In my ongoing search for a tow-capable daily driver replacement for my Matrix this spring, I think it’s coming down to these two.

Requirements:

  • Less than 135k miles
  • $10,000 budget
  • 4wd only

So on to the pros and cons! Because I love lists!

2003-2009 Toyota 4Runner Pros:

  • Toyota reliability (except for a few issues I’ll get to)
  • Strong resale
  • More comfortable ride/better interior for daily driving comfort
  • Bigger aftermarket
  • Available with V8 that can tow 7,000 lbs

4Runner Cons:

  • Way, way, way more expensive to buy. Like, double the miles for the price.
  • Auto only
  • A few common issues, all are expensive to fix (headgaskets on early V6, cracked manifolds on V8, rampant frame rust, trans wire harness wicks ATF to the ECU, brake master cylinder is a $1,000+ part)

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Xterra Pros:

  • Much cheaper, can get sub-100k mile examples for well under $10k
  • Smaller truck, easier to park for occasional trips to the city
  • Manual trans
  • Tows 5,000 same as V6 4Runner
  • Less bells and whistles, less to break
  • Yellow looks rad as hell
  • Less prone to rust

Xterra Cons:

  • Cheaper interior is less nice to daily
  • Leaf spring rear end is harsher for daily driving
  • Reliability not as good, but common issues are at least cheaper to fix (IPDM is a couple hundred bucks, timing chain tensioners are time consuming, but cheap, manual trans trucks don’t have the radiator issues the autos are famous for)

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I’d love to get some more input from you guys!