and features more suited for the off-road. Also good to mention, the 2017 Wranglers come with the same 3.6L V6 engine you can find on the 2017 Grand Cherokee.

Jeep Renegade

A black 2017 Jeep Renegade is driving on a rural road.

For a more compact ride, the relatively new Jeep Renegade is an excellent choice. Production models only go back to 2015, which means there actually aren’t any very old Renegades floating around on the market. Still, late-model Renegades from years like 2017 will offer you some of the best value for 4WD-capable models. Like other Jeep vehicles, you can find trim levels like Sport, Latitude, Limited, and Trailhawk. There are options for 2WD on some of these trims, but for off-road adventures, you’ll want to focus on the 4WD-only Trailhawk trim.

There are two engine options found on the 2017 Renegade models, but the Trailhawk comes with the more powerful 2.4L I-4, up to 180 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque. It’s also trail rated and comes with hill-descent control, up to 2,000 lbs of towing capability, and the Selec-Terrain system that allows for easy switching between drive modes in different weather and driving conditions.

Used Cars On A Budget

There are, of course, many other vehicles out there that can also be found at affordable prices and used for off-roading, but these have been a few top choices from a well-known brand that would definitely get the job done. The best part, though? You’ll have a lot of fun in these vehicles, too.

When looking for used cars, always make sure to keep in mind that a new vehicle will begin to depreciate in value immediately upon leaving the dealership. This leaves the door open for you to take advantage of reduced pricing on late-model vehicles with a relatively low amount of mileage on them. With so many used vehicles out there ready for your perusal, it’s never been a better time to go searching for one. Hopefully, the vehicles we’ve listed have given you some better ideas as to what might be the best fit for you with your next affordable, fun, and adventure-ready SUV.

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