VERY few SUV or four-wheel drive owners take their vehicles off road, let alone into demanding terrain.
Isuzu Ute is trying to change that with the I-Venture Club, which it claims is the only offroad adventure club of its kind in Australia run by a vehicle maker. It runs demanding multi-day wilderness drives with expert guides.
The 4WD specialist sells just two vehicles here, the D-MAX ute and the MU-X five-door wagon. They share the 3.0-litre turbo diesel with five-speed manual or auto transmissions.
Both vehicles are on robust ladder chassis and have more than 200mm ground clearance.
Carsguide was invited on a four-day adventure into the Flinders Ranges, which was oversubscribed soon after it was advertised online. The club can cater for 10 vehicles but Isuzu staffer Marc Scott says there were about 50 applications for the Flinders run.
“Many were from women wishing to tick off a real outback driving experience with their husband sharing wheel time,’’ he says.
Brisbane retirees Narelle and Bruce Bowden took their D-Max on the Flinders trip — they were “sold” on the concept after a Moreton Island adventure three years ago.
“We spend about six months of the year away from home ... looking for adventure,” says Narelle. “We really enjoy getting off the beaten track.”
Ian Day and 13-year-old son Jayden from Moss Vale, NSW, took the family MU-X along for the Flinders drive because of, Jayden says, “all the cool things to see and do”. The teen had his first drive along one of the many private dirt roads en-route.
It costs about $1300 a head for the Flinders Ranges adventure, including guidance and off-road coaching from experts Dave Wilson and Drew Symonds, “glamping” for two nights at Wilpena Pound Resort and a night in shearers’ quarters at Bendleby Ranges homestead.