10 Best 4WD Australia: SUVs vs. Utes

August 22, 2023

Are you ready to embark on a memorable journey through Australia’s rugged landscapes, hidden trails, and untamed beauty? If you’ve got a taste for adventure and a yearning for the wild, you’re in for a treat! In a country where the outback stretches as far as the eye can see and the wilderness beckons with a siren’s call, having the right 4WD vehicle can make all the difference between an ordinary road trip and an extraordinary escapade.

Let’s traverse the treacherous terrains. Conquer rocky ridges and Ford picturesque creeks. And reveal the vehicles that are not just built for the roads but for the uncharted paths that lead to pure greatness. Join us on a journey of discovery as we uncover the mechanics, the magic, and the sheer magnificence of these 4WD beasts that have earned their stripes under the Southern Cross.

Are you ready to know which 4WD machine will claim the throne as the ultimate conqueror of Australia’s wild frontiers? The stage is set, the engines are revving, and the trails are calling. Let’s dive headfirst into the world of 4WDs that redefine what it means to explore Down Under!

A brief overview of 4WD vehicles

A brief overview of 4WD vehicles

Four-wheel drive (4WD) is a powertrain system designed to provide power to all four wheels of a vehicle, enhancing its ability to maintain traction and navigate challenging surfaces. This arrangement is particularly advantageous in hazardous conditions such as snowy, icy, or rocky terrains.

4WD vehicles can better grip the road or terrain, reducing the risk of slipping, sliding, or getting stuck by distributing power to all four wheels. This technology is used in off-road vehicles, trucks, SUVs, and certain high-performance cars to enhance their capabilities and ensure safe and confident driving even in adverse environments.

Why they are popular in Australia

Why they are popular in Australia?

The popularity of 4WD (Four-Wheel Drive) vehicles in Australia can be attributed to factors that align with the country’s diverse terrain and adventurous spirit. Three key points contribute to the widespread preference for 4WD vehicles in the Australian context.

Vast Gravel Roads and Tracks

Australia boasts a vast and varied landscape, encompassing deserts, mountains, beaches, and rugged terrains. This diversity leads to the existence of thousands of gravel roads and small tracks that connect different regions.

Navigating these unpaved paths demands vehicles with superior traction and durability, which 4WDs provide. The robust design and capabilities of 4WD vehicles allow Australians to confidently explore remote areas and access stunning natural sites otherwise out of reach.

Enhanced Power and Control

The additional power and control offered by 4WD vehicles prove crucial when tackling challenging landscapes. Whether ascending steep hills, traversing muddy trails, or crossing water bodies, the four-wheel drive system distributes power to all wheels, ensuring optimal grip and stability.

This feature gives drivers greater confidence and safety, particularly when facing adverse weather conditions or difficult terrains. Australians often engage in outdoor activities like camping, off-roading, and towing, making 4WDs the preferred choice for their robust performance.

Adventurous Lifestyle

Australia’s adventurous and outdoor-oriented lifestyle aligns well with the capabilities of 4WD vehicles. Australians often seek to explore remote areas, engage in recreational activities, and embark on road trips that demand vehicles capable of conquering various terrains.

The “aggressive” appearance of 4WDs contributes to their rugged image, resonating with the nation’s adventurous spirit and love for exploration.

Benefits of owning a 4WD vehicle

Benefits of owning a 4WD vehicle | Best 4WD Australia

Owning a 4WD (Four-Wheel Drive) vehicle comes with various benefits. Here’s a breakdown of these advantages:

Gear Up for Off-Road Adventures

A 4WD vehicle is designed to easily handle rough terrains and challenging off-road trails. The additional traction provided by all four wheels helps you conquer uneven surfaces, steep inclines, rocky paths, and muddy trails, enabling you to explore exciting off-road destinations.

Elevated Driving Position

Many 4WD vehicles are designed with higher ground clearance, giving you an elevated driving position. This offers improved visibility of the road ahead, enhancing your awareness of potential hazards and contributing to a more confident driving experience.

Extra Space and Capacity

Many 4WD vehicles, such as SUVs and trucks, offer ample space for passengers and cargo. This makes them suitable for daily commutes and extended trips, providing flexibility for various lifestyles and activities.

