What truck to buy to travel around Oz with 2 kids in car seats?

Submitted: Monday, Jun 18, 2012 at 14:03
ThreadID: 96341 Views:2267 Replies:13 FollowUps:7
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Hi Everyone,

Genuinely looking for advice regarding what 4x4 truck to buy (used) to travel around Oz with my wife and 2 kids (1 and 3). We will be doing towing a 1700kg Windsor Rapid van for around 6 months and doing plenty of off-road tracks (Kimberleys, etc.).

I was thinking of getting a Prado but the fact that you can't open the rear door up too far when hitched to the van makes that a bit impracticle for the family.

Now thinking a Hilux, Navara, Triton or similar may do the job.

You advice is welcome as I have very little experience with these trucks.

Important considerations include:

Towing capability;
Comfort; and
Fuel efficiency;

Thanks for your help.

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Reply By: racinrob - Monday, Jun 18, 2012 at 14:40

Monday, Jun 18, 2012 at 14:40
Mick, I'm in a similar position and have been looking at a Mazda BT-50, talking to owners towing vans on a recent trip I did they all gave it a thumbs-up but then that's normal.
rr VKE237 6678
AnswerID: 488806

Reply By: GT Campers - Monday, Jun 18, 2012 at 15:17

Monday, Jun 18, 2012 at 15:17
opening the rear door (what for?) is really a very small consideration - and one that may be 'fiddled' by parking on an angle...?
AnswerID: 488810

Reply By: J&V - Monday, Jun 18, 2012 at 15:59

Monday, Jun 18, 2012 at 15:59
I recently drove my 100 series from Perth to Brisbane return to collect a camper trailer purchased in QLD. The trip reinforced my decision to buy the Cruiser some 5 years ago. I am a one eyed Cruiser fan and they are the only way to go if it fits within budget.
AnswerID: 488814

Follow Up By: aboutfivebucks (Pilbara) - Saturday, Jun 23, 2012 at 18:24

Saturday, Jun 23, 2012 at 18:24
You should rephrase your sentence to 100 series with turbo. I don't see too many guys talking up towing for 5 years with a non turbo 100.
FollowupID: 764403

Reply By: Member. Rob M (QLD) - Monday, Jun 18, 2012 at 16:09

Monday, Jun 18, 2012 at 16:09
Hi Mick,

If you like the prado, would changing the coupling to a lower, offroad style of coupling fix the problem with the rear door opening? Might be worth looking into.
Only a few hundred dollars might get you into your preferred vehicle.
Rob M

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AnswerID: 488816

Reply By: mcgarvey'slaw - Monday, Jun 18, 2012 at 19:06

Monday, Jun 18, 2012 at 19:06
Hi guys,

Thanks for the great feedback so far...keep it coming because the more I learn before I buy the better.

Access to the boot of the truck is important because the van is an expanda type van with little boot storage so the truck boot storage area will be valuable on the trip.

I'm happy with all other vehicle suggestions as I would like to test drive as many of the trucks that people suggest to get a better idea of the benefits of each of them.

Thanks again and keep the info and suggestions coming.

By the way, my wife and I are both manual drivers but having read that the Navara has clutch issues, does it really matter if we get auto or manual?

AnswerID: 488838

Reply By: Eric Experience - Monday, Jun 18, 2012 at 20:52

Monday, Jun 18, 2012 at 20:52
Reading you list of considerations leaves only one choice that is the VW Amarock. I recommend you drive one, you will be very impressed. Eric.
AnswerID: 488852

Reply By: craigandej - Monday, Jun 18, 2012 at 21:54

Monday, Jun 18, 2012 at 21:54
What about a troopy. We bought a 2nd hand 2008 GXL. Rear seats are up high, we have a 2 1/2yr and 1 yr old and they love it. We love the power & interior space.
AnswerID: 488864

Reply By: Member - eighty matey - Monday, Jun 18, 2012 at 21:57

Monday, Jun 18, 2012 at 21:57
Hi Mick,

my one eyed advice is to have a good look at a Landcruiser.

They are strong, reliable and comfortable. Towing a van you'd probably be better suited to a turbo diesel or petrol. The petrols cost more to run but they are cheap to buy.

Our diesel 80 series has just turned over 400,000 kms and it is like it has only gone 200,000. I have mates with 350,000 and 550,000 kms on the clock and still going strong.

