The Best Daily Car and 4WD

I want to upgrade from my 2004 Mazda 2 hatchback and get something bigger, and the ability to go to 4WD only camping areas (Fraser and Moreton would be great)

The problem is finding something that I'll enjoy driving to work every day, but does a good job when I go camping (Which is so far only twice a year)

I'm planning to spend 15-25k, at the moment I'm set on the 2015 Mitsubishi Challenger so far.

My main worries are fuel consumption (9.8L/100km) and comfort in my daily drive to work.

So far my research has told me:

Smaller 4WD's like the Suzuki's are not a good choice due to having smaller or equal space to my mazda 2 hatchback.

Keeping my Mazda 2 and renting is not a good idea as renting a 4WD for a long weekend at fraser is $1000+

Having two cars is not worth it due to the costs of rego/insurance etc.

What do you guys think? I like to be frugal but it seems in this scenario I have to compromise to some degree.

Comments

  • The Suzuki Jimny would have been good if it wasn't for the crappy 3 star Ancap rating :|

    • It does look like a great car, unfortunately it has such little room that I'm quite sure its a downgrade in space and I would have to put everything on the roof.

    • OP asked for a comfortable commute and more room than their Mazda 2 hatch. You might as well have suggested a C8 corvette :p

  • Subaru Outback, does it all and does it really well!

    • I thought the fact that it was AWD would mean I would not go well in soft sand and other things at fraser?

      • With correct tyre pressures, you will find an Outback will do really well on the sand!

        As wombat said, clearance would be only issue, what track are you doing on Fraser?

        • This is absolute bullshit. You need a proper 4WD to drive on Fraser. I was there this summer and I saw several cars stuck, some were proper 4WDs, but one was an X trail, which had no business being there, and it made it 1km into a 22km cross island trail. Up the road from that was an old Challenger, which was better but still couldn’t hack the terrain. As a minimum you need a lift on Fraser Island. I took one of my cars and despite a 2 inch lift and oversized AT tyres, I still managed to rip out some heat shielding around the rear diff. Mechanic told me if I didn’t have a lift, whatever ripped all the insulation out would have gone straight through my fuel tank.

          There’s a lot of armchair experts here OP, who have no idea what they are talking about. If you need to go to Fraser, you need a proper lifted 4WD with a low range and Diffs.

          • @Burnertoasty: Agree. If you're taking a soft-roader to Fraser, you're asking for serious damage, and/or you'll be asking people to pull you out non stop. It'll go OK on hard sand on the beach, but that's it.

          • @Burnertoasty: Agree Fraser is no place for a soft roader.

            For other playing along, a stock 4wd will go a lot of places with the addition of some AT tyres without the lift and all the gear. Of corse lifted and locked will go further, but the majority of locations where tracks are are accessible in a stockie.

            • @Euphemistic: That entirely depends on the conditions. It would have been impossible to travel from Eurong to Lake Mackenzie when I was there, without a lift. The buses seriously tore up the roads. (You could probably do it, but you’d be getting stuck multiple times and you’d do some serious diff dragging). As I said without a lift I would have had a fuel tank with a hole ripped through it.

          • @Burnertoasty: Easy! I qualify my statement by asking what tracks you're doing on Fraser. Lots of Outbacks do just fine on Fraser, it's all about tyre pressures.

            Inland tracks, yeah I wouldn't attempt it at all, but the OP is looking for an all rounder to drive to the shops, and do some camping/4WDing. Hence my suggestion.

            OP, I'll try to be more objective than @Burnertoasty but would encourage you to take both points of view - https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=outback%20frase...

            That being said, if your plan is to only visit sand islands and nothing else, you will need to sacrifice some of that 'nice everyday vehicle' for something quite capable offroad.

            Good luck =]

            Edit - no matter what you choose, lift and a sump guard a really good option.

          • @Burnertoasty: hi sir,

            I have a shitty Subaru Impreza with low range gear and have been wondering if there is any use for it. Could you please elaborate? I have no desire to get a full-blown 4WD experience but might be nice to know my current car capacity.

