Newbie Experiences Buying a 4wd

Submitted: Friday, Jul 03, 2009 at 14:10
ThreadID: 70359 Views:3488 Replies:9 FollowUps:15
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G'day Guys,

Hoping our experiences will assist other newbies with their Great Escape. A very sincere thankyou to all the gurus out there who helped with ours. Your expertise, honesty and generosity are greatly appreciated.

I am no expert but I have spent a fair bit of time engineering motor vehicles. I have no allegiance to any brands and when I can't draw from personal experience I go with the majority from forums like this one. This is what I have found after about 18 months of dreaming and scheming.

We finally ended up with a $35k 2004 Prado VX Petrol. Our priorities were safety, reliability, towing (min 2,500kg), value for money and medium off road capability. We basically looked at every vehicle out there but the Prado ticked all the boxes and surprisingly provided the best value for money for a vehicle fitted with curtain airbags and stability control etc. Sequential gas injection with flash lube will be fitted by LPGas1 in a week (results of more research).

Please find some bullet points which helped our decision below
o Diesel would be ideal for towing however we could not justify the costs since most of our driving will be non-towing. We are hanging on to the car so re-sale was not a major consideration. We are not bush bashing so fuel supply was not a concern.
o In terms of reliability, dealer support etc. Toyota No. 1 followed by Mitsubishi, Nissan, Landrover and the rest.
o New model Pajero was the original choice due to value for money and 3000kg towing capacity however after checking towball weight discovered it could basically only tow 2500kgs and came out with curtain airbags after Prado.
o Landcruiser would have been the business but we did not have $80k to spend on the 200 Series to get curtain air bags.
o Nissan 3.0L diesel too higher risk with reliability. 4.8L petrol really good value but no curtain airbags. Lose main fuel tank with gas conversion.
o Landrover D3, the bees knees but too higher risk with reliability and lack of dealer support. Great to buy second hand due to depreciation.
o Pathfinder really good with 3000kg towing but generally just not as good as Prado. Could not find much wrong with them.
o Terracan, Grand Cherokee, Explorer, Territory etc. crossed off the list for similar reasons to above.

The above is purely my humble opinion. We could not be happier with our choice. Toyota make a fantastic product and I understand why they are No.1 in the car industry (I used to work for a competitor). We placed a very high priority on safety which drastically limited our choices however we have no regrets. Hopefully we will never have to find out if we chose wisely.

Our parting advice is to take your time, determine your priorities, listen to the experts, ask lots of dumb questions and try to remove emotion from the process ... good luck !

Take care,

Chris and Jezz.
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Reply By: Member - Andrew (QLD) - Friday, Jul 03, 2009 at 14:29

Friday, Jul 03, 2009 at 14:29
My feeling from your experience was that curtain airbags was the governing factor. To me it seems the weighing of these airbags was too high, and anything without one didnt even get a mention. i'm still not convinced that curtain airbags alone equates to a better safety rating, only if side impacted i guess.

Not saying your choice and opinion isn't a good one, just the focus seems to be skewed towards a obscure feature.

AnswerID: 372916

Reply By: Mr Pointyhead - Friday, Jul 03, 2009 at 14:36

Friday, Jul 03, 2009 at 14:36
Now you have a nice vehicle you should consider joining a 4wd club ....

AnswerID: 372919

Reply By: tim_c - Friday, Jul 03, 2009 at 15:00

Friday, Jul 03, 2009 at 15:00
It seems you were just looking for a set of curtain air-bags, ideally with some sort of car attached as though that's the only thing your safety depends on - I really hope you're not expecting to ever use them (perhaps you didn't see
ThreadID: 69062?!)

Seriously though, the Prado is a great vehicle and I'm sure it won't disappoint - I hope it serves you well.

BTW: I HATE the term "bush bashing" - it conjures up the view of 4WDers that the anti-4WD lobby is eager to promote.
AnswerID: 372924

Follow Up By: Member - Tour Boy ( Bundy QLD) - Friday, Jul 03, 2009 at 15:51

Friday, Jul 03, 2009 at 15:51
That guy is a doofus, if they had activated at that slow speed then they all probably would have had serious neck injuries. Also if it rolled more than once and they did activate on the first roll would he complain that they didn't re-activate for an indefinate amount of rolls?

