Vehicle Choice 75 series ute or Forester

Submitted: Friday, May 18, 2012 at 13:08
ThreadID: 95643 Views:3422 Replies:15 FollowUps:11
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After a bit of advise from the more experienced travellers to central Australia.

I have a choice of two different vehicles to take on a trip from Narrabri to Uluru then on to Darwin towing a small camping trailer.

My choices are an old 75 series landcruiser t/back or a 2008 Subaru Forester. I will be taking my wife and a 10 year old child. Obviously comfort wise the Forester would be better however I am concerened I will be severly limited in where I can travel.

My preferred route would include travelling from Leigh Creek to Maree then on to Coober Pedy via Oonadatta Track and William Creek Rd.

The Landcruiser has a bit of age on it however is currently having a new motor fitted. The Subaru has a 100,000km on it. I am also concerned that in the event the Subaru did break down somewhere fairly isolated repair may be difficult as opposed to the Landcruiser.

I could of course forget about the dirt roads and just travel up via the Stuart Highway however we will miss Lake Eyre.

Any advise would be appreciated
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Reply By: Stan & Jenni - Friday, May 18, 2012 at 15:04

Friday, May 18, 2012 at 15:04
Cruiser would be my choice
AnswerID: 486136

Reply By: Rangiephil - Friday, May 18, 2012 at 15:40

Friday, May 18, 2012 at 15:40
How old is the cruiser?

IMHO a Forester would easily be able to do the Oodnadatta track and William Ck rd. I have seen all manner of Soft Roaders there. It is just a dirt road. that is as long as it doesn't rain. When I travelled on it, the William Ck to Coober Pedy road was the BEST dirt road I have ever travelled on in Australia and I had to conciously keep the speed down to safeguard the tyres.

The main issue would be the durability of the tyres, but if deflated a bit and the car not overloaded then they should be OK , as long as they are reasonably new on departure. And I would hope the camper has a very light drawbar weight.

I would not attempt the track into ABC bay as it is one of the most corrugated roads I have found anywhere , and would literally shake a Forester apart.
Regards PhilipA
AnswerID: 486139

Reply By: jay - Friday, May 18, 2012 at 15:45

Friday, May 18, 2012 at 15:45
Go with the Cruizer!! Better to be safe than sorry and you wont have to bypass or miss anywhere, just my opinion.
AnswerID: 486140

Follow Up By: passionfruit - Friday, May 18, 2012 at 16:33

Friday, May 18, 2012 at 16:33
Three people in a tray back ,no way.
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Follow Up By: jay - Friday, May 18, 2012 at 17:18

Friday, May 18, 2012 at 17:18
only 2.5 people really, a 10yr old wouldnt take up that much room ay
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Follow Up By: rocco2010 - Friday, May 18, 2012 at 17:42

Friday, May 18, 2012 at 17:42

I reckon the 10-year-old might like a bit of his own space, to read a book, play with some toys or whatever it is 10-year-olds do these days. I know my kids did when we travelled. You can't expect them to be looking out the window all day every day and he's not going to get much view of the world sitting in the middle in the front of a ute anyway ... and have you got three seatbelts?

I'd be taking the Forrester and scaling back on some of the adventurous tracks. The trip of a lifetime will turn sour pretty quick with an unhappy child.


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Reply By: bluefella - Friday, May 18, 2012 at 17:05

Friday, May 18, 2012 at 17:05
g,day Pete
cruiser mate
AnswerID: 486149

Reply By: Barry 2 - Friday, May 18, 2012 at 18:03

Friday, May 18, 2012 at 18:03
Hi Peter
I have a 2006 79 series L/C tray for the past 6 yrs traveled outback Aust it is a great vehicle for that kind of traveling for " 2 people " no way would I want to travel that many Klm's with a 3rd person even a child to squeeezy and I'm sure the child wouldn't like it much either especially if there not use to traveling long days in a vehicle.
I would strongly suggest for 3 people the Forrester and do as much as is practical you will still have a great time.

Good luck with your decision.

