2021 Jeep Gladiator price and features: Boosted payload capacity for Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger and Ram 1500 rival
Jeep Australia has simplified its Gladiator pick-up range, slimming the...
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While COVID has become a by-word for uncertainty, one thing has emerged as a sure thing as a result of the pandemic. And that is that we won’t be travelling overseas for holidays any time soon.
Which means many Aussie families in search of a holiday journey will finally be tackling the great Australian road trip; you know, the one they’ve been talking about doing for years.
In turn, that means that many a capable expedition vehicle that has, until now, been confined to the school run, will finally get its chance to shine in the conditions for which it was designed.
The reality is, too, that if you want to make the most of that big trip, a vehicle with some off-road capability, a roomy wagon body and decent comfort is the one to have.
Some of the these vehicles have seven-seat capacity, and all of them have the range, comfort and rough-stuff abilities to tackle even serious off-roading with no real modifications beyond probably a more aggressive set of tyres.
Which means that even if your particular dream involves iconic tracks such as the Simpson Desert or the Old Telegraph Track to Cape York, these vehicles will get you there.
These are the makes and models that are likely to serve you best.
There’s a bit of a truism doing the rounds (and it’s hardly new) that the only people in the outback not driving Toyotas are, in fact, tourists.
The inference being that anybody who understands this wide, brown land, also understands that Toyota’s legendary reliability is the key to survival in the harsh back-of-beyond.
And there’s a bit to it, to be honest.
The big, twin-turbo-diesel V8 powered Toyota station-wagon has the comfort and space for a family and combines that with a smooth ride even on rough roads, an effortless driving experience and a cabin so silent it’s almost spooky.
And when the roads stop and the tracks begin, the big Cruiser really hits its stride with off-road abilities that will get you more or less anywhere.
But as the local market has swung away from diesel a little (although not a whole lot in the four-wheel-drive segment) the big, grunty V8 Patrol has come back into the reckoning for some.
Certainly, that’s supported by recent sales figures and although the Patrol will still cost plenty to run on a litres-per-100km basis, it’s a very capable vehicle.
And since even the most remote fuel outlets seem to have a supply of unleaded on hand, the Patrol’s petrol engine isn’t the drawback it might have been.
With a 140-litre fuel tank, range shouldn’t be a problem in most situations, while the 5.6-litre V8 churns out a monster 298kW and 560Nm, making the Nissan a natural tow-vehicle for the caravanners out there.
Even allowing for the fact that off-road four-wheel-drives tend to have a longer lifespan than passenger cars, Mitsubishi’s Pajero is some kind of four-wheeled Methuselah.
But in terms of having all the bugs sorted out and a reliable, capable vehicle emerging as a result, the Pajero’s design-age is no drawback whatsoever.
Always seen as a slightly smaller vehicle than its main opposition, the Pajero is nevertheless a very accommodating, comfortable expedition vehicle with plenty of seats and luggage space.
The Pajero these days is powered by a large-capacity (3.2 litre) four-cylinder turbo-diesel with plenty of performance and decent fuel economy.
The five-speed automatic dates the thing a little, but with low-range gears, there’s always the right ratio for any off-road task.
Pricing is pretty sharp, too, and the new 10-year factory warranty is a huge bonus for families.
The big choice when buying an Everest is whether to go for the newer, twin-turbo 2.0-litre diesel four-cylinder with its 10-speed automatic, or the original flavour with its 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel and six-speed automatic.
Performance-wise, there’s not much in it, but those who tow a caravan or camper-trailer reckon the bigger five-cylinder has the torque where you need it.
The older (3.2-litre) driveline is also a little cheaper to buy, making the base-model Everest some kind of a bargain in this company.
Along with sheer size, choice is the element that seems to attract US consumers.
Which is probably why the Jeep Grand Cherokee is available with no less than five engine options in Australia.
You can start with the 213kW V6 petrol, then move to the V6 turbo-diesel with its 184kW and then the V8 options which start with the 259kW 5.7-litre V8 petrol or the 334kW 6.4-litre V8 in the SRT model.
Or, if you really want to get to your campsite in a hurry, there’s also the supercharged 6.2-litre V8 with an astonishing 522kW, even if it’s an irrelevant option in this context.
The Grand Cherokee’s packaging isn’t as clever as some so it’s not as big inside as it looks, but it does retain Jeep’s brand-genetics that make it a very capable off-roader.