ChristaJezz I am also going to purchase a Playdoe soon and side curtain airbags aren't high on the priority for me. I'd deactivate them all if I could as I've seen too many injuries from front air bags in relatively minor accidents.

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FollowupID: 640172

Follow Up By: tim_c - Friday, Jul 03, 2009 at 16:22

Friday, Jul 03, 2009 at 16:22
"That guy is a doofus..." I totally agree Dave - I only mentioned it tongue-in-cheek because of the apparent importance on curtain air-bags in the decision above
FollowupID: 640174

Follow Up By: bgreeni - Monday, Jul 06, 2009 at 19:18

Monday, Jul 06, 2009 at 19:18
I have recently taken delivery of a Prado GXL and I took the option pack which includes side curtain air bags and stability control.

I consider the money for the additional safety well spent as I place a premium on my and my wife's safety. I also hope I never find out how they work.

I know there may be some situation when the air bags will make things worse, but almost certainly not life threatening. On the other hand they may well save our lives. Similar the traction control. Maybe it degrades the off road performance slightly (not totally convinced that this is the case) but it certainly may save our necks so again worth while.

FollowupID: 640504

Reply By: Flywest - Friday, Jul 03, 2009 at 16:47

Friday, Jul 03, 2009 at 16:47
Sitting waitingin the car yesterday firthe missus at a Dr's appointment, and i hear a really loud bang, sounds like metal crunching.

A ute drove past & I figured it musta been his metal tool boxes bouncing as he went over a speed bump.

Then I looked the other way up the street - and a Prado rear ended a Commode at the lights - was the source of the noise.

Couple guys pushed the Prado off the road and up onto the footpath right in front of where I was parked.

It looked like a brand spanker too, not even any accessories fitted yet, straight off the showroom floor by the look.

Sadly there was a little baby injured - not sure how, whether it wasn't in a capsule or what but the mother was freaking and the kid howling (usually a good sign not too much is wrong), and even more fortunately it was right out front of the Drs surgery and two docs in whote coast were out there licketty spit to tend to the child & mum.

They called for an ambulance and took the bub away with the still howling mum.

Thing is the injured child came from the prado, which seemed to have all air bags deployed, and a child capsule in the rear seat - all i can figure is that the side air bag when it went off somehow injured the child...whether it burst and thematerial whipped the kid in the face or what I'm not sure!

It wasn't pretty lets put it that way!

The commode seemed to come off pretty well - young guy with no injuries and I couldn't see any damage to his vehicle.

The Prado on the other hand was still self destructng ten minutes later - bits were falling off by their own effort - windscreen was busted, all the front skirt gone, front doors creased etc etc.

Maybe a write off - roofline seemed to have buckled, to allow the doors to get messed up.

The Prado did what it was meant to do and crumpled like a pretzel under the leg of a bar stool, but the only injuries semeed to be to the baby in the Prado.

It was at traffic lights - one car stationary (commode) and Prado at maybe 40 or 50 k's tops (under heavy brakes more like 10 or 15 kph) that ran up the back of the stationary one.

There was a disproportionately loud bang and a LOT of damage for such a minor bingle IMHO.

What that says bout Prados i don;t know - that they crumple well and that all the air bags will let go when they need too?

Just seemed like a small rear ender basically wrote off a new prado was all.

One wonders how they will hold up in supermeket car parks and the like -a good shopping trolley hit might write the car off and deploy all the airbags.

Maybe it was just me - but the commodre and driver seemed to walk away basically unscathed.

All the damage and all the injuries - were from the Prado.

Was a shame to see a nice shiney new car like that all bingled as badly as it was.

I guess if circumstances were different it might have been the commmode that came off second best!

I felt sorry for the kid driving the commode- he was morified that the baby was injured and felt it was his fault even tho he was stationary at the lights waiting his turn and the other guy hit him - you could see he felt like it was his fault the baby was injured and he wasn't taking it well at all.

