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.
Every ute maker claims at least a nominal one-tonne payload figure and more than three tonnes trailer towing capacity for several 4WD utes in its range, but you need to check spec sheets and real-world tare weights for the true position.
Every vehicle maker is now committed to electrification in some form on all new models. For Australian-market 4WDs it’s a certainty that we’ll see ‘real’ 4WDs – vehicles with true off-road capability – in increasing numbers in the next few years.
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 EtelligentForce technology.
There are several different 4WD drive systems in the marketplace and many 4WD buyers are confused about the relative merits of each type.
The success of the Peugeot 2008 DKR race machine in two Dakar events has prompted some off-road enthusiasts to suggest that there may be a place for a 2WD to challenge the accepted ability of a 4WD for off-road touring. It’s not that simple.
Fuel getting into petrol and diesel engine sumps isn’t a new problem, but it’s now being seen in brand new, not worn, engines. Manufacturers keep capped price servicing as cheap as possible by extending oil drain periods, but fuel-diluted engine oil can destroy your engine.
A used 4WD can save you thousands, but there are some tricks of the trade you need to be aware of.
Nearly all European soft-roaders now come with temporary spare wheels, run-flat tyres or no spare and a can of tyre inflation gas and sealant. In Australia, that’s dangerous we believe.
Don’t take any notice of TV ads showing soft-roaders tearing through beach-front salt water. Do it and you’re certain to void your warranty and you could be on the path to an expensive recovery or total loss.
Although today’s utes and tray-backs look similar in configuration to those of the early 2000s there have been a dramatic changes under the skin. Yesterday’s ute-purchasing criteria no longer apply.
There are contesting claims as to the origin of the first ‘ute’ and some people reckon it’s an Aussie invention.
It’s all very well loading your vehicle up with accessories, but it’s not so easy getting their value correctly assessed and insured. Only two companies we found stand out from the crowd.
Most people are confused about vehicle finance packages, so we’ve done our best to clarify and simplify the situation.
So you’ve decided to get into the 4WD scene, or you’re upgrading and you’re wondering what you should buy. Get what you need, not necessarily what you want.
We’re so used to living with the internal combustion engine, be it petrol, diesel or gas-fuelled, that we’ve come to accept its shortcomings without much thought.
If you shop around the used vehicle sites you’ll find that it’s possible to pick up a pre-loved luxury 4WD wagon for the same money you’d shell out for a new base or mid-spec machine.