            Have a nice day sir Burnertoasty.

          • @Burnertoasty: try a hot hatch op

            • @biozet: Hot hatches are too heavy. Some are even AWD. OP needs an under powered FWD under a ton. Picanto x line? It's in OP's budget new, and it has a 7 year factory warranty. 7 year factory warranty…. mmmmmm

          • @Burnertoasty: Sorry to dig up old arguments but thought you might find this early forester interesting:

            https://youtu.be/D_3D1mW8d18?t=21m14s

            This doesn't prove or disprove anybody's point. Just thought it would surprise you given your current point of view. Looks like a 2 inch lift is the only thing helping it go further.

            Might even help to show some possible capabilities if OP doesn't go for a 4WD. Obviously I'm not implying it's more capable than a patrol (apart from the one behind it :P ) but they do have their merits. But CVT bleagh.

        • +2 votes

          The problem with this comment is after a storm some of the headland crossing on fraser - which you cannot avoid - become extremely rocky. I have personally almost killed a lifted grand vitara in this circumstance. David is somewhat correct - if you check the beach conditions and it doesn't say "exposed rocks" then you might make it up to the north on an outback.

          I still wouldn't do it though.

          I drive a defender and have pulled out countless other vehicles on fraser.

          Reliable choice - low km's Prado - pick your price range based on age
          Cool choice - older landrover discovery
          Boring choice - Hilux

    • I wouldn't want to be driving an Outback on Fraser. It will do the job most of the time, but the clearance would be an issue on the inland tracks and when the sand gets very soft, which it does.

    • No. Too low. Approach and departure angles are poor. No locking diff (kinda important for sand). Summer road tyres.

      I did not down vote you, but an outback on sand is a great way to learn the local tow jocky's name.

      • To be honest, last time I was in Fraser I got away with leaving it in high range and leaving the diff open, but I put the car in sand mode. It worked amazingly (once I learnt to trust the systems), but no way would I have made it at stock ride height. Some of the sand got really soft on the uphill, but the car pulled through without getting bogged once. Having a lot of power (or decent power) is just as, if not more important, than locking your diffs on soft sand. I guess it saves you from needing to go into low range to multiply your torque and means that you can maintain a higher speed more easily.

        • I thought you were arguing for Subaru's.

          You are right. Power and consistency works. But OP is a noob. A locking diff is a very good idea and far less effort than a tow strap or winch (also good ideas).

        • What were you driving on Fraser? Our Parhfinder is doing well, but upgrading the caravan means I’ll be looking for something more powerful.

          • @Euphemistic: All over. But It doesn't matter where, it matters when. I was staying at Kingfisher Bay resort, so criss crossed the island everyday, and some days it was easy, other days the terrain was torn up by the tourist busses and was much tougher on the same roads.

            • @Burnertoasty: Nice. But I meant what vehicle?

              • @Euphemistic: I think if you’re towing a caravan off-road, you’ve really only got three options with decent power: a Landcruiser 200, a LR Disco/RR Sport/Range Rover or a Jeep Grand Cherokee. Everything else capable of towing big loads and going off-road is severely under powered. Those three have around 200kw and 600nm+.

                • @Burnertoasty: There are plenty of other options. Y62 Patrol, 76/78/79 series Landcruiser, Ford F250, Dodge Ram, Iveco Daily etc. And torque is far more important than power when you're talking towing.

                  • @wombat81: Not when you’re towing in sand. Power is king. The Patrol is a good option, but it’s petrol and extremely thirsty. So is the Ram, it has a diesel option, but I personally feel the diesel in that car is a little underpowered considering the size of the vehicle. The F250 isn’t readily available in Australia, it’s a LHD conversion and you’re looking at Range Rover money for it. The 70 series Landcruiser is a fine car, but it’s underpowered and manual only. Only 150kw doesn’t cut it for me.

                    • @Burnertoasty: Wasn’t that long ago you were claiming the LC200 was woefully underpowered.

                      You aren’t going to let us in on what you were actually driving? I’m still interested to know what is good on sand.

