Wagons tussle on one of Australia’s toughest tracks.
The Canning Stock Route is the perfect challenge to separate the bush contenders from pretenders.
HEADING north out of Perth gave us time to contemplate just how much the 4x4 market had changed over the past decade. Leading the convoy was an old favourite, the Toyota Prado. The model first arrived in 1996 as an antidote to the increasingly pricier Landcruiser king, and it has since cemented itself as an outback prince. Next in the convoy was Toyota’s Fortuner. The Prado was once a circa-$40k off-roader but now commands half that again for the volume-selling GXL. So the Fortuner has been born as the most affordable diesel entry to Toyota’s off-road brigade.
Isuzu’s MU-X is another relative newcomer, having first surfaced in 2013. It sports a proven ute and truck heritage in a no-nonsense seven-seat shell.
But it’s the Ford Everest that is the freshest of our quartet – and it’s a four-wheel drive with plenty to prove. Straight out of the blocks the Everest cleaned up at the 2015 4x4 Of The Year testing.
All of which meant nothing as we steamed up the Great Northern Highway towards Meekatharra before heading east to Wiluna, the southern start of the Canning Stock Route. Sure, we’ve tested the off-road mettle of the Everest, but we haven’t put it through a punishing outback test, one where reliability, comfort and ability are priorities.
When the wheels touched dust for the first time, it was a tantalising taste of the 2000km of tough, remote country that lay ahead. With close to 1000km of highways at either end, it promised to be the ultimate off-road test.