Choosing the best touring 4WD starts with comparing GCMs, GVMs and payload figures.
You need to make sure that the 4WD you plan to buy can tow your caravan and carry your gear.
But beyond that, 5 other critical factors come into play.
Specifically, interior comfort. Before you push back with “who cares about interiors in a 4WD?”, let me point out that I’m not expecting a Tesla glass cockpit and Rolls-Royce levels of NVH.
But I am expecting to spend a huge amount of days on the road, battling corrugations and highway traffic, clocking up to 8 hours of driving per day with a large van in tow. This is where a comfortable interior pay dividends.
An airy, welcoming, low-NVH space with great visibility and supporive seats makes a huge difference to how much distance you can cover in a day, how safe your journey is and how fatigued you feel upon arrival. Suspension and tyres also play a role here.
A vehicle with independent axles and AT tyres will be more comfortable than one with live axles and muddies.
Just because your 4WD can legally tow the van doesn’t mean that it will feel composed doing it. This lack of composure will translate into stress for you, the pilot.
A 4WD with a longer wheelbase, shorter rear overhang, more power, larger brakes, more accurate steering and better suspension compliance will result in less nose-to-tail bobbing, swaying, busyness, bumpyness and more control.
Just because you’re towing, doesn’t mean you don’t need to worry about crashworthiness of your car. Invest in gear that will protect you – and others – if the worst happens.
What is the 4WD’s ANCAP score? How high is its centre of gravity? Does it have electronic safety systems? How well does it stop in the wet? What is the stopping distance? Does it roll in corners or does it stay relatively flat?
All of these factors need to be considered.
How likely is the car to let you down? If something does break, how likely is it to disable the entire car? Are parts available in remote areas? Is anything simple enough for you to fix yourself?
We are a lot more image-conscious than we like to admit. A lot of us take pride in our cars and want them to look great. A few of us don’t, but take pride in not doing so. Either way, ego plays a part.
You can’t escape it – and I think it’s a great thing. Lately, I’ve seen an increase in great-looking 4WD utes and wagons on Australian roads. Let’s keep it up and get boring, old shitboxes off our roads.
There’s nothing cool about smoking, rusty, busted-up 1990’s Patrols, Defenders and Cruisers.