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.
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.
Taree-based Jacana Motorhomes is best known for its conversions to 4×4 trucks, but the company is now employing its expertise in smaller vehicles. The Hiker is based on Toyota’s new HiAce van and can be ordered in 2WD and 4WD configurations.
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
Many industries are interested in zero-pollution electric vehicles – particularly underground mining – and the ubiquitous LandCruiser ute is an obvious candidate for electrification.
Released in mid-2018 the HSV-modified Chevrolet Silverado 2500 range comes with truck-diesel grunt.
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
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 Defender replacement and will be available in 2022.
Toyota has unveiled the next-generation LandCruiser 300 Series wagon in a global debut held in the 70th anniversary year of the legendary nameplate. We’ll see the new model here in late 2021, but dealers have been taking orders for months.
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.
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.
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.