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Need help buying my first car (off-road & daily drive)


taz911

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Hello everyone! 

As per the title, I'm planning to buy a car for myself that can be used as a daily and as a decent off-roader. I've been researching for a while and have read many amazing posts here.

Based on my newly acquired knowledge & my budget of around 30-35K AED; my top choice so far is a Pajero 3.8 V6 LWB 2012 & onwards (to avoid the upshifting issue in the prior models). Apart from this, I also saw some ads for Toyota Prado 2000s, Land Cruisers from 2000s and even the Lexus LX470 but haven't researched as much as I have about the Pajero. The main reason I always brush them aside are because I think the pajero will be less than 10 year old as compared to 20 years on the other options. 

Meanwhile, I've already looked at a few cars through some dealers, some with bad paint and some with really bad transmission all almost priced above 35K. I gave up on these guys and started searching more thoroughly on FB marketplace and got in touch with some owners selling their Pajeros. Generally, they are around 150K-190K KMs range and have been maintained fairly & are priced around 32-33K AED.

I've also looked into offroading upgrades: tyres, rims, suspensions, skid plates, bumper trims and what not, I will be putting in some money every month or two while joining a beginner drive with the stock. 

One more thing to keep in mind, I also like to go on road trips with my wife and 2 year old so comfort & fuel average is also something I'd like to factor in. I know the pajero is not the best but its still something I can work with so thats that. 

Given all of the information above, I would love the community's advice about what's the best car for my budget and my needs. There will be many follow up questions about garage's or even searching cars but I want to be 100% sure I'm looking for the best option!

Thanks in advance! 


TLDR: In 30-35K aed, whats the best 4x4 car I can buy to use as a daily, as an off-roader and for road trips

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Hi @taz911 ! You’ve done your homework well so far. I would totally agree on the Pajero to be the best option as per your budget. The 3.8 is more powerful and actually more economical in fuel compared with the 3.5 from what I’ve heard.
 

Another option would be an Xterra but prices are a bit overinflated right now because of the off-road season. They are more powerful but very basic in interior trim and a Pajero is a better daily driver imho.

A Pathfinder might also be a decent option, the older boxy model, not the later models with horrendous low bumpers 

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4 hours ago, taz911 said:

used as a daily and as a decent off-roader

For these specific criteria in your budget, I would highly vote for Xterra as Fredy also pointed the same. Simply because they are a very good offroader in stock shape and much better than Pajero, especially for long hill climbs.

You as a beginner might not understand the value of a long hill climb now, but soon after 3-6 months in offroading you will value that quality. Pajero being LWB is heavier than Xterra which is kind of a medium wheel base (Not SWB, Nor LWB). Also, Xterra is slightly more powerful than Pajero, so this makes Xterra's power-to-weight ratio much better than Pajero's.

For the price, this might be an inch expensive, but if you are ready to wait for a month or two, you will get good deals during the summer months very easily.

Last but not least, whichever 4X4 you buy, make sure it's not previously off-road driven, so you can actually off-road with peace of mind. Many or rather most 4X4 have been extensively abused while off-roading and when they become expensive to maintain for off-roading, owners trash them for dirt cheap pricing.

So look for a car that has no big tires or AT tires, offroad lights, roof rack, offroad flag bracket, bash plate etc.

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Pajero all the way!!!! Totally agree and disagree ! If you really want to enjoy what off-roading is about! Go for pajero 3.8! There is nothing fun than riding a recognized underdog and having the luxury of a full fledged SUV!

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Thanks for the detailed responses! 

Even after looking at the Xterra, I'm inclining towards the pajero as one of the core reasons I decided to go for an SUV was 7 seats. I understand they aren't full blown seats but the space is important as I will have my family/in-laws travelling to Dubai every now and then. 

I also understand that there's a huge power difference between the pajero and the xterra but I can't seem to like how the xterra looks even with decent mods!!? (I'm also a sucker for looks) 

I have a few viewings scheduled today. If the toyota, LC and Lexus are not worthy options I think I will stick to a Pajero 3.8.