                    • @Burnertoasty: You didn't say anything about sand. You said "off road". If your van is so big/heavy that you can only tow it on sand with the most powerful vehicles available, good luck to you, but it's not a problem I would be creating for myself. I'd be getting a smaller/lighter van.

                      FWIW I don't believe the Rovers and Jeeps are worth anywhere near the money being ask for them. I've seen plenty of both in trouble on Fraser. And you just don't see them at all in the remote parts of the country. The reliability and parts availability just isn't there.

                • @Burnertoasty: I wouldn’t tow off road. Just day trips without a van.

                  What were you driving? I’m interested to know what handles the sand well.

  • 4wd, enjoy driving and fuel economy do not go together.

    We have an R51 Pathfinder. Ok on fuel, comfortable but a long way from enjoyable to drive. Very capable 4wd in stock form, similar to the challenger. Not sure what the last models are going for now since hey stopped making them around 2012.

    A challenger should be OK. consider an MUX. There doesn’t seem to be much else in the medium 4wd category. You could step up to a Prado or Pajero. The Prado will be a lot older in your budget though.

    • My wife has a diesel R51 Pathy. Nice car but drives like a truck. Thinking about trying an iDrive system on it to improve drivability.

      • Yeah. It’s a truck to drive, but interior comfort is fine and the ride is OK. I also have a D40 twin cab, so the Pathfinder is riding on a cloud in comparison.

        Edit: seems to be a few Pathfinders around $20k

      • Do a tune on it, makes them a different vehicle. Does show up how crappy the auto is though.

        • Yeah. Don’t rate the auto. It seems to struggle with dropping down a gear at 60ish then clunks like the lock up hung on too long or something. Does it so often on a hill just before home I knock it over into manual mode to prevent the clunk.

    • Aren't R52 Pathfinders CVT with a monocoque chassis? I would avoid for OP's use case.

      The three main ladder frame (ute based) 4x4's are the Challanger/Pajero Sport, the MUX/Colorado 7/Trailblazer and the Everest. The 4WD versions of these all have a rear diff lock button iirc(it's normally not on the roof like in the linked video).

      The Challange/Pajero Sport is an excellent choice. It is a little smaller inside than the rest.

      Newer MUX's have a DPF. You can check if a MUX has a DPF in gauge cluster trip computer (it has a 'DPD' meter). 'DPD' models need a decent drive weekly if commuting. In my experience MUX's have thin paint (but I have not heard of a rust issues).

      The Colorado 7 and Trailblazer were mostly bought as family wagons or tow cars. Most have not been off road. Electric brakes and an anderson plug are easy to spot if towing is a concern. The exhaust recirculation valve gets clogged on these and put's them into limp mode. The Colorado 7 is well withing budget. Trailblazers start at ~$27 including transfers but are a significant comfort upgrade. The Colorado 7 Trailblazer is also a trim level without the refinement of the newer Trailblazer.

      Everest's start at ~$28k + transfers. They are nice, but over budget. Has a terrain toggle instead of a 4x4 switch.

      • Aren't R52 Pathfinders CVT with a monocoque chassis? I would avoid for OP's use case.

        Yes. I was recommending to consider an R51 Pathfinder. A proper 4wd with low range. They really should have called the R52 a Murano 7 or something and left the Pathfinder name for whatever they build off the new Navara platform.

        Colorado and MUX are the same chassis and I believe early ones had the same motor and tranny until GM decided to fit the Duramax. Otherwise the two are from the same factory with different colour and trim levels.

  • Hard to find something that you can take to Moreton that doesn't drive like a truck on the road without spending lots of money on latest 4WDs. The Suzuki grand Vitara is about the only one I can think of that will do the job and can be found relatively cheap.

    • I was about to choose a Grand Vitara but stopped as I realised I was paying a lot of money for a petrol vehicle that used 9.2L/100km and had similar amounts of space to my Mazda 2.

      Thats why I thought the challenger was a better option, slightly more fuel for a lot more space and power.

      •  

        From experience tyres on a Grand Vitara can be expensive depending on what size rims you have.

