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HEAVY DUTY OFF-ROAD VEHICLES

Most 4WDs are used for pleasure by their owners, but many vehicles have to work hard for their living, serving the community in off-road tasks, such as power and communication equipment maintenance and bush-fire fighting. Others pay their way in the Outback in agricultural, mining and construction work.

VW Crafter 4Motion

The all-Volkswagen Crafter is no longer a rebadged and repowered Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. The post-2018 Crafter is designed and made by VW and 4Motion models are available.

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Iveco Daily 4×4

Brilliant off road credentials and more than twice the payload of a ute ensured good early business for this machine. But transfer case dramas meant it was sold only into specific low-speed operations after 2019. A supposedly rectified model is due for release in 2024.

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Iveco T-Way

Although it’s been available in some markets for the past two years, Iveco revealed the Australian-market T-Way truck range at the 2023 Brisbane Truck Show. The T-Way 4×4 and 6×6 models replace the previous Trakker models.

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Light 4×4 truck cab/chassis

Light 4×4 truck cab/chassis are increasingly being preferred by tradies and government departments, over utes that have marginal payloads. We’ve updated what’s in the light-truck 4×4 cab/chassis market in 2023.

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Hino 300 Series 4×4

Hino chose the May 2017 Brisbane truck show to preview its forthcoming 4×4 light truck market competitor. The official release was in November and we were there for the fun. An automatic retro-fit option was announced in late 2018 and single tyre options became readily available in 2022.

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The first 4WD trucks Down Under

We tend to think that the 4WD truck was a post-World War II innovation, but the history of 4WD trucks goes way back, to before World War I. An unknown number of  very successful ‘Quad’ truck models were brought to Australia during and after WWI.

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AAV4x4 work trucks

This well known truck modifier converts Fuso, Isuzu and Hino single-cab and crew-cab 4×4 trucks into bush-suitable vehicles with single tyres front and rear, and a wide choice of other options.

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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

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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Isuzu’s upgraded NPS 300

We checked out the latest NPS 300 crew cab model and found many improvements over the original. In mid-2018 a two-pedal, automated manual transmission model was announced.

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Bush fire fighters need better equipment

The volunteers who risk their lives and give up their time to defend life and property from disaster deserve our highest praise and long-postponed remuneration as well. The under-funded bushfire effort in this country is a national disgrace.

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Isuzu NLS models

Isuzu NLS models

Isuzu Australia hasn’t dominated the local truck scene by accident, but by carefully analysing every possible market segment. The latest release is a ‘softer’ 4WD than the go-anywhere NPS, targetting customers who need a traction truck, not an expedition vehicle. 

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Scania P450XT 6×6

Scania is best known for its stylish on-highway vehicles, but the now VW-owned company has a rich history of off-road and military vehicles. The new P450XT model is a case in point.

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Automatic transmission light 4×4 trucks

It’s always amazed us that working-4×4 ute and light truck makers have stuck with manual transmissions, when all earthmoving gear and most heavy all wheel drive trucks have automatic transmissions. Thankfully, that scene is changing and there were three self-shifting light 4×4 trucks available in 2019.

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Mercedes-Benz new generation all-wheel drive trucks

Mercedes-Benz has released its new-generation all-wheel drive truck range, consisting of 4×4, 6×6 and 8×8 models. Mining, construction, remote maintenance, fertiliser spreading and off-road adventure travel are among the design applications for the new all-wheel drive Mercedes-Benz range.

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Iveco Eurocargo 4×4

Iveco is one of the world’s largest producers of off road vehicles, for civilian and military customers. The Eurocargo 4×4 is an all-terrain development of the 4×2 road-oriented medium truck range.

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Mercedes-Benz Zetros

Unashamedly military in appearance the civilian version of the Mercedes-Benz Zetros range is aimed at the Australian mining, exploration and fire-fighting sectors. Allan Whiting had some fun slip-slidin’ away on bush tracks around a damp Anglesea.

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Fuso Canter 4×4

The latest Canter 4×4 performs better than its predecessors and has more interior refinements, but the suspension still needs some work.

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Bus4x4 site vehicles

Bus4x4 is a Brisbane-based secondary manufacturer of 4WD and 6WD mine transport vehicles. The company’s principal product lines are Toyota HiAce and Coaster 2WD buses that are professionally converted to 4WD. OTA checked out the current range and tested the HLT project.

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Modern utes are complex creatures

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.

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Hino’s automatic 500 GT

Where the previous Hino GT 1322 gave away important concessions to the Isuzu FTS/FSS, the new Hino GT 1528 leapfrogs them, offering performance and equipment advantages over the FTS, plus more payload capacity and an optional longer wheelbase model.

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Mercedes-Benz Unimog

The latest Unimog looks familiar, but hides significant powertrain changes behind that rugged façade. Allan Whiting was the first Aussie journo to give the new beast a workout.

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Isuzu FSS and FTS

The Australian 4WD truck market leader has extended the appeal of its 8-9-tonnes-payload capacity 4×4 truck models with the addition of two new diesel engine variants. A new, powerful four complements a variant of the proved six that’s purpose-designed for off-road operation.

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