What is the best 4WD - for me

Submitted: Thursday, May 04, 2006 at 23:43
ThreadID: 33553 Views:3643 Replies:20 FollowUps:8
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I have been hunting around the forums for what is the best 4WD that suits my requirements (which I can afford) and am looking for some advise

Unfortunately you see so many varying opinions on the same thing it is confusing, and I am sure the responses here will not be different. Everyone has their own likes/dislikes about vehicles but it si still very useful to get others opinions.

In a lot of cases it comes down is to what you want to do with it, I think.

In my case I am getting close to the grey nomad stage and want to do some travelling around OZ.

Initially I will tow a camper trailer (and may be later a caravan), so need to have some good towing ability.

I will not be in a hurry so speed is not as big an issue but the cost of petrol/diesel is, however in saying this I have a wife who likes to put the foot down when she is on the open road (while I am a sleep), so do want to be able to cruise around the 100+km mark - at least when towing the camper. She believes our current Forester does not have enough grunt (certainly not enough to tow a caravan)

When not towing I don't want to climb rock walls but do want a vehicle which is capable off road so I could do trips like trips like the Oodnadatta track and the likes. Trips like the Simpson Desert would be great but is a bit out of our league.

Being at the grey nomad stage I am also looking for a bit of comfort but can't afford those top end 4WD.

This will not be the only vehicle we own so will not be used heavily in city traffic - I live in Canberra any way.

My thinking so far

Diesel - for economy and towing capabilities ?

Nissan Patrol GU 3 series (3.0ltr ?)- to avoid the reported engine problems but am concerned about its comfort and lack of features




I have not had a chance to drive any of the above to date but I am in no rush on this - for a change - I am taking my time in looking around instead of rushing into a decision.

Any way any comments appreciated.

Thanks in advance,

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Reply By: Oldman - Thursday, May 04, 2006 at 23:54

Thursday, May 04, 2006 at 23:54
Forgot to add

Auto or Manual

May be lots more
AnswerID: 170810

Follow Up By: warrenr004 - Friday, May 05, 2006 at 00:07

Friday, May 05, 2006 at 00:07
Hi Richard. I've been through the same thought processes as you for the past 12 months. Want something that can tow, go bush, go highway and still be ok in town. I also carry a dinghy and don't want outboard, fuel, generator etc in the back of the wagon, so I've ordered the new Hilux dual cab with tray back, canopy and lock-up boxes. We've been using a new petrol and diesel hilux's at work now for about 3 months and they are really good. I went for diesel manual with 140 litre tank, bigger wheels, upgraded suspension and a 1900mm tray. I found the petrol auto to be great (and quick with 170kw), but I wanted diesel. I think the diesel works better with manual though.

Good luck with your choice mate.
FollowupID: 426234

Reply By: NUTS! - Friday, May 05, 2006 at 00:30

Friday, May 05, 2006 at 00:30
Oldman....I've been through similar dilemmar recently so trust me on this one, you wont go past the Pajero 3.2Did Turbo Diesel in auto or manual. Power is surprising, drives like a car and they don't win the Pari Dakar for no reason! Very well built machines with comfort, power, handling and towing capability.

Good luck on your quest and I hope you find the one for you!
AnswerID: 170816

Follow Up By: GaryInOz (Vic) - Friday, May 05, 2006 at 01:30

Friday, May 05, 2006 at 01:30
Paris-Dakar was a tube buggy with a fiberglass skin shaped to resemble the Pajero. Only the general mechanical layout is the same, ie must use the same engine block (but not heads), gearbox (but not ratios), and outer casings of the diffs (but not internals). Driveshafts are able to be beefed up, use high octane fuel, and many other things that are totally different to the donor vehicles, removing all credibility to the comparisons. In other words they only have to LOOK like the donor vehicle.
FollowupID: 426246

Reply By: GaryInOz (Vic) - Friday, May 05, 2006 at 00:49

Friday, May 05, 2006 at 00:49
Hyundai Terracan Turbodiesel probably should be on your radar too....

In about 6 months, Kia should be bringing in a 2.5LTurbodiesel Sorento, basically just a bit smaller all around then the others you mention, but more room than enough for two people plus gear. (already available overseas)
AnswerID: 170822

Reply By: Jack 2000 - Friday, May 05, 2006 at 02:32

Friday, May 05, 2006 at 02:32

I would go out and drive a few as that may cut a few out straight away. The patrol is a great vehicle and would not have many dramas as long as you do regular oil changes etc, that goes with any vehicle especially diesels. ( I have heard bad stories though but what car has a perfect record)

The Pajero is a brilliant car and very nice to drive. I personally have a 2000 Jackaroo turbo diesel and I have found it to be great in most areas. I believe from my research the price you pay for the Jack is very good for what you get. If you are into cars that have won big events the Jackaroo have a few Australian rallies under its belt. In saying that I agree with GaryInoz, these vehicles are heavily modified in most areas.

