Off Road ability of second tier Utes

Submitted: Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 17:27
ThreadID: 66892 Views:2982 Replies:13 FollowUps:13
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Amongst the post 2002 crop of diesel Rodeo Hilux Triton etc are any of these considered good offroad performers or a stand out in their catergory. I am thinking of either a tray top ute with a canopy or a Prado with the rear seats removed(just two of us) to be used as a both city commuting and outback touring. So I am wondering what might be best for my application My understanding at the moment is the Prado is very capable off road and comfortable and the utes mentioned a lot less capable off road but offer more load space than Prado but I would need a patrol or cruiser ute to get comparable or better off road ability to a Prado ?
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Reply By: Notso - Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 17:40

Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 17:40
Most "Off Road" vehicles are only as good as the driver.

You can have the biggest and best 4WD and still get into trouble.

AnswerID: 354355

Reply By: Member - Matt (Perth-WA) - Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 17:42

Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 17:42
What sort of off-roading are you thinking of?

My Uncle travelled all over Aust long before there was bitumen in most places (60-70s) always in a 2wd Holden and then Mazda 626. Never had a problem!

Any current vehicle you mentioned would do 99% of Aust both comfortably and safely. Would it compete in a Warn Winch challenge or Paris to Dakar... nope...but is that what you are asking of it?

I would go out on a limb that 100% of our TOURING 4WDs are over-capable for 99% of what we ask them to do. Its the 1% of comp or challenge tracks that you need the 'capable' 4wd and not necessary for touring Aust.

My 99 TD Rodeo will get me to any PLACE in aust that I could visit...but if you wish to take it to the top of Mt Kosiosko...nope.

Define you requirements truthfully/realistically and you will be surprised at what vehicle you require.

All the best

AnswerID: 354356

Follow Up By: Willem - Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 18:12

Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 18:12
Yer right there Matt. My early days of driving through the bush was done in a Renault R10. Unfortunately its build wasn't robust enough and I broke it.

Last year a young fella came along on our annual exploration trip in a stock standard diesel Navara 4x4, and apart from punctures(crappy tyres) the little ute went everywhere the big 4bies went without much trouble.

FollowupID: 622542

Follow Up By: kwk56pt - Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 19:02

Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 19:02
Hi Matt, guess I had a view to doing some of the tracks, the canning and simpson treks maybe the cape would be worthwhile trips. I didnt have kosiosko or competition in mind. Perhaps someone who has owned one of these utes and then a Prado or a Prado then changed to one of these utes would like to share their experience impressioms or reasoning for making the vehicle change
FollowupID: 622555

Reply By: Kroozer - Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 18:28

Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 18:28
A mate has a Mazda Bravo Freestyle cab 02 model i think, and other mate has standard 02 model Troopie, and myself a 75 series Trayback. We all run the same tyres, and all follow the same tracks and routes but we are forever pulling him (Bravo) out of places that we easily get through. We have all grown up 4wding and we all are probably more experienced then most 4wd instructors. But his car is far more comfortable then ours and better in the thick trees, sand and such. Because his car is rather underpowered and has IFS he struggles in many places, but its still taken us too many places that you probably wouldnt attempt when on holidays. It all depends on what you want out of your car, where you want to go and how much you want to spend on it to allow it to do more things.
AnswerID: 354368

Reply By: Lex M (Brisbane) - Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 18:38

Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 18:38
Only my opinion but I'd put a Hilux in front of a Prado anyday.

Come to think of it I have a few times with a snatch between them.
AnswerID: 354370

Follow Up By: kwk56pt - Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 19:06

Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 19:06
Thanks Lex, I was wondering what your reasoning is for putting a Hilux in front of a Prado, I assume we are refering to post 2000 model examples
FollowupID: 622556

Reply By: Robin Miller - Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 18:44

Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 18:44
Hi Kwk56pt

The prado is good in terms of off road traction and not far short of your Patrols and Cruisers.

This is because while its down at the front end it has good wheel travel on its rear end and this is where almost all of the vehicles with rear leaf springs fail - from your utes thru to troppies and latest 76 series etc.

This is the main issue you have to deal with in these cars.

