Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated November 14, 2011)
The process for choosing a great off-road vehicle is similar, if not exactly the same as when choosing any car, truck or van. While this is good news on some fronts, it does mean that there is going to be a little bit of work on your part, primarily of the skull sweat type. What this means is that you are going to have to do some relatively simple homework, and just a little bit of field work.
Finances: As when making any vehicle purchase, it is imperative to know how much you have available for spending. Considering that these vehicles start under $20,000, and just go higher (often dramatically higher) depending on the model and options that you decide to get, you are going to want to make sure that you know exactly how much you can, and cannot, spend prior to actually making the purchase.
Make: One of the reasons that make (meaning brand) is important was mentioned above. There are other reasons as well that you are going to need to consider the make of the vehicles that you are looking at. Many people have a personal preference to what auto maker they like. Another factor that you need to consider is the dependability of each vehicle make. Contact a local mechanic, or the different auto dealers in the area, what the maintenance statistics are for each vehicle that you are interested in.
Needs/Purpose: Keep in mind what the purpose of the vehicle is, and what you are going to be using it for. As you are considering that, keep in mind what you are going to need to fulfill that purpose. As you are examining those needs and the purpose, keep in mind that this is important because your price may end up higher than you expected as you tack on the extras that are "needed" to fulfill what you want.
Handling: Finally, after you have narrowed the field down to a couple of different models, you need to test drive them. This is important because each vehicle is going to handle differently, and you want to have an idea of how you are going to be able to react in it. Many auto dealers that specialize in off-road vehicles also have an off-road test track. If you are lucky enough to have one of those dealers nearby, then be sure that you also take your test drive on this track.
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