Whether it’s for the worksite, the school run or a trek through the bush, a 4WD has long been a way of life for many Australians, with the extra power and control big selling points for many motorists. While often mistaken for SUVs, there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to the 4WD, with alterations to the gearbox, suspension and engine setting it apart.
Though the SUV may have taken over the city landscape, the 4WD is still a hugely popular option for many, particularly those in rural areas or those who work in the trades, with the 4WD capabilities making it easier to get to the worksite, as well as the family holiday destination. If you’re looking for something with a bit more grunt to it for your new set of wheels, read on to find out just what brands might be in the running to be your next purchase.
With plenty of brands, models and makes available for Aussie motorists, it can be a tough ask to narrow down the field when it comes to finding one to drive off into the sunset. If you have your heart set on a 4WD, here are the brands that offer these models in Australia:
German brand BMW offer plenty of vehicles to choose from, including smaller models through to convertibles and SUVs. But within its ‘M’ Series (which stands for ‘Motorsport’), features a few models with 4WD capabilities, including the M4 and M8 cars, and X3, X4, X5 and X6 SUVs. The M4 is a classic amongst the convertible range, having rolled off the production line in 2014, while the M8 is one of the newest models to the BMW range, first produced in 2019. BMW’s 4WD-capable SUVs include the compact X3 and X4, alongside the mid-size X5 and X6 for those who prefer a bit of room.
BMW 4WD models include:
It may not be the first option you’ll think of when it comes to finding a 4WD for Australian roads, but American brand Chevrolet has slowly made its way into the local market, with most models coming in a 4WD pick-up model. Chevrolet – otherwise known as Chevy – operates under the General Motors banner, with its models hard to miss, with the “everything’s bigger in America” mantra certainly translating into their vehicles.
Chevrolet 4WD models include:
While more focused on its American market, Ford still has plenty for the Aussie motorist, including a number of 4WD models such as the Ford Everest and Ford Ranger, suitable for those looking to pack plenty in for their big weekend away, or for those big jobs. The Ford Everest, otherwise known as the Endeavour in some overseas markets, has been in production since 2003 and is now in its fourth generation, while the Ford Ranger has been a popular model for the Ford brand, with production starting back in 1983.
Ford 4WD models include:
One of a number of Chinese brands to enter the Australian market over recent years, Great Wall predominantly manufactures utes, with the Steed the flagship model, and the Cannon a more recent introduction. Also known as the Wingle in overseas markets, the Steed has been in production since 2006, replacing the Great Wall Sailor model, and is available in a number of cab sizes, whether you usually ride solo, or you’ve got a few passengers to ferry to and from the worksite, with the Cannon also coming in a number of models.
Great Wall 4WD models include:
While not technically an out-and-out 4WD, the Hyundai Palisade does have 4WD capabilities on one of its models – the 2.2 CRDi, which contains active on-demand 4WD for when you really need to get where you’re going. The Hyundai Palisade is a mid-size SUV, first rolling off production lines in 2018, and is currently in its first generation, and is also known as Hyundai’s physically largest model within the line-up.
Hyundai 4WD models include:
A Japanese brand known for its commercial vehicles, Isuzu UTE may not be the brand for you if you’re after a small vehicle, with most of its non-commercial range made up of the 4WD D-MAX and MU models. The D-MAX is Isuzu’s flagship model, manufactured since 2002, with the MU model introduced as the wagon counterpart of the D-MAX.
Isuzu 4WD models include:
A brand made famous through the Second World War, Jeep today has a number of larger vehicles on offer for motorists to choose from, including a number of 4WD options. Three of its line-up – the Wrangler, Gladiator and the Grand Cherokee – are available with 4WD, with the Wrangler appearing on roads since 1987, while the Grand Cherokee touched down on bitumen in 1993. The Gladiator is a recent introduction to the line-up, rolling off the production line in 2019.
Jeep 4WD models include
Chinese brand LDV offers multiple 4WD models, including the D90 SUV and the T60 ute. The D90 SUV has been in production since 2017, and classed as a mid-sized SUV, with its top-of-the-line model – the Executive – the only model within the range equipped with 4WD capabilities. The T60 ute, LDV’s flagship model, is predominantly a 4WD model.
LDV 4WD models include:
Known for concentrating on the small car and SUV markets, Japanese manufacturer Mazda still has something for those looking for a bit more grunt. However, if you’re after a 4WD, you’ll have to settle for the BT-50 ute, although there’s still plenty of variety within the BT-50 line-up, including single and dual cabs, along with pickups available for purchase.
Mazda 4WD models include:
Covering all vehicle sizes from small cars to commercial fleets, Japanese brand Mitsubishi also has a number of 4WD models for motorists to choose from, including the Pajero and Pajero Sport for those family vacations, or the Triton for all your worksite needs. Known as either the Montero or Shogun in global markets, the Pajero is in its fourth generation, while the Triton has been in production since 1979, with the ute now in its fifth generation.