Second is strength etc and this is harder to comment on.

A mate of mine was very happy with following us around last year and bashed his way thru most places the patrol drove thru.

On latest trip he was unable to come as he was replacing his Navara's suspension which was already ARB after market.

Robin Miller

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AnswerID: 354372

Follow Up By: kwk56pt - Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 19:32

Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 19:32
Thanks Robin, yes that what I have been reading as you are not alone in saying that in terms of traction the Prado is not far short of the patrol and cruisers. Improved off road ability to me means options whether you are a good or bad driver the vehicles better ability should provide a better outcome. Most people say they are comfortable whether around town or outback travelliing. I have noticed most Prados have a roof rack which suggests getting ones travel stuff in without a rack is probably a challenge. Prados seem a good compromise when most of its use is urban with the odd trip away. I would prefer the load carrying and accessability to gear of a ute.Sounds like a prado based ute would be good. I have bypassed the Toyota and Patrol Ute option as most of my use will be city commuting, a couple of weekends away and a annual holiday trip. My understanding is these vehicles would use 14l /100 which would increase with a canopy and extras.
Your reply was thoughtful and appreciated.........Cheers Peter
FollowupID: 622559

Reply By: rags - Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 19:43

Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 19:43
I have been considering this decision at present as we wish to upgrade now the kids are not travelling with us much in the future,and i have been driving a prado v6 for 9years now and before that a dual cab triton v6 for 8yrs.Wewill most likely stick with the a new prado but in diesel form but in a base model grade with an option pack 2. I have been comparing prado to hi lux
Prado 180lt fuel tank, most utes 70-80ltrs
prado dics brakes all round and larger hi lux rear drums
prado coil rears,coil over front ute leaf rear/ coil over
prado more safety features available egside airbags traction aid etc
prado 5sp auto hi lux4 sp
prado need cargo barrier few hundred $ hi lux canopy few thous$
prado different seating position that suits me .
pricing for the prado gx or standard similar as hillux sr5 or sr models
I have found that our prado is more comfy for long distance ouback travel , as a new model would be as offroad capable if not better than a hi lux [as state in another post this always depends on driver]
the utes certainly can be better for carrying a load but like most 4wds we always want to upgrade the suspension to suit our needs
just my thoughts but hope this helps
AnswerID: 354386

Reply By: Dennis Ellery - Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 19:47

Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 19:47
The Yanks invented the 4WD with Willys Jeep and the Japs perfected it with the Toyota 70 series. If you want a serious 4WD you can’t go past the 70 series.
If you tour around the top of WA you will see that all the big iron ore miners have been using Toyota 70 series utes and Troopys as their choice of work vehicles for many years. They don’t use the cheaper 4WDs as they can’t take the punishment on their mine sites.
AnswerID: 354388

Follow Up By: rags - Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 20:06

Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 20:06
I'm sure if i was running a mine i would buy a 70 series that could be absused and then disposed off
or if i was doing a bus run then i would buy a bus ,
but when some folk have got to compromise on vehicle for both daily driver and a bit of outback travel or to tow the camper , they then tend to look at the alternatives like asked by kwt56,utes ,prados ,3ltr patrols all have a purpose in the 4wd world
FollowupID: 622570

Follow Up By: kwk56pt - Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 20:54

Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 20:54
Yes I had noticed the following that the 70 series utes have and naturally as they are popular for good reason I did investigate them. The posts on this site suggest the seating was inadequate for touring and as I use it for daily transport and live in Perth I have turned my attention to more economical and comfortable vehicles as its a more 90% urban use and 10% rural off road travel. If I was living in the North the 79 series or Patrol could be a good option or I had limited need for it when back at the grind in Perth it could still have been a option.
I had got back to the rodeo ute style option when I began to read good things about the Prado. In the end its a compromise so its just a matter of being aware of different vehicles potentional and deciding what compromise is best for me and hence the post to see what others experiences have been.
Thanks .........Peter
FollowupID: 622582

