I'm brand new to the forum and I apologize in advance if there is a thread exactly on point to my question, but I searched and didn't find one.
Here is the deal, I've just returned to the US after spending 5 and a half years working overseas. I spent most of that time in Saudi and in Dubai. Early on I learned that offroading on the weekends was a great way for me to stay sane. I started with what they call the Landcruiser Prado (similar to a Lexus GX470 without all the bells and whistles), then moved to a Landrover Defender 110.
I really enjoyed both those vehicles and thought they were both very capable with the right mods. However, now that I'm back to the USA I can't get either of those and am therefor looking for a new toy/ daily driver.
I think i've narrowed it down to either a jeep unlimited or an FJ cruiser. What's key to me is being able to seat 4 and still carry a decent amount of gear while being able to do just short of extreme off-roading (not into bolder climbing, but like to do just about everything else) We often took long camping trips into the desert (me my wife and 2 kids) and would like to continue those trips.
I'm looking for your thoughts in general on the Jeep vs. FJ argument (understanding that this is a Jeep forum and therefore expect jeep bias) and on whether it's worth spending the money for the Rubicon or if I would be better to add what it gives over the base jeep myself. I'll definitely be changing the bumpers, adding a lift, with taller tires, adding a winch, rock-sliders, will need a heavy-duty roof rack and prefer the ability to lock at least the front and rear diffs (center is nice too).
Thanks in advance for your thoughts and words of wisdom.
To give an idea of the kinds of mods I made to my Defender here are some of the changes from stock I made followed by some photos of my Prado and Defender.
--2 inch OME lift
--Devon 4x4 Steel Front bumper with bash plate
--Warn 8000lb competition winch with remote control and synthetic rope
--Custom rock sliders
--Full external Roll Cage
--Custom rear bumper with step
--ARB air lockers front and rear
--ARB air kit
--locking center chubby box
--black chequer plate for the wings.
--Frontrunner Roof Rack with custom mounting directly to the roll cage -- rack includes holder for 4 Jerry Cans and 1 spare tire and still has plenty of room for a roof-tent Also includes mount for a shovel and high-lift jack
--Custom rear ladder so you can easily put things on that roof rack
--Six - 16X9 Black Alloy Wheels with Cooper STT's 305/70/16 The two spares have never been used
--Extended wheel arches
--3M Window tinting
--2 Light-force 140s Spotlights (with room for two more)