looking for an expedition car/wagon/small suv.


Pontoon Admiral
Seems to be you're wanting more of a rally car than an offroad vehicle. Subbies would top my list now. Cheaper older cars would be the Volvo, Vegas, the Z24, Nissian 310 GX, Mini Coopers, Saab 90s, VW GTIs are hot, etc. I raced baja bugs and rails, a VW setup with a v-6 will skin most any car on the street and darn near corner like a 911, might even go with an older 911. In the VW/v6 setup, if you get stuck, pick up the front end and point it in another direction, I've done it alone.

Any of the cars mentioned can be beefed up and good armor, wheels and tires that can be changed out for the use is usually cheaper than larger built vehicle. What some off road trucks or SUVs are crawling over like one larger rock might be flown over by faster smaller cars.....I don't mean rock crawling but an obsticle in a road. Your skills can get you further than any 4x4 without good driving skills, imo.

You don't need AWD or a 4x4 in most places I've been in the south and midwest, forrest roads, lake roads and conservation areas in good weather. If you have 200' of 1' mud a winch works, but you'll get dirty and go very slow.

I rallied some stock and built TR4As, Bug Eye Sprites, and the Datson 510 all rear wheel drive.
A mini cooper can fly too.

I went all over Europe in a Volvo 145 wagon and rarely got stuck, I did get pulled out a couple times along the rivers.

I'm all for the car approach, heck, even went off in the woods in a 64 Chevy wagon.

I like the Celica too, the snorkel is for better air, not fording 3' of water. LOL

I admit none of these can go where my F150 4x4 might, nor will they carry a load of everything you might want to take for a week of boondocking, but a weekend can be done in most places with a decently prepaired car.

My Forrester seems to do fine in mild stuff off road and better than most sedans on the street if I puch it it a bit, but it is no rocket. It does better than just keeping up with traffic.

This reminds me of the James Bond movie with the raised Cobra Mustang with larger wheels and tires. Put a full skid pan under that with a suspension and you'd have a fun machine.
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"im guessing you probably never, or hardly feel like you NEED 4wd to get anywhere?"

I've never gotten it stuck!! Some might say I'm not trying hard enough, I look at it like I go where I want to go, which doesn't include, up the face of a rock slide or down a mud bog. I've driven it through rock covered trails, down 2ft deep stream beds, down muddy roads, etc., without a problem. I've certainly gotten close to getting stuck, but through experience, have always gotten out and avoided whatever obstacle.



Bumping this, still havent decided on anything, though I havent been looking much, im definitely not in a hurry.

Anyway.. still looking for about the same thing, its tough because i feel like im looking for a car that doesnt really have a category. An offroad capable car/suv built to be nimble. You see concept cars that fit. The rally raider is pretty close, or like the dakar mini. the SX4, mini countryman, and maybe izuzu vehicross are the closest street cars that i can think of. Im thinking more and more that i'll just have to build something. Start with a platform i like and make it into what i want. I'm starting to think this is going to have to be a big project, not just something i buy, throw some parts at it and go. which im fine with, i have good connections with some local offroad builders and fabricators, i think it'd be fun.

I was thinking actually a volvo 240 wagon would be cool.(or any oldschool wagon, mercedes, chevy chase wood panel wagon) If i could keep it full independent suspension, probably have to make or have made completely custom suspension, widen it a bit, make some big fiberglass fender flairs to cover the tires, throw on some long travel, like 12 inch, coilovers, 30-33inch tires, do some fabricating to fix the approach angles and lots of reinforcements, and swap in an awd or 4wd system with a transfer case, engine swap, etc.. id be set.
that would be pretty much a ground up build, but i think that would be a good platform size wise. small enough to be nimble, big enough to camp out of.

Thats the approach i think id take with any car im looking at. a complete ground up build. the only thing i can think of that comes close is actually an 80's toyota truck or 4runner with a long travel kit. they're actually damn light, the body itself is pretty compact. the few ive ridden in are actually pretty nimble little trucks.

does anyone know of any builds that are anywhere close to what im thinking? i know this is pretty out of the ordinary but id like to see some stuff to get me started on ideas. that celica above is definitely the closest thing ive come across yet.


Autism Family Travellers!
In all seriousness, consider the jeep patriot. No its not fast, but its great on the road, can take a bunch of gear, there's aftermarket support and can go far in the back country. I should have kept mine and traded my Mazda 5 in on my jk.

Jay H

Get a 1st generation Toyota Rav4. It will fit 29" tires on 16" rims (225 or 235 70 16 or 215 75 15). It has a full size spare. Arb old man emu lift kit is available. Its a great awd with a locking center and the option for a torsen lsd rear diff. The stock power is not great but there are V6 engines and turbo celica engines that are known to fit. Some have even done full celica drive train swaps. 2 door or 4 door versions exist.

If you get a 2004 you get a good modern engine (2az-fe) and other refinments and nearly every thing mentioned above except the locking center diff instead you find a 50/50 split viscous unit. The 2az-fe is also found in camrys and numerous scions and known to hold up well even under a turbo up to about 250hp.

Oh and if your plans for it get international you find these on the road in many other countries more so than most north america spec versions. In UK they get a D4D with 175 HP.

But of course I am biased these are not as cheap as subarus .


One of our DD rigs is a 2nd gen Toyota Rav.

4 cylinder, 5-speed

It is a damn fine little rig. The stone simple full time awd is impressive, to say the least.


One point of concern is the 2az-fe motor though. They are known for head bolt/block problems. Not an easy fix, but once done the motor is as reliable as they come.


I like my Vehicross but it has shortcomings lack of head space, no cup holders, only about 18mpg, some have oil burning issues lack of body parts. All in all though wouldn't have picked anything different. Drove from Ak to Az along the PCH in 3 weeks no hiccups. Incredibly nimble, capable, and exciting to drive.



Autism Family Travellers!
ewww rav 4. :smilies27

Ok if all you do is mall crawl. plus, if the op lives in the snow belt where they use salt, Toyota will buy it back in 3 years because of all the "speed holes". No joke, the local dealer here is littered with rusty Toyotas they bought back because of "perforation" issues.


Autism Family Travellers!
No problem. I give it to the sx4 tho. Its a really cool rig.

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