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SOFT-ROADERS

Most ‘softroaders’ don’t meet our criteria for legitimate bush-travel vehicles, but we’ve had requests from softroader owners and potential buyers for some guidance in buying and operating these machines. In this section we’ve included our observations on past models – for those who are in the used-softroader market – as well as reviews of selected newer models. Unfortunately, most post-2015 vehicles are too ‘soft’ for any serious outback travelling, so we’re not wasting our time and yours testing them.

Genesis launches its first SUV

Genesis launches its first SUV

The production GV80 realises the vision of the GV80 Concept first shown at the 2017 New York auto show. The interior and exterior styling of GV80 was a collaboration between Genesis design studios located in South Korea, the United States and Germany.

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Soft-roader – 2WD or 4WD

Soft-roader – 2WD or 4WD

The success of the Peugeot 2008 DKR race machine in the 2016 Dakar event 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.

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Jeep Compass

Jeep Compass

Jeep mademany claims for the 2018 Compass and Compass Trailhawk models , but ‘ best-in-class 4×4 off-road capabilities’ required proof, because it ignored the fact that Suzuki’s Grand Vitara has much better low-range gearing.

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Mahindra XUV500

Mahindra XUV500

The seven-seat New Age XUV500 was available with on-demand AWD and a six-speed manual transmission. Auto models were released in May 2016.

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Jeep Renegade

Jeep Renegade

We always reckoned there was a market for the Fiat Panda in Australia. Now it’s arrived, badged Jeep Renegade.

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Subaru Outback

Subaru Outback

The Outback drifted somewhat from its off-roading roots in recent years, but the 2015 model had enhanced 4WD capability. An uppgrade was introduced in March 2016.

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Soft-roaders have their limitations

Soft-roaders have their limitations

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.

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European soft-roaders

European soft-roaders

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.

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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 features optional 5+2 seating in a footprint no larger than that of the previous Freelander 2. A plug-in hybrid version is due in 2020.

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Kia Sportage 2014

Kia Sportage 2014

The 2014 Kia Sportage won the J.D. Power Germany Vehicle Ownership Satisfaction Study, in the hard-fought ‘Compact SUV’ category. The Sportage scored 83.6-percent driver satisfaction.

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Jeep Cherokee

Jeep Cherokee

Jeep’s Cherokee model has returned to the Australian market. The 2015 KL was based on the Fiat/Chrysler wide-compact platform, with petrol and diesel engine choices.

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Subaru Forester – 2013-18 models

Subaru Forester – 2013-18 models

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.

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Kia Sorento

Kia Sorento

Although built on the parent company’s – Hyundai’s – Santa Fe platform the Kia Sorento had styling, powertrain and suspension settings of its own. This test is of a 2015 model and we haven’t updated it, because Kias and Santa Fes are getting ‘softer’ every year.

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Nissan X-Trail

Nissan X-Trail

The X-Trail has been a big seller for Nissan, with 140,000 sold in Australia since its introduction in 2001. The restyled model went on sale in March 2014 and was updated in May 2017. We reckon it’s become too soft for bush work, so we haven’t updated our testing.

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Mazda CX-5

Mazda CX-5

The largest-selling medium softroader wagon was updated for 2015 and thereafter came with a temporary spare tyre.

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Hyundai Santa Fe

Hyundai Santa Fe

Early Santa Fes were solidly made, but the latest model takes the Hyundai brand to a whole new level. This vehicle has impressive specifications, is strongly made and tows well.

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Nissan Pathfinder

Nissan Pathfinder

The post-2014 Nissan Pathfinder is now a definite softroader, with a monocoque body and no low range gearing. It also comes with V6 petrol power and a continuously variable transmission, making it, in effect, a seven-seat Murano. We won’t test future models, because they’re too soft for bush work.

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Toyota RAV4 turbo-diesel test

Toyota RAV4 turbo-diesel test

Toyota joined the move to diesel power in the Australian softroader market with the introduction of a frugal yet potent 2.2-litre option for its RAV4. After this model Toyota fitted a temporary spare wheel and we stopped testing RAVs.

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Skoda’s abominable sandman – the Yeti

Skoda’s abominable sandman – the Yeti

If true to its name the Yeti should have been launched on the snowy slopes of the Himalayas, but the deep sand of Australia’s Finke River served just as well to demonstrate this new wagon’s considerable ability.

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Nissan Murano with CVT

Nissan Murano with CVT

The Nissan Murano used an Xtronic continuously variable transmission in place of a conventional automatic transmission. A CVT has ‘stepless’ gearing within upper and lower limits.

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Mitsubishi Outlander

Mitsubishi Outlander

The Outlander has always been one of the best softroaders, although Mitsubishi’s sometimes radical front end styling alienated many loyal customers over the years.

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Banner – Isuzu Truck

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