Interest in classic SUVs has reached such a fever pitch even the car companies want a piece of the action. Many are bringing back modern versions of their beloved old school off-roaders, just as Toyota did with its legendary FJ back in 2006. The 2020 Land Rover Defender and 2021 Ford Bronco are leading the charge, but the list of returning icons also includes the Jeep Grand Wagoneer and, hopefully, an all-new version of the Toyota Land Cruiser.

Older versions of the Toyota Land Cruiser are at the heart of the classic SUV market, which is booming as Millennials and Gen Xers begin to participate in the old car hobby. According to Hagerty, the popular insurer of classic cars and trucks, these younger enthusiasts are fast changing the demographics of the hobby, once the exclusive territory of Baby Boomers and their parents.

But which used Land Cruiser makes the most sense for you? Toyota has been building the Land Cruiser since the 1950s, and it has changed quite a bit over the decades. There are many different generations of the SUV, from the original FJ40, which was first imported into the United States in the mid-1960s, to the latest version of the 200 Series, a model that’s still available at your local Toyota dealer.

With so many different versions to choose from, there’s quite a bit to consider before you purchase a secondhand Land Cruiser. Although every Land Cruiser features four-wheel drive with a low range transfer case, and they all have a well earned reputation for being among the toughest and most off-road capable SUVs ever made, each generation of Land Cruiser is very different than the other. Each has its own appeal and its own trouble spots buyers should be aware of.
Continue reading

It would have been rare a few years ago for hybrids to show up on most used-car shopping lists. There weren’t that many in the market, and there wasn’t much choice.

Toyota’s hybrids dominated, with gas-electric models from Honda and Ford in distant second and third place.

But stuff happens. Things change.

Today there’s a wide selection of used hybrids available, from almost every manufacturer. Because of their often-stellar fuel efficiency, plus the high-end trim and standard equipment levels among many of the more recent models, they are cars – and crossovers, SUVs, and trucks – that most every used-car shopper should consider.

Continue reading

According to data gathered by the U.S. Department of Transportation, on average, American drivers add 13,476 miles to their odometers each year. With that much driving, it’s easy for fuel costs to leave a notable dent in the pocketbook.

A vehicle’s gas mileage plays a crucial part in this equation. Mileage can vary dramatically from model to model, even among those within the same vehicle category. For this reason, Klipnik recommends taking a hard look at fuel economy if you’re considering a vehicle purchase.

With that perspective in mind, we’ve put together a list of five impressive used vehicles that offer superior fuel economy. Different buyers have varying requirements when shopping for a vehicle, so in addition to its gas mileage, we’ve included each model’s pros and cons to help you decide if it’s the best choice for your needs.

Continue reading

While there are some excellent battery-powered vehicles like the new Chevrolet Bolt trickling into our garages, the good, old fashioned, oil pumping, octane swilling, internal combustion engine is still at the heart of the automotive experience. It has been ever since, some 130 years ago, Karl Benz bolted a one banger of his own design onto the back of a three-wheeled cart.

And it’s been a glorious run. Sure, there were low points, like the anemic power plants that wheezed through the 1970s while automakers struggled to cope with strict new emissions and fuel economy regulations. Anyone remember the 1975 Ford Granada? Its 4.1 liter inline six had a California variant that puttered out just 71 horsepower. Folks, that’s less than 20 horsepower per liter.

These days, though, your average minivan throws down 250 ponies and still gets nearly 30 highway MPG. Meanwhile, muscle cars like the Camaro ZL1 routinely deliver 600+ horses, and supercars are converging on the magic 1000 figure. These numbers would have boggled the mind not long ago — and likely would have caused poor Mr. Benz, whose motor wobbled out just two-thirds of a horse, to burst a mental gasket.

It’s clear that we’re in a golden age of engines. And that’s great news. Because who doesn’t want more power? Or more efficiency? Or both? The more great mills that are produced, the greater the chances that one will find its way into a budget-minded enthusiast’s heart… and driveway.

Which got us to thinking, what are the very best engines to be had in cars that most anyone can afford? The Klipnik brain trust gathered recently to hash it out. We gave ourselves just two simple rules: 1) keep the picks from within the last 25 years and 2) make them choices that can easily be attained for less than $25,000 — preferably much less.

Here are the ten exceptional motors that made our list (in alphabetical order by automaker).

Continue reading