A change of tune

Herald Sun - Motoring - - WHICH CAR? -

THE QUES­TION

I need to re­place my old Toy­ota 4Run­ner. I do a lot of se­ri­ous off-road­ing — not the dainty lit­tle dirt tracks you use. Cargo ca­pac­ity needs to be con­sid­ered, so that rules out the new Toy­ota For­tuner, and the Toy­ota Prado is too tall. The 4Run­ners in the US are ideal but we can’t get them here. The Mazda BT-50 doesn’t have suit­able un­der­body pro­tec­tion and, where I go, Mit­subishi Pa­jeros fall over due to their high centre of grav­ity. Brian Dungey, email You haven’t given us much to choose from, Brian, but we’ll have a go.

CHOICES

Toy­ota For­tuner, from $47,990 You rule it out but the new For­tuner diesel is one of the clos­est ve­hi­cles to the con­cept you’re af­ter. It’s based on HiLux un­der­pin­nings and has rugged off-road abil­ity with good wheel ar­tic­u­la­tion. Need space? Re­move the third-row seats and stow the sec­ond row, which folds flat.

Toy­ota FJ Cruiser, from $46,990

The Toy­ota FJ Cruiser is, in ef­fect, a mod­ern ver­sion of the orig­i­nal 4Run­ner de­sign (but with retro looks). You bet­ter be quick. The petrol-only FJ Cruiser is now out of pro­duc­tion and the only ex­am­ples are in dealer stock.

Isuzu M-UX, from $45,600

The Isuzu is due to get a mi­nor facelift and en­gine tune-up be­fore the year is out be­cause the cur­rent 3.0-litre turbo diesel won’t meet Aus­tralian emis­sions re­quire­ments from Novem­ber 1. It has a slightly lower roof than the Holden Trail­blazer and Toy­ota For­tuner and has a roomy cargo bay (once the seats are stowed) and might meet your needs.

WILD­CARD

Jeep Wran­gler two-door, from $38,500 It might not be as re­li­able as the Ja­panese branded ve­hi­cles but the Wran­gler has im­pres­sive go-any­where wheel ar­tic­u­la­tion and the centre of grav­ity is quite low when the roof is off. Con­sider the four­door if you need more space. But be warned: de­spite the hype, Jeeps are still un­re­li­able and their cus­tomer service and parts back-up are found want­ing.

VER­DICT

Run the tape over a Toy­ota For­tuner. It’s more ca­pa­ble and more roomy than you think.

TOY­OTA FOR­TUNER

JEEP WRAN­GLER

TOY­OTA FJ CRUISER

ISUZU M-UX

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