Suzuki Vitara (or similiar) tips and buying info

Submitted: Saturday, May 23, 2009 at 23:01
ThreadID: 69116 Views:13802 Replies:15 FollowUps:37
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Hi all,

Guess you have heard all this before but I couldnt find a thread relating to it all so I thought I would start one up.

I am buying my first 4wd and I have no previous 4wd experience (but plenty of camping). Although I have yet to get the money (1-2 months probably), I want to set a budget of approximately $5,000. Also, this vehicle will be used much more frequently for day-to-day use, than 4wd'ing.

I have been trying to do as much research as I can, and considering that I will be using the car mostly for getting around the suburbs and highway driving, I would like something with a smaller engine to save me some money on fuel. The car I have in my sights at the moment is a Suzuki Vitara, probably a late 80's to a mid-90's model. I have also looked at others like the Daihatsu Feroza, Suzuki Sierra, and Daihatsu Rocky (though the 2.8D, which I quite like, doesnt fit my "save-the-fuel" bill).

What I dont know, is the details of this vehicle (the Vitara). I figure I can get one in my rough price range, however there are usually around 200,000kms on the clock. My understanding is that the 1.6L is pretty good til 200-250K, but after that a rebuild might be necessary.

Also, I found one online with a stuck-in-2wd-transfer case... I did some research on it, and it seems to be a common problem... I even found one site that gave me a fix for it (replace the shift-sheet, which appeared to me to be just a rubber grommet).

I was also wondering if there are other major issues I should be looking at in either the naturally aspirated, or EFI models?

Regarding the 4wd as a 4wd... how capable is it? Since I am a beginner, I most certainly will not be tackling anything major, for example anything requiring a snorkel... but that very well might come later. I am wondering if this is a 4wd that can do some real offroad work, should I be interested in doing it later that is.

And I guess I was looking for any other general info anyone could throw at me about it (or its counterparts)...

I have been looking on and are there any other good places to look?

I did a bit of a summary of the questions down the bottom because I know this is quite an essay! Sorry about that, I am just trying to get a feel for the vehicle before I make a purchase (which is still a little while away).

Thanks guys,


1) Cost of rebuild?
2) Is the transfer case/gearbox a common problem area?
3) Are there other issues I should be looking at?
4) How capable is this 4wd?
5) Are there other online sales places to look?
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Reply By: OzTroopy - Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 01:23

Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 01:23
Just some generalisations.

Feroza is a stronger vehicle than suzuki. Wide track models are the ones to look for.

The Sierra is a better rough and tumble fun vehicle.

The diesel Rocky in a swb will be the best performer in most offroad situations ... if you can find one for sale with out too much rust ... ( pre gal panels )

The Rocky in the longer wheelbase will let you fit more camping gear. Quite a few around in very good nick.

Vitara is quite reasonable and would probably be the better, regular bitumen use vehicle. The feroza was quite good but still had the solid, light truck, build quality in the running gear ... so was not as dainty to drive.

What makes you think the 2.8 diesel wont save you fuel ??? ... Loaded up your usage figures wont change much compared to a petrol having to perform harder. I used to get an average 28mpg out of the old 2.5l models ... empty or towing ... plenty of original ones still plonking around in paddocks with 400,000 + on the clock.
AnswerID: 366419

Reply By: GiveItAGoGavo - Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 02:03

Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 02:03
Hey there, Thanks for the reply Troopy!

Ok to try and sum up the answers, I actually just assumed that a 2.8D would cost more than 1.6petrol. I can understand the petrol has to work harder when fully loaded, but the flipside for me is that I do not think I will be 4wd'ing too much initially, and general driving will end up costing me quite a bit.

The other thing that made me look at the Vitara (or perhaps the Feroza) is the availability. There are practically no Rockies about for purchase, which makes me think its difficult to get parts. The Sierra is still sort of about but the kms are higher and the cost about the same as a later model Vitara.

Having said that, I really would like to get the most capable, but I have a strange feeling "capable" and "economical" are certainly not going to go hand in hand!

So I guess your opinion is that a Rocky is better than a Feroza which is better than a Vitara, but this is generally for actual 4wd use? I dont mind a bit more of a "truck" feeling on the Feroza, I just read somewhere that they are harder to buy parts for (and costlier), and modifications are more difficult due to an inavailability of aftermarket mods?

AnswerID: 366420

Follow Up By: OzTroopy - Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 04:00

Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 04:00
Lots of different aspects to consider now.

> " So I guess your opinion is that a Rocky is better than a Feroza which is better than a Vitara, but this is generally for actual 4wd use ? <

That pretty much sums it up in my mind ...... all capable vehicles - just built to suit different levels of offroad use.

Parts and availability ... Suzuki is probably the winner ... Feroza should still have a fair chance but Rocky stuff is getting scarce.

One other option ... later model SWB mitsubishi ... I know nothing about them but others here might.

Most capable 4wd ???? .... Totally dependant on the terrain it will be used for .... a great big flash new 4dr troopy on a beach will have rings run round it by a beat up old suzuki sierra ... Take the sierra across the simpson and you will probably starve to death because you cant pack enough food in it .... ( just a little bit of exaggeration to make a point .... you might not starve to death ... LOL )

Economical ??? ... thats all relevant to the power to weight ratio ... Ive got a 4.0l straight six petrol in a midsized wagon that gets an average of 16l per 100klm for a mixed onroad / offroad trip (hi&lo range) ... and I reckon thats real economical - considering the engine size and junk I pack in it ... others would be horrified ... lol

Fuel economy is not really about getting 5l per 100klm ... its about getting a fair distance out of your tank of fuel ... in regard to the way your vehicle has to perform. Once you look at it in that frame of mind - things change a bit.

