Segment 10 The road to Rio de Janeiro. Wait, there is a road to Rio de Janeiro?
Connie in Bellingham, I would suggest a Jeep Cherokee XJ 1997 to 1999 with a 231 "Command-Trac", part-time only transfer case and auto transmission, 350,000 miles in not unheard of. You can get one for around $3500.00 150,000 miles in good condition. There is a great following of these SUV’s in the USA, Australia, Europe, China, and South America. These are very reliable and easy to work on. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeep_Cherokee_(XJ) there is an abundance (huge abundances) of aftermarket replacement and performance parts available. I would put a 3.5 inch lift (cost $) with full spring pack in back (-no more- without other modifications) and 31 inch tall tires, if you can afford it, get a long arm lift (cost $$ one that attaches to a new center cross member rather than the mono-frame) much better ride on and off road. Replace the CPS and the oil pressure sensors and any leaky seals before going. If you get electric windows replace the driver’s side switch panel with a new one. Have a good mechanic do a full check before buying. Get a roof rack and/or an extra spare tire bumper with tow hitch and recovery points as well as a front tow hitch or replacement bumper. The stock bumpers are inferior. Total cost $5000.00 to $65000.00 depending on replacement /upgrades. The best part is there are 4X4 and Cherokee clubs from Alaska to Argentina that would be happy to help a fellow xj owner. (Other upgrade to consider a selectable locker in the front and a lunch box locker in the rear (due to the week Dana 35 rear end don’t want to over stress it) This done you will be able to go anywhere you want Including some of the world’s most notoriously difficult and sometimes dangerous roads. And I and many others would be jealous to go on your adventure. You should blog about it. There is also a diesel version sold in Europe and I believe also in South America. And as for the YJ/ZJ Grand Cherokee they have more creature comforts but an unreliable transmission.