Okay, it is time to get started on this journey and the first piece of business at hand is choosing an appropriate Overlanding vehicle. My current vehicle, up until now has been a 2018 Ram 1500 equiped with the 5.7 Hemi V8.
It has been a great vehicle but it has one problem, it is 2 wheel drive. It does have a limited slip in the rear differential but for what I intend to do, I feel that I need rear 4 wheel drive.
Choosing A Vehicle For Overlanding
You will find that the vast majority of people who Overland will choose a four wheel drive vehicle. There are a few people out there who successfully wheel 2WD vehicles, but this is a huge limitation. You really need 4WD.
Almost any four wheel drive vehicle out there can be converted successfully into a good Overlander. There is no perfect ride and I have spent countless hours exploring the internet looking at people’s builds. There is one thing that I feel is a necessity though and that is a 2 speed transfer case.
4Lo will give you the power that you need off-road and the ability to slow speed finesse your way over obstacles.
So what vehicle did I decide on? For me, it is a Jeep Wrangler. This decision mainly comes down to personal taste as I have owned many Jeeps in the past. It has been about 10 years since my last one but I have owned 2 TJ Wranglers, a YJ Wrangler and a ZJ Grand Cherokees. All were great vehicles.
From a performance standpoint, it can be hard to argue the offroad prowess that a Jeep Wrngler has. Solid front and rear axles, high clearance and terrific breakover and departure angles.
There is one thing that Jeep lacks though and that is storage space. The 4 door Jeep has a very tiny rear storage compartment and when Overlanding, it will fill up fast. Oh well, I am a Jeep guy so I am going to deal with it.
It’s New To Me
For me, a new Jeep was just out of the question. I just could not swing the purchase of a vehicle in the mid 30’s with all of the negative equity that I have.
You see, while my truck is a 2018, I took delivery of it in January of 2019. Got a great deal but after only 9 months, I had a ton of negative equity.
No, if I was going to get into a Jeep, I was going to have to be a little craftier and would need to look at the used market. So, I began stalking Jeeps.
If you have ever priced used Jeeps, you know two things. They hold their value and they sell quickly. That is a huge problem when looking for a deal but I kept looking.
Eventually I found one Jeep that had been sitting at a dealer for about a month and just was not moving. They had already dropped the price from their initial asking amount by about 4000 dollars but I felt their might be more.
When I got to the dealer I noticed the two things that were keeping this Jeep from selling. You will notice one right away.
Color. This is a love it or hate it color. It is called Hypergreen and it is a color that just does not occur in nature. Personally, I loved it but I could understand that for some it would be a deal breaker.
So, what was the other problem?
Manual transmission. Remember these? Really uncommon to find one outside of a sports car these days. Automatic transmissions have gotten better and so most cars come with them now. In fact, only 1 in 5 people can even drive a manual anymore. It is a lost art and young people in particular have completely lost it. With Jeep Wranglers being a vehicle for younger people (and this old guy) it was a tough sale for the dealer.
To make a long story short, I made a very low offer and demanded a high trade in price for my truck. Initially they said no and I walked.
As I was strapping in my two three year olds in (yes I took 2 toddlers to a dealer, pitty me), the sales manager comes running out. I ended up getting this Jeep for 2000 dollars below dealer trade in value and got 1000 dollars more for my trade than anyone else was offering. Pretty sure that the dealer lost money on this one but they were happy to get rid of the Jeep.
Sizing It Up
It is good to be in a Jeep again but some things are certainly going to have to change.
The Jeep is stock except for an aftermarket Kenwood head unit (that I hate) and I believe it has aftermarket headlights.
Those tires just look incredibly small under that thing don’t they.
On a good note, it drives great and still has about 6 months of factory warranty left. By driving great I, of course, means that it drives as designed.
Coming from a Hemi powered V8, this 3.6L V6 is a dog. That may be a good thing though because it was real easy to lay into the pedal on the Ram.
Car seats also fit well. I have two in forward facing and one in a booster. If you are in the market, 3 across work in a 4 door Wrangler although you need to be a bit choosy with your car seat choices. That is Captain America and The Hulk by the way.
A Jeep doesn’t stay stock for long so I fully intend on making a few modifications very soon. I need to decide on a lift and what tires that I want to run.
It can’t be built just for the trail though. This will be no trailer queen and living in Texas, there is very little public land. This means some long highway drives will be in my future. Big Bend is 8 hours away and anything else I want to do will probably take me out of state.
For now, I am thinking a slightly aggressive set of All Terrain tires and a mild 1 or 2 inch lift. I do not want to change the suspension geometry too much and run into any issues that will affect the highway ride.