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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.

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 76 Series dualcab.  Unless of course you want driveability, comfort and value in which case one of the big eight utes is the go – more on that here. 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 corrguations.

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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 particuarly in the case of a slide-on camper a suspension upgrade.


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.

Both will tow nicely, but the Disco will do the job easier with all-wheel-drive, eight-speed gearbox, more power and sophisticated electronics. The D4 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 Touareg, 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.

 


6 Comments

  1. trackdaze
    February 9, 2016 at 3:30 pm — Reply

    How’s does one pay 80k for a lc76 wagon when the rrp is’62k?

    • February 9, 2016 at 3:38 pm — Reply

      Drive away price is nearer $70k before discounts, but yes you wouldn’t pay $80k for a new one.

  2. CogitoErgoZoom
    February 10, 2016 at 10:09 pm — Reply

    The vehicle i would go for, and superior to all, is the IVECO 4X4 Daily, new S2 just released

    • February 11, 2016 at 12:13 am — Reply

      Also more expensive…

      • CogitoErgoZoom
        February 11, 2016 at 11:02 am — Reply

        Have you priced a Toyota L/C lately, when you are at $75k the step up is not that much more, much more heave duty vehicle, well worth the extra

  3. Gav Danyel
    February 11, 2016 at 4:41 pm — Reply

    If you’re going to remote places you want the most reliable car you can find – if that’s high on your list of priorities then the 76 cruiser is the best bet. The Toyota won’t be as comfortable around town – again, it comes down to what’s important to you. The Toyota will have the power you need and the durability you seek – sadly a Disco is very complex and is more likely to leave you stranded. I recall a test of 8 wagons a few years ago by a 4WD magazine – they took them to Cape York in stock form to see how far they’d get – the Disco didn’t get past the first puddle on a dirt road, it got water where it shouldn’t have and went into limp mode and couldn’t be coaxed out of it – maybe it’s perception of a brand with a history of being unreliable, but I wouldn’t take the risk.

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Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper is a motoring journalist, offroad driver trainer and photographer interested in anything with wings, sails or wheels. He is the author of four books on offroading, and owns a modified Ford Ranger PX which he uses for offroad touring. His other car is a Toyota 86 which exists purely to drive in circles on racetracks, and that's when he isn't racing his Nissan Pulsar. Visit his website: www.l2sfbc.com or follow him on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/RobertPepperJourno/ or buy his new ebook!