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Best 4x4 and off-road vehicles arriving in 2021

Launched in March, the Outback now rides on Subaru's new Global Platform.

Australians love the great outdoors and getting off the beaten track, and with destinations like Cape York, Birdsville and Odonata scattered throughout the country, who could blame them?

But to get to some of the most picturesque and remote places in Australia, you are going to need a vehicle that is not only capable of getting you there, but also getting you back in one piece.

It’s little wonder then that the go-to vehicle of choice for exploring Australia’s vast countryside has been the comfortable and capable 4x4 SUV.

Though just a small pool in the vast automotive landscape, 4x4s and off-roaders are no less crucial to vast swathes of the population, and these are the models you should keep an eye on coming out in 2021.

Jeep Wrangler – January

Expanding on the fourth-generation Wrangler that launched in May 2019, Jeep has lowered the point of entry with new base grades for the three- and five-door off-road icon from January 2021.

However, the 2021 Wrangler range is powered exclusively by the 209kW/347Nm 3.6-litre Pentasar petrol V6, with the sole diesel Rubicon now axed.

The new Wrangler line-up also scores the brand's Selectable Tyre Fill Alert technology that makes it easier to let air out of the tyres for sand driving, while the usual array of safety and in-cabin technology is also thrown in.

 

Mahindra Thar – 2021

If you squint from a distance, you might be mistake Mahindra’s latest model for the Jeep Wrangler, but don’t make the mistake of thinking the Thar isn’t a proper off-roader.

Built on a rugged ladder-frame chassis, the Thar sports credible stats for ground clearance, wading depth, departure and breakover/ramp-over angles, while a two-speed transfer case and rear differential lock should get Mahindra’s SUV through almost any terrain.

Engine wise, there is a choice of a 112kW/320Nm 2.0-litre petrol or a 97kW/320Nm 2.2-litre diesel, but pricing will be key to whether the Mahindra Thar can sell in noticeable numbers from 2021.

Range Rover – January

Though the Range Rover might not be the first choice in transport to get down and dirty at the beach or a secluded camping spot, the model can certainly keep up with the best of them thanks to Land Rover’s renowned off-road expertise.

New from January 2021 is the roll-out of 48-volt mild-hybrid diesel engines, while petrol V6, V8 and a plug-in hybrid option carryover from before.

Costing well into the six-figures, the Range Rover is kitted out with all the tech (such as a 12.0-inch multimedia screen), safety (AEB and adaptive cruise control) and opulence (leather interior and soft-touch in-cabin materials) you’d come to expect for that price.

Subaru Outback – March

Having dropped the Liberty from its local line-up, the Outback now serves as Subaru Australia's sole offering larger than a Forester.

Launched in March, the Outback now rides on Subaru's new Global Platform that already underpins the Impreza, aforementioned Forester and soon-to-arrive Levorg.

The new Outback is powered by a 138kW/245Nm 2.5-litre petrol engine, while the 2.4-litre turbo-petrol engine found in overseas versions might arrive in Australia in the future.

Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series – Mid-2021

Arguably no other model is more synonymous with Australian off-roading than the Toyota LandCruiser, which is set to be overhauled in 2021.

Overseas reports indicate its launch had to be postponed due to the global pandemic, but rumour is the LandCruiser 300 Series will be powered by a 3.3-litre diesel V6 to replace the ageing V8.

A petrol-electric hybrid is also said to be in the works, but one thing is certain, Toyota’s next LandCruiser will retain the rugged off-road prowess from before, while also being able to tow a decent amount too.

Isuzu MU-X – Late 2021

With the new-generation D-Max already in showrooms, it was only a matter of time before the ute-based MU-X seven-seat SUV arrives, and that time is late next year.

Like before, the new MU-X shares the same engine as the D-Max, this time an updated 3.0-litre turbo-diesel engine that outputs 140kW/450Nm, while a six-speed automatic transmission is standard, and a choice of 4x2 or 4x4 drivetrains are on offer.

The cabin of the MU-X has also been significantly reworked and now features a massive 9.0-inch multimedia screen, as well as all the latest safety tech you would expect out of a brand new model.

Isuzu MU-X

Isuzu MU-X
3.7
From
$43,900
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)

SsangYong Rexton – March

An update to the underrated SsangYong Rexton hit Australian showrooms in March, brandishing a fresh look for the seven-seat SUV.

The interior has  been freshened up with a new seat design and centre console layout, while the instrument cluster is now all digital, keeping the Rexton feeling up-to-date amongst its contemporaries.

Only one engine will carryover, with the 2.0-litre turbo-petrol departing while the 2.2-litre turbo-diesel stays in a revised form.

Mercedes-Benz G-Class - July

For those that want a touch of class to go with their off-road adventures, Mercedes is offering its new G-Class in 400d form from July this year.

Underpinned by a 243kW/700Nm turbo-diesel six-cylinder engine, the Mercedes-Benz G400d offers a surprising amount of grunt, and sends drive to all four wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission.

Adaptive suspension, a low-range transfer case and three differential locks will keep the new G-Class going when the terrain gets rough, while occupants are treated to a 15-speaker sound system, sunroof and three-zone climate control.