Towing Power

If you require the ability to tow trailers, boats, or other heavy loads, a 4WD vehicle often has increased towing capacity compared to 2WD vehicles. The additional traction provided by all four wheels helps distribute the load more effectively, ensuring a safer and more stable towing experience.

All-Terrain Flexibility

Whether navigating through snowy roads, sandy beaches, or muddy trails, a 4WD vehicle’s ability to engage all four wheels provides improved stability and control. This flexibility ensures you’re well-prepared for different driving environments and weather conditions.

Low Fuel Consumption

Modern 4WD vehicles often use advanced technology to switch between 2WD (Two-Wheel Drive) and 4WD modes based on driving conditions. This intelligent system can help optimize fuel efficiency by using 2WD mode when extra traction isn’t necessary.

Improved Traction in Tough Conditions

4WD vehicles enhance traction in challenging situations. When roads are wet, icy, or slippery, the power distribution to all four wheels minimizes the risk of skidding and loss of control, helping to keep you safe on the road.

Factors to Consider When Buying a 4WD Vehicle

Selecting the right 4WD (four-wheel drive) vehicle involves careful consideration of several factors. Whether you’re aiming for family comfort, tackling work-related tasks, or exploring off-road adventures, these considerations will help you make an informed decision.

Off-Road Capability

Many individuals opt for a 4WD vehicle because it can tackle rugged terrains and challenging off-road trails. Consider the vehicle’s ground clearance, approach, departure angles, traction control systems, and locking differentials. These elements determine how well the vehicle can handle uneven surfaces, steep inclines, and obstacles.

Drivetrain Type

4WD vehicles come in different drivetrain configurations, such as full-time 4WD, part-time 4WD, and all-wheel drive (AWD). Full-time 4WD offers constant power distribution to all wheels, while part-time 4WD allows you to switch between 2WD and 4WD modes. AWD is suitable for varying road conditions but may lack the low-range gearing needed for extreme off-road situations.


Reliability is a cornerstone of successful vehicle purchases. Research the manufacturer’s reputation for producing durable and dependable 4WD systems. Online reviews, reliability ratings, and feedback from current owners can provide valuable insights into the vehicle’s long-term performance.

Good Suspension System

A robust suspension system is essential for off-road prowess and on-road comfort. Look for features like adjustable suspension settings, multi-link suspensions, and advanced shock absorbers. An appropriately designed suspension system contributes to better handling, improved traction, and reduced wear and tear on the vehicle.


A Safety system should always be a top priority when purchasing any vehicle. While off-road capability is important, modern 4WD vehicles should also offer advanced safety features, including stability control, electronic brake distribution, anti-lock braking systems (ABS), airbags, and collision avoidance technologies. High safety standards ensure your well-being both on and off the road.

Long-Term Costs

The purchase price is just one part of the financial equation. Consider the long-term costs associated with ownership, including fuel efficiency, maintenance, repair, and insurance premiums.

Some 4WD vehicles might have higher fuel consumption due to their mechanical complexity and weight. Additionally, inquire about warranty coverage to safeguard against unexpected repair expenses.

Best 4WD Vehicles in Australia: SUVs

Toyota Land Cruiser 200 Series

Toyota Land Cruiser 200 Series | Best 4WD Australia

The Toyota Landcruiser 200 features a full-time 4WD system and a 200kw Twin Turbo Diesel engine. The latest LandCruiser 200 offers a power increase of 227kw, accompanied by advanced offroad technology to conquer challenging landscapes, making it ideal for 4×4 off-roaders.

Combining a wide yet sleek profile and a stylish appearance, the LandCruiser 200 delivers an ideal fusion of robust durability and refined comfort. The brand-new LandCruiser 200 takes a progressive step into the future, representing the evolution of an iconic model.

Embarking on off-grid journeys and explorations in the LandCruiser 200 is always a comfortable experience. The fresh LandCruiser 200 follows the same philosophy, blending impressive performance with opulent interiors and features.

The spirit of the LandCruiser has contributed to countless success stories over the past 70 years, both on the global stage and in rugged terrains. The upcoming LandCruiser 200 will continue to build upon the exceptional quality, resilience, and capability that have given rise to these legendary tales.

