Australian Offroad 4×4 Buying Guide — What is the most reliable off-road vehicle?

So, let me guess, you’ve been watching a few too many episodes of Channel 10’s Russel Coight’s All Aussie Adventures, and the final line of the introduction “time to hit the road…” has really started resonating with you? Now, you really, really want to go on that road trip you’ve always planned on. 

There’s only one problem, your everyday driver isn’t quite up to scratch for what you want to do with it. 

You might be thinking this if: 

  • Your everyday driver is an old battle-hardened skid-pig with no 4WD capacity, such as the ol’ Toyota Camry, equipped with a tissue box in the back window, and seems to be equally on its last legs and invincible at the same time.
  • Your everyday driver is a 4 wheel drive, that just needs a few things done to it so that you’re comfortable going anywhere. 

Whatever the reason, you don’t want to have any doubts in your vehicle’s capabilities when hitting the open road, or 4WD tracks. You want to make sure your vehicle will survive whatever you throw at it. 

That is why in this ultimate buying guide to off-road cars and 4WDing, we will discuss the sorts of things you will need to do in order to get your car ready for whatever sort of stress you’re going to put it through. So keep reading below!

 

What Do You Want To Do With Your 4WD? 

We discussed above that “you want to make sure your vehicle will survive whatever you throw at it”. 

But… what are you going to be throwing at it? 

What you need in 4WD cars will completely depend on what you do with them, WHICH CAN BE A LOT. There’s a whole spectrum to 4WDing that is catered to a range of budgets, so there’s a little something for everybody. 

The one thing that stays the same over the spectrum of 4WDing is how unquestionably addictive and fun it is!

For the purposes of this buying guide, we will talk about 4WDing on 4 different levels: 

 

The Weekend-Warrior 

The weekend-warrior species of 4WDing enthusiast, in a Perth context, is your run-of-the mill Margaret River frequenter, that wants a touch more security in their vehicle when highway driving. This sort of person might drive onto a beach or two, but certainly nothing extreme. 

 

The Family-Freighter 

Grab the toys, get the kids, grab the milk and bread, and please lord do not forget the ice-cold beers and a quality drop of vino-rouge. The family-freighter is exactly what you’d imagine; a family of four packed-to-the-rafters with gear. Destination? beach!… or anywhere with a view for drinks and something to keep the kids occupied. 

 

The Terrestrial-Tourer 

Go anywhere. See everything. Be around no one. This is more or less the bees knees of off-roading. The ultimate touring vehicle with all of the bees knees on it. Don’t bother about buying a map, you won’t need it where you’re going in this car!

 

Government Fleets/Commercial Vehicle/Mining-Spec Vehicle (The Fleet)

Fleet cars are made for work. They don’t need any of the luxury, but they do need to be tough as nails.

 

What Is The Best Off-Road 4×4? 

The car you buy will determine all of the other add-ons you do to it down the track, and contrary to what Damo from the footy club told you last week, Toyota is not the only brand you should be %$*£!ng with. 

Almost every car on the market, when looked after, is a good car for a specific purpose. 

 

The Weekend-Warrior 

The weekend-warrior doesn’t need anything crazy with their vehicle, as they will do most of their driving in the city. As such having a big 4WD may be impractical. Because of this, they are suited to small 4WD such as, but are not limited to: 

  • Toyota RAV 4 
  • Nissan X-Trail
  • Subaru Forester 
  • 2-door Jeep Wrangler TJ 
  • Suzuki Jimny 
  • BMW X1
  • Mazda CX30 

 

The Family-Freighter 

The biggest characteristic of the family-freighter is that they need to be able to fit four people in them, and all of their gear. Boogie-boards, food, tents, beers, and much, much more. As such, bigger 4WDs are best, such as: 

  • Toyota 200s Series Landcruiser  
  • Toyota Prado
  • Nissan Patrol 
  • 4-door Jeep Wrangler JK
  • Land Rover Discovery
  • Range Rover Sport
  • Mitsubishi Pajero 
  • Isuzu D-Max 
  • Ford Ranger 

 

The Terrestrial-Tourer 

The ultimate touring vehicle won’t actually be too much different from the family-freighter. The difference will be, for lack of a better word, the terrestrial-tourer will be cranked-up-to-the-max with gear and engine modifications. The typical terrestrial-tourer will be: 

  • Toyota 70s Series Landcruiser Ute 
  • Toyota 200s Series Landcruiser 
  • Nissan Patrol 
  • Toyota Hilux 
  • Nissan Navara 
  • Isuzu D-Max
  • Toyota Troopcarrier 
  • Land Rover Defender 
  • Ford Ranger 

 

The Fleet 

These cars need to not break-down, and they need to carry things from point A to point B. They need to keep working, and working, and working. Typically, they will be: 

  • Toyota Hilux 
  • Toyota Landcruiser Workmate Ute 
  • Nissan Navara 
  • Isuzu D-Max 
  • Ford Ranger 

 

How Much Ground Clearance Do I Need For Off-Road? 

Do you think a ground-hugging Ford Mustang will fare well on a 4WD track? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Despite having plenty of horsepower, the mustang simply won’t have enough ground clearance, because it won’t physically be able to get over obstacles, putting the underbody at risk. 

