Are you thinking of buying a new 4WD vehicle but don’t know where to start? Well, you’re lucky that you found this blog! We have prepared a list of the eight best 4WD vehicles in Australia. In addition, we also inserted a few simple guidelines to help you decide which one to pick
First, you have to consider your budget and it’s a good way to start. When you are looking at the prices, know that there’s a big difference between the list price and drive-away price. The latter includes the extras like stamp duty, registration, insurance, and other dealer charges. However, this will change as dealers are now required to quote the full drive-away price to prevent confusion on your part. You should also set aside a portion of your budget for essential accessories such as a towbar, winch, bullbar, long-range fuel tank, and more durable 4WD tyres. Aside from that, insurance will also add a significant cost when buying a brand-new vehicle.
Enough talk! Here are eight of the best 4WD vehicles that we highly recommend…
Toyota Landcruiser 80 Series
The Landcruiser 80 Series was released all the way back in 1990 and has been the benchmark for 4WD ever since. The vehicle’s superb and coil-sprung fit and finish helped cement its charm. Initially, the engine options of the 80 Series was more of a mixed bag. It came with a pair of overhead-camshaft and diesel engines. However, there were also models which had the ancient pushrod petrol with 3F carburettor and 3F-E fuel-injection.
The model that we recommend that you look for is the 1996 GXL 80 Series. This model comes with a 24-valve, 6-cylinder, and 1HD-FT turbo-diesel engine. Additionally, the model has an automatic transmission. It is also perfect for off-road touring as it has a relatively large fuel tank (up to 270 litres) and can be outfitted with a long-range fuel tank set up. The vehicle also has a built-in 30-litre water tank. Meanwhile, the base model only comes with a 90-litre fuel tank but has a larger 45-litre water tank.
The Toyota Landcruiser 80 Series is also rated for towing. The maximum towing capacity of the vehicle was 2500 kg on the 1990-95 models and increased to 3500 kg on the following models. The vehicle also comes built-in with a towbar.
The 4WD RV, GXL, and VX models of the 80 series drive relatively balanced on loose or slippery roads. However, they have more driveline backlash than the other models and they need more front bearing repack more often. This is due to the front axle driving most of the time. The models with automatic transmission are also much nicer to drive than those with manual transmission. However, the auto sump is vulnerable to rock damage and it needs to have additional bash-plate protection.
Toyota Landcruiser 79 Series
This vehicle was made for one specific purpose, hard work. There are also a number of mid-range 4WD models available which can take a beating far more than others. Due to its ruggedness and reliability, it is a very popular choice for 4WD enthusiasts who want to tow trailers.
All Landcruiser 79 Series models are powered by a 4.5-litre turbo-diesel V8 engine. This engine provides tonnes of low-down torque which makes carrying heavy loads, towing, and off-road touring much easier than other vehicles. In terms of power, the engine can produce 151 kW at 3,400 rpm and 430 Nm at 1,200 rpm.
They also come with a five-speed manual gearbox but it has become an issue in the past. The engine accelerates very quickly especially at cruising speeds on the highway. However, Toyota stayed on this tried and true formula as it reduces the number of gear shifts that you might make throughout the vehicle’s lifetime. This will reduce the long-term wear and tear that will be inflicted to the gearbox and clutch.
The newer models which came out in 2017 updated the second and fifth gears. You can now use them for longer periods and it has two main benefits:
- It allows you to use the second gear for longer especially on soft terrain (instead of shifting to third gear and losing momentum).
- It lowers the revolutions at cruising speed on the highway.
Toyota Hilux 2019
The rugged nature of the Toyota Hilux can be seen clearly from its exterior design. The chrome of the SR5 transitions into black metal with a solid bash plate. It also has an imposing front and rear bumpers with proper rock rails that show its true purpose – driving through 4WD tracks.
The Hilux also comes with two recovery points (painted red) on the fore and aft which can be invaluable for your future off-road adventures. The LED light bar below the grille will also help with night driving and it looks fabulous as well.
The Toyota Hilux’s high ground clearance will also make traversing 4WD tracks easier and reassures you that you will complete the track in no time. The vehicle also drives surefootedly and nimbly especially on light mud and awkward rock outcrops. The rear diff lock is also helpful but the trade-off is the loss of traction control.