Despite the double rego costs ... a buzzbox runabout for urban use and a weekender 4x4 might be worth considering .... that would also expand your options in regard to 4x4 choices.
FollowupID: 634138

Reply By: GiveItAGoGavo - Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 04:52

Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 04:52
Well I agree that with what you have described to me here, and what I have read, the Rocky is a real hardy 4wd, and the Feroza is stronger than the Vitara, but like I said I am looking for something that isnt going 4wding by a super experienced person, and probably not even what you would call 4wd'ing, for some time at least. I know some people might use the argument that “a better 4wd is better for beginners because it can handle more mistakes” but there has to be some limit where cost outweighs strength for me.

The entire purpose of me looking at a Vitara is that its a small, light car being pulled along by a mere 1600cc engine. I expect to get extremely good fuel efficiency and while I know what your saying about how what matters with fuel is how much you get out of a tank, I doubt the tank sizes between the Vitara and something like the SWB Mitsubishi (I assume Pajero?) are comparable... so how I classify fuel efficiency is... how much do I spend each week doing what it is I usually do?

In my last car, a 98 Mitsubishi Magna, I would typically pay $30-$40 a week for driving. I expect that *pending no offroad stuff* I will get the same mileage from a mere $20 or so in a Vitara and I dont think I can get that with a bigger and heavier 4wd. In addition to that, I feel a bit wasteful driving a larger engined vehicle around all day when over 95% of the time, its being used in the city.. thats just wasting fuel as far as Im concerned.

So at this point I think I am sticking with my idea of a Vitara or a Feroza (the Feroza sure does look good to me, I am just a little scared away by the parts availability factor...).

This really is going to be a car for me, but I would like the capability to do some entry-level 4wding so I can have some 4wd fun and also take my girl camping to some more remote places.

But 2 cars is also a no-no.. I should have mentioned that right now money is not something I have in droves, or barely at all. This $5000 is going to be lots and lots of work for me to come up with, so double costs (and this is not just double rego, its double insurance as well as double initial costs like transfer fees etc) is out of the question for me unfortunately! :(

I understand what your saying.. you want me to get the best 4wd for my cash! I appreciate that, but I think that at this stage, with my experience (or lack thereof) and general requirements of the vehicle (which really is not going to be used for offroad stuff all that often), a smaller engined vehicle like the Vitara or Feroza is the choice.

The prices for the Vitara are actually less than the Sierras from what I can see, and the Feroza is sometimes a little cheaper, sometimes a bit more expensive, usually around the same as the Vit...
AnswerID: 366421

Follow Up By: Bushwhacker - Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 09:54

Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 09:54
Hi Gavo,
It seems to me that you have your head screwed on right, asking a lot of all the right questions regarding the suitability of different vehicles for your purpose.
It also seems like you have pretty much made up your mind regarding which vehicle you would prefer, regardless of the replies given.
I know its difficult to describe your exact circumstances... people would need to read your life's diary for that... so I suggest you just keep looking for a Suzuki, and buy the one that you feel is right for you,,, you will know it when you see it!
Happy searching, and happy trails. 'Whacker
P.S. I love Suzuki's, but needed something bigger... horses for courses,,, like I said, only YOU know ALL the details of your circumstances, needs & preferences
FollowupID: 634155

Follow Up By: OzTroopy - Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 12:16

Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 12:16
"The best 4wd for your cash" ...... That also meets your needs of the time ...

Its the reason I didnt list one vehicle as "better" than another ... Only you can work that out - by addressing the issues you are already considering.
FollowupID: 634170

Reply By: garrycol - Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 11:20

Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 11:20
It seems to me that you had already made up your mind before posting and am just looking for confirmation from the forum.

Just buy what you want - overall the 2.8 diesel is likely to be the most fuel efficient over the smaller petrols.

AnswerID: 366453

Follow Up By: Madfisher - Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 20:08

Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 20:08
I had a normally aspirated 2.8 rocky, one of the most reliable vehicles I have ever owned,but fuel economy was not brilliant. 28 mpg driving for economy on a trip and only 23 mpg towing my old boat which was only about 500kg. Upgrading the exhaust to 2in made a 2mpg improvement towing.Interesting I had a 2.6 swb Jack after this and it could almost match the rockies fuel ecomony figs and it was a pleasure to drive and would go places the Rocky could not(good LSD)

Good luck Pete
FollowupID: 634244

Follow Up By: tim_c - Monday, May 25, 2009 at 11:46

Monday, May 25, 2009 at 11:46
Actually, that's a very good point Madfisher - there are a few very respectable older Jackaroos around for the $5k region (even starting to get into the V6 ones, although they're a little more thirsty). I used to have a 1982 Jackaroo (1.9L petrol) and used around 11.5L/100km (city). It replaced a Suzuki LJ80 which averaged around 10.5L/100km (city) but was immeasurably quieter and more comfortable to travel in (as long as you weren't in a hurry!). It was also surprisingly capable off road and a lot more sure-footed than the Suzuki, even handled okay on bitumen.

Gavo, I think with any of the options you're considering you won't go too far wrong. They all got pretty good reputations, although as you say, some of the Rocky's are difficult to get accessories for (parts shouldn't be too much of a problem because they run a lot of Toyota running gear, and there are countless Feroza/Rocky's still running about in SE Asia). Any of them would be a good start for a fun intro to 4WDing.

