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4WD BUYERS GUIDE

Buying the right 4WD is critical and in this Buyers Guide, we highlight the strengths and weaknesses of new and used wagons, utes and heavy duty off-road vehicles. Also in the Buyers Guide are motorhomes and campervans. Many of the vehicles tested have video reports to let you see how they perform on and off road; and some also include tow tests. There are also suggestions for desirable bush modifications.

LATEST ARTICLES

BUYING ADVICE

The electric rear axle just arrived

The electric rear axle just arrived

Magna International Inc already supplies major vehicle makers – including Mercedes-Benz – with powertrain components and has developed electrification capabilities to help automakers achieve a zero-emission future. The latest initiative is  Magna’s new eBeam technology.

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4X4 CAMPERVANS

Trakka Trakkadu All-Terrain

Trakka Trakkadu All-Terrain

The Trakkadu All-Terrain model has an automated transmission that we reckon many buyers will want. We checked out three of them, on- and off-road.

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DIY campervan conversion

DIY campervan conversion

An Australian manufacturer and tradesman – and also a grey nomad – is demonstrating that fun and comfortable family life on the road doesn’t have to be expensive.

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HEAVY DUTY OFF-ROAD VEHICLES

OKA

OKA

Japanese 4×4 light trucks dominate this category, but their shortcomings leave pace for niche marketers, including the once-troubled OKA Motor Company. As of mid-2020 a new Australian-owned OKA All terrain Vehicles organisation has given this marque much-needed revitalisation.

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Crew cab safety and comfort issues

Crew cab safety and comfort issues

Japanese 4×4 trucks from Isuzu, Fuso and Hino have missed out on many of the dynamic safety initiatives that their 4×2 brethren enjoy. Also, there are glaring crew-safety issues with all Japanese 4WD truck crew cabs.

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4X4 MOTORHOMES

Suncamper Sherwood Conqueror

Suncamper Sherwood Conqueror

Sherwoods have almost always been built on Toyota chassis and the 2021 Conqueror was the first to ride on the latest generation of the SR5 4WD HiLux. Our mates at iMotorhome had a preview.

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Huber/AL-KO electric chassis and trailers are coming

Huber/AL-KO electric chassis and trailers are coming

Well known light commercial chassis and suspension maker AL-KO has teamed up with German electric propulsion specialist company, Huber Automotive, to produce new hybrid chassis for light commercials and motorhomes, and an electric trailer chassis.

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SOFT-ROADERS

Subaru Outback

Subaru Outback

The Outback drifted somewhat from its off-roading roots in recent years, but the 2015 model had enhanced 4WD capability. Upgrades were introduced in March 2016 and in March 2021.

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Land Rover Discovery Sport

Land Rover Discovery Sport

Land Rover Discovery Sport was the first member of the new Discovery family and featured optional 5+2 seating in a footprint no larger than that of the previous Freelander 2. Mild hybrid versions were announced in 2020.

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UTES & CAB CHASSIS – LARGE

HSV Silverado

HSV Silverado

Released in mid-2018 the HSV-modified Chevrolet Silverado 2500 range comes with truck-diesel grunt.

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Electric LandCruisers

Electric LandCruisers

Many industries are interested in zero-pollution electric vehicles – particularly underground mining – and the ubiquitous LandCruiser ute is an obvious candidate for electrification.

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UTES & CAB CHASSIS – MEDIUM

Great Wall Cannon

Great Wall Cannon

The renamed Great Wall 2017 Steed model had greatly improved specifications. A single cab model was released in early 2018 and the replacement model, in China, in August 2019. The Cannon was launched in Australia in 2020.

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HSV Silverado 1500

HSV Silverado 1500

The Chevrolet Silverado 1500 has been given the right hand drive treatment by GMSV. Like all US-market ‘1500’ series utes it has limited payload of around 700kg, but can tow up to 4500kg.

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WAGONS – LARGE

Bowler CSP

Bowler CSP

Unless you’re heavily into off-road racing and rallies, you probably haven’t heard of Bowler, figuring it’s not what the Aussie cricket team needs, but reliable batsmen. Bowler is a specialist UK 4WD builder, producing vehicles that use old-design Land Rover Defender panels.

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Grenadier

Grenadier

In 2017, INEOS chairman Jim Ratcliffe, a car enthusiast and experienced adventurer, identified a gap in the market for a stripped back, utilitarian, hard-working 4×4, engineered for modern day compliance and reliability.  It didn’t hurt that Jim Ratcliffe is also Britain’s richest man.

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WAGONS – MEDIUM

Mahindra XUV500 seven-seat wagon

Mahindra XUV500 seven-seat wagon

Mahindra is best known for its sturdy, great value for money Pik Up ute range, but the global-scale Indian company also makes a bargain-priced seven-seat wagon.

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SsangYong Rexton

SsangYong Rexton

The 2019 SsangYong Rexton has been released with optimism from SsangYong Australia that it will do much better in the market than its predecessors did in the past.

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WAGONS – SMALL

Ol’ Number One

Ol’ Number One

This Land Cruiser FJ25 was the very first Toyota 4WD purchased by Leslie Thiess. Enthusiasts refer to this model as the great grandfather of Toyota’s 70 Series, reckons Jim Gibson.

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Mitsubishi Pajero 3 Door

Mitsubishi Pajero 3 Door

Mitsubishi’s re-introduced three-door wagon lasted only four years, from 2007 until 2011. The current-shape three-door was available overseas from the introduction of the NM monocoque-body-chassis model in 2000, but wasn’t brought here until the 2006 NS re-skinned model.

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