So my “friend” is seriously considering selling his sports car in favor of purchasing a mid-size SUV or truck and a cheap track beater, and would like some input.

Reasons for selling the car are:
1. Eliminate a high monthly car payment, frees up a lot of extra money each month for other expenses and reduces insurance cost. (a move into a more expensive place is coming this summer, so that’d be a nice help)
2. No longer risking his only means of transportation, which is technically owned by his credit union, at track days.
3. Cheap beater track car would have much cheaper parts/consumeables, and wouldn’t require track day insurance.

The replacements for the sports car would be, as mentioned above, a mid-size pickup or suv that would serve as a reliable daily driver and possible tow vehicle down the road.

This post is mainly about options for the new daily, occasional tow vehicle, though. Here are the requirements:

Price: Sub $10k mark, looking to be in the $5-9k range.
Top Factors:
-Reliability: As a daily driven vehicle that has a weekday commute of ~48 miles and will see its fair share of weekend/holiday road trips, reliability is definitely the top priority. Given the price range the vehicle will likely have around 100k (=/- about 20-30k) miles. Don’t want to running into a lot of major repairs.
-Towing Capability: Probably looking in the 3,500-5,000lbs tow capacity range. Looking to eventually pull a small to small(ish) track car on occasion, either on a tow dolly or open trailer.
-4x4/AWD: Simply easier in Chicagoland winters. Also offers more opportunity for off-road adventures as well.

The Top Contenders:
-3rd or 4th Gen Toyota 4Runner/Tacoma: Because Toyota reliability
-Nissan Xterra/Frontier: Priced well, but not sure about reliability. Any input?
-Toyota Land Cruiser: They tend to be pricier, but if the right deal came along....

Other Considerations:
-BMW X3/X5
-Volvo XC90
-Acura MDX
-Lexus RX300/330

The main reason the above aren’t top contenders is because of unfamiliarity and uncertainty about reliability of used models. I know the general stereotype of high mileage German vehicles, which is why I tend to lean more towards Japanese models.

Would be curious to hear some Oppos opinions/experiences with any of the above models or any I haven’t mentioned that I should consider.

(For those of you who are curious, the cheap track beater will likely end up being a Miata, E30, E36, or Civic/CRX/Integra.)