Ok here's the thing about choosing a 4X4. You
have to have a general idea of what you are going to do with your new toy. Do you
want it for the mudd, trail riding, or rock crawling. If you want something for the
mudd, I have found the the longer the wheelbase the better. This is just my personal
opinion. I have had many different 4X4's and the one that performed the best in
to lift. If you don't know the difference between leafs and coils click here and this page explains it. Anyway cheap to lift, strong running gear and parts can be found at most junk yards. This is a very good truck for the mudd. If you go to buy one expect to pay between $1,000 and $7,000 depending on the condition of the truck. Now if you don't have to stick with a 3/4 ton by any means, it's just the beefier the running gear and motor the less likely you are to break something. A 1/2 ton will be just as much fun to play in.
Rock crawlers. If you want to buy an out of the box option, meaning something stock to do rock crawling with, you might want to reconsider. Rock crawler are pretty much all custom. Generally what I do when building a rock crawler is buy an inexpensive Jeep and a 3/4 ton Chevy 4X4 and merge the two. You want the Jeep for the frame and body, but you need the Chevy for everything else. Rip out the motor in the jeep and drop in at minimum a 307 Chevy motor. Then remove the stock jeep axles and sling up a set of 3/4 ton or bigger chevy axles. Replace the stock gears in the Chevy axles with as low as you can go. One problem you might run into is the length of the driveshafts. Any local driveshaft company can take care of this problem for you. High travel shocks are another option that I recommend. Unlike muddin you need as much wheel travel as you can get. You want those tire to stay on the ground even if you are at a 60 degree slope. Now building a rock crawler
can get pretty expensive. Lockers front and rear are pretty much mandatory. Large tires to make sure you have plenty of ground clearance and skid plates. Some people don't like the skid plates but I have found that when you need the front tires to pull you over a rock, it will slide easier on a skid plate than the chunk. Rock crawlers are generally designed with only one person in mind, the driver. If you are wanting to make it a group effort in offroading, such as muddin, you can go for something with a little larger capacity.
This is where SUV's come in. Bronco's, Blazers, Scouts, Jeeps, Suburbans, Yukons, etc. Most of these will seat 4 comfortably. But with some of them you have the problem of being inside. If you are looking to go muddin, I prefer something that the top will come off. Now most of the models 78 and newer have a removeable half top. I figure if I'm going to have a removeable top, I'm going all the way to the winshield. Their are several models that have a fully removable hard top. They include 67-72 Blazers, 66-77 Bronco's, All year model Jeep CJ's, most International Scouts, and last but not least the Landcruiser. These can be a lot of fun. There's nothing like getting covered in mudd while still sitting in the vehicle. Most all are easy to lift due to leifs all the way around and most of the above vehicle parts are carried by you local Advanced Auto Parts or AutoZone. If you have any further questions about choosing or building a 4 wheel drive just drop us a line and we'll get back to ya. Happy 4Wheeling.