It really comes down to the $$$ you want to spend. I would also consider the accessibility of parts, some of the Hyundai’s etc you will struggle for parts in the event of misfortune, in remote areas.

I would stick with Diesels if planning on going on big trips especially pulling trailers etc and remember often the smaller the engine the harder it works so that hits the fuel as well. Petrol engines will do the job. Diesel is also a safer fuel.

When I went out looking at cars the Jackaroo did not enter my mind, I was looking at Patrols but could not find one that landed in my price range, then a mate showed me a jackaroo I did my research and went for it.

Best of luck and let us know what you end up getting.
AnswerID: 170827

Follow Up By: Member - Marquis - Friday, May 05, 2006 at 09:38

Friday, May 05, 2006 at 09:38
I would not recommend a Jackaroo if you are planning to tow reasonable weight.
FollowupID: 426285

Follow Up By: Jack 2000 - Friday, May 05, 2006 at 14:11

Friday, May 05, 2006 at 14:11
It is the first time I have heard that. From what i have done with my jackaroo i tend to disagree with you. For what reasons do you think the Jackaroo is not suitable for towing?Due to it's engine and weight etc it fits into the Patrol range etc and the isuzu engine is designed to work under load.
FollowupID: 426339

Reply By: Barnesy - Friday, May 05, 2006 at 05:13

Friday, May 05, 2006 at 05:13
Pajero, Jackeroo, Prado, challenger, basically any mid-size diesel preferably turbo. maybe even consider dual-cabs (turbo is best). you have the ability to go on bush roads and acceptable capability off road but are small enough to be able to drive through the city.

Believe me the big patrols and landcruisers are pains in the bums to drive through the city.

Don't be afraid to buy second-hand if you have the car thoroughly checked by a 4wd mechanic. But other than that take as many as you possibly can for test drives and see what you think. make sure with the test drive that you get the car up to highway cruising speed to see how it goes.

other people might disagree but personally i would stay away from the hyundai, or other cars new on the market as they are simply an unknown in terms of long term reliability. i'd stick to the manufacturers who have proven themselves in oz long-term. also easier to source parts etc.

AnswerID: 170830

Follow Up By: Barnesy - Friday, May 05, 2006 at 16:20

Friday, May 05, 2006 at 16:20
Sorry oldman, i misread your post, the car will NOT be driving much through the city. in this case then also think diesel landcruiser or patrol. my 92 patrol is a great car but a bit cramped inside for long touring but i put up with it.

the wagon cruisers will be more comfortale than the troopy or ute. the new patrols are used a lot for touring oz are are very strong for towing. i have only heard good things about the new pajeros but unsure how the independent suspension would go towing on bush roads.

keep in mind that the inependent front suspension on landcruisers have a reputation for breaking, as do the 3litre patrol engines. apart from that it comes back to your personal preference. take your wife with you on the test drives so she can have some say, she will be spending a lot of time in the car too.

FollowupID: 426368

Reply By: Member - Paul P (Bris) - Friday, May 05, 2006 at 06:38

Friday, May 05, 2006 at 06:38

The towing capacity of the vehicle is important. Most you will consider will tow a camper trailer fine but a caravan is a little different.

So I would suggest a little chystal ball gazing as to ball weight and needed towing capacity when a van descission is made.

Fuel capacity is also another issue. I feel you need to be able to tow a reasonable weight caravan (say 2000kg) at least 600 kilometres.

So perhaps the required list should contain

Fuel capacity 100 -130 litres (diesel-more if its a petrol)
Tow capacity of at least 2500kg with a ball weight of 250kg (future van tow capacity)

Making a needed list will start to narrow down vehicle choices quite rapidly.


AnswerID: 170832

Reply By: Kiwi Kia - Friday, May 05, 2006 at 06:44

Friday, May 05, 2006 at 06:44
Good question and (so far) good answers.

In the end it will come down to a personal choice but you do not want to be blinded by bright 'extras'. If you are likely to carry more then two people then your family's comfort MUST be very high on your list of prorities.

Do you almost need a step ladder to get into the vehicle ? Just getting in and out of a vehicle determined my choice with one of my vehicles.

Set the front seat in a comfortable driving position and then get into the back seat and think 'how long would I like to sit here' ?