      • The GV should be bigger than the Mazda 2 comparable probably with the Mazda 3 / CX5 sort of size vehicle.

        • Based on boot space and when back seats are folded down, there isn't that much difference based on pictures.

          I think I would be relying on a roof rack, which is normally fine but not a great situation for 9.2L/100km, and the roof rack would only increase the consumption.

          • @samfisher5986: You need to do your homework.
            Mazda 2 (current model) Booth space 250L with seats up and 950L seats folded.
            Suzuki Grand Vitara Booth space 398L and 1386L respectively.
            Additionally you can put a roof rack on the GV.

            • @MechEng: I have the 2004 Mazda 2 which has more space then the latest Mazda 2. How much is hard to know.

              As I said elsewhere, if I need to put a roof rack on a 9.2L car just to fit my gear, I think a 9.8L larger vehicle would make more sense.

              • @samfisher5986:

                How much is hard to know.

                Why don't you try redbook?

                Also I believe that based on your concerns about fuel consumption, you're not ready to own a 4WD.
                Consumption is the least of your worries, please see a list of things that will cost you more:
                - Insurance
                - Tyres
                - Maintenance / oil / Parts
                - If you do 4wding your shock absorbers and suspension parts will not last you as long
                - Recovery kit
                - Damages to the vehicle caused by offroad driving
                Etc.

                • @MechEng: The increase cost in those areas don't really bother me as they are related to my offroading so its worth it.

                  Redbook doesn't have the dimensions of my car boot unfortunately.

                  Have a look for yourself

                  My Current Car: https://s1.cdn.autoevolution.com/images/gallery/MAZDA-2---De...

                  Grand Vitara: https://www.forcegt.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/2015-Suzu...

                  I can see some extra width and depth in the GV, but the seats are also slanted which make it harder to stack/pack things. It also looks like I lose some height, which is a potential problem if I can't see behind.

                  • @samfisher5986: The increase in fuel consumption is also part of the offroading. you have to see it as a whole unfortunately.
                    Your car is in a very nice condition!

                    • @MechEng: Yes I know, but its about finding the perfect car!

                      I don't mind increased costs if the vehicle offers a good reason to use that amount.

                      • @samfisher5986: You are not comparing the right mode. the one in the picture is a Vitara not a Grand Vitara. Please see this link

                        • @MechEng: Very good point, but wow there is not much space in the one you linked either…

                          Thats why I'm currently looking at the regular Vitara, 4WD and low fuel consumption, just can't see a lift kit for it which limits the offroad abilities.

                          • @samfisher5986: The Vitara is a AWD, so wont be suitable for Offroading.
                            The Grand Vitara, which is larger than the Vitara is a 4wd with transfer case.
                            Example of lift kit for the Grand Vitara is here

                            • @MechEng: As I said in the other place, how is the Vitara AWD?

                              Its listed as 4WD, unless they are just pretending its a 4WD.

                              • @samfisher5986: Have a look herefor the Vitara. You can see that they talk about the AllGrip 4WD system, and that is classified as All-Wheel Drive.
                                The Grand Vitara is a typical 4WD with a transfer case and low gear. I recommend that you have a look at this car.
                                I hope this helps

                              • @samfisher5986: The 4th Gen Vitara is a compact SUV and like other compact SUV only suitable for dirt roads.
                                https://youtu.be/utGcgkfO61M

                                • @whooah1979: I'm talking about the 2015 version though which is clearly stated as a 4WD.

                                  While there is a huge lack of information, it does seem fine for light offroading at the very least, just nothing like fraser I assume, but the jimnys do very well there but have higher clearance.

                                  • @samfisher5986: Yes, just look at the model name Vitara =/= Grand Vitara
                                    Good luck

                                      • @samfisher5986: Yes that is typical of an AWD.
                                        It uses an electromagnetic coupling to drive traction to the back wheels.
                                        For comparison purposes the Grand Vitara's is here, note the transfer case (the small box in the middle of the car)

                                        Edit
                                        This video may help you understand how a 4WD works. The guy is mildly annoying but does a good job explaining.
                                        here is the same guy explaining the difference between 4WD and AWD

                                      • @samfisher5986: Please, please don't buy the Vitara expecting it to go off-road. No, just no. It's an AWD, and lacks the low-range and diff-locks to do what you need it to.

