What Full-Size SUV Would You Buy for Under $8,000?

There’s been a dilemma at my house this week. Every time I step out the door and need to take a bevy of children to lacrosse practice or Costco or wherever else our daily adventures lead, I’m faced with a choice between two vehicles:

A 2004 Chevy Tahoe or a 1999 Toyota Land Cruiser.

Only the Toyota is mine. The Tahoe is on loan for the week. Both offer room for five kids and two adults (three of the kids are, like the Tahoe, on loan for the week) with just enough room to spare for some practice equipment and changes of clothes.

Neither SUV offers the cutting-edge technology or panache of modern versions of the Tahoe and Land Cruiser, but their affordability and work-a-holic attitudes make either one a solid choice for a buyer who needs a full-size SUV but has the budget for a used Civic.

The Tahoe and Land Cruiser both have a reputation for running forever. There are over 650,000 combined miles on the two rigs parked in my driveway. The Tahoe has a staggering 370,000, and the Land Cruiser a comparatively few 287,000. I’d trust either of them on a cross-country road trip.

The Land Cruiser feels more solid to drive and is the SUV I’d trust to keep my family safe in any weather conditions.

The Tahoe tends to feel a bit floaty behind the wheel, but its seats are more comfortable and better suited for long trips.

While all Land Cruisers come standard with 4-wheel drive and enough off-road chops to handle any adventure anywhere in the world, shoppers need to be wary of Tahoes, because they come standard with rear-wheel drive. That could come as quite a surprise to a buyer who doesn’t look for the 4WD controls until the snow flies.

Both utes offer about 100 cubic feet of cargo space with all seats down, but the Tahoe can out-pull the Land Cruiser with a towing capacity between 7,400 and 7,700 pounds. The Toyota is rated for 6,500 pounds.

Used Tahoes that are more than a decade old can easily be found for less than $8,000. Cars like my nearly two-decade-old Land Cruiser can be had for under $6,000.

For $8,000, would you buy a used Tahoe, Land Cruiser, or another full-size family SUV?


Find Certified Pre-Owned Cars and Used Cars in your area at CarGurus.

Used Chevrolet Tahoe
Used Toyota Land Cruiser
Used Honda Civic


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