Once upon a time there weren’t any fancy ‘SUVs’ for latte-sipping city-dwellers. You only had 4×4 or four-wheel drive wagons that could conquer mountains, rivers, rocks and jungles in heroic fashion. We’re pleased to report that despite SUVs becoming soft around the edges and urban-oriented, there are plenty of proper 4x4s around today and on their way. Here’s our top 10 best off-road 4×4 SUVs that should be worth waiting for.
2018 Mercedes-Benz G-Class
An all-new, more civilised version of the Gelandwagen, that has been around since the 1970s is due to hit the market soon. That classic, squared off look that has made it such a hit with rappers and fashion elite alike will remain, but underneath it will benefit from an all-new chassis and interior, to bring it into line with more civilian Mercs and make it easier to drive. Those who want a truly hardcore machine should go for the Australian Army approved G-Class Professional.
Land Rover Discovery SVX
A screaming 386kW monster with 625Nm of torque will soon be tearing up dirt tracks and deserts across our sunburnt country. The off-road oriented Land Rover Discovery SVX is a departure from the Nurburgring- honed sports specials like the Range Rover Sport SVR. Off-road ability is enhanced with 275/55 Goodyear Wrangler tyres that are 32-inches in overall diameter, tow hooks and bash plates all around and anti-glare bonnet. We can’t wait until this one lands.
2018 Jeep Wrangler
The all-new Wrangler will not soften up, despite becoming lighter, more well-mannered and economical. New engines ranging from a 3.6-litre V6 to a 2.0-lite turbo petrol and V6 diesel will be there, as well as additional safety features. A ute version is expected to make it down under too.
2019 Land Rover Defender
When the last Land Rover Defender rolled off the production line in 2016, it ended a lineage that could be traced back to the Maurice Wilkes’ 1948 original. The overall shape and technology of the Defender rarely changed, except to bring it in line with emissions and some safety requirements.
Land Rover can’t abandon the icon that has defined the company and cemented its reliability. This is one it has to handle carefully as evidenced by the negative reception to the LC100 concept (above). The next Defender, due 2019, will have to straddle the line between classic utilitarian and modern to attract new buyers but also appease the existing very loyal fanbase.
2018 Suzuki Jimny
The Suzuki Jimny, around since the late 1990s is pretty geriatric in dog years, let alone car years, where the average lifespan of a model is 5-7 years. An all-new model is on its way soon, with a modern interior, more refinement and a range of Boosterjet engines. Don’t worry, though it will be just as tough with live axles front and rear like the current version.
The Ford Everest is only a year old, but another SUV is set to be spawned off its T6 platform that will also underpin the 2018 Ford Ranger Raptor, and a Brazilian SUV called the Troller T4. The notorious Ford Bronco is coming back to the United States, reportedly with solid axles front and rear to give the Wrangler a fright. It’s unknown if it could complement the Everest here, or if some of the more hardcore changes can be transferred to the Everest but we will keep you posted.
Next-gen Isuzu MUX/Mazda SUV
The Isuzu MU-X has been a major success story in Australia, with this country accounting for a large portion of international sales and a major consideration in the car’s development. Expect this to continue for the next-gen model, which for the first time, will sever its link with GM and the Holden Trailblazer. Instead, a Mazda version of the MU-X is eminently possible, as that brand seeks to capitalise on an emerging market.
Volkswagen Amarok-based SUV
A wagon-based Amarok ( not the odd-looking ‘Korama’ from recent advertisements) is reportedly under consideration for the next-gen Amarok due at the end of the decade, or before. With a range of V6 turbo-diesel engines and 8-speed automatics, it could become one of the most desirable vehicles in its segment.
Nissan Navara-based SUV
Before modern times, the Navara and Pathfinder were closely linked, sharing separate chassis’ as well as powertrains. Now that the Pathfinder has become a bloated soccer-mum express, there is room for a Navara-based wagon to fill the void. This would directly rival Ford Everest, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and Toyota Fortuner. Despite sharing its platform, don’t expect Mercedes-Benz to go down the same route with the X-Class, since they have a very comprehensive range of SUVs as it is.
Toyota HiLux ‘Rugged’
In order to fend off X-Class and upcoming Ford Ranger Raptor, HiLux needs to evolve to become tougher and more luxurious. A luxury ‘SRX’ version ( with probably a different name) and a ‘Rugged’ with portal axles and higher ground clearance as per the Tonka concept are expected before too long so that the HiLux doesn’t lose its foothold on the mountain it once dominated for so long.
Red Automotive Technologies
South Australian company Red Automotive Technologies – a division of Applidine – is working hard to get funding together for a fully electric, all-Australian SUV and pickup truck.
Company founder Paul van de Loo is extremely determined to push a head with this idea, despite the headwinds facing the prospect of local carmaking. Hurdles include ADR regulations, government funding which means investment comes in the form of a ‘trickle instead of a flood’. We wish him every success.
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