                                        You'll be massively setting yourself up to fail if you buy an AWD, expecting it to go to places like Fraser Island.

                                        You need low-range, and a diff-lock. These are key characteristics of a 4WD. Don't get confused because a dealer incorrectly lists an AWD as a 4WD. It isn't. Please educate yourself in these basic differences if you expect to go off the beaten track in this great country!

                                        • @spackbace: Sorry you might have missed my earlier post elsewhere.

                                          I was thinking of getting the Vitara knowing it couldn't go to Fraser/Moreton, but using it to go to other 4WD only places that don't have such huge 4WD requirements.

                                          • @samfisher5986: Yes, but no. It's a small engine with shitty torque that you'll be constantly over-revving. You don't lift them, and you sure don't put bull bars on them.
                                            Basically, it's not fit for what you want, which is what a few of us are trying to say…

                                            • @spackbace: Everyone has differing opinions here.

                                              The decision would be simple if we all agreed!

                                              • @samfisher5986: I agree with Spaceback here.

                                                I did moreton and fraser on a Grand Vitara. Plenty of Jimnys, so your 4WD does not need to be big, but needs to be capable.

                                                • @MechEng: Sure, but its not that simple (not that I'm suggesting a Vitara can go on fraser or not)

                                                  Jimny 2020:
                                                  Power 75kW @ 6000rpm
                                                  Torque 130Nm @ 4000rpm
                                                  Power to Weight Ratio (kW/t) 68.8

                                                  Vitara 2020:
                                                  Power 103kW @ 5500rpm
                                                  Torque 220Nm @ 1500-4000rpm
                                                  Power to Weight Ratio (kW/t) 83.4

                                                  Spacebace's comments are quite exaggerated in my opinion.

                                                  I would say Vitara's main problem is the clearance and lack of low gear.

                                                  • @samfisher5986: 72.6 kW per tonne vs 68.8 kW/t. On a car that light is a massive difference

                                                  • @samfisher5986:

                                                    I would say Vitara's main problem is the clearance and lack of low gear.

                                                    Because it's an AWD, not 4x4

                                                    Argh

                                                    Your stubbornness will lead you to the wrong car. You seem to love disagreeing with multiple comments suggesting to avoid AWDs.

                                                    That's fine, you can lead a horse to water…

                                                    • @spackbace: I'm simply pointing out that its not much different to a Jimny.

                                                      The latest jimny's seem to be allgrip with low gear added.

                                                    • @spackbace: I'm a 74 year old female who travels to Fraser and Moreton several times a year. I drive a 2005 Prado with no lift but air bags in the springs. I've also driven to Lorella springs in the NT and various places on the way over dirt roads with no problems. I love my Prado even tho it's an older model, I like being up high and having a bit of power. I have seen Grand Vitaras - the pre 2017 proper 4 WD ones on Fraser and they go Ok but have be careful in deep soft sand. the main problem people have is they don't let their tyres down enough. I've driven past bogged cars with no trouble for that reason.. good luck with whatever you choose.

                                              • @samfisher5986: You have to have some give and take somewhere. A petrol car will use more fuel, but be better around town and more comfortable, with better pickup over a turbo diesel (most of the diesel 4x4s mentioned have turbo lag).

                                                You need to compromise and not just simply look at a figure (fuel consumption) but overall.

                                                I know the Grand Vitara doesn't have a huge back, and offers an older year build for your budget. I just know how capable and reliable it is. Yes, the 4-speed auto sucks for fuel economy, especially highway economy. The FJ Cruiser is not a bad option if you can allow the fuel use within your budgeting. Very reliable and capable car that'll go anywhere, with tons of aftermarket parts available

                                                • @spackbace: But this all comes back down to, why are you suggesting a 9.2L/100km Petrol 4WD? Thats large 4WD territory.

