Perfect for the school run, but equally at home pulling a caravan on gnarly terrain. Few cars offer the practicality and versatility of a big off-road SUV. So it’s no wonder Aussies are buying them in record numbers.
Anyone familiar with this market will be aware that sales are dominated by Toyota and its various LandCruiser models. But 2022 sees the launch of some pretty exciting cars that should give the mighty Toyota a run for its money.
So what are the 7 best 4WD’s available in 2022? Here we’ll provide you with a quick rundown of the most exciting models available.
1. Ford Everest
The new Ford Everest is based on the same rugged ladder-frame chassis and the 4WD system as the popular Ford Ranger. This is no bad thing because it’s proven to be one of the most durable platforms on the market.
Outside the new Everest gets a set of stylish new clothes. These give the car a much more imposing look than its predecessor. The new body is also better packaged which ensures there is more room inside for passengers and luggage.
Inside, Ford has worked hard to make the new Everest more comfortable on long journeys. The interior is more spacious and better equipped than before. And the safety equipment has been bolstered so that it now matches rivals from Toyota and Mitsubishi.
Excellent value for money
Spacious well equipped interior
Great to drive
High towing capacity
High level of safety equipment
Feels large in the city
No hybrid version
2. Jeep Grand Cherokee L
The Jeep Grand Cherokee L is Jeep's answer to the Toyota LandCruiser. But unlike its diesel-powered rival, the Jeep is powered by a 3.6-litre V6 petrol engine which offers super-smooth power delivery.
On the road, Jeep has paid special attention to how the new Cherokee L handles. The suspension has been tuned for the Australian market and it rides noticeably smoother than many of its rivals.
Inside, the interior is extremely well equipped and finished in high-quality materials. There is also plenty of room for both driver and passengers. And there is a high standard of equipment across all models. All things considered, this is an impressive car. The only chink in its armour is the relatively high fuel consumption from the punchy V6 engine.
Luxury spacious interior
Poor fuel economy
High starting price
No hybrid option
3. Lexus LX
The new LX is Lexus’s answer to the Range Rover. The big Lexus is built upon the same platform as the recently updated Land Cruiser 300. But it comes with more bling and an uber-luxurious interior.
Outside the LX differs from its Land Cruiser cousin by having a huge flashy front grille. Despite that, the new body looks more refined than its predecessor. The wheel arches are more sculptured and the whole vehicle feels more homogenous.
But it's inside where you’ll notice the difference. Lexus has pulled out the stops with this new model. The seats are covered in soft Nappa leather and the switches have that quality tactile feel that the Japanese do so well.
Upfront the V8 engine has been dropped. Buyers now have to make do with a 3.5 litre V6. But at 305kW, it is slightly more powerful than the old V8 and significantly more fuel-efficient. A 3.3-litre diesel engine is also available for more sensible buyers.
Superb build quality
Great ownership experience
Thirsty V6 engines
A lot of exterior bling
4. Nissan Pathfinder
The Nissan Pathfinder has moved upmarket for 2022. The new model is bigger and more refined than ever before. While driving dynamics have been improved thanks to updated suspension and steering.
While the new model is powered by the same 3.5-litre naturally aspirated V6 as the previous generation. It is now connected to a new 9SP automatic transmission. This facilitates smoother changes and makes the car easier to drive around town.
But it’s inside where buyers will find the biggest improvement. The new interior is well equipped and swathed in soft-touch plastic. A set of new well-bolstered seats offer multiway adjustment. But the rear legroom remains a little tight.
In some ways, the 2022 Pathfinder goes back to its roots to embody that go-anywhere spirit that influenced the original. While it’s not perfect, the New model is steps ahead of its predecessor and worth considering.
Lots of safety equipment
Good standard specification
Lots of luggage space
Rivals are better off-road
Cramped rear leg-room
No hybrid version
5. Mitsubishi Pajero Sport
The Pajero Sport sits above the midsize outlander but below the recently discontinued Pajero in Mitsubishi’s lineup. That makes it a kind of super mid-size SUV. But despite being smaller than some rivals it can still seat seven comfortably in three rows of seats.
The Pajero Sport is built on the same platform as the Triton Ute. This means it’s powered by a 2.4-litre four-cylinder diesel engine. But unlike the Triton, it is connected to a new 8-speed automatic gearbox.
On the road, the engine provides smooth power delivery. But performance is not a match for other V6 powered SUVs. The compensation for this is an extremely frugal 8L/100km fuel consumption.
But the real reason for buying the Pajero Sport is the car's excellent off-road ability. The high ground clearance, long suspension travel and short overhangs. All work to make this one of the most accomplished SUVs off-road.
Excellent off-road ability
Value for money
Easy to drive
Limited towing capacity
6. Toyota LandCruiser 300
New LandCruiser’s don't come along very often. So when they do it’s always worth taking notice. The new LandCruiser 300 replaces the 200 which was one of Australia’s most popular 4WD SUVs.
This car spawned the Lexus LX, but the two cars are very different beasts. While the Lexus is all about luxury and refinement. The Toyota is more about rugged utilitarianism. It has a go-anywhere do-anything attitude that few other cars in its class can match.
The new LandCruiser comes well equipped with all the latest safety equipment. But the interior has been designed with practicality in mind. The plastics are tough and hard-wearing. There is no sign of the soft-touch plastics and leather you get in the Lexus.
Under the bonnet, the old V8 diesel has been replaced by a 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6. But lovers of the old V8 needn’t despair. The new engine puts out 27kw more than the old V8 and is more frugal as well.
Refined V6 engine
Excellent towing capacity
Some interior plastics feel cheap
Feels like a big car in the city
7. Land Rover Defender 110
The reboot of the Land Rover Defender finally landed on Australian shores in February 2021. With its cool retro styling, the new model takes inspiration from the 1960s original. But can it cut it as a daily driver in the 21st century?
Well, yes it can. The handling, both on and off-road, is nothing short of a revelation. The chassis remains composed on all road surfaces and the air suspension rides over bumps like they’re not there.
Power is delivered by a choice of petrol and diesel engines. The 3.0 litre in-line six diesel engine is available in three outputs ranging from 147kW to 220kW. The petrol engines include a 221kW four-cylinder P300 and the 294 kW six-cylinder P400.
Inside the Defender has been designed with practicality in mind. The plastics are tough and durable. While the dashboard and doors are covered in a durable fabric. While it's certainly functional, it doesn't feel like a car costing nearly $80,000.
The third row of seats is tiny
Some interior plastics feel cheap
Build quality not up to Japanese standards
You can see from the 7 cars listed here that anyone in the market for a 4WD has plenty of options. But which one is right for you? Well, your budget will play a big part in the decision. After that, you need to think about how and where you intend to use the car.
A big 4WD is not the best option for driving in the city. So a smaller car like the Nissan Pathfinder makes a lot of sense here. The Pathfinder is small enough to drive around town but can still be driven off-road when you need to.
For buyers in the country, the new Toyota LandCruiser remains the king of the hill. This car is built to survive in the toughest environments. So should have no problem dealing with rough roads, dry heat and dirt of the outback.
But what if you are based in the country but are close to town? Well, the new Land Rover Defender is worth considering. The new Defender is a very capable car both on and off-road. The only thing that lets it down is the rather limited dealer network compared to Toyota.
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