Reply By: Crackles - Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 20:18

Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 20:18
The company I work for recently bought quite a few (Over 80) light utes including most makes & models (single/dual cab, manual/auto) although all are diesel. We get drive most & speak to others & although some people have a brand favorite, the best I reckon at the moment for all round handling, econemy, power, driver position, towing & load carrying ability would have to be the Triton. (& that's coming from a 27 year Toyota driver)
If load carrying while touring is your main requirement then I'd say a tray back Triton with a few upgrades would serve you well but for an all round offroader come daily driver a 120 series diesel Playdoe would be my pick. Just as capable but far more comfortable.
Cheers Craig..................
AnswerID: 354397

Follow Up By: Dennis Ellery - Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 21:44

Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 21:44
Craig - You only get what you pay for.
Me and the missus have just completed a 25000 k trip around Aussie towing a 3 ton van with a V8 Troopy. The ride was pretty good except for the corrugations north of Cooktown, where we dumped the van, on the way to The Tip.
The suspension is a bit stiff but would you expect from a vehicle with a 1 ton pay load and a gross combined mass rating of 6.8 ton. We are in our 60’s - you young blokes seeking 4WDs that ride like a Rolls Royce are pussys.
FollowupID: 622600

Follow Up By: Crackles - Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 22:45

Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 22:45
To each their own Dennis. No point kwk buying a great big Troopy for the occational outback trip (particually if he doesn't have a 3 tonne van) when he also needs a daily driver for the other 11 months he spends at home. Heck come time to park it in the garage or down the shopping centre there's a good chance the thing wont even fit ;-)
I've owned a Troopy & although reliable would not get another as they are difficult to access gear inside & unstable both on & offroad. We nicknamed ours the boat anchor as when it got bogged nothing could move it :-))
Cheers Craig..................
FollowupID: 622605

Follow Up By: Dennis Ellery - Tuesday, Mar 17, 2009 at 10:24

Tuesday, Mar 17, 2009 at 10:24
You're a wise man Craig - sounds like you didn't know how to handle her - you,re much better off sticking with your Triton.
FollowupID: 622656

Follow Up By: Crackles - Tuesday, Mar 17, 2009 at 19:07

Tuesday, Mar 17, 2009 at 19:07
Yes I regulary struggled to handle it on steep wet rutted hills in the High Country. Always wanted to lift a wheel. Over weight, under powered & with it's high centre of gravity plain dangerous on steep slippery slopes. Simply wrong vehicle for the job I asked of it. Actually drive a 105 series now not a Triton but have no trouble recomending one as they are a great package. (& I'm not quite as brand biased as I used to be :-)
Cheers Craig................
FollowupID: 622718

Follow Up By: Dennis Ellery - Tuesday, Mar 17, 2009 at 19:35

Tuesday, Mar 17, 2009 at 19:35
Yep Craig I admit these big brutes are a handful, especially my V8 Diesel Troopy, its got so much grunt you practically do a wheel stand going up hill – stick with the little ones they’re safer - tried the Suzuki?
Cheers Dennis
FollowupID: 622725

Reply By: Member - Netnut (VIC) - Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 22:50

Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 22:50
Hello kwk56pt,
I have a modified 2006 Hilux SR5 Dual Cab ute which has been to the tip of Cape York, to many great places in Central Australia including Boggy Hole and two crossings of the Simpson Desert, in the company of larger Nissans and Toyotas. I have never had to be rescued, but I have twice pulled heavier vehicles out of sticky situations. The Hilux beat them all to the top of Big Red!

Where do you plan to go offroad? It's my experience that when modified, the utes do well in moderately-difficult terrain. They will go to most places the large fourbies can go, but they are found wanting in difficult terrain unless they have diff locks fitted. A search of the Forum Archive will give you some valuable information regarding the Prado and its reliabilty when fitted with diff locks. I drive slower than most of my mates when fully laden and travelling over severely corrrrrrruagated roads as I find the ute less stable than a larger, heavier fourby at speed.

I have seen very few Prados in the places I've been, but numerous large fourbies and lots of diesel utes, most of them Toyotas. Most of the Prados, Pajeros and Pathfinders I've seen have been driving around town or towing caravans on sealed roads ! This says quite a lot about the popular choice of vehicle for offroad work.