Ford Everest

Ford Everest

The third generation arriving in 2023, Ford Everest, has been unveiled globally. The Everest, available in regions like Australia, South Africa, and Southeast Asia, resembles an SUV version of the 2023 Ranger pickup. It shares design elements with the revamped Ranger, featuring blocky aesthetics, C-clamp headlights, and a similar front fascia.

Engine options vary by market, including three turbodiesel engines and a 2.3-litre EcoBoost I-4 petrol engine paired with six- or ten-speed automatic transmissions. Notably, it can tow up to 7,716 pounds and offers various trims like Sport, Titanium+, and Platinum.

The interior is described as a “sanctuary,” designed for comfortable conversation among occupants. It has a portrait-oriented 10.1- or 12.0-inch touchscreen displaying SYNC 4A, a 360-degree camera view, and a digital instrument panel.

The Everest boasts off-road capabilities with wider dimensions, adjusted damper settings, and various four-wheel drive systems. It can drive through water up to 2.5 feet deep and features underbody protection, off-road drive modes, a rear-locking differential, and more.

An off-road display screen provides essential vehicle information, predictive overlay guidelines, and a front-camera view. The exterior zone lighting system can be controlled via the FordPass App, enhancing camping experiences.

Nissan Patrol

Nissan Patrol

The Nissan Patrol, an iconic symbol of flexibility, has now elevated its status to embody luxury. This new iteration of the Nissan Patrol seamlessly blends its established rugged reputation, emphasizing meticulous refinement.

Presenting a sleek aesthetic and an array of Nissan Intelligent Mobility safety features, the Patrol effortlessly combines style and capability. It is powered by a robust 5.6L V8 engine and equipped with advanced off-road monitoring systems, and it is prepared to conquer any terrain.

Anticipate the road ahead confidently with the Nissan Safety Shield technology, which vigilantly monitors and responds to unexpected scenarios for your protection. Your safety is assured, allowing you to drive with peace of mind.

Nissan Intelligent Mobility ensures your focus remains on the road and its surroundings, offering assistance in navigating unforeseen situations. The Nissan Intelligent Around-View Monitor, featuring Moving-Object Detection, employs four cameras to deliver a comprehensive 360° view of your environment, leaving no detail unnoticed.

Its resilient and stylish exterior is matched with a sleek interior. Across all grades, leather seating with brown accents, improved airflow, and climate control create an inviting atmosphere. The Ti-L grade further enhances comfort with heated and cooled seats.

Whether tackling heavy workloads or embarking on weekend getaways, the Nissan Patrol handles it with an impressive 3,500kg braked towing capacity. To ensure towing confidence, rely on the Nissan Towing Guide.

Mitsubishi Pajero Sport

Mitsubishi Pajero Sport

The Mitsubishi Pajero Sport is a favoured pick for those searching for a rugged diesel SUV. It attracts buyers who want a solid option without splurging on pricier alternatives like the Toyota Prado or Ford Everest. Running on a Triton-derived 2.4-liter turbodiesel engine, the Pajero Sport boasts 133kW power and 430Nm torque. Its eight-speed automatic transmission improves upon the Triton’s six-speed variant.

The SUV employs Mitsubishi’s Super Select II 4WD system, offering rear-wheel drive, full-time 4WD, a 4HLc off-road mode, and traditional low-range choices. Its 3100kg towing capacity is noteworthy, dipping to 2790kg at max payload due to the gross combination mass.

Solid build and durability characterize the vehicle, but the use of hard plastics, akin to utility vehicles, compromises its premium feel. Despite this, features like padded knee rests, metallic trimmings, and comfortable seating enhance the experience.

The control wheel integrates various functions, including audio, phone, cruise control, camera display, and trip computer features. The advanced Pajero Sport version boasts an LCD digital instrument cluster presenting crucial data.

While the powered tailgate offers access to the boot, its lift range is limited. The third-row seats don’t fold flat but can be stowed effectively, yielding a 502L boot space.

Isuzu MU-X

Isuzu MU-X

The Isuzu MU-X showcases a confident and contemporary design suitable for urban streets and rugged terrains. The vehicle’s muscular and modern form, characterized by increased length and width, makes a bold impression wherever it goes.