My next query is about the season: As I don't have a car rn so I keep renting through ekar/udrive and we use cabs spending around ~2ish K AED every month which may be around 4-5 K by June. Will I be saving more in the off-season? If its a similar amount that I'll be saving I'd rather buy now and be a part of some newbie drives before the season is gone. I understand I'll be spending on fuel/repairs too but that's going to be true later too. My daily mileage to work and back is very low(not even 15kms back & forth)

Is it going to be a higher discount that this? Should I really wait given the maths :P 

3 hours ago, GauravSoni said:

Pajero all the way!!!! Totally agree and disagree ! 

LOOOL :D Care to explain what this means :D 

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With 7 seat requirement, Pajero is indeed well suited for age, cost, resale and performance.

A price drop in summer might be 5-10% not a big dip, but it also opens a floor for a lot more choices for road-driven vehicles.

However, if it was for Xterra, it's worth the wait to really find road-driven Xterra (as they are getting rare now), but that's not the case with Pajero and you may find clean road-driven Pajero very easily at any time.

Just make sure to stay away from Pajero models that have upshifting issues as that will make your offroading experience more challenging. Maybe @GauravSoni and @Frederic can shed more light on the exact model year (which I don't rem correctly).

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32 minutes ago, Gaurav said:

With 7 seat requirement, Pajero is indeed well suited for age, cost, resale and performance.

A price drop in summer might be 5-10% not a big dip, but it also opens a floor for a lot more choices for road-driven vehicles.

However, if it was for Xterra, it's worth the wait to really find road-driven Xterra (as they are getting rare now), but that's not the case with Pajero and you may find clean road-driven Pajero very easily at any time.

Just make sure to stay away from Pajero models that have upshifting issues as that will make your offroading experience more challenging. Maybe @GauravSoni and @Frederic can shed more light on the exact model year (which I don't rem correctly).

The Pajeros pre-2011 seem to have the upshift issues from what I recalled. Easy to test before buying is to put in 1st gear and just floor it ;) 

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@Frederic my 2014 pajero had the up shift issue.. and I’ve had conflicting information about which models have or are free from this issue… @taz911 best is frederic suggested ; to floor on 1st gear!! 
 

 

On 4/1/2023 at 4:16 PM, taz911 said:

LOOOL :D Care to explain what this means :D 

I agree that pajero are little underpowered than the X , however it’s the skill that counts in the end! Additionally it’s a perfect family car for weekend getaway! Can carry everything u need for days’ of camping for the full family. 
The flip side is expensive spare parts. 
 

with few modifications to engine oil cooling and bash plates, you are ready to roll on 80% of dunes in UAE. 

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Thanks so much for the advices! @Gaurav, @Frederic & @GauravSoni!! 

Given everything I a sticking to the Pajero- Sorry to pathfinders and the X.. I just can't seem to like the look, I'll go with the energy that @GauravSoni has! :D

I test drove a 2012 3.8 Pajero yesterday and its 1st owner very well maintained car at 220K kms and the price is at 30 and still negotiable. 

First things first, I floored the car on D and it didn't upshift before hitting 6K RPM (Side note: the poor dude literally held on to everything he could and I saw his life flash right in front of him, he asked me to slow down and after a few moments said: I never knew it can make this sound). Anyways, Should I also re-check it in triptonic and floor it on the 1st gear?? 


In addition to that, I tried the car at 4H and 2H and felt extra engine noise at 4H when ever the revs were around 2-3K RPM like some extra friction. Slight alignment issue and the infamous steering vibration on braking at 100+ km/h. Other than that everything was fantastic. 

 

So far I really think its a great deal plus he will get the timing belt changed and a regular service done before we close the deal, (last was done at 120K kms). Let me know if you guys see any red flags? Plus please recommend a trusted garage for a detailed inspection before I move forward. I also would like to know what are some things I really need to get checked at the garage? All advice and tips are more than welcome!

Thanks again!! 

 

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