Got a taste for #offroadlife? This list of SUVs will help you get there - wherever ‘there’ is
Not all SUVs are created equal. As a matter of fact, there seem to be more and more Toorak tractor-tier vehicles found on the road every day. That is, massive (and often pricey) cars that might offer a bit of capability in an offroad setting but will get about as close to a decent 4WD track as the sheltered, spoiled kids they’ve got riding inside them to equestrian/croquet/whatever-the-hell other posh activities they do.
Then there are those of us who see big puddles, steep, rocky climbs, river and creek crossings and thick, juicy mud as nothing but an exciting challenge to get into and conquer.
If you’re a part of this crew of dirt- and mud-loving degeneracy - whether it’s only been a short time or a number of years - and are thinking about getting your hands on an SUV that’ll actually take you to where you want to go (wherever that may be), it’s important to know which of the vehicles on the market are up for the task.
Our 5 favourite SUVs that are as capable offroad as they are on bitumen
Sure, you could take a 2022 Range Rover Sport to Gunshot Creek in Cape York. But after you’ve paid $315,000 for it, would you? Plus, at the end of the day it’s a Land Rover so you might not even make it home.
Okay, enough shade thrown at Land Rover. The point is, if you’re after a luxury SUV and want to spend a couple of hundred grand, this isn’t the list for you. These 5 SUVs are not just reasonably-priced for what they are, but will get you there and back without issue. And because you aren’t spending an absolute fortune on it, you won’t mind when it gets the inevitable branch scratches, either. Plus, they’re all confirmed to look bad-arse when they’ve got a nice coat of dirt and mud splashed all over them.
Designed in Australia and built in Thailand, year after year the Ford Everest continues to make a name for itself as a highly capable vehicle both on the road and off. Opting for the 4WD variant (there is also a 4X2), you have two engine options:
- 3.2-litre turbocharged diesel with 6-speed transmission
- 2-litre bi-turbocharged diesel with 10-speed transmission
If you’re planning on doing a lot of towing, many people suggest the 3.2-litre is the better choice. If not though, go for the 2-litre biturbo. Aside from that, there are also several trim options available with prices ranging from $55,090 for the base 4WD Ambiente right up to $73,190 for the top-of-the-range Titanium with the 2-litre bi-turbo. Our team know how to score a great new Ford deal, get started right now.
So what about the Everest’s offroad ability? Well, there’s a lot of tech that you can utilise in various situations you may find yourself in, such as the Terrain Management System providing traction and stability in sand, mud, snow, grass, rocks or on the road. It’s also got a rear diff lock, an essential feature for more slippery or rough and rugged terrain. And you’ll have no issues getting it wet with 800mm water wading straight out of the showroom without a snorkel fitted. Throw in Dynamic Stability Control, Hill Descent Control, Hill Launch Assist and even a tyre pressure monitoring system (Titanium only) and you can see why its offroading abilities are so widely well-reported - and have been for years.
Toyota LandCruiser Prado
Perhaps one of the most popular in the category is the LandCruiser Prado, and like pretty much every other Toyota out there it’s a vehicle well-known for its reliability. The engine across all model variants is the same - a 2.8-litre turbo diesel with 6-speed auto transmission - and as such all provide the same 3-tonne braked towing capacity.
The base model 5-seater Prado GX is offered from $66,247 driveaway and top-of-the-line Kakadu from $95,856 driveaway. How much of that is the ‘Toyota tax’, we’re not 100% sure, but comparing pricing to arguably its closest competitor - the Everest - it’s quite substantial. Especially when looking at the top-end variants.
So how does the Prado fare in offroad conditions? Really, really well, actually. Running a full-time 4WD system that offers both high- and low-range, and has a very impressive 150-litre fuel capacity across two tanks (unless you choose the ‘flat tailgate’ pack, then it drops to 87 litres). And with 500Nm of torque, you’ll never feel as if it’s struggling offroad - it just sort of gets the job done without grunting and groaning.
Tech across the entire range includes Active Traction Control as well as Downhill and Hill-start Assist Controls. Excluding the base model GX, you’ll also get a rear diff lock, and looking at the Kakadu specifically it comes with 5-speed crawl control, Adaptive Variable Suspension system, Multi-Terrain Select system and Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System.
Similar to the ‘tree falling in the woods’ philosophical question, if you make a list of offroad-capable SUVs but exclude the Jeep Wrangler, is it really a list of offroad-capable SUVs?
Unlike the previous two vehicles, though, you’re not going to find a hell of a lot of creature comforts when you hop into a Jeep Wrangler. It is, for all intents and purposes, built for life offroad. So things like the ventilated seats and refrigerated cool box found in the Prado VX and Kakadu weren’t a point of concern for the designers of the Wrangler.
So what DO you get? Well, right off the bat, a seriously tough-looking rig, for one. From the base model 4-door priced from $61,941 right up to the Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon from $77,459, it’s difficult to argue they look the part and then some.
