The Best Second-Hand Overland Vehicles

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Posted on 14th January 2017 – Car Reviews

One of the reasons why visitors flock to Australia from around the world is the beauty of its landscapes and the fact that you can experience everything civilisation has to offer on the coast, but still find true wilderness in the interior. However, there is no denying that if you are unprepared, the Outback can be treacherous, not least because it is so scarcely populated that help would be hard to find. What you need for a successful trip into the wild is the right vehicle and sound off-road driving techniques.

No doubt that we all have our own idea about what makes a great overland vehicle. One of the most important criteria is reliability - If you are going to remote places, the last thing you want is to break down.

It should also be able to deal with rough terrain. Rocky roads, muddy and slippery, crossed-axle ground such as deep-water crossings, steep side climbs and descents, should all be passable, and of course it should be spacious and powerful enough to cope with this AND carry all your gear too.

Here are some vehicles that we think meet all those essentials, while also being good value for money.

Toyota Land Cruiser 100 Series

The 100 series has a lot of offer as an off-road vehicle. It has a good engine that doesn’t eat gaskets for breakfast and its brakes won’t falter after a few minutes on a twisty road unlike other 4WDs. It will easily swallow kilometres for hours and then perform beautifully off road, with just a few modifications.

The cabin is comfortable, tasteful and quiet and if you upgrade the suspension, it will take you pretty much anywhere. Those trucks are also remarkably reliable so don’t dismiss an example with 200,000 kilometres under its belt. Many are still as trustworthy as ever with that distance on the counter and still rattle- and leak-free.

Toyota Tacoma

Another creation by Toyota, the Tacoma is an excellent vehicle. Although they are somewhat ‘no frill’, they are rather comfortable and they represent great value, handling anything you throw at them without breaking down.

However, it has to be said that it comes with a few downsides such as an sub-standard stock suspension, although the second generation showed some improvement on that account. Still, some modifications are recommended, but once they are done, this truck can take you around the world - a few times.

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited JK

Simple, spacious and robust. What more could you want from an off-roader? As grandiose as it may sound, the Wrangler was the game-changer that made Jeep what it is as a manufacturer of 4WDs.

The reason why this vehicle is so desirable is that you could just drive it off the showroom without any modification and it would still do a superb job. Reliable, capable and robust, it also has plenty of space for passengers and your gear too.

Mercedes Benz G500

Be warned. Driving a G500 will spoil you for other cars and you may never accept to drive anything else ever again! They have just everything a 4WD should: supremely good payload, robust axles, a rain gutter and understated elegance.

However, this comes at a price, and they are so coveted that they can be expensive to buy. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop at the premium purchase price. They are also expensive to maintain and service and they are very, very thirsty beasts. In addition, spare parts can be difficult to come by. Yet, this is one of the best vehicles you can find on the market.

Land Rover LR3

You can never go too wrong with a Land Rover. They have produced models after models of great overland vehicles, but it has to be said that the LR3 is something rather special. It isn’t as reliable as a Toyota but it is very capable. Models with the TDI V6 are available in Australia, which makes it an improvement, as do coil spring conversions.

Suzuki Vitara

Unassuming, the Suzuki Vitara packs a punch. A good little 4WD vehicle, it is superiorly reliable and tough, and will keep on going without a single mechanical failure. They are also stealth embodied and rather economical. Just upgrade it with all-terrain tyres and choose your next adventure.

Nissan XTerra

If you like aesthetic refinement, you may find the XTerra a bit too plain. Yet, it is not to say that this Nissan is without charm. But what makes it a vehicle on our list is that it is an honest, well-built 4WD. With a traditional ladder frame construction, good clearance and available locking differential, it is definitely a vehicle not to overlook.

Adventurers will appreciate its reliability, its good performance on difficult terrain and the fact that it is comfortable to drive. Its spacious cargo space is also an advantage, and it offers great value for money.

Mercedes Benz E320 or E350 4Matic Wagon

Yes, we know… This one is a car!

But Mercedes sedans are so tough that, modified, they will hold their own with the big boys. Their 4WD system is designed and built where the G-Wagen is made and therefore benefits from the same specifications and quality. With some HD Eibach springs, Bilstein HD shocks, Michelin tyres and an underbody skid plate, it will be as good as any expensive 4WD.

For the inside, remove the back seats and you can transform this modest sedan into a comfortable truck where you can sleep and cruise without fearing potholes, rough roads, snow, mud and even sand.

At McCullough, we ship all vehicles. One-of-a-kind classic cars, motorhomes, motorbikes, family cars, heavy machinery and even boats. If you have just had the adventure of a lifetime with your 4WD driving through mud, dust, sand or snow and are coming back to New Zealand, don’t forget that the criteria are stringent when it comes to vehicle cleanliness. But don’t worry, we can help you with that too. Just give us a call on +64 9 303 0075, send us an email or get a quote online.

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