With regards to the 'stuck transfer lever' in the Vitara - many of these were used only as cute cafe-cruisers or to carry the occasional surfboard to the beach carpark. Many of them may have never had the transfer lever used at all... I suspect this would be the cause of the problem.
FollowupID: 634332

Follow Up By: Madfisher - Monday, May 25, 2009 at 17:34

Monday, May 25, 2009 at 17:34
Tim yes their is a 4dr 2.6(the best motor in the first series) with 112000ks at a dealer for $5000.00. Adv in the trading post.Some of these 2.6s where used as courier vehiclesw in melbourne and covered 700000ks.
My 91 swb 2.6 was the most fun 4wd to drive . It had extractors and a sports exhaust and went as well as a hoted up HR holden I owned in the seventies.
Cheers Pete
FollowupID: 634357

Follow Up By: GiveItAGoGavo - Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 20:28

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 20:28
Hey Madfisher,

where did you find that Jack? I cant find it in the trading post?

Here i am lookin at the larger fourbies again but worth a look still I reckon!

Whats that about how they were used as courier vehicles? Are you saying you have seen some with up to 700K on the clock? That must be a pretty good donk, I heard of cruiser diesels being ok for 500K+ but 700K is a hell of a leap!
FollowupID: 634522

Follow Up By: Madfisher - Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 21:48

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 21:48
Hi Gav,
just had a quick look on line at Trading Post and found it. Go to Holden then Jackaroo . Its at the bottom of the first page.Its a 91 with112068ks, log books in very good condition but a 4dr.Ph no of the dealer is 029637 4274 Motor vehicles r us at Granville. Hate buying off dealers but this appears to be a good unit.
Another idea, Mates old 91 was rolled and although driveable has a bent chasis. Only had appox 160000ks, if you found a similar unit with say a head problem y7ou should but both for less then $2000 and you would have a heap of spares to boot.
The 2.6s with 700000ks where in Rodeos. Got the info Off australia 4wd forum which has a section just for isuzus. Lot of good reading their as well.
The 2.6s perform very well with extractors and a sports exhaust,which also improves fuel economy. My old 2.6 was much better on fuel then our 3lt Paj with similar performance.We now own a 98 se man and a 03 nullarbor auto. The auto is a shocker on fuel, but a beautifull vehicle
With chrome bore motors you only put in new rings and bearings and overhaul the head, as the bore never wears.
Do not forget courier vehicles are like taxis and never get cold. Its cold starts when 90% of your wear happens.
Good luck Pete
FollowupID: 634539

Follow Up By: GiveItAGoGavo - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 03:02

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 03:02
"They all got pretty good reputations, although as you say, some of the Rocky's are difficult to get accessories for (parts shouldn't be too much of a problem because they run a lot of Toyota running gear, and there are countless Feroza/Rocky's still running about in SE Asia). Any of them would be a good start for a fun intro to 4WDing. "

Hey Tim,

Do you know exactly WHICH Rocky's are difficult to get accessories for? I am lookin at a mid-80s one right now and Im getting REALLY tempted...
FollowupID: 634565

Follow Up By: tim_c - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 11:47

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 11:47
Hi Gav, I don't know for sure but I was looking to buy one a few years back (one of the latest model ones I think). It had no bullbar and the owner was telling me that after hitting a roo, he was trying to get a bullbar but no one made them (that was in 2001). He'd got a Patrol bar and was going to try to fit that. ARB sell ZIP for the Rocky's now but if the ones you're looking at already have all the accessories you want/need, it may not be a problem.

As for parts, try a few local parts suppliers (AutoPro, etc. as well as local Daihatsu dealer) for prices and availability (ie. can they order it overnight?) for common things such as filters (air, fuel, oil), radiator hoses, belts, timing belt, brake pads/shoes & cylinders (master & slave), steering (ball) joints, uni joints, etc. You'll soon get a feel whether they can supply or not. Could also try a few wreckers for some bits like lights, window glass, mirrors, grille or similar but they are usually not very willing to help. It would also pay to check the price/availability of tyres in the size you'll need in case it's a rare size.

The mid-80's petrol Rockys ran a Toyota engine & drivetrain (from the HiLux/4Runner) so bits will be available but I'm not sure where the diesel powerplant came from.

If you start into outback touring, I'd recommend you get something more common (eg. Landcruiser, Prado or Patrol) as most outback roadhouses carry very limited stock in parts and there's no such thing as 'overnight delivery' in many places - I once waited 3 days in Innamincka for a replacement Jackaroo fuel pump (and there's really not a lot to do in the town itself)!

Don't forget to post some pics of your new whatever-you-end-up-getting!
FollowupID: 634618

Follow Up By: Madfisher - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 13:59

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 13:59
Daihatsu have completely with drawn from the australian market. Therefore I cannot recomend them for this reason only.
See if you can contact member Muzbury as I know he helped rebuild his sons Rocky diesel, and dont it quite cheaply as well. I do not remember him mentioning hard to get parts.
If you cannot find an email addy get back to me and I will send him a member message. He is a top bloke.
Cheers Pete
FollowupID: 634638

Follow Up By: GiveItAGoGavo - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 17:43

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 17:43
Oh brilliant, thanks guys.

Yeah the lack of parts availability is a worry for me. I am quite certain though, that I am at least a few years off doing some real outback touring.. maybe to somewhere quite remote for a short period but more than likely no touring as I am only just starting out with a career, and getting a place of my own etc etc, I think I have to settle more for now.