Where is the spare wheel located ? As you get older just getting at the spare wheel can be difficult.

Go to your local camp ground and wander arround having a chat to people around your age with rigs that look like that which you think would suit your self.

It is often easyier to see what you don't like rather then what you do like so make a list of 'don't want' as well as a list of 'do want'.

When you narrow down your choices see if you can get a demo vehicle for an extended trial drive say a days drive rather then a trip arround the block.

Any questions, ask them here.
AnswerID: 170834

Reply By: Member - Reiner G (QLD) 4124 - Friday, May 05, 2006 at 07:43

Friday, May 05, 2006 at 07:43
There can only be one answer:
Toyota Landcruiser. I have two Traybacks and bought the first one in 1983 HJ47 ( still got it) the sec one just last year HJZ 75 95mod.
I love my Cruisers and if the woman would let me I park mine in the bedroom :-)
It doesnt matter where you go you never have a problem finding parts and there is allways a Landcruiser mechanic in any town. Super reliable and fun to drive.

Have a good weekend everybody
AnswerID: 170844

Reply By: Pajman Pete (SA) - Friday, May 05, 2006 at 08:15

Friday, May 05, 2006 at 08:15
I'm impressed with the advice so far, and that it hasn't degenerated into inter-manufacturer warfare. I am thinking of upgrading the heritage listed Paj so this is interesting reading.

Any mug can be uncomfortable out bush

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AnswerID: 170848

Reply By: Member - Stan (VIC) - Friday, May 05, 2006 at 10:19

Friday, May 05, 2006 at 10:19
If you want COMFORT for touring I would go for the New Diesel Prado - It is expected to come out in October this year. Diesel Pajero is also an option but they are more noisier compared to Prado...

Also that size(weight) caravan are you planning on towing - will might limit
your options if it is to heavy...

Nissan would not be the pick if you want a comfort....
AnswerID: 170882

Reply By: Diesel Power - Friday, May 05, 2006 at 11:22

Friday, May 05, 2006 at 11:22
Take a Turbo Diesel (3.2 DiD) Pajero add the best 5 speed auto (with tiptronic) you will have a car that is very capable off-road (but not a rock crawler). They drive like a car (very comfortable) Have brilliant fuel economy (8.5l/100 h/way) Will sit on 100k's up hill and down dale while towing. You get a 10 year warranty!!! These cars are underated IMO (probably cause I drive one LOL)
If nothing else at least test drive you wont regret it.

Cheers and Beers
AnswerID: 170892

Reply By: John Davies - Friday, May 05, 2006 at 11:25

Friday, May 05, 2006 at 11:25
I'm going to suggest something a bit different from all your other replies.
Have you thought about a Ford Territory AWD or similar.Option it with hill decsent control and it will go the places that you seem to want to go.
Convert it to lpg and it won't be too expensive to run.
Change the tyres to some more suitable for stony roads.

I just can't see the point of driving around in a big tank if all you want to do is tow on dirt/stony roads.


John D
AnswerID: 170893

Follow Up By: GaryInOz (Vic) - Friday, May 05, 2006 at 12:18

Friday, May 05, 2006 at 12:18
In short, jack up the tail lights and change the rest.

Thirsty/range limited
Chassis/body strength
Underbody clearance/protection
No low range (making bigger tyres a bigger issue)
Towing capacity
Air intake position

They are a marketing ploy to the bitumen hugging, urbanised, city slickers who like the idea of owning a "4wd".

If you are travelling around Australia, then you would want something that is going to cope with water up to the hubs occasionally without drowning the motor from a low mounted air intake, or drowning the ignition/fuel sys from a low mounted ECU.
FollowupID: 426326

Follow Up By: GaryInOz (Vic) - Friday, May 05, 2006 at 12:22

Friday, May 05, 2006 at 12:22
ps. Hill Descent Control will get you into more trouble than it will ever get you out of. It's for people that don't know how to drive.

There has not been one HDC system produced that will slow you down anywhere enough to be safe anyway. Another cheap marketing ploy using the existing ABS system.
FollowupID: 426327

Reply By: Member - Sharyn M (VIC) - Friday, May 05, 2006 at 12:30

Friday, May 05, 2006 at 12:30
I too will add something not yet mentioned, Holden Rodeo dual cab + canopy, turbo diesel, manual. Top of the range I believe has good creature comforts (ours is a work vechicle). We tow a camper trailer & have had it behind 2 Rodeo models over recent years. Wouldn't know it was towing anything. Good fuel economy, went everywhere we wanted to go on our last outback adventure. We have been tossing up for a while upgrading to a landcruiser, but with current fuel prices and the fact the kids will be going their own way in a couple of years, we are thinking why change when your happy with what you've got. Stats in recent 4wd magazines have given it good reports for: mid sized, mid priced and good fuel economy. Your doing your home work and it does become confusing, so go for test drives and go with your gut feeling.