The 7-seat MU-X combines style and functionality in its exterior. Notably, LED fog lights, standard on LS-U & LS-T models, enhance visibility during challenging weather, ensuring a clear path. The interior of the MU-X complements its sleek exterior, offering a spacious and thoughtfully designed cabin that prioritizes comfort for both drivers and passengers, whether on the road or off.

The vehicle features adaptive speed adjustment based on surrounding vehicles, including a Stop and Go function that holds the vehicle stationary for up to 5 minutes. Personalization is encouraged with many Isuzu UTE Genuine and approved Accessories. These accessories enhance aesthetics and seamlessly integrate and function well with the vehicle.

The MU-X’s features span across all models, including LED daytime running lights, Automatic Rain Sensing Wipers, underbody protection, side steps for easier entry and exit, and 20″ alloy wheels for LS-T models. Additional features include large side mirrors for protection, tailgate sensors for hands-free operation, and LED tail lights for improved visibility.

Best 4WD Vehicles in Australia: Utes

Toyota Hilux

Toyota Hilux | Best 4WD Australia

The Toyota Hilux exhibits an imposing size, a longer wheelbase, and a notable tall stature, with its bed balancing out the bulkiness. But you can personalize it a lot. You can add things like canopies, tents, and off-road improvements.

Inside, the cabin exudes a premium feel, borrowing elements from the Fortuner and boasting ample features like touchscreen controls, climate regulation, and connected car capabilities. Despite its size, the Hilux is surprisingly easy to maneuver, its steering and suspension reflecting its large pickup nature. However, the leaf spring rear suspension leads to a somewhat harsh ride over uneven roads.

Regarding off-road capability, the Hilux shines with impressive approach and departure angles, aided by electronic features like 4WD engagement and limited slip differentials for enhanced traction. An electronic differential lock further solidifies its off-road prowess, surpassing its rival, the Isuzu D-Max V-Cross.

The Hilux’s reputation for toughness easily tackles broken roads and potholes. Powered by a reliable 2.8-litre diesel engine, the Hilux carries the legacy of endurance seen in the Innova and Fortuner. Overall, it proves a sturdy, enduring choice for generations to come.

Ford Ranger

Ford Ranger

The 2023 Ford Ranger presents a well-designed cabin that offers a commanding road view. It provides confidence-boosting features like Ford Co-Pilot 360 technology, ensuring control via an 8-inch touchscreen for a seamless adventure. The emphasis is on comfort for upcoming journeys.

Embodying the “BUILT FORD TOUGH” ethos, the Ranger merges utility with capability, debunking the notion that utility means compromising performance.

The Ranger is versatile. It’s good for lake trips and off-road trails. You can customize it with accessories for your preferences.

Loaded with advanced technology, the Ranger facilitates confident navigation. Standard Co-Pilot, 360 driver-assist features like Adaptive Cruise Control, and Ford Lane-Keeping system reduce highway driving stress. The FordPass App enhances connectivity, enabling users to stay linked to their trucks remotely.

The 2023 Ford Ranger is a versatile and robust vehicle, combining a purposeful interior with modern technology for an assured and enjoyable driving experience.

Nissan Navara

Nissan Navara

The Nissan Navara, a midsize pickup truck, represents Nissan’s 80 years of expertise in this category. It brings notable improvements to aesthetics and features, setting new standards for pickups in Australia. The redesigned front includes edgy slopes, LED headlights, daytime running lights, an enlarged grille, and updated alloy wheel options.

High-end Navara models feature Nissan’s around-view monitor, offering a 360-degree view from the driver’s perspective. A 2.5-litre 16-valve engine powers the truck, delivering 161 hp with 403 Nm of torque for the base model and 187 hp with 450 Nm for higher trims. Transmission choices encompass a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic, with 4×2 and 4×4 drivetrains available.

The truck retained its familiar 2.5-litre YD25 DDTi diesel engine, with varying tuning and matched with either a 6-speed manual or 7-speed automatic transmission. Power ranges from 161 hp and 403 Nm of torque for manual versions to 187 hp and 450 Nm for automatic editions.