Having said that, I was thinking I could simply keep my eye out for something possibly wrecked, or not-roadworthy and grab it when it comes up as a spare-parts machine.

I will certainly contact Muzbury and see what he says though. Nothing like first-hand experience!

oh and Tim, I read somewhere that I *think* said that the Diesel engine was Daihatsus until early-mid 90's when it became a toyota one, but I cant find information on that and I semi-doubt it because I dont know enough about Daihatsu to find if they were producing their own donks.

Anyway, Thanks for the info. It is worrying for me getting something so rare, but the price does seem right and I am hopeful to find one I can use for parts? Maybe its destined for disaster and I should save up more :)
FollowupID: 634688

Follow Up By: GiveItAGoGavo - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 17:45

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 17:45
Hey Pete, I cant message Muzbury as I am not yet a financial member.

Any chance of you sending him off a message for me? Would be fantastic thanks mate.
FollowupID: 634689

Follow Up By: tim_c - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 19:45

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 19:45
As far as I know, the diesel donks were from Daihatsu (but I'm not expert on the topic!). I don't know how deep the relationship is between Toyota & Daihatsu but if you go to it tells you that Daihatsu no longer sells new vehicles in Oz (I didn't realise before Madfisher mentioned it) but it directs you to your friendly Toyota dealer for parts. Also, they are sold by the same dealerships in Indonesia... go figure!
FollowupID: 634711

Follow Up By: Madfisher - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 20:14

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 20:14
Guys I think you will find toyota was a major share holder in daihatsu. The 2.8 d was Daihatsu own motor, old tech even in the eighties but super long lived and reliable. The 4 cylinder b 2 b and 3b used in shorty landcruisers where also Daihatsu truck motors, and had a better rep for longlevity then the 2h.
Gav I will see if I can truck Muz down.
cheers Pete
FollowupID: 634724

Reply By: Member - John D, Wandong (Vic) - Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 11:23

Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 11:23
Hi Gav,

"I have been looking on and are there any other good places to look?"

You could also have a look at the following sites...

Good luck with your search!

Cheers, John

AnswerID: 366455

Reply By: GiveItAGoGavo - Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 17:46

Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 17:46
Hi guys,

Actually its not that I have definitively made up my mind, but a large point of the post was to get information on the Vitara or similiar cars that may help me make up my mind on which is more suited.

I still dont see how a diesel twice the size is going to save fuel? Is they really that efficient? (I honestly dont know, never driven/owned/worked on a diesel)... but ok, assuming thats true, the Daihatsu Rocky is still out for me because they are scarce as hens teeth! A search on every website listed here (thanks for the links!) showed only 2 Rockies... 1 in Qld for 10grand, and one in NSW thats in my price bracket but its missing a RWC and I was hoping to get one with a roadworthy if I can... anyway even if I found the perfect one, I cant imagine parts are easy to come by or cheap when I do... THATS the reason the Rocky is a no-go for me.

The Feroza is still in the running (as is anything else anyone can suggest that fits the bill... if diesels are THAT cheap to run, then I guess it opens my options a bit but I dont know what those options are? Mitsubishi Pajero 2.5L TD? Only found 1 of those online at the moment... are there others?)...

Also, I was really hoping to get info on what problems the Vits or Ferozas have... noone has said anything yet about the transfer case issue, is it even an issue? These are all factors that will help me make up my mind. Sorry to give the impression that I have made it up already but I havnt (though I do have preferences), just trying to get all the right info!

On that note, I am becoming pretty interested in the diesel option... I really didnt think a 2.8D would outdo a 1.6P day to day but if it does, I find that pretty good because a diesel was what I originally wanted when I started lookin at 4wd's... my understanding is (subject to preference) that they make better 4wds because higher torque, less chance of starting scrub fires, etc etc... so... are there other diesels that might fit the bill? Keep in mind though that my budget is meager!

Thanks guys.
AnswerID: 366497

Follow Up By: Madfisher - Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 20:32

Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 20:32
Gav further to my post above Rockies are very reliable, but are very noisy in ndiesel form(they also came in 2lt petrol form. motor was the 3y toyota motor) In na form they are slow ( semis use to pass me up hills lol) most are now to old to consider and will require thousands spent on injectors , fuel pumps and engine rebuilds. If you can find a good one where this work has been done already that changes the situation. Member Muzbury son has one, and has rebuilt the motor at a reasonable cost.My mates 1.3 lt sierra use to do 35 mpg.
Most people on this site do a lot of long range touring so own full size yotas and patrols, so not the best place to get advice on the littlies.
good luck Pete
FollowupID: 634255

Reply By: ScottC63 - Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 20:47

Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 20:47
mEz has a Feroza, 93 model. Strong Vehicle, great on fuel, tank last me 2weeks going to work and back. I use it 90 on road 10 off road. Its my first off road vehicle too. I hope to set it up and use it more out in the bush.
AnswerID: 366536

Reply By: jezza68 - Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 23:28

Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 23:28
I would go the Vitara my neighbour has had his since 1994 and it has never let him down. The Suzukis are easy to get parts for and are very capable offroad.
The comfort is one of the best for the era you are looking at.
AnswerID: 366560

Reply By: GiveItAGoGavo - Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 23:58

Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 23:58
Hey guys,

Wow heaps of replies Thanks!

The Rocky really used to get me interested until I searched and found they are so few and far between now. Something my old man always used to rub my nose in was that rare cars cost more for parts and I have seen that myself pretty often... not to mention difficulty in finding parts.

