As we have discussed in the past, we have seen a significant rise in SUV sales, taking a massive share of the market across Australia in the last financial year and still rising. While passenger vehicle sales have decreased, SUV sales have increased and the trend across Australia is changing the way we consider passenger vehicles.
Many love the fact that riding high in a wagon that drives like a regular car, seems to provide added safety features and visibility over a standard passenger vehicle. For some 4WD enthusiasts, SUVs just don’t cut the mustard and do not hold up to the tasks of a rough, tough off-road beast. But do they?When I first obtained my licence (we won’t discuss how long ago), SUVs didn’t exist. If you wanted to get off the beaten track, the choice was a hard core, dual range 4WD. After joining the army and becoming familiar with Land Rovers, Troop Carriers and Unimogs, the only real option for back country or off road touring, away from work, was a Toyota Landcruiser or the old Nissan Patrol and later the Holden Jackaroo. Other than some form of bone rattling, bumpy military style, troop carrier or utility vehicle, these were the only real alternatives to an all terrain vehicle, especially a station wagon.
The real pioneer of the SUV was Subaru, entering the market with symmetrical all-wheel-drive back in the 1970’s. The boxer engine and all-wheel-drive became Subaru standard equipment for mid-size and smaller cars into the 1980s and set the scene for more adventurous holiday makers, and we really did put the poor old beasts through their paces.
Driving like a regular car, light, safe, fuel-efficient and comfortable – the Subaru Outback of the 1980’s and in the same decade, the Toyota RAV4, were easy to drive. With the all-wheel-drive, or 4 wheel drive capabilities, and a little extra clearance, you could get off the beaten track and into the sand or onto a muddy dirt road in your everyday vehicle, without embarrassing yourself in front of your friends and family.
Australia, and indeed the world, have embraced the concept of an SUV with avid enthusiasm, encouraging almost every motor vehicle manufacturer to come up with the goods. SUVs are now available in hundreds of different shapes and sizes, with Mazda’s CX5 leading sales in the Australian market. Toyota Prado has dominated the market for more than 20 years, but we now see the Ford Everest, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and Toyota Fortuner providing the rough tough adventurers with a genuine family wagon with true off road capabilities. Is this the future of 4 wheel driving?
Is the SUV family wagon suitable for your needs? You won’t have to make as many compromises, but exactly what do you want the vehicle to do? For most the answer is simple, to allow the family to have much more adventurous options in weekend escapes and family holidays. From dirt road and off-road expeditions, to stunning national parks and remote camping trips, your SUV even provides safe driving in the winter snow and ice. Most new model SUVs will do everything you ask of it perfectly well, often without any of the added expenses of serious off-road hardware you will probably never use.
For real off-road adventuring, comfortable and safe travel, the 4WD wagon (large SUV) will usually do the job, with improved grip and control. Safety in slippery conditions and so many safety features are now added, while maintaining suitability for real outback travel and serious towing. The larger 4WD wagon will do the job much more easily and reliably, without compromising the comfort and style you would have had to, just a few years ago.Vehicles with high ground clearance, under body protection, low-range gearing and beefy tyres really do make a difference on corrugated outback tracks and fresh snow, where a smaller SUV will be out of it’s depth. A decent 4WD or large SUV is a great option for an off-roader and will also carry an unbelievable amount of gear.
So from the city smart small SUV that are more than capable to safely navigate a dirt or snow covered road, to a 4WD wagon, you can now tow that big rig up into the Snowy Mountains, down the Oodnadatta Track, along the Canning Stock Route or up into the Daintree Rainforest, and appreciate the freedom, safety and security the influx of SUV vehicles has allowed us.
Style and elegance matched with comfort and true performance is now an everyday reality.