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2005 Ten Best 4x4 Vehicles - 10 Best Buys In Four-Wheel Drive

Jeep View
Sean P. Holman | Writer
Posted September 1, 2005
Photographers: Four Wheeler Staff

Four Wheeler's Editors Pick America's Best 4x4s

Having evaluated four-wheel-drive vehicles for more than 42 years, we at Four Wheeler consider ourselves the authority of the four-wheel-drive market. As the authority, we feel it is our responsibility to look at all of the vehicles currently available for the 2005 model year and choose the best out-of-the-box four-wheelers for you, our readers. The winners of each category are not solely chosen on price, but rather from a mix of criteria that starts with off-road capability and compares that against other vehicles in their class, and how they stack up against each other when value, equipment, versatility, and overall attributes are considered. In a nutshell, we have selected the vehicles that will get you on the trail quicker and best lend themselves to aftermarket upgrades. Our staff nominated the field and took the debate to the conference room where we arrived at the consensus you see here; Four Wheeler's 2005 10 Best Buys in Four-Wheel Drive.

Who can argue with a Jeep Wrangler for best out-of-the-box compact SUV? It has been the standard of the four-wheeling world since your grandfather thumbed through the pages of Four Wheeler back in the day. Add the Rubicon package with beefier axles, 4.56 gears, 31-inch Goodyear MT/R tires, and lockers front and rear, and you have a solid foundation for a great trail rig. Not much discussion had to take place between staffers on this pick.
Others Considered: None

Vehicle/model: Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
Estimated price: $28,125

ENGINE
Type: 4.2L I-6
Horsepower @ rpm: 190 @ 4,600
Torque @ rpm: 235 @ 3,200
EPA city/highway mpg: 15/19

DRIVETRAIN
Transmission: Six-speed manual/four-speed automatic
Transfer case: NV241 Rock-Trac
Transfer case: ratio 4.00:1
Axle ratio: 4.11:1

SUSPENSION
Front: Solid axle, coil springs
Rear: Solid axle, coil springs

WHEELS AND TIRES
Wheels, base: 16x8-inch alloy
Tires, base: 31-inch Goodyear MTR

BRAKES
Front: Disc/ABS
Rear: Disc/ABS

DIMENSIONS AND CAPACITIES
Wheelbase, in.: 93.4
Length, in.: 154.9
Width, in.: 68.3
Height, in.: 71.2
Curb weight, lb.: 3,832
Fuel capacity, gal.: 19
Ground clearance, in.: 8.6
Seating: 4
Towing capacity, lb.: 2,000

The first-generation Xterra catered to those who felt that SUVs had become too refined, outgrowing their original rough and tumble, go-anywhere mission. Now in its second generation, the Xterra is back and more enthusiast-friendly than ever, especially when equipped with the Off Road package, which adds 33-inch BFGoodrich tires, Bilstein shocks, front and rear limited slip, and a driver-selectable rear locker. Also figure in Nissan's robust F-Alpha platform on which it's based, and nothing else in its class offers these wheeling credentials for the money. Some on our staff consider it to be a modern-day XJ Cherokee.
Others Considered: Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota 4Runner

Vehicle/model: Nissan Xterra
Estimated price: $23,450

ENGINE
Type: 4.0L V-6
Horsepower @ rpm: 265 @ 5,600
Torque @ rpm: 284 @ 4,000
EPA city/highway mpg: 16/22

DRIVETRAIN
Transmission: Six-speed manual/five-speed automatic
Transfer case: Part-time two-speed
Transfer case: ratio 2.56:1
Axle ratio: 3.23:1

SUSPENSION
Front: IFS, double-wishbone, stabilizer bar
Rear: Solid axle, leaf springs, stabilizer bar

WHEELS AND TIRES
Wheels, base: 16-inch steel
Tires, base: P265/70R16 BFGoodrich Rugged Trail T/A

BRAKES
Front: Disc/ABS
Rear: Disc/ABS

DIMENSIONS AND CAPACITIES
Wheelbase, in.: 106.3
Length, in.: 178.7
Width, in.: 72.8
Height, in.: 74.9
Curb weight, lb.: 4,382
Fuel capacity, gal.: 21.1
Ground clearance, in.: 9.5
Seating: 5
Towing capacity, lb.: 5,000

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