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CHEAP OFF-ROADERS: MARKET TRENDS

CHEAP OFF-ROADERS: MARKET TRENDS

Posted by Matt Bell on 21st October 2020

The 4x4s from the ’90s which took a rapid hit in value but which have now become inexpensive future classics. Here’s our pick of three cheap off-roaders.

Jeep Cherokee (1993-2001)

The Cherokee is becoming a 4×4 icon. At launch here in 1993 it represented a promise of luxury, off-road ability and a passport to the wilderness. Today, its pledge still holds true – except now you won’t need to dig nearly as deep as its £15,840 new asking price for the privilege. Indeed, depreciation for this angular full-fat off-roader was savage from the start, so they’ve always been cheap.

The US-inspired 4×4 came with a 2.5-litre turbodiesel, and 2.5-litre and 4-litre petrol engine options with Sport, Limited and Limited SE trim levels. The Orvis, on sale from March 1999, was the high-spec model with standard everything. Because the six-cylinder 4.0 is only marginally more thirsty than the 2.5, and being so silky smooth, it was always the favoured engine choice.

But here’s the rub. The posh Jeep’s bargain bucket price tag tended to attract skinflint owners who ignored important servicing, such as the 3000-mile oil and filter change. Moreover, head gasket failure was common and conrod bearings would let go, leading to low oil pressure. In short, even the best examples soon became shabby, or were broken for spares, and prices hit rock bottom.

Then, about 10 years ago, people started to appreciate the classic, boxy looks of the early one and values began to rally, helped by excellent parts availability. Indeed, those rare early square headlamp survivors are now cared for by enthusiast owners who’ll want as much as £5000-£6000 if forced to sell. Even though the ULEZ restrictions have put paid to most central London demand, still the increasingly rare showroom condition cars can be as much as double this.

cheap off-roaders

Land Rover Freelander (1997-2006)

As an easy-on-the-eye soft-roader with Land Rover credentials, the Freelander made a pretty decent fist of things. Available as a three and five-door, as well as an intriguing soft top, it struck a great balance between modern car comforts and off-road ability.

The cheapest model in the range, the meagre three-door 1.8i Softback, was priced at £16,395 new, while the five-door hardtop in 2.0di XE guise was significantly more at £22,815.

Sadly, soon after launch, patchy build quality spoiled things for the Freelander. Sellers struggled to find buyers willing to spend £5000 for a vehicle just five or six years old. That said, demand for the diesel was stronger, with £7000 being the going rate.

When the Freelander 2 appeared in 2006, prices tumbled further to as little as £1500. And that’s where they’ve stayed, with just over a grand being enough to secure a frayed-round-the-edges petrol model. Post-2004 facelifts won’t be much more, although there’s still a premium for the Td4. There is, slowly, a growing appreciation for the earliest models, particularly three-door soft tops, so these might be worth keeping an eye on.

cheap off-roaders

Mitsubishi Shogun Mk2 (1991-1997)

The Shogun was a serious rival to the Range Rover in terms of luxury and off-road ability, and the Mk2 from 1991 was a very different animal to its boxy, chrome-adorned Mk1 predecessor. While the nimbler SWB was well suited to the burgeoning soft-road market at the time, it was the imposing five-door LWB Shogun that attracted the most interest, especially as it could usually seat seven in comfort.

There were two engine options when it went on sale here in 1992; the flaccid 98bhp 2.5-litre TD and the 147bhp 3.0-litre V6 petrol – new they sold for £22,905 and £23,255 respectively in LWB guise. Not cheap, but significantly less than the same era Rangie 2.5 DT which retailed at £33,025.

UK Mitsubishi dealerships were somewhat thin on the ground during the ’90s and 2000s and the Shogun was a rare commodity, so values remained high throughout that period. But then something happened. Specialists, recognising the need for a pokier diesel, began importing the 138bhp 2.8TD Pajero – the Shogun’s home market equivalent – direct from Japan.

Being lower mileage, better specced and in much better condition than their UK counterparts, they sold in their droves with £5000 being the going rate in the mid-2000s. Inevitably, the market became flooded with ‘greys’ and when the better 2000-on 3.5 V6 TD Mk3 entered the used market, no one wanted them anymore. With the move away from big, thirsty 4x4s in the last decade, Shogun/Pajero values continued their downward spiral.

Today, though, interest in the angular Mk2 (without the ‘blistered’ arches of the 1998 facelift) is on the rise, though mint imports with no rust (yes, these are the ones to go for!) still sell for under £3500.

Which of these cheap off-roaders would you consider?

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