Liv'n the dream under the Southern Cross
AnswerID: 486158

Reply By: RodH, Sydney - Friday, May 18, 2012 at 18:04

Friday, May 18, 2012 at 18:04
I'd also suggest the the Forester - on the assumption that the trailer is light and you keep to the main tracks.

Rod, Perth

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AnswerID: 486159

Reply By: Rockape - Friday, May 18, 2012 at 18:22

Friday, May 18, 2012 at 18:22

from someone who spends most of his life in tray back cruisers and owns a troopcarrier I would pick the forester any day.

Only has 100000k on it an you will be much more confortable with the young one. Missus might be a lot happier also.

Just make sure you have the right tyres on the subbie.

The only better thing the ute will have, is much better carrying ability and storage space.

Have a good trip,
AnswerID: 486163

Reply By: Peter T9 - Friday, May 18, 2012 at 18:50

Friday, May 18, 2012 at 18:50
Thanks for the replies so far. The trailer is about 400kg unladen(750kg max unbraked capacity) with a tow ball down weight of 47kg. Forester is rated at 140kg tow ball down weight.

The Landcruiser is pretty ancient being a 1992 model however is in good condition.

I am really leaning towards the Forester now although am still concerned about issues such as availabilty of tyres and aforementioned breakdowns.
AnswerID: 486165

Follow Up By: disco driver - Friday, May 18, 2012 at 19:35

Friday, May 18, 2012 at 19:35
Take the Subi, fit new tyres and drive to the conditions.

Any vehicle can break down, even a Subi, but they are not that uncommon in the bush.

Happy wife, happy kid means happy life and no back damage from the unforgiving things they call cruiser seats.

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Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Friday, May 18, 2012 at 20:34

Friday, May 18, 2012 at 20:34
As a traytop owner, I'd take the Forester everytime over a 75series for what you're planning.

The 75series cab is way too small. Thats why it got enlarged in 1999. A ten year old would be badly squashed in the middle - its a long way to Darwin.
A 20year old Landcruiser can be reliable if perfectly maintained, but a trip like this will soon find out whats wrong with it.

I'd be more worried about the small camper trailer than I would about the Forester. You need good tyres on both with plenty of tread.
AnswerID: 486173

Reply By: Member - Royce- Saturday, May 19, 2012 at 01:22

Saturday, May 19, 2012 at 01:22
I've travelled the outback Landcruisers and several other vehicles, but it might interest you to hear that my wife two teenage kids and I towed a trailer heavier than yours across the Tanimi and up through Halls gap without any problems with a 1984 Subaru.

The road hadn't been graded and has some pretty heavy sand challenges but the Subie did fine.

Take the Forester for comfort.

BTW... parts for any car can be flown or freighted in to most places, just make sure that you have a good Road Side Assistance package and patience in case of a breakdown.
AnswerID: 486193

Reply By: rainbowprof - Saturday, May 19, 2012 at 11:18

Saturday, May 19, 2012 at 11:18
Forester and a Satphone. Kid can lie down in the back when you're out of town. Satphone and RAC landline numbers if you need them.
AnswerID: 486208

Reply By: rainbowprof - Saturday, May 19, 2012 at 11:32

Saturday, May 19, 2012 at 11:32
By the way, the Wabma Kadarbu Mound Springs Conservation Park is really worth a visit. If you get a chance to have a dip if no-one's around- magic! A detour a little bit up the Biirdsville gets you right next to Lake Eyre and you can walk out on it from one of the information lookouts.

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AnswerID: 486212

Reply By: Ozhumvee - Saturday, May 19, 2012 at 13:26

Saturday, May 19, 2012 at 13:26
Forester but make sure you have good preferably LT tyres and a "normal" spare wheel, no place for spacesaver jobs out here.
We're in Birdsville at the moment and there is a Subaru Outback here at the moment who is looking at tyre choices as he has one buggered normal tyre, a buggered spacesaver and will probably have to buy 4 or 5 new ones to get himself out of trouble. While they have tyres they are the next size up so as it is AWD he has to get four to prevent transmission damage.
AnswerID: 486215

Follow Up By: Peter T9 - Saturday, May 19, 2012 at 16:27

Saturday, May 19, 2012 at 16:27
Sounds like a nightmare. No spacesaver on the Forester and will take two spares.