Glad it wasn't me!

AnswerID: 372941

Follow Up By: tim_c - Friday, Jul 03, 2009 at 17:18

Friday, Jul 03, 2009 at 17:18
Let's remember that airbags are not nice soft feather-filled pillows - they explode very agressively. If airbags have gone off, it would make some kids cry simply because of the shock from the sudden & loud sound (try popping a balloon at the local playgroup - some of the kids will get a fright and cry). Combine this with the sudden increase in air pressure inside the cabin (often enough to dislodge the rear window glass) which would no doubt be felt at least in the ears. If that's not enough to make a kid cry, the smell of the burnt gas which activated the airbags sure would be!

I can't comment whether the kid was really injured or not but just because the kid was screaming, doesn't mean he/she was injured. All I'm saying is that airbags going off would give a rude enough shock to bring a kid to tears even if there were no other injuries.

Having said all that, given the choice I'd still have an airbag explode in my face rather than face-plant into the steering wheel or dashboard.
FollowupID: 640180

Reply By: Member - Flynnie (NSW) - Friday, Jul 03, 2009 at 22:26

Friday, Jul 03, 2009 at 22:26

Each person has different needs to the next and comparisons of vehicles are pretty subjective.

That said I think it is useful to ask are you after a car or a truck? If you are after a car, things like side curtain airbags and a good safety rating are important. If you are after a truck they are less important or perhaps even a hindrance. Same for stability control - good in a car, probably dubious in an off road truck.

If you are after truck features things like load carrying, range, structural strength and towing capacity dominate over modern safety features. Is there a vehicle that covers both well? IMHO no!

So it comes to choices and what compromises one is prepared to accept. Me, well I have a perfectly adequate car so the 4wd choice was skewed very much to truck features. No abs, no traction control beyond optional diff locks, no air bags etc but a pretty good truck nonetheless.

Most importantly it can do what I got it for. So if the vehicle can do what you got it for than it is a good choice. None of us are after exactly the same thing in a vehicle. Maybe that is why there are so many vehicles on the market with happy owners.

That said I would agree with others that airbag features were more important in your choice than they would be to most people looking for a similar vehicle. But who knows, they may just save your life one day.

AnswerID: 372994

Reply By: ramrod18 - Saturday, Jul 04, 2009 at 20:42

Saturday, Jul 04, 2009 at 20:42
hi everyone,

need some reassurances as i think i may have dropped a huge clanger! ive just purchased a toyota kluger 2.4l to pull my jayco dove camper (tare 900kgs). the dealer said its good for up to 1500kgs but after looking at some american sites im starting to panic!! anyone have any knowledge/experience wiith these wagons pulling that sort of load? i wont be off-roading. just going to campsites. its a 4wd model if that helps.

AnswerID: 373105

Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Saturday, Jul 04, 2009 at 20:52

Saturday, Jul 04, 2009 at 20:52
Never rely on what the salesman says What does the handbook say.

If you campers tare is 900kg it shouldnt weigh more than 1200kg loaded or it may be illegal.

FollowupID: 640306

Follow Up By: Tenpounder (SA) - Monday, Jul 06, 2009 at 23:24

Monday, Jul 06, 2009 at 23:24
Hi there. According to the internet (Red Book) the early model Kluger had a max towing mass of 1500kg like the dealer said. Mind you, the engine capacity is not the same, but heh. I don't know where Graham H gets his info from about the max payload of 300kg, but then he comes from Queensland, and anything can happen to road rules up there.
I suspect the Kluger may struggle a bit with a 2.4 litre engine pulling a tonne and a half of Jayco, but give it a try before you get upset!!
Good luck!
FollowupID: 640546

Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Tuesday, Jul 07, 2009 at 10:29

Tuesday, Jul 07, 2009 at 10:29
Most single axle Vans have a payload limit of 300kg and most tandems have a 400kg.
Doesnt matter whether its Queensland or Mexico.

Not that anyone seems to adhere to it. After 5 months on the road it seems like Chuck it in till the springs point down and away we go.