35mpg sounds pretty good to me? Although I had to use the net to convert it but yeah that sounds pretty fair. 28mpg for a diesel I think almost balances out with the difference in cost (last time I checked, which was about 5 months ago, diesel was cheaper than petrol) and the extra diesel power is nothing to be scoffed at but like I said, and others have also said, parts availability to me is important. I reckon I can handle a bit of work myself and the ability to go to most any wreckers to get something and not have to order it is pretty appealing to me.

So it looks like I am getting a few people with a variety of opinions and some are agreeing that something like a Vit or Feroza would be about my kind of thing but does anyone know of any problems associated with these? I did read a forum somewhere, somewhen, that mentioned a couple of the few problems the Vits have (something cracks and leaks something, somewhere... not very useful I know) and that was important and when I started to read about this sticking transfer case it seemed that alot of people would say (possibly about the sierras/samurais rather than the Vits), that a stuck transfer case due to a corroded shift-sheet was an inevitability... anyway if thats the majority of things to look out for, it really seems to me that the Vit is something I really want to be looking closely at.

Someone mentioned a SWB Jackaroo? I didnt even know they existed, Ill check them out. The Pajeros didnt turn up too much for me, and a Cruiser is just too big (I know its a fantastic 4wd, but if Im going away 3 or 4 times a year, I dont think it justifies a big engine for the other 95% of the time, thats why Ive been looking at something a bit smaller).

And thanks to all for these posts so far, specially Pete I found that pretty interesting to read!

But Ill keep this puppy open in case anyone knows of anything I should be looking out for on any of these vehicles, or might have another suggestion that fits my needs?

Thanks everyone
AnswerID: 366562

Follow Up By: GiveItAGoGavo - Monday, May 25, 2009 at 09:03

Monday, May 25, 2009 at 09:03
Hows about a Holden Frontera? Anybody have experience with those?

I have been looking at EVERYTHING... if I could swing a few extra $$$ the Pajero 3L 2doors look fantastic but I dont know if I could do that.

Frontera looks in the range but I know nothing about them,
FollowupID: 634316

Follow Up By: tim_c - Monday, May 25, 2009 at 12:07

Monday, May 25, 2009 at 12:07
Hi Gavo,

I've never driven one but I've heard they are quite slow with a 2.0L petrol engine trying to haul 1700kg around. They share a lot of the running gear of the post-1992 Jackaroos. If you think Rocky's are rare, try looking for a SWB Frontera! If you're worried about parts availability/prices, steer clear of the grey-imports (ie. Isuzu MU).

Do you need a SWB? I used to have a 1982 LWB Jackaroo which was a lot quiter and more comfortable for travelling than the Rockys/Vitaras, etc. It gave a better ride on road than the Suzuki it replaced, and was also much more sure-footed off-road. I used to get around 11.5L/100km in mine around town (compared to 10.5L/100km in the Suzuki! - it was worth the extra for the comfort both on road & off).

Fuel economy doesn't just depend on the size of the engine. The weight of the car is probably more significant. The smaller engine just works harder (and therefore wears out quicker). It will also depend how hard you drive it.
FollowupID: 634334

Follow Up By: Madfisher - Monday, May 25, 2009 at 17:53

Monday, May 25, 2009 at 17:53
Gavo the 3lt Pajs are a good thing if in good condition. But do not expect economy from them. We just sold our low k 93 NH, very reliable but used more fuel then my 98 man 3.5 Jack.The Paj used to do 15 s with the canadian on the roof, and about the same towing my boat.
Stay clear of 2lt Frontera, they where not manufactered in Japan and had a poor rep for reliabity although good off road.
The last of the first series Jacks are a good thing. The 2.6 motor is a chrome bore motor the same as a Kenworth. My best economy from mine on a trip from Bathurst to Canberra through Crookwell was 27 mpg(sorry about mpg but thats how I use to work it out then . old fart you see). Short trips and arround town was 23 mpg.Mate had identical one with road tyres and got 30mpg sitting on 90.
Lastly Gav take as many 4bys as possible for a test drive. That 2.6 lwb with low ks in the trading post looks to be a good thing. ( NSW)
Good luck, hope to see on here again
FollowupID: 634363

Follow Up By: GiveItAGoGavo - Monday, May 25, 2009 at 18:43

Monday, May 25, 2009 at 18:43
Hey guys,

I reckon Ill give the Frontera a miss!

No I dont need a short-wheel-base, but I want one because I will be spending much, much more time driving around town with it and even the 98 magna sedan was not easy to park... considering my first car was a 72 corolla... i could park it ANYWHERE... thats how I am sure a vit or feroza is, and a swb larger 4wd would be easier I guessed, but its also a matter of room etc. I really dont need a massive 4wd... Im relatively young bloke, I dont take too many amenities camping with me and I really dont manage to get away that often. So these are the factors that had me lookin at the baby 4wds and the swb "real" ones.

The jack looked good to me til I kind of freaked out about that petrol usage!

I wonder, are we talking fully loaded for a trip, or just day to day? Someone earlier said they got fantastic economy from a suzi, pretty much what I expected for it.

And sorry Pete, I think I may have given the impression im in NSW when Im actually in Vic! (actually right now Im in Europe, but Im home soon).

