What 4x4?

Submitted: Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 09:06
ThreadID: 67175 Views:6341 Replies:8 FollowUps:4
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G'day. I'm a new member and in the market to buy a new (second hand) vehicle, I could really use some advice as to what 4x4 to buy. I have $30,000 to spend, I go bush (camping) often but don't do any extreme 4X4ing, I definitely need a 4x4 for some of the places & tracks that I go to, and would be towing a camper trailer.
I will also be using the 4X4 to get around town. Any advice on makes/models, petrol/diesel etc would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers, Paul
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Reply By: Robin Miller - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 10:28

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 10:28
Always a tough question Paul because whats best for one isn't best for another.

I went thru this one once from an engineers point of view and we all agreed the Nissan Patrol 4800 was the best car around , almost at any price, and when the guy went to sign up for one it had been sold and before they left the sales office they walked out with a completely different Nissan pathfinder mainly because "his wife looked good in it".

The technically best car for your situation as described is the patrol 4800 which dates from end 2001, and is available in manual ( my preference for 4wds) .

This car is the most stable (low c of g) and argueably the most capable vehicle straight off the show room floor (its still available new).
It has a long wheel base (good for towing) with strong chassis and live axles at both ends.
It has a very powerful engine with wide torque band from low revs. This gives it a very high primary saftey index.

Most of its servicing can be done at home and it has features like redundant oxy sensors and spark plugs that last at least 100,000kms.

Its only weak point is fuel consumption (typ 17lt/100km), it has a diesel 4.2lt cousin which is very popular, despite its very ordinary on road performance and many people go for it as the weekly fuel bills often dictate the real buying motivation.
In reality the petrol variant has the same true life cycle cost of ownership but those who want lowest cost to run put them on gas which works well in Victoria despite its range limitations.
Robin Miller

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AnswerID: 356063

Follow Up By: PB (Vic) - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 18:24

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 18:24
Hi Robin,

You have just added another dimension to my search criteria. Haven’t been shopping for the 4x4 with my wife and must put some though into which one she will look best in! ?
I appreciate your feedback, as it is important to me that I get a reliable vehicle that’s going to do the job.



FollowupID: 624158

Reply By: Member - Netnut (VIC) - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 11:56

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 11:56
Hello Paul,

I a retiree and owner of a late-model diesel-powered Toyota SR5 Dual Cab Hilux ute with a canopy and modifications for offfroad touring. I pull a dedicated hardfloor campertrailer weighing 810 kg when unladen. I have a few tips for your consideration.

Buy what best meets your needs; often you have to make a compromise. I bought the Hilux for its allround ability: accommodation, features, carrying capacity, economy, resale value, towing ability etc. If I could have afforded it I would have bought a turbo-diesel Landcruiser wagon. I have owned several Toyotas, a Landcruiser when the kids were living at home. So why not go with what you prefer !

Do you take other folk with you when you go camping? If you take the family or a group of mates, you'll need a 4X4 that can carry passengers, plus their baggage, some recovery gear and a full tank of fuel as well as pull the laden trailer. Most folk in this position prefer a station wagon or dual cab.

As to which make or model, I prefer not to nominate a specific vehicle for you as what I think might be suitable may not fulfil other folks'' expectations and experiences. That said, look at what's around you while you're touring or out in the bush. Ask questions of 4X4 owners. I do; they are usually very happy to talk about their vehicles and experiences.

Diesel or petrol or LPG. Dedicated outback and offroad travellers usually own a diesel-powered vehicle due to the widespread availabilty of the fuel. Diesel is also less volatile to carry in containers. I carry jerrycans in the ute tub when I need to. My old Landcruiser was dual-fuelled.

What's good for a tow vehicle? I live in Northern Victoria where many folk drive medium-sized or large 4X4s, the majority of the diesel-powered. In the large category the most popular are the Nissan Patrol and the Toyota Landcruiser wagons. In the medium category the Toyota Prado, the Toyota Hilux and Nissan Navara dual cabs, the Mitsubishi Pajero and Triton dual cabs are very popular. Vehicles in either category are used to pull all manner of farm and recreational equipment.

Be sure to get a tow vehicle that will easily pull your camper. I can tow mine in top gear with the Hilux, in 4th gear through undulating territory. A motor's torque output is important when towing. Capacity also matters !

If you plan to drive the 4X4 a lot around town you may find the larger vehicles rather cumbersome. The modern Hiluxes, Navaras, Pajeros, Prados and Tritons are more car-like. You may find a ULP or LPG-powered automatic vehicle better if you are a commuter.

Fuelling a medium-sized vehicle is a factor worth considering. A large 4X4 usually has a motor larger than 4.0 litres in capacity, the medium-sized vehicles tend to have a motor between 2.0 and 3.2 litres in capacity. I'm sure you already know lots about the fuel economy of different types and sizes of engine. If not, the Treks tab on the top of this web page will lead you to links with valuable information on fuel economy.

Think ahead. If you might eventually expand a family, tow a larger/heavier camper or a caravan or purchase more camping/touring gear or want to do more-challenging offroad trips, get the bigger and more capable vehicle. Patrols and Landcruisers are the most popular for long-distance and offroad travel. You can easily get hooked on 4WDriving and modifying your vehicle to make it more capable offroad. I am !

A good secondhand diesel 4x4 will travel up to - maybe beyond - 500,000 km before it will need its motor rebuilt. So, buying a clean well-looked after unit with 200,000 km on its odometer should be OK. I usually try to buy a secondhand vehicle with around 100,000 km on the odometer.