How much space, comfort and abilty do you require? The modern Hilux, and other of its kind, are quite comfortable for long distance touring, moreso with a load. The leaf springs of the ute give it a robust and simple rear suspension. Most utes I've seen offroad have been fitted with a modifed (raised) suspension and AT tyres

The coils of the Prado give it a softer ride. The additional travel of the Prados rear suspension is only of value if you plan to use it to its full capabilities. '

Dust ingress into the tub of most utes is a problem. Most of what I carry is in plastic containers or tubs. I've managed to seal around the tailgate with foam rubber. Owners of canvas-covered tray-top utes tell me they don't have much of a dust problem. A Prado shouldn't have a problem with dust ingress.

Either vehicle should be fine for carrying capacity; you simply adjust your expectations accordingly. Most Prados I've seen offroad have well-loaded a roof rack !

I went through the same investigation as you and ended up with the ute because I would have damaged the interior of the Prado by using it as a market vehicle, as I do on most weekends. The seats take about ten minutes to remove from or reinstall in the ute.

Hope some of this helps.

AnswerID: 354440

Reply By: Wherehegon - Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 22:59

Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 22:59
Hi there kwk, I have had both BUT earlier models. Currently have 97 Prado Grande, while it is car like to drive and very comfortable to drive it has no where near the cargo space my hilux had with a canopy on it. Been petrol the prado is thirstier then the diesel. My next vehicle will definately be another diesel but turbo. Im currently tossing up between the same model I have but in turbo diesel or a D4D hilux base model duel cab. Im leaning towards the duel cab due to cargo area and for us now having a little one means more luggage. We also use to have a 170L water tank permanantly in the rear of the lux. Not to sure on the comment above about the hilux been more capable off road. We have used ours off road numerous times and the current model hilux has the same front end as the prados. The prados have coil rear end which gives a lot better flex then rear leaf spring hilux but once again depends on your needs eg utes will take a greater load as we found with the old lux. Torshion front ends arnt as good BUT like has been said above depends on your usage. I always reply with the same comment, if you want to go rock hopping as well as touring buy a patrol or 80 series cruiser.Any of the vehicles you have mentioned above will do everything you want it to do in the way of touring. Go the utes if you want greater cargo area and load carrying.........WHG
AnswerID: 354441

Reply By: Mad Cowz (VIC) - Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 23:02

Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 23:02
One of my employees has a mate who ventures down into the mud of the otways in a ford courier, apparently he gets along fine
Carpe Cerevisi

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AnswerID: 354443

Follow Up By: Best Off Road - Tuesday, Mar 17, 2009 at 19:48

Tuesday, Mar 17, 2009 at 19:48
I've got one of those.

Gets me everyhere I want to go with standard suspension and chit tyres.

I must add my days of driving "challenging" tracks for the sake of it are over. Still, it's got good ground clearance and easily handles some pretty severe stuff.

Experience (and I'm still a novice) has taught me that it's more about the driver than the car.

FollowupID: 622729

Reply By: rocco2010 - Tuesday, Mar 17, 2009 at 00:51

Tuesday, Mar 17, 2009 at 00:51
Good evening

coming home from work tonight on the freeway south in Perth I passed a 2WD Hilux flat top towing a troopy with what looked like a nylon strap. troopy looked like a real outback vehicle too, dual spares on back and hi-lift jack as well and NSW rego. No sign of an EO sticker ha ha

dunno whether that helps with the original question but you have to ask what the hell was going on there?



AnswerID: 354456

Follow Up By: Dennis Ellery - Tuesday, Mar 17, 2009 at 10:37

Tuesday, Mar 17, 2009 at 10:37
Thank god it was being towed by another Toyota - how embarrassing if it had been a Nissan – us Troopy owners are sensitive people you know.
FollowupID: 622657

Reply By: get outmore - Tuesday, Mar 17, 2009 at 10:43

Tuesday, Mar 17, 2009 at 10:43
I guess it goes without saying but any of them will need decent tyres and a bit of lift before taking them off road

this bog stocker failed to proceed on sthis section myself and a rangy got straight up
AnswerID: 354500

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