I think test driving them is the way to go! Looking forward to it too.
FollowupID: 634370

Follow Up By: tim_c - Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 11:55

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 11:55
Hi Gav, you're right: a Zuke or Feroza would be easier to park than a larger 4WD, but you may be surprised that most 4WD's are actually smaller than your Magna (apart from height). Eg. the 1998 Magna is 4785mm long x 1785mm wide while the 2.6L Jackaroo that Madfisher was talking about is only 4380mm long x 1650mm wide - quite a bit smaller than your Magna!

Having said that, I got used to driving a Jackaroo and allowing for the extra space required when parking, then I test drove a Suzuki Jimny and was surprised how easy it was to park! The best way, as Madfisher pointed out, is to test drive a few different things - suggest you even try parking each one in a shop carpark.

As for fuel usage, I doubt the 2.6L Jackaroo would be any worse than the Magna?!

I just mentioned the early Jackaroo because I was looking to replace mine with a Rocky at one stage. After the testdrive, I got back in my Jackaroo to drive home and was surprised how quiet it was in comparison. The SWB 4WD's also pitch a lot more (giving a choppy ride), but they are a lot more fun! Depends if you'll have long highway runs to get to your campground or just a quick trip out of town, whether you'll be taking any mates as well as your camping gear, etc....
FollowupID: 634472

Follow Up By: tim_c - Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 11:57

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 11:57
Sorry, not trying to imply you don't have any mates - just questioning whether they'd travel with you or in their own vehicles.
FollowupID: 634473

Follow Up By: Madfisher - Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 13:49

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 13:49
LOL Gav,here I am thinbking that was fantastic economy for a 4wd, but then I use to own a Fj40 cruiser that use to do 11 mpg around town and 16 to 17 on the open road. Towing my boat 14mpg, use to take mates everywhere to help pay for the fuel, but awesome off road.Sold that when the first gulf war was on, and brought a 2lt 3 y swb Rocky. That done a whole 23 mpg on the open road(low gearing), and I was estatic LOL
Cheers Pete
FollowupID: 634478

Follow Up By: GiveItAGoGavo - Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 17:32

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 17:32
Ha Tim dont worry mate I wasnt offended! That followup made me laugh actually!

I can understand things being easier to park than my old magna, she was a long one for sure.

Regarding trips, not mates typically, just my partner. Im pretty resilient and the rough rides and a bit of noise are not a bother for me.

Pete: I guess its all relative eh? I suppose I just want to use the bare minimum fuel. I have had smaller cars combined with that magna, and she was a bit of a guzzler in my opinion, but I know the weight of the fourby can add to the fuel-efficiencey (or lack thereof).

I see a nice looking Rocky in NSW though... waiting to hear back from the guy, might be worth a 10h roadtrip with a mate to pick it up if shes roadworthy, because I am pretty keen on a diesel but I am super-scared of the rariety of those parts... have been reading horror stories about people trying to find replacement parts for the Rockies.

FollowupID: 634500

Reply By: OzTroopy - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 15:36

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 15:36
Since you are seriously giving other brands some thought as well ....

Daihatsu did not withdraw from the australian market .... toyota finally got a big enough shareholding to get rid of the competition.

The sales percentage of diesel 4x4 traybacks that toyota lost to daihatsu was quite amusing back in the early 80's not too mention the swb 4x4s.

A toyota badged Daihatsu F50 - the toyota Blizzard ( with toyota engines etc ) was a spectacular sales flop by comparison to the originals.

As toyotas shareholding grew ... the size (and opposition) of Daihatsus got smaller over time ... e.g. Rocky - Feroza - the pint sized Terios ... but they deny it ... LOL

click on this

toyota should still be responsible for the supply of spare parts.

click on this

This is one mob that were good to deal with and can organise rebuilds I think. ... Most Oz city & town councils used the daihatsu delta 2t / 3t tiptrucks/vans etc which used the daihatsu diesel engine so parts for them 2nd hand shouldnt be that scarce.

click on this

England / Europe has cult like Daihatsu groups ( internet ) much the same as the tojo / nissan "true believers" here ..... It will be up to you to sort the bulldust from the dust with everyones comments ... LOL

Have Fun

Whilst the Daihatsu is / was an excellent vehicle .... Im getting the feeling that the vitara may be better given the larger "in town" driving aspect of use ........ Still - the other might force your hand ... and send you off doing more exploring than you imagined ..... Not a bad thing in reality.
AnswerID: 366989

Follow Up By: GiveItAGoGavo - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 17:57

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 17:57
Gday troopy.

Thanks for those links.

I actually had found ToyHatsu and that gave me hope, but the dealer page is encouraging, assuming they still have parts.

I hope things like oil/air filters, bearings etc are available from places like Repco, specially now they have a 4wd range.

Its good that they are not THAT rare... if I did decide to do some outback touring eventually I guess it might be ideally suited, but then again I could always do the waiting game like Tim did...

Regarding the Vitara being a better option for me, I think you might be right... but this Rocky is a pretty good deal as far as I can tell (it is, after all over 700kms away)... VicRoads got back to me and said I 'might' need a victorian roadworthy for it, but under 3 grand with a NSW roadworthy and 12 months reg I think is better than any deal I might on a Vitara... then again maybe not.

So the Rocky looks good to me because it seems to be a much more capable 4wd, fuel costs shouldnt be too much higher, and its the right price, though I am not sure it has power steering... not sure how that will be for a 2 tonne vehicle. In any case, I am seriously considering her for sure.

Some people say buying a new vehicle is fun, I dont reckon! I just want it done and to be happily driving my new non-lemon beast!
FollowupID: 634693

Follow Up By: OzTroopy - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 18:39

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 18:39
A vehicle bought in fun ... can easily become a hassle. The hassles of choosing can normally lead to having extended fun.