AnswerID: 170907

Reply By: disco driver - Friday, May 05, 2006 at 13:12

Friday, May 05, 2006 at 13:12
Hi Richard,
At the risk of getting shouted down by the "Toy-San" brigade do not overlook the Landrover Discovery TD5 manual or auto.
It has a towing capacity of 3500kg and pretty good fuel economy, both solo and towing, (mine is doing 10.6km/l and 8.2km/l towing a 15'6" poptop Viscount coming in @1600kg)

Happy hunting

AnswerID: 170915

Reply By: Member - Doug T (QLD) - Friday, May 05, 2006 at 13:53

Friday, May 05, 2006 at 13:53
Depends on if you want all the comfy stuff ,Power Windows,power everything else and engine management Computer so that when your in the middle of the SD or the Canning it goes bung what ya gonna do then, 100 series, Patrols,Pathfinders, and all the other good looking gear have headlights and tail-lights that if broken will cost a fortune to replace..
Landcruiser Troopcarrier have the old type round headlight , costs me $18 or less to replace, it has enough power to do what i want but the newer 78 series has a Turbo Option ,My 1994 model has now got 586000 on the clock and between the 10000 k oil changes I dont have to add any, Now it;s your dollars so you gotta make up your mind
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AnswerID: 170929

Follow Up By: Exploder - Friday, May 05, 2006 at 15:59

Friday, May 05, 2006 at 15:59
Why dose everybody associate an ECU controlled engine with braking down?
FollowupID: 426365

Reply By: Kiwi Kia - Friday, May 05, 2006 at 14:37

Friday, May 05, 2006 at 14:37
All vehicles have good and not so good points. No vehicle type will do everything.

When you make your choice get back here and tell everybody so that we can give you hints on how to make your vehicle better suit your needs. Now that will really get people giving you so much 'advice' :-)) that your poor head will spin.

I do think you should think snorkle fo sure as most vehicles have the engine air intake to low down where it can suck up water and dust.
AnswerID: 170945

Reply By: TerraFirma - Friday, May 05, 2006 at 15:45

Friday, May 05, 2006 at 15:45
One can imagine this sort of question would rouse the opinions of many as to what vehicle to buy. If you ask anyone travelling around Australia what vehicles do they see all the time, there is only 1 answer, Toyota Landcruiser Diesel , King of the Road, or the Nissan Patrol Diesel. There's a good reason for that, reliability and durability.! The cruiser s perhaps a little more comfortable but both are grea vehicles. The Prado would also be a good choice, but you say capable off road..? IMHO I would choose the Cruiser , but thats only my opinion..!

AnswerID: 170958

Reply By: Mad Dog (Australia) - Friday, May 05, 2006 at 16:14

Friday, May 05, 2006 at 16:14
A big country deserves a big vehicle, you can't go passed a Ford F truck, good fuel economy and far tougher than the smaller vehicles.
AnswerID: 170968

Reply By: ev700 - Friday, May 05, 2006 at 17:15

Friday, May 05, 2006 at 17:15

We bought a new Landcruiser turbo diesel automatic which is magic for towing and big trips.

Wife featured strongly in the choice, as did the teens who demanded comfort in the back.

We would buy the same vehicle again, they are superb.

Second hand, there are many good Prados and Pajeros out there that have not seen any hard work at all. Not a Nissan Patrol, they drive and turn like a truck and over corrugated roads they will shake your teeth out.

If you will carry extra passengers the second seat of a Pajero is uncomfortable. My teens gave it the big thumbs down for seat padding that quits and they are fit and slim.

Definitely go automatic and go diesel if possible. For a smaller vehicle I'd go Prado auto diesel - good quality and robust.

Have fun.
AnswerID: 170982

Reply By: Oldman - Saturday, May 06, 2006 at 11:26

Saturday, May 06, 2006 at 11:26
Many thanks to all for the comments.

I did not expect so many and am still taking them all in but have moved one step forward in that I have heard a lot of good opinions from people who are using these vehicles - which is important to me.

A few other vehicles have made my list as well (not sure if want to thank you for that one though :)).

I have a lot of time to make my decision so will spend it doing a lot more research and test drives as suggested.

Thanks again

AnswerID: 171117

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