On the other hand, when you drive the Hilux on sealed roads (which is most of the time), the ride will be firm and lacks the finesse of some of its competitors like the Volkswagen Amarok among others. The vehicle’s four-cylinder engine (which can output 130kW/450Nm) is decent and will keep you up to speed on the highway but it can sometimes feel underwhelming when towing.
The Nissan Navara has been updated for more than four years straight! This time, Nissan finally added Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support for the range except for the RX and DX. This feature is possible through the new 8.0-inch touchscreen display on the centre console.
The Nissan Navara also includes headlight bezels, grilles, fog lights, bumper inserts, wheel arch flares, side steps, roof rails, and front and rear bumpers. The Nissan Navara is built with a dual cab, 4WD, and a tub tray. Internally, the vehicle has a twin-turbo 2.3 litre diesel engine.
The suspension has also been upgraded and helped increase the performance under load. However, the comfort of the passengers especially when the vehicle is empty is impacted. This drawback cancels out the benefits of using coil springs on dual cabs unlike the more common leaf springs on single and king cab Navara models.
Ford Ranger XLS 2020
The higher-end models of the Ranger line receive all the attention of most reviewers and enthusiasts alike. However, there are some people who don’t need as many bells and whistles as the former. The XLS also makes more sense for those who don’t want to spend a lot of money.
The XLS is available as a dual-cab 4WD model and you will have two options: a six-speed MT ($49,440) or a six-speed AT ($51,640). That amount of money will give you 16-inch alloy wheels, cloth seat trim, carpet flooring, manual air-conditioning, Bluetooth and USB connectivity (for phone and audio streaming), and a 4.2-inch media screen.
The model’s engine is confined to a 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo diesel engine which is thumper on both city roads and off-road tracks. It also outputs a total of 147 kW of power and 470 Nm of torque. In addition, the Ranger XLS has a selectable 4WD system (2H, 4H, and 4L). It also has a decent ground clearance at 232 mm which is essential for most of the challenging tracks in Australia. The XLS has a towing capacity rated at 750 kg (unbraked) and 3500 (braked) which makes towing heavily laden RV easier.
Toyota Landcruiser 200 Series (2019)
Late last year, Toyota updated the 200 Series once again. This time, only the GXL and VX trim levels came with new features added but a rise in sticker price also ensued.
If you choose to upgrade the Landcruiser VX, you will have sensors to monitor the blind-spot, four-camera multi-terrain monitor, and rear cross-traffic alert. Aside from that, previously high-end features like auto-dimming interior and exterior mirrors are now available for this model. All in all, it will set you back a cool $101,025 (this price also accounts for the metallic paint, tow tongue, ball and rear cover, and trailer wiring).
Nice features like heated seats, AEB, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, active cruise control, and tyre pressure monitoring are only available on the much more expensive Landcruiser Sahara. However, you’ll need to spend $20,000 more for the upgrade. Whether that’s worth it depends on your preferences and budget.
Your safety is also prioritised by this vehicle through features like 10 airbags and control for stability, trailer sway, and traction. In addition, the Landcruiser was also given a five-star rating from ANCAP ever since 2011.
When you drive the 200 series, it can still operate smoothly however you will observe a few cracks are already showing. For one, the engine is noisier than you’d expect from a premium 4WD vehicle but it doesn’t have much lag and is very responsive.
The vehicle is also rated to tow at least 2,500 kg when unbraked and 750 kg when braked. So, you can bring more supplies on your next trip or add other helpful accessories on the 200 Series.
Nissan Patrol 2019
The main draws for the Nissan Patrol are the three rows of seats, tonnes of space and, TV screens (on the back of the seats) to kill the boredom of your passengers. The latter is very important for those who travel with their kids and it will make them calmer during the trip. On the other hand, the V8 engine of the vehicle will make you smile while driving to your destination.
The top-of-the-line Patrol priced at $90,939 comes with a towbar kit and a Brilliant Silver bodywork. Meanwhile, the leather interior trim with heated seats, two smart keys, a 12-speaker Bose sound system, powered tailgate, adaptive cruise control, rear camera, and a cooled centre console/fridge comes standard in all models.
