As far as what makes one better than the other, I'll kick in my thoughts. For me, a 2001 and newer was the first breakdown. 01' and newer has the LATCH system for car seats, and that was important to me. Then came the 5spd over the 4spd, so that took me into the 03'-07' range. Then, price, mileage and anything that wasn't white.
If I could have found one without NAV, I probably would have went that route, but they're hard to find. The NAV MFD is also connected to the HVAC controls and if it ever takes a dump, it's an expensive fix. In due time, someone will come up with a retrofit kit (there are a few working on it). However, I wouldn't let that deter me from an 03'-07' because of the other things I wanted.
Originally, I bought this to camp with the kids and go fishing. My mod list was pretty small. Now, I'm so far down the wormhole that it's almost not even like driving a 100 anymore. It's not the smooth 15mpg cushy wagon that it used to be.
I have no issues going up and down I-70 with the 5spd trans, even on 35's. If I was towing something heavy, then maybe I'd regear. I notice the shift points are slightly off, but it's not stopping me from keeping up. My fuel mileage is in the 11-13 range. If I travel 2 or 3 days all offroad, I get 6-9mpgs.
ATRAC has taken me everywhere I wanted to go. I've followed fully locked 100's with no issues. Surely there is going to be something that I can't get over that someone in a locked 100 can. But, I'm pretty happy with where I've taken it so far.
You're more than welcome to take it up and down the road. It'd be even better if someone with a stock or semi-stock one would let you do the same. Good comparison.
Last edited by Fishy; 07-01-2013 at 10:35 AM.