The 80 series is almost unbeatable off road, spares and after market products are readily available.

Hoo roo,
AnswerID: 488866

Follow Up By: SDG - Tuesday, Jun 19, 2012 at 21:08

Tuesday, Jun 19, 2012 at 21:08
I could suggest my one eyed view with the Gq Patrol, with similar reasons as mentioned about the Toyota above.

Don't know anything about the GU's.
FollowupID: 764110

Reply By: GET ON ! - Monday, Jun 18, 2012 at 23:04

Monday, Jun 18, 2012 at 23:04
Hi Mick,I have had two seperate reports from my customers of Mazda BT50 chassis cracking under stress from corragated roads... One was on the Anne Beadell, where the whole group cut there trip short to assist the BT50 safely back to where it could be trucked out and repaired.. $$$. The other incident involved towing on outback roads for long periods. Another unhappy customer with a large bill. $. Have also had unhappy navara owners complaining of build quality... After many kms of harsh outback corragations everything rattles, even on the blacktop.. I've had 2 Patrols and 2 landcruisers. Both have never let me down on a big trip...
AnswerID: 488872

Follow Up By: GET ON ! - Monday, Jun 18, 2012 at 23:20

Monday, Jun 18, 2012 at 23:20
Oh Mick. I should also mention that later model Prados seem to have issues with dashboard cracking, rear door hinge area suffering stress fractures due to the weight of the spare wheel mounted to it. I believe only due to the harsh outback corragated roads... I have read about those ones in the newspaper cars section where readers write in with there problems and ask for advice,.. One guy had his rear door replaced by toyota. then when it happened again 10 months later, Toyota said it had replaced it once and that was all the warranty required.,, End of story.... All the best.
FollowupID: 764005

Reply By: Member - John and Lynne - Tuesday, Jun 19, 2012 at 08:16

Tuesday, Jun 19, 2012 at 08:16
Don't forget to do the touch test with how easily the kids car seats fit in and how easy it is to lift a child out or for an older child to climb in and out. Some vehicles are very tight, especially if you have two car seats and may need to get larger ones as kids grow! We have been through two other tow vehicles before giving in and buying the Landcruiser 100 series we should have bought in the beginning! If you need boot space it has plenty. When the grandkids are with us (4 and 6) it takes two large carseats easily and another adult can still sit between them! The kids are comfortable and not jammed too close together. The seats are easy to fit and we can get kids in and out easily too. It is a fantastic and reliable tow vehicle as well! Lynne
AnswerID: 488877

Reply By: Rockape - Saturday, Jun 23, 2012 at 20:25

Saturday, Jun 23, 2012 at 20:25
I am not going to even suggest what vehicle to buy but I will give try to give you the info for you to decide. I will go through the process.

1. Wether others like it or not Toyota have a great rep in the bush and this must be for a reason. I know why because I have put them through hell for years and seen all their faults. Most places you can get parts and help if things turn to crap.

2.Get a vehicle that can tow easily. What I mean by this is not what most will think. If the vehicle can't take of in high range up a hill without slipping the clutch I would not even consider it. Clutches on these small capacity turboed engines cop a flogging as the engine doesn't develop the torque until up in the rev range. They also cost a fortune to change. For those who wish to dispute this I also drive Hilux and Narvara utes. You will have to consider the load you are towing and the terrain you are towing in.

3. The problem of a broken chassis can be eliminated by not overloading especially behind the rear axle. Don't use air bags to hold up your suspension as the load on the chassis is placed at a point that was never designed for it and don't flog it over corrugations.

4. Don't drive it like a hire car and you will be surprised how far it will go and how little problems you will have.

5. If you are mainly on bitumen roads most vehicles will do the job.

6. Mate people have great stories about the vehicle they have and others have horror stories about the same vehicle. Keep researching on the net for their problems as they all have them.

AnswerID: 489242

Follow Up By: mcgarvey'slaw - Saturday, Jun 23, 2012 at 20:51

Saturday, Jun 23, 2012 at 20:51

Thanks for that great reply.

I completely understand where you are coming from and appreciate the sound advice. It does seem, from stories on the net and from the advice of friends, that the Navara, Triton, and even Hilux suffer from clutch issues when they are asked to tow for a decent distance. I would definitely like to avoid any problems in the outback and want something that will take the towing in its stride.

