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What’s the best 4×4?





4 April 2012


What’s the best 4×4 out there? Is it the Cruiser? The Defender? The Wrangler? Of course not. It’s the Ford Bronco!

What is the best 4×4? It’s a question we’re often asked, and, of course, there is no simple answer. Firstly, it really depends on what sort of 4×4 you’re talking about. Do you want an SUV that performs like a supercar, yet boasts a whole lot of packing space and practicality? Well, then the 4×4 for you is a Porsche Cayenne. Do you want a 4×4 that’s ridiculously plush, yet still able to go off road? Then the Range Rover’s probably the best. Do you want a 4×4 that can travel all the way to Cairo without making a fuss? That’s the Land Cruiser 70-Series. Do you want an SUV that’s a wonderful daily commuter, and also a decent overland vehicle? Buy a Prado, Disco or Grand Cherokee.

Secondly, picking the “best” 4×4 is always a subjective thing. Yes, there are certain objective things that need to be present in order for a vehicle to be classified as good. A hardcore 4×4, for instance, needs good ground clearance, good wheel articulation, diff locks (preferably in the back and front), the ability to crawl slowly in first gear low range and good approach and departure angles. But at a certain point, it simply becomes a subjective choice. Some people love the Defender. Some love the Cruiser. Others prefer the Wrangler. And they can all explain to you why their choice is the “best”.

So what’s my favourite 4×4? Which vehicle do I think is best? I really like the G-Wagon. In terms of off-road ability, I think few vehicles can compete. I also like the old-school look of it. But the fact is, it is way too expensive. I love it, but I don’t think its price tag can be justified.

I also love the FJ Cruiser. It has great off-road ability, eye-catching looks and a comfortable yet retro interior.

What I love most about it, though, is its exterior design. I love how its looks hark back to an era when vehicles had more, well, character and personality.

Modern 4x4s are great. They are tough, capable and reliable, yet also plush and great to drive on tar. But they lack the quirkiness and individuality of older models.

And that’s why my absolute favourite 4×4 is the Ford Bronco built by Icon 4×4 late last year. It uses an actual Bronco body, but underneath it’s all wonderfully fancy and refined. It has an Art Morrison chassis, Dana axles, Eibach springs, Ford Racing shocks and a five-litre V8 Mustang GT engine. It’ll set you back about US $200 000, but I think it’s worth every penny.

What other 4×4 do I absolutely love? The Jeep J-12 Concept that was unveiled at the recent Easter Jeep Safari in Moab. On the outside, it’s a 1960s pick-up, but underneath it’s a thoroughly modern Jeep Wrangler Unlimited.

The look of an old-school 4×4 combined with the reliability and performance of a new vehicle. What could be better than that?

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