The motor industry and journalists who write about it use “in house” terminology, some of which the man in the street struggles to comprehend, says Glyn. He feels the language should be demystified.
There are a host of words used by motoring journalists who write about vehicles and review their performances that are open to different interpretations, depending on how the reader sees things. This prompted me to look at some of the terms, and see what I could come up with in clarifying what they mean.
Let’s kick off with the first and possibly most important one –“capable”. This usually refers to the vehicle’s ability to take its occupants through diverse terrain in comfort. One immediately thinks of it traversing sand and mud, rocks and axle twisters, difficult ascents and descents, and deep water crossings without a problem.
Then we have “durable”. The vehicle earning this accolade “lasts”, no matter what you throw at it, and continues to perform well for many years without component failure, or worries about the engine, drivetrain or chassis.
The next oft-used term is “reliability.” What comes to mind here is the vehicle’s ability to offer excellent service without serious malfunction over a period of ownership when it is used in rugged terrain.
And what about “capacity”? Here you would look at a few things, such as the vehicle’s ability to carry the weight as per the specifications, but you would also be looking at the way in which it absorbs all the items needed for a long trip when you pack, and also perhaps its towing ability.
Lastly, I would touch on “economical”. This is often the deal breaker for a potential buyer. The term should not be limited to fuel economy but should include the cost of ownership in terms of servicing and maintenance plans, as well as the cost of spare parts and labour.
If you could find all of these attributes in one vehicle, you would certainly end up with a highly competent all-round off-roader!
Strangely, when you find the ultimate blend, you will be somewhere near the top priced vehicles in the large SUV segment (large station wagons) and it is recognised that they are the ultimate overland vehicles. But that’s where compromise comes in, and the smaller station wagons and double cabs can feature. With appropriate accessories, these vehicles are highly capable – if you’ll pardon the expression – and will do the job, hence their popularity as overlanders.
There is, however, one more term to consider – “dealer network”. When you cross our borders, ensure that you know the locations of your vehicle’s dealers in the foreign countries, and their contact details. That will greatly assist you, should you have a problem and not have the necessary spares or tools, or expertise, to overcome it.