Mitsubishi 4WD models include:
Another brand that seemingly has a vehicle for every occasion, Japanese company Nissan offers a number of vehicles with 4WD capabilities, including the X-Trail, Patrol and Navara. The X-Trail is one of Nissan’s most well-known models, with production beginning back in 2000, while the Navara utility is in its third generation. The Patrol is one of Nissan’s longest running models, with production starting back in the 1950s.
Nissan 4WD models include:
A South Korean brand, SsangYong originally began back in 1954, with the company today expanding to operate globally. Predominantly manufacturing SUVs and utes, SsangYong provides a number of 4WD models for motorists to consider, including the Rexton SUV and Musso ute. The Rexton is one of SsangYong’s longest running models, with manufacturing starting in 2001, while the Musso is one of the brand’s newest additions, with production beginning in 2018.
SsangYong 4WD models include:
While mostly found in the small car and compact SUV market, Suzuki offers a number of 4WD-capable models, include the Vitara and Jimny. The Vitara is currently in its fourth generation of production, having first rolled off the line in 1988, with the Jimny also in its fourth generation, although began production in 1970.
Suzuki 4WD models include:
One of the most popular brands with Aussie motorists, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to picking up a new set of wheels from the Japanese brand. With one of the largest ranges of 4WD models available in the Australian market, motorists can choose from the Fortuner, Prado, LandCruiser and Hilux for their 4WD needs. The Fortuner is in its second generation, and is built upon the Hilux’s design, while the Hilux itself has been on roads since 1968, with the utility now in its eighth generation and is consistently Australia’s top selling car. The LandCruiser is also a popular model, with the model on the manufacturing line since 1951, and spawned the Prado and LandCruiser 70 ute and troop carrier as a result of its popularity.
Toyota 4WD models include:
While more popular in the smaller car market, German brand Volkswagen offers 4WD models, primarily in Amarok utility range. The Amarok is in its first generation, having first been produced in 2010, with news coming to light that a new version will be showcased sometime in 2022.
Volkswagen 4WD models include:
Considering how many abbreviations and industry jargon the automotive market uses, you wouldn’t be alone in thinking that 4WD and AWD means the same thing. After all, most cars have four wheels, right? While at the surface they seem similar, there is enough of a difference to warrant an explanation, as you won’t want to take an AWD model off the beaten track, as you may be heading home sooner than you anticipated.
The primary difference between a 4WD and AWD model is the differential, which is what splits the engine torque to rotate your wheels at different speeds. A 4WD will generally supply torque to all four wheels at all times for the additional traction and handling, with the front and rear axles split by the differential to allow each axle to operate at different speeds when needed, such as for when you’re taking a corner, or you’re off the beaten track and need to get up a steep incline.
An AWD model however, generally only uses the front axle when driving, using what is known as ‘viscous coupling’ to assist the differential when the car senses a loss of traction or change in road conditions, in which then all four wheels are engaged.
However, to potentially make things a bit more confusing, 4WD and AWD models can be further classified as ‘full-time’ or ‘part-time’, with full-time models indicating that the drive type is always engaged (meaning that a full-time 4WD will always have the four wheels engaged and powered), while a part-time model will only engage all four wheels when the driver wants or needs them. You generally tell a part-time model apart from a full-time model if there’s a button, lever or system in place that allows the driver to manually engage 4WD or AWD mode, although it’s always best to read the manual or brochure to see which type of vehicle you’re getting.
If you’re in the market for a 4WD, you may have seen models marketed as 4×4, but is this the same as 4WD, or is this something different? In simple terms, 4×4 refers to the fact the vehicle has four wheels, and four of them are powered by the differential and engine, while 4×2 indicates that the vehicle has four wheels, but only two are powered.
As a result, whether a vehicle is marketed as a 4WD or as a 4×4 will come down to each individual brand, but each term can be used interchangeably, so if you’ve found a 4×4, you’ve also found yourself a 4WD.
If you’re after a large vehicle, there are plenty of options available, but deciding on which one is best suited for you can be tricky. With SUVs, 4WDs, utes and people movers all readily available, it becomes more than simply how many can you fit in your car, especially if you’ve got your sights set on hitting the old dusty trail and need something to get you where you need to be.
While space is important, if you’re looking to take an outback adventure, or simply need a bit of extra muscle, then a 4WD will often be your best bet. There are a lot of brands offering both a 4WD and SUV range, which is why it’s best to do your own research into what you’ll need your new car for. Think about whether a 4WD is necessary for your needs and if the model that you’ve got your eye on actually has 4WD capabilities! After all, you don’t want to get underway on that weekend adventure only to realise your vehicle isn’t cut out for the job. But to make sure you aren’t spinning your wheels, it’s always best to get in the driver’s seat and test drive a few models, as you may find something that’s right up your alley without breaking the bank.
Picture credits: BoJack/shutterstock.com, UnknownLatitude Images/shutterstock.com, svetlichniy_igor/shutterstock.com, Harbucks/shutterstock.com
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