 

The Weekend-Warrior 

The weekend-warrior will almost only be driving on bitumen, or gravel roads. As such, the stock clearance provided from the cars should be more than enough for the weekend warrior. Sticks, brambles and rocks will not pose a risk on sealed-roads or beginner 4WD tracks. 

 

The Family-Freighter 

The family freighter can get away with stock clearance with their vehicles, since they are usually bigger vehicles as is. However, if you’re thinking that you want to take the family on some bigger, more intermediate-advanced 4WD tracks, you should consider putting a small lift into your car and getting some bigger wheels. 

Though you might not come across significant obstacles very often, putting a small lift in your car with some bigger wheels will make sure your car isn’t at risk when you do. A lift may mean that you need your car re-geared, so if you are interested, you can get one here. 

If you plan on carrying a campervan or trailer with you as well, then it is also a good idea to upgrade your suspension. 

 

The Terrestrial-Tourer 

The ultimate touring vehicle will more or less be lifted as much as it’s legally allowed to be. Big lift, big wheels, big engine, new suspension. If you want to be able to go anywhere and everywhere, you will need all 3, and you will need a professional to do it for you. 

 

The Fleet 

The fleet vehicles usually already have enough ground clearance to not warrant a lift. However, they do get loaded with a lot of weight, so they may need a new suspension, which you can get here. 

 

What Accessories And Modifications Do I Need For My 4WD?

The ocean for 4WD accessories and modifications is very deep, and very blue. There are suppliers/individuals that will make any sort of completely custom modification for a vehicle, granted it is still legal. I’m sure some have even custom made foldable beach volleyball courts, for the right price. In this guide we will only discuss some of the most basic ones: 

 

The Weekend-Warrior 

The weekend warrior will almost always be fine with stock everything. Some of the accessories that might boost the value of their trips will be: 

  • Camping gear 
  • Beach umbrellas 
  • A lightweight bullbar (read more here)
  • An awning 
  • Floor mats 
  • A good esky

 

The Family-Freighter 

The family car needs to keep the beers cold, store all of your things, and set up a great outdoor living space. Some of the recommended accessories include: 

  • 4WD storage, draws and cabinets
  • Tread boards 
  • An awning 
  • Tyres 
  • A bull bar (read more here)
  • Cargo barriers 
  • Spotlights 
  • Floor mats 
  • Car fridge 
  • Camping gear 
  • Recovery gear 
  • Roof racks 
  • Seat covers 
  • Side steps (to help the kids) 
  • Snorkels 
  • Tow bars and mirrors (if towing) 
  • UHF radios (great for driving with other families) 
  • Water tanks 
  • Vehicle safety and protection 
  • Wheel carriers 

 

The Terrestrial-Tourer 

As mentioned in this article several times before, this car is going to have all the bells and whistles. As such, some of the recommended accessories include: 

  • 4WD storage 
  • Tread boards 
  • Awnings 
  • Tyres 
  • Bull bars (read more here)
  • Cargo barriers 
  • Spotlights 
  • Bar lights 
  • Batteries and generators 
  • Floor mats 
  • Solar panels 
  • Car fridges 
  • Roof racks 
  • Rooftop tents 
  • Rust prevention 
  • Seat covers 
  • Side steps 
  • Snorkels 
  • New springs/shocks  
  • Jerry cans 
  • New suspension 
  • Tow bars and mirrors (if towing) 
  • UHF radios 
  • Underbody protection 
  • Different canopies for your ute 
  • Vehicle safety and protection 
  • Water tanks 
  • Wheel carriers 
  • Winches 

 

The Fleet 

The fleet vehicles don’t need fancy things like fridges and camp gear, they just need to last. The sorts of accessories they have include: 

  • Tyes 
  • Bull bar 
  • Suspension 
  • Shocks/springs 
  • UHF radios 
  • Vehicle safety and protection 
  • Tow bars/mirrors for trailers 
  • Seat covers 
  • Floor mats 
  • Rust prevention 
  • Spotlights 

 

Picking Accessories That Are Australian Certified 

A way to give yourself reassurance that you’re picking a quality accessory is to see if it is Australian certified, what the supplier thinks of it for your needs, and its reviews. 

 

Still Having Trouble Deciding? 

 If you are still having trouble trying to decide what you need to start 4WDing, the best thing to do is to seek out a 4×4 professional. They are equipped with the best knowledge of what is needed, and for what purpose, and the best way to install it to your vehicle. If you’re wanting a customised 4×4 fitout, see a professional!

 

Can You Install Your Accessories And Modifications Yourself? 

A lot of people do in fact install a lot of their accessories and modifications themselves. If you think you’re handy with the tools and know a lot about cars, give it a go!

However, if you’re a beginner, it is highly recommended that you don’t do it yourself. Doing it yourself if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing can ruin your car, or even cause injury. 

It is better to be safe than sorry, so hire a professional.

 

The Place to Get Your 4WD Accessories 

Look, as a beginner it’s hard to go swimming in the deep end without a little help. If you want the most reliable and trustworthy help with your 4WD in Perth, look no further than Total 4×4. 

Don’t start your 4WDing experience with all the wrong gear that is only going to make you think why do people buy off-road vehicles?! Use a professional.

Total 4×4 is the one-stop shop for all truck, passenger and 4WD accessories with over 30 years of experience in both residential and commercial. Our extensive range of retractable 4WD awnings in Perth and 4WD accessories will definitely get you ready for that holiday. We have the products, we have the installers, come give us a visit!

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