                                                  I'm not against higher fuel costs, but there is a lot of conflicting arguments on what people think is reasonable or not and I think the fuel usage on the Grand Vitara kills a lot of the appeal, I'm sure its fun to drive though.

                                                  • @samfisher5986: Because, as has been pointed out later on, you're looking at rated figures, not real-world figures. Not to mention added servicing costs of diesel vehicles. And dailying a turbo-diesel car largely depends on the turbo lag on the vehicle itself, and as you have yet to actually test drive anything, this is all just arm-chair expert vs real-world expert. You're taking your ideas of the cars on figures that you've seen, others are giving opinions based on actually owning and driving the vehicles. Huge difference.

                                                    Until you get away from just looking at figures, and actually getting out there and test driving, the discussion is pointless. You don't know if you'll like a car as a daily just based on figures you read. Get out there and drive them in suburbia, then come back to us.

                                                    • @spackbace: I'm not sure I understand your logic.

                                                      If my current car is based on rated figures, and the cars I'm comparing are based on rated figures, then whats the problem? All companies use best case scenarios for fuel that are not real world.

                                                      A car that has a lower claimed rated fuel is obviously going to be more fuel efficient then another car that has a higher claimed rated fuel usage.

                                                      • @samfisher5986: Because some companies fudge the figures, or different cars get varied results from their 'claimed' average economy…

                                                        So 1 car might get the rated fuel consumption, whereas a comparison car could be 1-5L/100km higher.

                                                        • @spackbace: Which brands get the rated fuel consumption? I've never heard of that.

                                                          If anything 4WD's seem like the worst type to ask the community for fuel figures as everyone has a different 4WD equipment/tyres/roof racks etc which change fuel consumption a lot.

                                                          • @samfisher5986: Ugh you're doing my head in

                                                            Go. Drive. Cars.

                                                            Do that, then ask silly questions. Reset the trip meter, drive it, check fuel average, report back.

                                                            • @spackbace: If you've driven a wide range of the cars discussed and can report the fuel differences compared to the rated usages then say so.

                                                              Otherwise you are simply saying your car has X usage and then making a lot of assumptions based on that, which is the wrong way to do it.

                                                              And the fact that you are suggesting I try and compare fuel consumption on a very short test drive in different areas/traffic and then making assumptions?

                                                              Rated fuel consumption by the company is 100x more accurate to compare cars then some short flawed fuel tests by a consumer.

                                                              • @samfisher5986: You just don't get it, do you? Someone could have a different fuel economy to you. Your Mazda 2, for instance, can be driven sedately or spiritedly. It could be carting around 1 person or 4 + luggage. It could be driving in stop-start traffic, or highway.

                                                                Having my fuel economy figures, bear no weight on you unless you drive under the exact same conditions with the exact same vehicle configuration.

                                                                It's like you're trying to get the perfect result before you even look at cars. You're nit-picking suggestions made to you, suggestions no one needs to actually make. You're asking us to give you the perfect argument for a vehicle suggestion, without even looking at the damn thing.

                                                                Yeesh.

                                                                I'm out. You're gonna end up with the wrong car. Enjoy it.

                                                                • @spackbace: You said it yourself, people drive differently.

                                                                  Your fuel economy figures across multiple cars could mean something, but you don't have that, just one car.

                                                                  My fuel economy figures from driving 5 minutes in different traffic mean nothing.

                                                                  The best possible information to compare cars is the rated fuel consumption unless someone has real world experience with both vehicles and even then, 4WD addons/changes still matter a lot.

                                                  • @samfisher5986: 9.2L/100 is not too bad for a petrol 4WD. Runs in unleaded, so often cheaper than diesel.
                                                    GV is full time 4WD too, so that adds to the consumption. This is for the 2.4L 4 cylinder petrol

                                                    A friend has a Forrester, which uses similar 8.9L/100. 2.5L boxer petrol

                                                    The PS uses about the same too, so I do not get the conflicting information part. 2.4L diesel