Driving to the conditions and looking after the truck is what I'm planning on...we will be in no great hurry and will simply take our time to get where we are going. With 2 little kids, taking our time is the name of the game.

I'm interested to know what you would recommend to get. Don't worry I wont hold it against you if I buy one the same and it breaks down in the middle of no where! Landcruiser????

Thanks again!

FollowupID: 764410

Reply By: Rockape - Saturday, Jun 23, 2012 at 21:28

Saturday, Jun 23, 2012 at 21:28
I won't recommend anything. One of the reasons for this this is the amount of money you are willing to spend for the vehicle and I don't really know how hard you wish to push it. Also I don't know if you want a new vehicle or second hand.

The old 4.2 Patrols were a great vehicle but they are getting long in the tooth.
The 100 series factory turboed cruisers ware also a great unit but again you have to steal one cause on one wants to sell them at leads at a reasonable price.

You will have to do lots of homework on the vehicle and get a general consenus.
The reason for this is some will have a great run with a vehicle and others will have the horrors. Have a look on the actual vehicle owners forums so you get an honest view of their problems.

If you are towing a van with a small turboed engine I would go for an auto tranny and make sure it has a good transmission cooler. These allow the slip when you wish to take off. In sand you won't beat an auto. All is a compromise between torque, drive, braking, uphill and down.

My old girl is getting very long in the tooth so in the future I will have to go through what you are going through. If I had the choice I would buy a brand new one of what I have now but that ain't going to happen.

At this present time I would be looking at a Dmax or a new Mazda but that could change very quickly.

I am afraid none of the new vehicles will do and continue to do what my old girl has. Let the tears roll.

All the best and happy travelling.

AnswerID: 489245

Follow Up By: AlbyNSW - Saturday, Jun 23, 2012 at 22:13

Saturday, Jun 23, 2012 at 22:13
Agree on comment about auto over a manual, an extra transmission cooler is about $120 plus a couple of hours labour to fit.
I have a current shape (07) model auto Hilux and it is a great touring vehicle but if I was doing extensive towing of a 1700kg van I would be looking at a bigger a vehicle like a Landcruiser etc.
FollowupID: 764415

Follow Up By: mcgarvey'slaw - Saturday, Jun 23, 2012 at 22:19

Saturday, Jun 23, 2012 at 22:19
I hope that I get the same attachment to whatever I end up buying...fingers crossed because I only want to do this looking around business at long intervals. Dealing with the salespeople is doing my head in. Trying to work out the differing opinions is also a confusing task but I'm starting to get the feeling that the smaller 4x4 won't do the job that I've got ahead of me.

Really appreciate you taking the time to help me out!
FollowupID: 764417

Reply By: Bigfish - Saturday, Jun 23, 2012 at 21:35

Saturday, Jun 23, 2012 at 21:35
Having lived ina remote area for a long time the vehicle I would never consider for towing or off road work is any of the lighter 4 door or 2 door utes. Hilux etc. They just cannot handle the constant towing and off road rigour.
They aren,t called "rollux,s" for nothing!
Get a good troopy, 80 or 100 series turbo wagon. Even a 6 cylinder nissan is a great vehicle. If towing a lot make sure you get the turbo model. Dont touch the 4 cylinder turbo nissan. Like all the other small 4turbo 4 cylinders they rely on high revs for power and torque. The low down grunt of the bigger 6,s is a joy to tow with.
The lighter utes often have chassis issues. Even the larger tojos and nissans also had some chassis issuesbut nothing compared to their smaller brothers.
Probably have people jump down my throat for bagging the 4 cylinder lightweights. I have just seen so many bust up trying to do a job they were not really made for. Might be ok for highway cruising, but off road their lifespan is shortened dramatically.
The comfort, power and cost effectiveness of the older large 4wds is perfect for a rig to see Oz in.
AnswerID: 489246

Follow Up By: mcgarvey'slaw - Saturday, Jun 23, 2012 at 22:04

Saturday, Jun 23, 2012 at 22:04
Cheers Bigfish...that's the kind of advice I was looking for.

I'm really grateful for people taking the time to pass on their experience and advice. Making an informed decision is what I hope to be able to make and I'm well on my way to being able to do that.

Thank you!
FollowupID: 764414

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