Go for a popular make and model as availability, spare parts and servicing will be easier - and maybe cheaper - to come by. Advice about a popular vehicle from this web forum would also be abundant !

Try for a vehicle which has a dealership represented near where you live. Makes of vehicle tend to be better represented closer to where the dealerships are located eg: Ford, Holden, Mitsubishi, Toyota and Nissan dealerships abound, whereas Jeep dealerships are mostly located in large towns and regional cities. It's a pain to have to drive a great distance to a dealership; it costs time and money ! That said, most reputable local garages/service centres will have had wide experience at servicing the popular makes and models. I prefer those that frequently service my type of vehicle.

Is buying a used-vehicle warranty a priority for you? If so, try the newspapers and 4X4 Trader magazines - the latter readily available from a newsagency - for dealerships. The latest edition of 4X4 and Campertrailer Trader has information/pictures on vehicles available through dealerships and private sales in Victoria, as well as interstate. Are you familiar with resources such as The Trading Post Online ? What of an auction of used government vehicles; take a mechanically-minded friend with you and you might find a bargain.

Happy searching,

AnswerID: 356079

Follow Up By: PB (Vic) - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 18:32

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 18:32
Hi Netnut,

Thank you for your comprehensive response. You have given me plenty of food for thought! I’m desperate to get a new 4x4 and get back into the bush. It’s a purchase we have put off for sometime and a big decision for us.

Thanks again,

FollowupID: 624159

Reply By: Wayne's 60 - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 13:52

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 13:52
Hi Paul,

My son asked the same question awhile ago when he started looking at a 4WD and while not vehicle specific,
My opinion for a long range touring vehicle, safer storage of extra fuel, older - less electonically controlled - vehicle will run once started without alternator or battery power. Appears to be less of a variance in fuel consumption.
Call me old fashioned, I like to be able to make my choice.
No flares to be damaged or torn off. Vinyl flooring and seats, on electric windows or door locks.
Has a tendancy to show less scratching and less of a pain to touch up the paint if required.

Other than that, it's your choice and a hunt through any number of forums will show that all vehicles have their own quirks.

BTW, my son bought a late model white 80 series Landcruiser DX Diesel and it serves him well and when I upgraded from the 60, I bought an early model white 80 series standard diesel. Serves us well for our purpose, the only outward difference between the two vehicles is that he has alloy rims and I have steel.

Wishing you well with your search and purchase.


AnswerID: 356099

Reply By: ozjohn0 - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 14:11

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 14:11
If you really don't need a full on Off Road 4X4 why not consider something like a New Kia Sorento.
Current run out models at $32K Drive Away with Air Con, 5 year warranty etc. is certainly atractive. These 2.5 CRTD have proved to be more than adequate for towing caravans up to an over 2000kg. If fact they're rated to tow 2800kg (pushing it a bit I would think) with a Ball Weight of up to 280kg.
My wife has a new little Kia Rio and we're extremely impressed with the finish and build quality.
I'll be looking at a Kia Sorento as my van tug later in the year when I'm due for a vehicle upgrade.
AnswerID: 356105

Reply By: Member - Bob C (NSW) - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 16:10

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 16:10
Hi Paul
I will endorse the Kia Sorrento as well. Ive had mine just over 1 yr and towed a 2tonne loaded van to Darwin and back with a detour to Lawn Hill and all round including over the alpine way and over Mt Hotham on Black Sat and am very impressed by the performance and fuel economy and the value for dollar is hard to beat.Great around town too.Good luck with your search
AnswerID: 356116

Reply By: Best Off Road - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 20:33

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 20:33
It's like buying a house.

The floorplan of a house has to suit your needs.

Same with a car. We find a dual cab ute suits us, but then again, our children are older and we have no need for a back seat. Hence our fridge lives on the floor where the backseats used to be and we have immense luggage space in the tub of the ute.

We previously had a wagon, and frankly it was a pain to pack.

Work out what you need space wise, decide on the type of vehicle, and then consider the options.



AnswerID: 356172

Follow Up By: kwk56pt - Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 16:25

Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 16:25
Hi Jim,I thought I might jump in here. You said" We previously had a wagon, and frankly it was a pain to pack.", I was wondering what you meant as the wagons have access through two side doors and a rear door or do you mean it was a pain to pack because the twin cab has more internal load space ? I only ask as I was cosidering a wagon myself and I was interested in your pain to pack experiences.
Thanks Peter
FollowupID: 624641

Follow Up By: Best Off Road - Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 18:31

Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 18:31

It's all about space. 80L fridge, big solar panel, porta dunny etc etc.

Side lift windows are a must with the canopy to allow easy access.

With only two of us I removed the rear seat and that is where the fridge lives.



FollowupID: 624670

Reply By: Bob of KAOS - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 20:41

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 20:41

I have had two petrol Pajeros in the past and they were great cars.

My bush car now is a Landrover but I would seriously look at a Pajero diesel of about 2006 vintage.Image Could Not Be Found

They are great tourers, and handle brilliantly around town as well.

They also look way better than any of the copies from Japan (read Prado).

AnswerID: 356177

Reply By: getmethehelloutahere - Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 18:50

Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 18:50
Hi Paul,
We have just bought a 2003 120 series Grande Prado for $32 000. It is petrol, gets about 11 l/100km on the open road, had 70 000 km's on the clock. It is great around town, and we intend to use it for camping, and some off roading on a trip around Oz. The only disadvantage is that every man and his dog has one- well actually lots of soccer mums but that means their is plenty of good ones on the used car market.
Good luck, Tim
AnswerID: 356625

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