A change of tune
THE QUESTION CHOICES 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. 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. 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 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.