Navara’s suspension comprises an independent double-wishbone with coil springs at the front and a multi-link (5-link) coil spring setup with a stabilizer bar at the rear. The truck’s handling demonstrates predictable traits, with slight nose dives during braking and noticeable body roll on corners, yet still providing a comfortable ride.

Interior features include an 8-inch Advanced Touchscreen Display Audio infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, and USB. A 7-inch colour TFT display graces the gauge cluster. Standard safety components encompass airbags, ABS, EBD, VDC, and more.

Mitsubishi Triton

Mitsubishi Triton

The new-generation Mitsubishi Triton is larger, more robust, and more capable, featuring increased cabin and cargo space and a maximum towing capacity of 3.5 tonnes. It has a bold appearance with a strong, imposing front and wider stance that conveys both toughness and agility.

The vehicle’s sturdy chassis has undergone rigorous testing to withstand challenging conditions. It incorporates high-tensile steels to optimize the strength-to-weight ratio for tackling rough terrains. The 2.4-litre Bi-Turbo diesel engine, developed by Mitsubishi Motors, generates 150kW of power and 470Nm of torque, available at lower revs.

Enhancements to suspension and chassis improve driving stability, even while towing heavy loads. The cargo bed is larger, accommodating a 1200x800mm pallet with ease. The Super Select 4WD-II technology offers seven drive modes for different conditions, enhancing driving confidence and performance on and off-road.

The vehicle features Active Yaw Control for safer cornering, optimizing steering response, and consistency. The new-gen Triton has an enhanced Brake Traction Control system and an Active Limited Slip Differential function for improved traction performance.

Holden Colorado

Holden Colorado

The 2016 facelift enhanced Holden Colorado, a collaboration born in 2012 post-Isuzu, and the 2020 mild facelift maintains its competitiveness against evolving rivals. A new LSX model adds a black-pack option for affordability, while the LTZ+ variant suits novated leasing with almost a tonne payload. All models offer a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty and capped-price servicing.

The LS remains basic, and the 2020 LS only changes in minor grille blackening. The Z71 is a style upgrade over LTZ at $54,990. An automatic gearbox adds $2200. Colorado runs a 2.8L four-cylinder turbodiesel with 147kW and 500Nm, paired with a six-speed automatic or manual gearbox and a part-time 4X4 system.

It performs well on-road and off-road due to a limited-slip differential, good ground clearance, and traction control. The engine’s grunt matches the gearbox, while interior quality and comfort are decent. Colorado’s solid performance and improved value make it appealing despite fierce competition.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the difference between 4WD and AWD?

The main distinction between 4WD (Four-Wheel Drive) and AWD (All-Wheel Drive) lies in their respective capabilities and applications. AWD is better suited for paved roads and mild off-road conditions, while 4WD is more proficient in off-road scenarios but is less practical for regular use on paved surfaces.

Are 4WD vehicles suitable for everyday use?

Four-wheel drive (4WD) vehicles are designed to provide better traction and control on rough terrain, steep inclines, or slippery conditions. Depending on your driving needs and preferences, they are not necessarily suitable for everyday use.

How often should I service my 4WD vehicle?

The standard interval for significant 4WD maintenance generally falls between 30,000 and 45,000 kilometres, depending on the manufacturer.

Can I take a 4WD vehicle on regular roads?

Certainly, from a technical standpoint, it’s possible to engage 4WD while driving on the highway. However, if you decide to do so, ensure that you engage the 4H (high-range) four-wheel drive mode.

What type of license do I need to drive a 4WD vehicle?

To operate a 4WD vehicle, you would require a Category G driving license. The endorsement for the class G license would indicate your authorization to drive such vehicles.


If you’re searching for the perfect companion to navigate Australia’s vast and rugged landscapes, look no further. Madman Motors doesn’t just sell 4WD vehicles, we offer a gateway to unforgettable journeys and extraordinary experiences.

So, if you’re ready to elevate your off-road escapades, we wholeheartedly recommend you explore us. As you decide to join our community of passionate adventurers, you’re not just investing in a vehicle. You’re investing in a legacy of exploration, boundless excitement, and unforgettable memories.

Visit Madman Motors today, and let our exceptional 4WD vehicles open the doors to the wilderness waiting to be conquered. Your next adventure starts with a choice, which begins with Madman Motors.

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