By Mark Borlace
Published: Wednesday, November 20, 2019
Our car comparison series pits some of the most popular vehicles on the used car market against one another to help find the perfect fit for you. This time around, we’re weighing up 4 large 4WD SUVs built in 2013, priced around $30,000.
Large 4WD SUVs are serious business. They’re capable of taking you anywhere in SA, from sandy beaches near the Murray Mouth, all the way up to the craggy terrain of Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary in the Flinders Ranges. But like all wild beasts, they can be hard to tame.
Drivers with an adventurous streak will be feel right at home behind the wheel of any of these vehicles, but those who rarely stray from suburban streets may find their high running costs and big bodies hard to live with.
That being said, they’re not short on creature comforts with climate control, power seats and decent sound systems available on all models.
To help you decide what’s best suited to your driving style, we’ve found 4 4WD SUVs that tick all the boxes in terms of space, comfort, safety and affordability.
Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo 2013: The Jeep Grand Cherokee is competitively priced, boasting an impressive list of safety and tech features. It’s not bad to look at either.
Toyota LandCruiser Prado GXL 2013: With legendary Toyota reliability and a good list of standard features, the Prado is the tow vehicle of choice for Australia’s caravanning nomads.
Mitsubishi Pajero GLX 2013: The Pajero’s styling changed very little between 2000 – when it was delivered to Australia – and 2013. With the highest new car sales of the 4 in 2013, Mitsubishi clearly did something right.
Nissan Patrol ST 2013: A favourite off-road adventure vehicle in Australia, the Patrol can be trusted to get through some of the toughest terrain around.
|Specs||Mitsubishi Pajero GLX||Nissan Patrol ST||Jeep Grand Cherokee||Toyota LandCruiser|
|Price when new||$53,990||$60,390||$51,000||$64,190|
|Engine||3.2L turbo diesel||3.0L turbo diesel||3.0L turbo diesel||3.0L turbo diesel|
|Transmission||5-speed auto||4-speed auto||8-speed auto||5-speed auto|
The Jeep Grand Cherokee’s price when new was very competitive. 6 years on, it’s still a bargain. It’s also our top pick for overall performance, with good handling on bitumen and tremendous off-road capability. The Jeep comes with a better list of standard features than its competitors.
This includes active high-beam control, daytime running lights, dusk sensing headlights, keyless entry and start, heated front seats, tyre pressure monitoring and powered front seats. Its distinctive 7-slot grille gives it an attractive and contemporary look.
The Prado GXL has some good standard features including multi-zone climate-controlled air con, heated exterior mirrors and front and rear bottle and cup holders.
The Pajero is the cheapest of the lot to run and repair, and the most car-like to drive.
This makes it easier to adapt to for first-time 4WD owners.
The Nissan Patrol was built for off-road outback driving, rather than city living. Its features reflect this, with a focus on durability rather than technological advancement.
The Grand Cherokee is the dearest of the lot to run and repair. Reliability can also be a problem. It experienced a lot of recalls, so make sure the one you’re looking to buy has had all fixes carried out.
The best way to check is to contact your local dealer and supply them with the car’s rego or VIN number. Many diesel engines suffer from carbon build-up in the intake manifold area and require regular long drives to keep them clean. If you’re not intending to drive 20,000km per year or more, you may want to search for a petrol variant.
We couldn’t find any major issues with the Prado, but the Pajero and Patrol are included in the long-running Takata airbag recall program. Before you commit to buying, it’s vital you check whether the car you’re interested in has had all required work carried out.
When looking to buy a 4WD, always inspect the underside for off-road damage. Look for things like dented drive shafts, dented or rusted sill panels and floor panels – these issues can cost some serious dollars to rectify if they’ve been left too long.
Of the bunch, the Nissan Patrol is the thirstiest and has the least amount of standard features.
The value package
If you value off-road capability, a roomy interior and advanced features, the Jeep may be at the top of your list. Conversely, the Toyota Prado’s value comes in the form of reliability which underpins Toyota’s reputation in the used car market.
Although the Mitsubishi Pajero has been around for over a decade, it’s still a good value package. The Nissan Patrol has been around even longer but has kept true to its intended function: to be an all-round off-road performer.
With this bunch, there are two conversations to be had about the drive. Potential buyers need to consider performance both on and off sealed roads.
Off road, the Grand Cherokee’s 8-speed auto milks the most out of its diesel engine.
Coupled with a good 4WD system and high ground clearance, it’s probably the best of the bunch. However on a sealed road, it would be second behind the Pajero, with its independent front and rear suspension providing the most car-like handling of the 4.
The Pajero’s 3.2 litre diesel engine produces plenty of power for towing a 3000kg caravan whereas the nomad’s favourite, the Prado, has a tow rating of only 2500kg and a tow ball limit of 250kg.
The final word
For all-round functionality and cost of ownership, it’s a coin toss between the Prado and the Pajero.
The Patrol would be our next choice for real 4WD capability. Unfortunately the Cherokee’s reputation for poor reliability would put it at the end of our list, unless it was an exceptionally well-maintained vehicle.