World’s Best Off-Roaders

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Posted on 31st January 2015 – Car Reviews


New Zealand has a stunning network of back-country roads and tracks ranging from dirt and gravel surfaces to little more than hillside stock trails.

That has given rise to a wide range of off-roading – from quad bikes to luxury 4x4s and from weekend rambles to rally car races and quad bike contests – throughout the country. Famous spots include the dunes on Northland’s Ninety Mile Beach, Marlborough’s high country, the Southern Alps in Canterbury or farm tours in the Waikato.

Of course, if you’re importing a vehicle it pays to make sure it complies with New Zealand regulations – unless it’s solely for off-road use. But if you want to use your vehicle on-road it is your responsibility to ensure you meet all requirements.

But if you’re the sort of person who wants to get amongst it, here’s Popular Mechanics’ top-10 off-road vehicles you might want to get your hands on:

1. Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock: The 2015 version pimps up the classic hardware (4:1 transfer case for slow-speed crawling and a swaybar disconnect system for additional suspension) with blacked out trim, tough bumpers, red tow hooks and rock rails.

2. Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro: As well as the locking rear diff and Crawl Control, this new package adds new taller suspension and extra ground clearance thanks to GGoodrich All-Terrain tyres.

3. Nissan Xterra Pro-4X: A thoroughly “dirt-friendly” SUV with standard locking rear diff, hill descent control and hill start assist. “One of the few vehicles on this list that could crawl its way up a tight and rocky trail without the fear of body damage.”

4. Toyota Land Cruiser: Classic name and classic reliability thanks to a huge 5.7l 381HP V8 and a pretty clever Kinetic Dynamic Suspension which reacts to slow-speed, off-road conditions and readjusts for higher road speeds.

5. Ram Power Wagon: A hard-working truck which can tow more than 10,000lb and is pretty tough to get stuck thanks to locking front and rear diffs and an electric winch behind the front bumper.

6. Chevy Colorado Z/71: Size isn’t everything as this smallest of the Chevy pickups comes with hill descent control system, automatic locking rear diff and upgraded suspension.

7. Ford Raptor: Speed courtesy of a 411HP, 6.2l V8 and unbeatable performance on sand and dirt thanks to independent front and rear suspension systems and huge 35-inch tyres.

8. Land Rover Range Rover: A name that comes with the expectation of luxury also brings computer-controlled Terrain Response 4WD, adjustable air suspension and the ability to give a foot of ground clearance when the trail gets really tricky.

9. Ford Super Duty: Serious towing ability on even the toughest terrain, when you need something that works hard rather than playing hard.

10. Mercedes-Benz G500: Luxury and technology built around a body and chassis built for the armed forces in the 1970s. Three electronically activated locking diffs turn this into a true classic.

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