Reader help: which 4WD do I choose?

Two readers write in for help choosing between Land Rover Discovery 4, Defender and LandCruiser 76 Series… We try to help them choose the right 4WD.

Question 1

Hi Robert, My wife and l are in the market for another 4WD. We presently have a GU Patrol Ute. But we want to go to a dual cab. I have always had Defenders… and am considering a 130 (new PUMA model). Any other recommendations? I am concerned about 4WDs like Hilux, Ranger etc and them coping with remote area work. We travel a lot in the high coutnry and into remote areas of NT/SA.  We run a Slide on Camper. Thanks.

YOU’RE TOO LATE for a new Defender now, they’re all sold out and no more will be made. Secondhand 130s are the only option.

If you want a super tough heavy duty outback ute then you cannot go past the 79 Series dualcab.  Unless of course you want driveability, comfort and value in which case one of the big eight utes is the go. The thing with all utes is not to overload them. They mostly have a 900-1000kg payload, but that’s actually spread across both axles, and it includes occupants. There’s a lot of broken utes out there as a result of giant campers, or long towbars with excessive towball mass. Remember, the towing weight is for bitumen, not high-speed outback corrugations.

So with that warning not to overload, one of the utes you mention will be fine. You should also think about an extra cab which gives you cabin room, small seats, but is a lighter and cheaper vehicle with more tray space. Right now I think the Ranger PX Mk 2 is the best on the market, but Ford know this so have priced accordingly.

Definitely leave room in the budget for all the usual accessories, and particularly in the case of a slide-on camper a suspension upgrade.

Read more: why I switched from a Discovery 3 to a LC79

Question 2

Hey mate, I’m after an opinion from you,

I know its not an easy thing to assist in choosing a car for someone else but I’ll give you a little bit of what im after and what I’m looking at. I have narrowed it down to a new Disco 4 or a new 76 Series wagon. I tow a trailer weighing 2600kg. Both the wife and I like a bit of comfort in our cars. We have three kids and probably go camping 3-4 times a year with a camper trailer, and we usually do more touring types of tracks. Both the Cruiser GXL and the Disco TDV6 are around the $80k mark. What do you think would be best?

WELL, TALK ABOUT two extremes. Both cars are very capable off-roaders and both can tow 3500kg, but that’s about all they have in common. The Discovery 4 is the most comfortable, refined serious 4WD on the market, whereas about the only car less refined and comfortable than a 76 is the Defender. Or maybe one of the really cheap utes. The “4” model was actually changed to just Discovery in 2012, and as of now a brand new model is on the market. The comments here pretty much apply to both versions of the Discovery.

Both the 76 and Discovery will tow nicely, but the Disco will do the job easier with all-wheel-drive, eight-speed gearbox, more power and sophisticated electronics. The Discovery is also a 7-seater, so that’s a win there as well, and safety… again it’s no contest between the two. The Discovery is also more manouverable around town, and a much better on-road drive. So, why even consider a 76? Solid, reliable, pulling power is why, and cheaper accessories. The Discovery’s capability comes at the literal expense of complexity, and the 76 is the opposite of complex and therefore cheaper to run.

But why those two? The limiting factor is really the 2600kg trailer, for which you’d want a tow rating above the 3000kg mark and that means Prado/Pajero start to struggle. So how about the Grand Cherokee diesel, cheaper, and also capable of towing 3500kg. It lacks room in the back, but if you’re pulling a camper trailer that won’t matter. It’s safer than the 76 too, and simpler than the Discovery. Also consider the Touraeg, another 3500kg star with decent off-road credentials. There’s also the LC200, and bargains can be had with Y62 Patrols. I’d also suggest a good look at the Ranger and Amarok. All of these cars are closer to the D4’s power, comfort and safety than they are to the 76’s lack of them all.

Read more: Toyota LC79 onroad and offroad test.

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Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper