Oh, the stories I’ve heard…
There’s the one guy who bought a used Jeep Grand Cherokee and asked me to come over to help him learn how to put it into 4-wheel drive. Upon quick inspection, I determined this task was impossible, as the vehicle in question lacked an important feature: 4-wheel drive.
Yes, this fellow had purchased a rear-wheel-drive Grand Cherokee without knowing it. Upon discovering this fact, he experienced every negative emotion imaginable while spewing every bad word I’d ever heard and some I hadn’t.
Something similar happened to a friend of a friend, who proudly showed off his new-to-him Toyota Tacoma 4×4. I kept my mouth shut, contrary to my instincts to blurt it out to everyone, that his new “4×4” was really a PreRunner. In case you don’t know, that’s Toyota code for “looks like a 4×4, but isn’t.”
So, my CarGurus friends, when it comes time to shop for a 4×4, please make sure you take the time to get exactly what you expect.
Just because a certain model is known for having off-road chops doesn’t mean all versions of that model through all of history have 4-wheel drive. Yes, the are 2-wheel-drive versions of the Grand Cherokee and Tacoma, so make sure you know exactly what you’re buying.
True 4WD vehicles are typically RWD with the ability to lock in various stages of 4-wheel drive. These are the vehicles that can go almost anywhere. Most Grand Cherokees are 4WD, but beware of the occasional 2WD dressed up like its Trail-Rated brother.
Then there are the “crossovers” of the 4WD world, which aren’t 4WD at all. Typically, these vehicles are small SUVs built on a car frame with some kind of AWD system. That means all wheels can have power directed to them, but the driver has no input on when that happens. Be careful here too, though, because sometimes these vehicles might look like they’d have AWD, but are only front-wheel drive.
How can you tell for sure if the car you want has the AWD or 4WD system you want? The easiest way is to ask, and not just assume. You can also look for badging on the vehicle, interior controls and a rear differential. You wouldn’t think these things would need to be mentioned when discussing the purchase of used cars, but it’s obvious some people buy without looking and end up bringing home a vehicle that isn’t what they wanted.
Please, don’t be that guy!
Have you ever bought a car that didn’t have a feature you expected?