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Reply By: Peter T9 - Saturday, May 19, 2012 at 16:37

Saturday, May 19, 2012 at 16:37
Thanks again for all the responses. I am glad I posted on Explor Oz and will now be taking the Forester. Will also put some new Geolander A/T-S tyres or similar on before I go.
AnswerID: 486222

Follow Up By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Saturday, May 19, 2012 at 17:26

Saturday, May 19, 2012 at 17:26

We have twice been to outback SA from Tamworth, once on the Stez track, once on the Oodnadata, in a Pajero towing a CT with 5 people. Those tracks were in better condition that the dirt roads out the back of Narrabri.
We did strike some shockers though aroumd Dalhousie Springs, but not where you said you were going.
So if you are comfortable with the Subaru and CT on the roads out the back of Narrabri, you should have no concerns about the Oodnadatta Track provided you have decent tyres on your vehicle and CT and you aren't silly with speed.

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Follow Up By: Peter T9 - Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 10:52

Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 10:52
Thanks Mark

You are right the roads around here are shockers at times however they are at least alot shorter.

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Reply By: Sigmund - Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 16:26

Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 16:26
We've done those roads and tougher ones in an 08 Foz with a CT with a total weight of about 750kg. No drama. Drive to the conditions; lower your tyre pressures by about 30% on corrugated/gibber sections.

As advised, put decent tyres on the car and take a compressor to reflate them when you get to the blacktop. The Geo's aren't bad, and are the only legal AT tyre you can fit to that Foz here in Vic. But I've been running Dueller AT 693s (no longer made; next will be 697s) which are marginally over-sized in the section measurement.

If the Subie has a full service history, it should be fine. Take along spare hoses and belts. Murhpy's law.

Also fit some Corflute to the rear window with velcro and/or duct tape; stones bouncing back from the CT can easily break it.

And stay flexible. Bottom line is after rain any of those roads may be closed. If you like the area and have the time, I'd suggest you continue on the Ood Tk to Oodnadatta itself, and then go down to Coober Pedy via the Painted Desert at Arckaringa - that's a knock out and much more interesting than William Ck to CP.

AnswerID: 486303

Follow Up By: Peter T9 - Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 19:39

Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 19:39
Thanks for your reply HTH/Sigmund

Out of interest what sought of mileage have you gotten out of the Bridgestone 693 tyres?

The original Bridgestones that came with my Forester were rubbish and only lasted 25,000km and I have been running BF Goodridge Long Trails ever since which last around 40,000km.

The BF's whilst being quite good aren't really an A/T tyre which is the reason I am thinking of the Geo's. The Bridgestone 697 tyres are however probably more readily available locally in my area.

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Follow Up By: Sigmund - Monday, May 21, 2012 at 07:29

Monday, May 21, 2012 at 07:29
Peter, the 693s have returned 38,000 km and are at about half the total tread depth. So take 1.8mm off that for the min. legal and maybe there'll be another 25k km in them. (Should say these are the LT version).

Folk in the industry often say that OEM and aftermarket tyres of the same brand and model can vary quite a bit.

The D697 is the successor to the D694 - with minor improvements acc to Bridgestone. They have a chunkier tread than the D693.

I like the silica in the compound of the new Geolandar AT tyres but older models had a poor rep for sidewall strength and that's a critical factor doing the roads we're talking about.
FollowupID: 761601

Follow Up By: Peter T9 - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 07:59

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 07:59
Thanks for that info Sigmund

Spoke to tyre service and ordered a set of 697s Apparently the whole 697 range is a LT construction.

The Geos apparantly have only got a passenger tyre construction with a 4wd tread and are not recommended.
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Follow Up By: Sigmund - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at 14:42

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at 14:42
Didn't know that about the 697s (local counter jumpers are about as useful as t*ts on a bull). Thanks for the post.
FollowupID: 761809

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