Its a shame that the fun 4x4 class is almost non existant these days ... bugger all recent model, shorty play vehicles for newbys to get started with. Nothing but oversized, luxury, all wheel drive station wagons or mini farm trucks.

Unless you go for a TJ Jeep ... but somehow I dont think the yank 4.0l motor would be the petrol wowser you want it to be .... LOL
FollowupID: 634699

Follow Up By: GiveItAGoGavo - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 18:49

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 18:49
Yeah I reckon hassles galore but hopefully its worth it.

I wouldnt go near a Jeep, specially not with that motor!! Its about fuel for now :) and FUN :)
FollowupID: 634701

Follow Up By: tim_c - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 19:59

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 19:59
Just be careful - after driving 700km, you might be reluctant to walk away without buying the car. Enjoy the trip with your mate, and if you come back with an extra car, that's a bonus. It would be a bigger waste of the trip if you ended up bringing a lemon home. I'm not saying "Don't buy it", I'm just saying don't buy it just because you don't want to wasted a 700km trip.

Since the Vitara still seems to be on your list, you could line up a test drive or two in the same area (depending how much time you've got) and then you'll be able to compare the two and make your own informed decision on which one you like most (that is, if you haven't already driven a Vit). As for the transfer gear lever - try it and you'll quickly know if it's stuck or not.

I think I said earlier: I seriously think you won't go wrong if you got a good one of either the Vitara or the Rocky.

Hee hee, waiting game, eh? Ya, I was on my third 4WD before I started long trips (ie. longer than a week), and even that car I'd had for 4 years before my first big trip! What *was* I waiting for?! My first car was a Suzuki LJ80v and I had that on the road for only a month before I set off on my first week-long camping trip! Those were the days - and they're the days you're looking forward to! Enjoy, I hope to keep hearing from you in your new adventures.
FollowupID: 634716

Follow Up By: Madfisher - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 20:23

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 20:23
Gav my lwb ex diesel was 1380 kg on the rego papers. Real weight would have more, but never checked it.
Cheers Pete
FollowupID: 634725

Follow Up By: Madfisher - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 22:17

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 22:17
Tim my first 4by was a lj80 also. use to go 4 wheeling even of a night. Had a SLR lh Torana at the same time, what a contrast. Got the 4 wheeling bug bad, sold both and brought am immaculate fj40 shorty. Then two Rockies, 2.6 Swb jack, a 4 dr 4runner then my present 3.5 Jack.
But I have the fondest memories of that little lj80, it seemed to an adventure going anywhere in it.
Cheers Pete
FollowupID: 634763

Follow Up By: GiveItAGoGavo - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 23:56

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 23:56
Pete, that seems lighter than the figures Ive been reading about? Most of them are grossing it in at around the 2tonne mark. That would make it less than ideal on the soft sand/beach wouldnt it? Mind you, at this stage (and I know this is "subject to change") I am not even thinking about taking it to the beach... but who knows whats in the future eh?

Tim, I know what you mean bout not wanting to walk away from it after a 700km trip. Does make me wonder if I should even make the trip (or have a proxy make it for me, given my 16,000km extra distance at the moment! But dont worry, I would never buy something I knew was a lemon. My second or third car was VC/VH commodore hybrid, cost me 3 grand initially, then another 4 grand went in to it... eventually it sat there for about a year not moving and I sold it for a hugeeeee loss... not very fond memories of that. I really hope the Rocky wont turn into something like that if I get it. Its what freaks me out a bit about the parts factor, but the links troopy gave me still give me hope...

I guess it comes down to taking a chance on something a bit rarer like the Rocky. That gives me a "better" 4wd for outback Aussie conditions, but that comes with the caveat that its rare parts in remote locations which is unpleasant to say the least...

OR a Vitara/Sierra... relatively capable offroad, better comfort and probably fuel on road, easier for parts etc, but certainly no more of a tourer than the Rocky... plus with the Rocky I have the option of tugging along a trailer since it has some gutss...

I think thats a fair summary! (I hope!)

The Rocky im lookin at apparently is under 200,000kms with a reconditioned diesel pump 2000kms ago and near new tyres... I am hopeful its in good nick obviously but I have to admit I start to think the "what if" situation comes into my head a few times a day with it... what if I need to replace something relatively simple and it costs an arm and a leg or I have to wait a long time to get the part etc...

Oh and on the waiting to go on a trip... I reckon I might be waiting that long for a REAL trip into the outback, but I cant WAIT for it!! And I tell ya what, as soon as I can Im heading out in the new machine, even just local (probably Otways to start with) for a play around and to enjoy being out and about!

FollowupID: 634782

Follow Up By: Madfisher - Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 13:12

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 13:12
The last of the rockies with the ifs where a lot heavier, about 1795kg, but the early ones where much lighter. My petrol Swb was only 1220 kg . The 2000kg you are looking at is the gross weight ie loaded up to max.
Cheers Pete
FollowupID: 634848

Reply By: Member - Mary W NW VIC - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 20:53

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 20:53
I know it's not on your radar but what about a 4 cyl 300tdi Discovery
There is the odd one about with full maintenance records-very capable!
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AnswerID: 367052

Follow Up By: GiveItAGoGavo - Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 23:30

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 23:30
Gday Mary,

Thanks for your input!