FollowupID: 640574

Follow Up By: Tenpounder (SA) - Tuesday, Jul 07, 2009 at 11:09

Tuesday, Jul 07, 2009 at 11:09
Hi there Graham. I agree there's not much difference between Queensland and Mexico.
Elsewhere in the World, the payload is determined by ATM minus Tare. But if the Tare is a fiction ( i.e. the real empty mass is way up on the notional Tare) the real available payload may be much less.
But the real answer is to find out the ATM of the Dove, not to assume the Tare plus an arbitrary 300kg. #00 kg may be way too much, or even a bit too little.
FollowupID: 640575

Follow Up By: Tenpounder (SA) - Tuesday, Jul 07, 2009 at 11:14

Tuesday, Jul 07, 2009 at 11:14
Oops. 300, not #00.
Have a good day, Graham. Just having a stir.
FollowupID: 640576

Follow Up By: ramrod18 - Tuesday, Jul 07, 2009 at 11:26

Tuesday, Jul 07, 2009 at 11:26
the atm of my dove on the plate is 1220kg
FollowupID: 640579

Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Tuesday, Jul 07, 2009 at 12:10

Tuesday, Jul 07, 2009 at 12:10
Well thats the limit that it can be loaded and be legal.

So you probably have nothing to worry about Just remember the towball weight is part of the load in the car.

So maybe look at what the car can carry as its The cars GVM minus the towball weight equals the amount you can load into it including fuel.

So you,wife 3 kids all the gear and a tinny on top will probably exceed its capacity.

Lovely this caravnning isnt it.

FollowupID: 640583

Follow Up By: ramrod18 - Tuesday, Jul 07, 2009 at 12:47

Tuesday, Jul 07, 2009 at 12:47
err youve lost me there graham!

the curb weight 1700kgs. ball weight 110kgs. only 2 little kids and no tinny. how are we looking?

FollowupID: 640585

Reply By: ramrod18 - Saturday, Jul 04, 2009 at 21:13

Saturday, Jul 04, 2009 at 21:13
thanks graham,

unfortunately the handbook is in japanese! had a search on the internet but cannot find any figures specific to this part of the world. Its really stressing me out. Probably only tow 6-7 times a year so i just wanted something that wouldnt be too thirsty for everyday driving. I feel a right idiot for not researching this better!
AnswerID: 373110

Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Saturday, Jul 04, 2009 at 22:25

Saturday, Jul 04, 2009 at 22:25
Still has figures in english go and ask a dealer (nicely)

Hope you can insure it if its an import. I was going to buy one but no one would touch it.

FollowupID: 640311

Reply By: ramrod18 - Monday, Jul 06, 2009 at 18:06

Monday, Jul 06, 2009 at 18:06
no joy.
phone toyota and because its an import they couldnt give me a tow rating for it. all i want to know is will it pull my jayco dove. anyone got any ideas? this will teach me to save on fuel when not towing. should have bought a 3.4 prado!
AnswerID: 373340

Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Monday, Jul 06, 2009 at 19:27

Monday, Jul 06, 2009 at 19:27
Ok If you really want to know its capability you could ring a Toyota dealer in New Zealand as due to the number of Jap imports most Toyota dealers have the CD's of all parts and can probably tell you what you want to know.
You will need its full chassis and engine numbers to do this.

Other than that if it has a towbar look at the compliance plate on that.
As you can only legally tow the lighter of the car or the towbars rating it shold answer the question.

FollowupID: 640507

Reply By: ramrod18 - Tuesday, Jul 07, 2009 at 04:20

Tuesday, Jul 07, 2009 at 04:20
Thanks guys,

after more and more research and phone calls it seems to be the general consensus that the tow rating will be around 1500kg so although the kluger will struggle it should be ok with a load of 1100kgs. better avoid road works on steep hills though...
AnswerID: 373409

Follow Up By: HGMonaro - Tuesday, Jul 07, 2009 at 11:17

Tuesday, Jul 07, 2009 at 11:17
if it's legal and safe (since we don't advocate otherwise) and struggles, just take your time!
FollowupID: 640577

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