Here’s The Truth About Buying Used, Cheap, German Off-Roaders

It can be a great choice, if you make it wisely

If you’re in the market for an off-road rig, you’re painfully aware just how expensive new examples can be. Take our recent 2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, for example. It’s definitely one of the most capable off-roaders right off the lot, and its 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 engine makes it nothing short of indomitable when the going gets tough. For all that capability, though, you pay the princely sum of $64,000.

Or, if you’re like me and can’t afford anything remotely approaching that kind of figure — $64,000 for a Jeep? Not likely — then you’ll no doubt scour the used marketplaces far and wide to find a good deal. Some of you out there may buck the Jeep or Toyota trend and go with something different. Something…German. While most may think of German cars as Autobahn monsters, there are some solid choices when it comes to hitting the rocks as well. Be it a Mercedes-Benz G-Class, a Volkswagen Touareg, or even a Porsche Cayenne (maybe not a surprise, since it is related to the Touareg), you do have some great options, particularly if you look in the used market.

Our 2004 Volkswagen Touareg is remarkably capable, given its roots as a more road-friendly “family” SUV. [Photo: TFLcar]

There is some more planning involved

But, and there is a but here, it isn’t quite as straightforward as you may be thinking. While certain off-road focused SUVs like the Jeep Wrangler or Toyota 4Runner are all broadly capable off-road no matter the trim, the choices aren’t quite so clear-cut for some German SUVs. Take our 2004 Volkswagen Touareg, where we had to search high and low for a locking rear differential. Getting just the right combination to make it as off-road capable as you want may take some more fine tuning your shopping. That’s in contrast to some other choices, where you can pretty much buy whatever trim level fits your budget and know that it’s going to handle itself well off the beaten track.

In this video, though, Tommy outlines just how well used, cheap German off-roaders work when you do land on the right one. Again, our Touareg was $4,600 plus the cost of some decent BFGoodrich all-terrain tires. Other than that it’s bone stock, and it’s still seriously capable thanks to all the off-road kit. Add to that the fact that it has a V-8 engine, and it’s quite a compelling package for the money. Unlike a more utilitarian Wrangler you’d get for a similar budget, the Touareg still offers the comfort and equipment of a luxury SUV. Even buying our $22,000 Porsche Cayenne Turbo saves nearly two-thirds over a fully decked-out Wrangler.

So should you do it? Of course, it depends on your tastes and budget, but check out the video above to see Tommy’s points on getting a used German off-roader. Stay tuned to for more upcoming videos with the Touareg and the Cayenne!