I had a bit of a look around and couldnt find any 300 tdis around. Ill certainly keep my eyes peeled, but at the moment my research is pointing me in the direction of a Rocky, Vitara or a Sierra.

I am starting to learn the goods and bads of each.

Ill keep my eyes out on those discos though as well.

FollowupID: 634781

Reply By: GiveItAGoGavo - Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 01:28

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 01:28
Here is yet ANOTHER suggestion...

Suzuki Jimny... my understanding is that its the newest version of the Sierra. They seem cheaper than the Vitaras and, depending on who I talk to, they are more capable then them, despite having a smaller engine.

Any suggestions?
AnswerID: 367103

Follow Up By: OzTroopy - Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 02:14

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 02:14
Given that many on this forum are towing them around behind campers ... to use as mini explorers / shopping trolleys ....

I will probably be considered very rude for commenting that ... if a jimny breaks down .... at least you can put it in your pocket and keep walking .... lol

Might want to measure up your camping gear for two before making a Jimny decision ... or consider the Terios as well ....
FollowupID: 634790

Reply By: GiveItAGoGavo - Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 07:12

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 07:12
Hmm, alright maybe the Jimny is a no-go. Looks pretty tiny, but there is a pretty sweet deal (from the looks of it) in Sydney at the moment.

I looked at 4 runners and Pajeros today, not too much in the way of a diesel and nothing priced under $4,000... my budget has sort of fallen to $3,500 at the most.

The Rocky is still very potentially a go, plus there is a Vitara no reg or rwc in Vic (dont have to travel 7 hours!) with no reg, no rwc, and 280,000kms on the clock. The kms are super high but hes asking $2,700 for it, price negotiable. He said he thinks it just needs tyres but who knows what else... I think for that kind of deal (1994 model) I should get a bit of a better price on it, but I dont know about what it would cost to change out the engine when that finally goes, along with the running gear which I reckon is aging a bit. Also, I think its a bit of a worry that the ad says its a carby, when I thought they came out with EFI from 91 on.

Finally, there is a soft top Vitara, with reg/rwc Vit in NSW... this one seems really good, though surely there is SOMETHING wrong with it besides it being a soft-top.

Short of these, I cannot find much in the way of a Suzuki Sierra online... I got excited about these because besides their terrible safety record (same goes for the Daihatsu Rocky for that matter, according to, the Sierra is so very easy to work on, and to modify. Seems like parts are relatively easy and cheap to source and work can be done by practically anyone, plus they are super light and cheap to run, though the 1.3 has to be pushed harder in sand.

I think a Vit might end up being out of my price range unless any of the aboves are ok or another sweet deal comes up, the Rocky is still very possible if its a good buy, and a sierra... well I dont know what it is about them but they are VERY appealing to me!

AnswerID: 367107

Follow Up By: Madfisher - Friday, May 29, 2009 at 22:57

Friday, May 29, 2009 at 22:57
Gav for just you and your parterner, a Sierra or jimny would be big enough for trips up to a week. Sand is the only place you need power off road, My lj80 Suz was a look more capable then my Rockies. One other thing petrol Rockies handle far better then diesels, being half the weight and a lot lower and further back in the engine bay. My petrol swb handled very well, the diesel lwb handled like a dog, lots of body roll etc
O and the Jimnys had coil springing so ride much better then leaf sprung Sierras, but what you should be concentrating on is getting the best condition 4by for the money .
Cheers Pete
FollowupID: 635164

Reply By: Member - MUZBRY(Vic) - Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 21:15

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 21:15
If you want to talk about the Rocky , give me a ring during working hrs.03 9580 4853
Great place to be Mt Blue Rag 27/12/2012

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AnswerID: 367247

Follow Up By: GiveItAGoGavo - Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 08:09

Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 08:09
Thanks Muzbry, but things have changed and I cant head up that way anyway!!! Thanks heaps for the offer though. Sorry to have been a bother with it.
FollowupID: 635331

Follow Up By: Member - MUZBRY(Vic) - Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 09:23

Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 09:23
No bother or I would not have offered.
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FollowupID: 635337

Reply By: GiveItAGoGavo - Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 08:16

Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 08:16
Gday guys, Sorry its been a while since checking in... its been a bit crazy here! But Im almost home...

And.. or should I say AND... things have *possibly* changed...

Instead of getting the best vehicle for $3,000 or so, I might now have a bigger budget... possibly up to $10,000.

So... I suppose that changes the whole equation...

I still want economy but, I have to admit... I have been looking at Mitsubishi Pajero 3lt Short Wheel Base models... they are extremely appealing to me.

Besides that and the Vitaras/Grand Vitaras, Im not really sure what else to look at... (maybe hilux, jack, prado even... though I dont think 10g will cover a prado and I think theyre a bit harsh on fuel) I think anything bigger than a 3liter petrol is just going to become stupidly expensive (relative to my needs and budget) to run and maintain. Even the Pajero is semi-pushing it.. but I have to admit I like the idea of having a "real" 4wd... Hope I dont offend anyone saying that, I just mean having something that has been recommended to me as 1 of the 3 best sorts to take if I am headed out to the middle of nowhere.

Anyway, I am just starting to shop around and figure my way around... I am thinking a 2 door paj would be ideal (I dont mind the 4dr beasts, but theyre a bit big for my day to day use and I dont want it to be a t-tractor, even 95% of the time)...

So I guess this changes my initial question! I think with this money I will be looking at bigger, better things but I still dont know how many kms to expect and such.

Maybe I should start a whole new thread?


AnswerID: 367709

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