The Nissan Patrol has a decent payload capacity of 734kg and comes with an additional 3500kg (braked) or 750 kg (unbraked) of tow capacity. This makes the Patrol very effective for hauling heavy loads.
The vehicle is powered by a 5.6-litre V8 engine that produces 298 kW and 560 Nm of torque. This is matched with a 7-speed automatic transmission with a feature called ‘Adaptive Shift Control’. This will make gear changes smoother, and the added responsiveness greatly helps in overtaking.
Toyota FJ Cruiser 2016
The Toyota FJ Cruiser is notable for its retro approach to design. However, it has been out of production since 2016 and some of its features may not have aged well. In Australia, only the five-speed automatic transmission and it is paired with a 4-litre V6 engine. This engine produces 380 Nm of torque at 4,400 rpm and 200 kW of power at 5,600 rpm. The FJ Cruiser also has 4WD-specific features like an electrically operated rear-differential lock, good ground clearance, and active traction control.
However, there are also some drawbacks to this model particularly the low-mounted high beams cannot light up the road enough because of the smaller spread of light. In addition, the vehicle also lacks a digital speedometer which makes keeping the speed limit a bit more difficult.
The FJ Cruiser is definitely an oddball choice for a 4WD vehicle, however if you can get past all its quirks and retro styling, it’s actually quite cool. The function is also a priority by this vehicle and the design is just enough for people to recall it on their minds.
Which Is Better, Petrol or Diesel?
This choice was once very important for most people but now that question is largely irrelevant. Due to the fact that most new 4WDs come with diesel engines. On the other hand, petrol 4WDs tend to consume more fuel than diesel for both city driving and demanding off-road tracks. Although they generally aren’t as bad if you do constant-speed touring.
The price of the fuel is also a factor as regular-grade unleaded is often cheaper than diesel. However, some petrol 4WD vehicles require more expensive premium-grade petrol. These vehicles strike back with the cheaper and less often servicing compared to their diesel counterparts. You will also have a choice to convert most 4WD petrol vehicles to use liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as fuel if you want a more economical fuel cost and longer touring with multiple tanks.
Should I Get A Manual or An Auto with My 4×4?
This is another classic question for new buyers. Add that to the fact that most manufacturers produce models with both types of transmission, you might be overwhelmed with options. Luckily, you can surpass this challenge by focusing on a few things to think about.
First, a manual transmission vehicle will be more economical than an automatic. This is due to the fact that there are a lot of used vehicles that come with this type of transmission. However, the gap between it and AT vehicles is closer than they were in the 1980s and 90s. Your choice of fuel will also be affected as turbo-diesel engines generally mate well to AT vehicles. This is the case because they make good torque at lower engine speeds. As a rule, AT vehicles work much better with engines that produce more torque than with engines that require lots of revs to reach the full performance. These vehicles are also generally better for towing.
Is AWD Better Than 4WD?
Both kinds of cars drive all of thier four wheels so there is really no difference, except that AWD usually has become an accepted classification for cars that drives all of the wheels, all of the time. The 4WD description is normally used on large SUV Four-Wheel Drive vehicles designed to use extra traction of 4WD in off-road situations.
Is 4WD Better Than AWD In Snow?
For rain or light snow, a 2WD will work fine, and actually, front-wheel drive is the preferred setup. For performance cars, 4WD is favored, but AWD, if available, can provide better traction. Also keep in mind that both AWD and 4WD cars add a lot of weight to a vehicle, that make take more fuel.
What Is the Difference Between 4WD and 4×4?
4WD and 4×4 are basically the same things – one stands for Four Wheel Drive, the other is Four By Four. All-wheel drive vehicles will usually have three differentials – front, rear and centre to distribute torque between the axles. Part-time four-wheel-drive systems have only two differentials and a transfer case.
Can You Switch To 4WD While Driving?
Older 4WD systems must be manually shifted between 2WD and 4WD and from 4HI to 4LO while the vehicle is stopped. Newer s 4-wheel drive systems have electronic push button ‘on the fly’ features that let you shift while driving. An AWD car can deliver all engine torque to all four wheels all the time.