Tech and features differ quite a lot depending on the model variant you end up going for, but all of them have been put through a bunch of gruelling tests on some intense terrain which, once all passed, earns every Wrangler the ‘Trail Rated’ badge.
Looking at the inclusions you get with top-tier 4-door Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon, you get an epic amount of offroad-centric tech and addons:
- 32” BFG offroad tyres
- Rock-Trac® Active On-Demand 4x4 System
- Offroad+ mode
- Front and rear diff locks
- Trail-Rail management system
- Electronic front sway bar disconnect
- Heavy-duty front and rear axles
- Heavy-duty rock slider with step assist
- Bank of AUX switches ready for all your aftermarket electrics
- … and a fair bit more, too.
All of the Wranglers in the series are running a 3.6-litre petrol V6 engine which pushes out 209kW and 347Nm of torque.
Toyota LandCruiser 79 Series
We know. We’re perhaps veering off the traditional ‘SUV’ road a little bit here. But c’mon, it’s the 79 Series Cruiser!
The purists out there will absolutely love the LandCruiser 79 series, and for a few good reasons. First, it only comes as a manual - a 5-speed one, at that. Also, while the interior has seen a few upgrades in the last year or two (i.e. power windows, air con as standard and touchscreen infotainment), it’s still uniquely basic on the inside. Even more so than the Wrangler.
But like the Wrangler, it’s not here to provide the highest level of comfort, a laundry list of features or interior styling and design that’ll make headlines. It is a workhorse that will take you to the back o’ burke and beyond, then home again without any issues whatsoever. It’s why you’ll pretty much only see the 70 Series if you travel anywhere around the middle of Australia through the desert and in the Outback - there’s simply no other vehicle that’ll do it as well.
And like its capabilities in the dry, arid areas of Straya, it also kills it in the bush, through mud, snow, sand, across rocks and almost anywhere else you need it to do its thing. Because we’re talking about SUVs, we’ll talk about the 5-door wagon here, which comes in two variants:
WorkMate: The bare-bones 79 Series wagon starts at a driveaway price of $72,043
GXL: Upgrades on the higher-end GXL include power windows, alloy wheels and chrome bumpers bump the driveaway price up to $76,251 and beyond.
Powering these beautifully rugged beasts is a 4.5-litre V8 turbo diesel spitting out 151kW and 430Nm of torque, which enables you to comfortably tow up to 3.5 tonnes (braked). To add to this, they’ve included a 130-litre fuel tank as well as Active Traction Control. And opting for the GXL will get you diff locks in both the front and rear. It truly is an incredibly unique but highly capable vehicle that you can take anywhere.
Side note: You might be wondering why we didn’t include the upcoming 300 Series in this list. Well, the simple reason is that because it’s not coming to Australian shores until late 2021, it’s not proven itself just yet. Indeed, if it’s anything like its predecessors (which it almost certainly will be) it’s going to be a fantastic offroader, but without the real-life proof we had to omit it for the time being.
Mitsubishi Pajero Sport
Unfortunately, Mitsubishi has finally decided to end production of its Pajero. However, in its place is the Pajero Sport, a 5- or 7-seat wagon variant of the manufacturer’s Triton ute. Its 2.4-litre MIVEC turbo diesel with 8-speed auto transmission delivers 133kW of power and 430Nm of torque, offering a braked towing capacity of 3.1 tonnes.
There are three trim levels for your consideration. The base 5-seater GLX will set you back at least $47,490 driveaway, 7-seater mid-range GLS $53,740 driveaway and top-end Exceed $60,990 driveaway. If you're looking for a Mitsubishi new car deal, we'll get you sorted.
Offroad features found at every trim level include:
Super Select II 4WD, which lets you choose between drive types including 2H (2WD high-range), 4H (full-time 4WD), 4HLC (high-range 4WD with locked centre diff) and 4LLC (low-range 4WD with locked centre diff).
- Active Stability Control
- Active Traction Control
- Hill Descent Control
- Hill Start Assist
- Trailer Stability Assist
- Excluding the GLX, you’ll also have rear diff lock.
A very reasonably-priced vehicle for what it is, the Pajero Sport is a wonderful option to take out into the mud and get absolutely filthy.
Buy your new SUV at carconnect and get off the beaten track sooner
Buying a car can be a little bit of an intimidating process, especially when it comes to negotiating on price. If you’d prefer to pole-vault over all the stressful bits and want to fast-track your way into the driver’s seat of your new offroad-capable SUV, you’ve come to the right place!
At carconnect, we’re all about simplifying the entire car-buying process. When you’ve made the decision about the make and model you want, just search for your new car and pop in a few details, and we’ll take over from there. That includes everything from tendering out to our gigantic network of dealers all over Australia and providing you with their best prices for you to choose between, arranging delivery for your new car and even sorting out a fantastic sale price of your current vehicle. We truly are your one-stop car buying shop, here to answer any and all questions you might have - call us now on 1300 880 008 or send us a message online.