on demand 4wd

Submitted: Sunday, Aug 18, 2013 at 11:34
ThreadID: 103906 Views:6765 Replies:9 FollowUps:4
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I'm looking to buy a 4WD for mainly beach driving and considering a Nissan Xtrail but I don't know if 4WD on demand will be ok.

Any advice greatly apprerciated

Graeme in WA
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Reply By: Graeme - Sunday, Aug 18, 2013 at 11:56

Sunday, Aug 18, 2013 at 11:56
Be aware that the Xtrail will suffer from transmission overheat in soft sand and does not have a low range. You will also need to deflate the tyres down to at least 18 PSI to be able to float over the softer stuff.
AnswerID: 516619

Follow Up By: gqturbo - Sunday, Aug 18, 2013 at 12:14

Sunday, Aug 18, 2013 at 12:14
Ground clearance when getting on and off beaches through that 50 meters of chewed up loose sand with deep wheel ruts will also present a problem for you.
FollowupID: 796001

Reply By: Robin Miller - Sunday, Aug 18, 2013 at 13:33

Sunday, Aug 18, 2013 at 13:33
No way for me Graeme , espically if its mainly for beach driving.

On demand means just that - traction has failed and after the event you get the extra wheels to connect.

Unfortunately that is the vital second when you need it.

Its very much like the difference between a manual and auto 4wd in sand - the time taken to engage a new gear is to much any many bog down right there.

We have had several new RAV4's and by the best was the first - it had a proper geared always 4wd action - not a slippy centre unit or 0n demand like all the others.

Robin Miller

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AnswerID: 516623

Reply By: Member - Chris_K - Sunday, Aug 18, 2013 at 14:09

Sunday, Aug 18, 2013 at 14:09
Hi Graeme

From memory the X-trail has a "Lock" button that splits the drive 50/50 front and rear - it needs you to push it before you get stuck though. It automatically disengages from (I think) about 30km/h, which is pretty silly given that in "softroaders" you will need a little speed to get back off the beach. Getting on the beach will be no problems.

There are other options that could also be considered, including the Suzuki Vitara, which also has low range, and the Mits Challenger, which is a little bigger, but still not huge. For mainly beach driving you need momentum, a little clearance and some torque.

AnswerID: 516624

Reply By: gbc - Sunday, Aug 18, 2013 at 16:27

Sunday, Aug 18, 2013 at 16:27
I spent last wednesday being regaled by friends who've just returned from the kimberley. They drove the Tanami towing a Jurgens van. First night in it poured all night. Spent the next two days travelling out of the place in mud and helping some of the locals whose 2wd's were useless.
Their tow vehicle is a renault koleos petrol auto - the thing didn't miss a beat, nor get stopped. It has a set of general grabber all terrains and a tow bar as modifications.
He has done plenty of remote travel before, so the car was given the best chance of making it, and it did. He was, however - worried.
The xtrail/koleos has gone up a little in my estimation after their many tales from their latest trip - the Tanami Rd being just one.
Still don't think it'd be high on my list of beach bashers though - clearance is king - you don't need much, but you do need enough.
AnswerID: 516632

Reply By: mikehzz - Sunday, Aug 18, 2013 at 17:32

Sunday, Aug 18, 2013 at 17:32
I've been out on sand with just about all of the AWD cars during club trips. The Xtrail is a decent car let down by the lock disengaging over 30/40 kph (not sure which). I have also owned a Suzuki Grand Vitara but didn't like it I'm afraid. It had poor clearance. The best by far that I've driven are a 2007+ model Freelander 2 or a 2005+ model Forester. The Freelander 2 has sand mode that locks the centre diff at any speed and you can turn stability control off so that the wheels don't lose drive when you need it in soft stuff. The Forester has symmetrical drive to all wheels when needed. Make sure that the car wheels are no bigger than 17" so you have some rubber to bag out a bit. An auto is a better pick than a manual if you don't have low range. You do have to watch the transmission temperature though.
I really like the diesels in the newer softroaders and it gives them grunt at lower revs so you can get moving without spinning the wheels easier. That plus a light car and the auto box really compensates for no low range.
The softroaders on the last trip that didn't make the cut were a near new CRV, a near new Outlander and a Rav 4. When the going got tough they lacked torque and/or a decent drive system and had to be rescued in a few of the more difficult places.
AnswerID: 516641

Reply By: Penchy - Monday, Aug 19, 2013 at 08:18

Monday, Aug 19, 2013 at 08:18
How many of the other posters drive an Xtrail? I recently did a drive on Stockton with 4x4Earth and we had 2 Xtrails in our group and yes one did get stuck in some very soft sand, but so did my GQ. Aside from that, neither had a problem on the sand. Goes without saying our tyre pressures suited the terrain.
AnswerID: 516666

Follow Up By: Member - Chris_K - Monday, Aug 19, 2013 at 08:32

Monday, Aug 19, 2013 at 08:32
Hi Penchy

Yep - driven an X-trail on the beach...plus Suby's, a Kluger, and a RAV (also once). As mentioned before, the major issue with the "softroaders" is that you can pretty much guarantee getting onto the beach - but not off it (that last 50 metres chewing through the soft stuff can be interesting to watch).

They are great fun to drive on the beach - the secret is to not go alone, and take some recovery gear. Gets really annoying when people block the exits, and they not only rely on you for a tow (which I'm happy to do) but they also rely on using your recovery gear (which I'm not - after my last set of MaxTrax was chewed by some idiot)!


FollowupID: 796059

Reply By: Graeme C5 - Wednesday, Aug 21, 2013 at 19:33

Wednesday, Aug 21, 2013 at 19:33
Thanks to all,
I think I'll look at a Forester but today I saw an Outback, now I've got find out what's the difference between the 2.

Decisions, decisions. :)
AnswerID: 516865

Follow Up By: mikehzz - Wednesday, Aug 21, 2013 at 20:14

Wednesday, Aug 21, 2013 at 20:14
I had a 2004 Outback 6 cylinder and wouldn't really recommend it for soft sand driving. There wasn't a lot of rubber on mine and the overhang front and back is greater than a Forester. Having said that, I was on a trip to the Brindabellas along Gentle Annie down to McIntyres Hut with a diesel Outback in the group and it had no trouble at all. Tyres are a big factor in whether your softroader will perform off road in my opinion.
FollowupID: 796387

Reply By: The Landy - Wednesday, Aug 21, 2013 at 20:22

Wednesday, Aug 21, 2013 at 20:22
You definitely need a rugged Landrover Defender 130, or maybe even a Defender 110!

Good luck with your search...
AnswerID: 516868

Reply By: Barbera72 - Thursday, Aug 22, 2013 at 11:31

Thursday, Aug 22, 2013 at 11:31
Hi Graeme, if you want to buy a vehicle for the purpose of beach driving then a softroader is the wrong one. On the top of engine and transmission stress, you'll loose the little clearance you have by deflating the tyres, exposing and digging the underbody parts to salt and sand, since you'll soon loose all plastic shields underneath the car. I've driven few softroaders on the sand and produced expensive damage, expecially when sand conditions are harsh.
AnswerID: 516901

Follow Up By: Graeme C5 - Saturday, Aug 24, 2013 at 08:42

Saturday, Aug 24, 2013 at 08:42
Ok, so what's the minimum you think I should look for and can it been done using an automatic.

If possible I don't want to go the Prado size/level but if I have to, so be it.

Graeme C5
FollowupID: 796532

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