Reader help: choosing a touring 4×4 for $30,000
Setting up for offroad touring is not quite as simple as just choosing any old 4X4. We help choosing a 4×4 to suit a $30k budget.
QUESTION: Hi guys, I’m looking to make the leap into my first 4WD purchase with the intention of touring/camping/off-roading. Being a young guy on an average wage I am looking to get a second hand 4wd hopefully for around $30k. I’m between a Pajero, Land Cruiser Prado or Hilux. I prefer diesel for fuel economy and there are vehicles out there that have a reasonable set up already (bull bar, snorkel, winch etc). What do you guys recommend that I either lean towards in terms of a vehicle, or what things I should watch out for and avoid.
Also looking at a second-hand Mitsubishi Challenger. I don’t have kids, so no need for 3rd row seating, generally clock up 10,000km annually of suburban driving but will obviously add more to that with more touring.
ANSWER: Hi T, Good choices so far, and $30k is a decent budget. I’d tend towards a Japanese ute or wagon as, for that sort of money, for offroad work, they’re good buying. You need to make the ute or wagon call – utes can carry more, wagons are a bit better offroad and a more comfortable drive. You can 4WD-tour with either though. Don’t get worried about whether one or other of the list is marginally better offroad, they’re all good enough. If you’re shortlisting a HiLux, then why not also the likes of a Triton too?
You identify some of the accessories you’ll need which is good. The minimum list is suspension, tyres and a snorkel for offroad capability. Beyond that it’s touring gear such as dual batteries, cargo barriers and the like. In my book, the 4WD Handbook, there’s a complete chapter on offroad accessories and choosing a 4WD which goes into far more detail than we can in a Reader Help. Also, focus on safety gear like first aid kits before kit like cross-axle lockers.
You must allow for a thorough pre-purchase inspection, and leave money left over to set the vehicle up. If it’s a stock vehicle I’d allow around $15k – sounds a lot, but once youv’e done the items above there won’t be much change. You can reduce that figure as you find vehicles with accessories fitted. Don’t be shy about buying a modified 4WD that’s been well looked after; you’ll get a bargain on the accessories, and owners very often take good care of their vehicles. Also allow for any camping gear you might need. Make sure you buy quality – for example my Southern Cross canvas tourer tent is going strong after 16 years and what would probably be now hundreds of uses.
Diesel vs petrol – yes, tend towards diesel but don’t rule out petrols as they are cheaper to buy and not much more expensive to run unless you do a lot of kilometers, and even going up to 20,000km per year the extra for a diesel may not be worth it. You’ll get longer range, but that may not be necessary if you plan on day trips, or if it’s just you and a mate so you can fit a jerrycan or two in, or the Prado with 180L on board.
You didn’t ask, but others do, so – auto vs manual – both do the job. Manuals will be a bit cheaper.
My final tip is not to be picky about the exact vehicle you want. Your shortlist is great, now work out what accessories you need, get your cash ready, scan all the ads and wait for the right car to come up at the right price and then pounce on it. And welcome to the 4WD touring community! Also consider joining a club as they are great way to travel and learn.