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.
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.
There are several different 4WD drive systems in the marketplace and many 4WD buyers are confused about the relative merits of each type.
4×4 Motorhomes Australia is part of the Bus 4×4 Group, the Brisbane based secondary manufacturer of 4WD Toyota Coasters and 4WD Toyota Commuters, in addition to coach building on Iveco 4WD models.
Bus4x4 – best known for its 2WD to 4WD conversions for mining company transport – has introduced a high-ground clearance version of the HiAce range that’s also fitted with a two-speed transfer case and full-time 4WD.
HEAVY DUTY OFF-ROAD VEHICLES
Russia’s GAZ trucks are well known in eastern Europe for their off road ability. The 4×4 Sadko Next Trackmaster truck arrived in the Australian market in July 2021, introduced by local off-road truck specialist company, AAV4x4.
Brilliant off road credentials and more than twice the payload of a ute ensured good business for this capable machine. A greatly expanded range was announced in Europe in late 2019, but has suffered pre-release dramas and has no scheduled release date in Australia.
If you’ve priced a built-up motorhome recently, you’re possibly still recovering from the shock. We’re not suggesting for a moment that the pricing isn’t justified in producing a professional and labour intensive end result, but there are quite a few of us capable of a DIY job.
The Austral slide-on pod range is made in China, but the electrical and plumbing work is done at Austral’s facility in Queensland, ensuring Australian compliance. We caught up with the 4.2-metre truck-mount model at the 2021 Camping and Caravan Show in Sydney.
The Forester is a great on-road performer, with quite good fire trail capability. The 2016 Forester had some styling changes, a quieter, more comfortable cabin and upgraded instruments. In September 2018 Subaru launched the new generation of its top-selling Forester All-Wheel Drive wagon.
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.
UTES & CAB CHASSIS – LARGE
The Ram has been Cummins-powered since 1989. It’s taken nearly 30 years to make it Down Under as RHD-converted ute, but the wait has been worth it. The latest model was released in September 2021.
The Toyota LandCruiser has been the Australian bush’s favourite workhorse since Leslie Thiess (later Sir Leslie) introduced the first Land Cruisers to Australia in the 1970s. Evolution, not revolution, is the name of the game, but the 70 Series has now become much more complex..
UTES & CAB CHASSIS – MEDIUM
The revitalised SsangYong Musso dual cab ute was released in December 2018, following lacklustre sales of its predecessors. A new look was incorporated in mid-2021.
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.
WAGONS – LARGE
Lexus has unveiled the 2022 LandCruiser 300-based LX that combines all the ‘fruit’ from the top-shelf ‘Cruiser with Lexus’ additional equipment and legendary fit and finish. Deliveries Down Under are scheduled for mid-2022.
It’s no secret that the 2020 Defender was new bodywork and interior on a Range Rover / Land Rover chassis. The INEOS Grenadier is a true Defender replacement and will be available in 2022.
WAGONS – MEDIUM
Isuzu Ute Australia released the anticipated seven-seat wagon version of its D-Max ute range in late 2013. It scored a performance boost and specification changes in 2017 and upgrades in 2018 and 2019. The third-generation MU-X was launched in July 2021.
Jeep gave the Grand Cherokee a facelift and equipment upgrades for 2014. Highlights were a new eight-speed automatic transmission and more grunt and flexibility. Trailhawk versions arrived in mid-2017; supercharged 6.2L V8s in late 2017 and 2020 and a Summit model in late 2019. A three-row model was released I the uSA in 2021.
WAGONS – SMALL
The Suzuki Jimny was the replacement for the little Sierra and had more market appeal than its predecessor did. While being essentially as box-shaped as the Sierra the Jimny had much more style about it.
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.