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Used 4WD wagons review: 2007-2012

2007 Jeep Commander pictured.

The growing popularity of SUVs has seen many of the breed dilute the off-road skill set to accommodate more civilised road manners -- but not this lot.

Certainly less agricultural than their forebears, these three examples still have more than enough gumption to gallop down the Gunbarrel Highway or amble along the Oodnadatta Track.

The phrase “King Off The Road'' has long been associated with the Toyota LandCruiser and there's nothing to suggest it's a royal fraud.

The Japanese brand has built much of its reputation on the back of this beast -- wags will joke that if you want to get somewhere, take a Land Rover -- but if you want to get home again take a LandCruiser.

The Toyota's debut was as a workhorse in the 1960s, covering rough ground around the Snowy Mountains Scheme, and its legend has grown from there. The throne is currently occupied by the 200 Series, updated in late 2009.

The pricing was a reflection of the demand and Toyota was charging mid-$80,000 for the entry-level GXL wagon. But for towing a caravan, horse float or a boat, there wasn't much that could touch the Toyota's 3500kg braked towing capacity.

New vehicle sales figures reflected that, with the LandCruiser regularly outselling Nissan's Patrol by two to one. The Patrol has a long heritage in Australia as well, stretching as far back as the LandCruiser.

In 1962, geologist Reg Sprigg and family travelled across the Simpson Desert in a G60 Nissan Patrol, the first vehicle to complete the journey. The Patrol nameplate took hold in the 1980s and has been a part of the 4WD scene ever since.

The brand just launched its new model -- with no sign of a diesel engine -- so we'd be inclined to look back to when it had a turbo diesel under its squared-off snout. A left-field choice in this segment is the Jeep Commander, a model that never took off in Australia but had seating for seven, turbo diesel power and the off-road cred that comes with a Jeep badge.

There were petrol six- and eight-cylinder options but the 3.0-litre turbo diesel V6, teamed with a five-speed auto, had ample torque and a reasonable thirst. Not a stellar sales performer for the US brand, it fell victim to belt-tightening brought on by the GFC, but if you're not interested in a Japanese giant it might fit the bill.


Check for signs of water intrusion and rust, as serious off-road expeditions gone awry (as well as recent floods) can have rusty consequences.
Diesels are generally more frugal and a lot easier to feed in the Outback, where PULP and ULP can be in short supply.
Check the fine print on the towing details, as some 4WDs make big boasts but fall over in the capacity details.

2010 Toyota Landcruiser GXL
4.5-litre V8 turbo diesel
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Thirst: 10.3L/100km


The 200 Series took Toyota's full-size diesel 4WD into the realm of the turbo diesel V8, which meant lots of torque, as well as genuine off-road ability and room for eight. Cloth trim, stability control, dual-zone climate control, six airbags and money-can't-buy heritage.

2012 Nissan Patrol

Engine: 3.0-litre 4-cyl turbo diesel
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Thirst: 11.8L/100


Life in the shadows of more popular 4WDs has kept Patrol prices sharp. Three rows of seating, 17-inch alloys, cruise control, airconditioning and stability control are among the features in this full-size off-roader. It was much cheaper than the corresponding 'Cruiser when new and remains a cheaper proposition in the used market.

2007 Jeep Commander XH Wagon

Engine: 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Thirst: 10.5L/100km


The brand has long been known for building off-roaders -- its heritage dates from WWII. Jeep is not as adept at ergonomic interiors as the Japanese but the brand's charisma tends to offset niggles. A genuine seven-seater that will get off the beaten track when asked.


Year Price From Price To
2007 $10,010 $15,400

View all Jeep Commander pricing and specifications

Pricing Guides

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Range and Specs

(base) 3.0L, Diesel, 5 SP AUTO $10,890 – 14,960 2007 Jeep Commander 2007 (base) Pricing and Specs
Limited 4.7L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $10,780 – 14,740 2007 Jeep Commander 2007 Limited Pricing and Specs
Stuart Martin
Contributing Journalist