First 4WD - What are some good options?

What do you reckon I should do?

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New Member
G'day all,

Bit of a newbie question here, and one that I'm sure has been asked to death, but I'm kinda stuck. I've been wanting to get into 4x4ing for a while now and have gotten to the point where I'm actively looking for a vehicle to buy. A bit of a background: I'm a uni student looking for first car and 4x4, currently have a budget of around 8k. I've been looking at diesels mainly because of the low-end torque and fuel consumption. Only thing is I live in the suburbs and it'd be my daily, so I've been looking for something that has at least dual front airbags for a bit of safety because there's no shortage of crazy drivers close to the city. The only cars I've seen that fit that criteria so far are some clapped-out Pajeros or 3rd gen Hilux Surfs, but the 3rd gen surfs are all imports and so I can see parts being an issue. There are some 90 series Prados in that price range too that look pretty good, but I haven't seen any with dual airbags so far. The car would be seeing 4wd tracks mainly during uni break and the occasional weekender.

Would anyone here have some ideas as to what cars are decent and would fit the bill? Or am I better off: A) buying a cheap daily with airbags, and an older patrol or cruiser or something that I can stick on club plates and just drive on the weekend/during break? or B) Doing a bit of saving and paying a bit more for something?

Any advice at all would be greatly appreciated, I've been googling and perusing carsales and gumtree for too long and applying filters to see what cars came up, it's probably about time I asked some experts hahaha.

Cheers guys


Well-Known Member
I'm actually rather impressed you're putting safety at such a high-level. In that price point in a diesel with front and side airbags you can look at grand cherokees and if you look at a WJ you're actually get side airbags post 2002 I think. The risk with these is a bit high though as they are not the most reliable things on the road. Your budget is quite low for a diesel car with decent safety.


New Member
Thanks for the replies guys.

I'm actually rather impressed you're putting safety at such a high-level. In that price point in a diesel with front and side airbags you can look at grand cherokees and if you look at a WJ you're actually get side airbags post 2002 I think. The risk with these is a bit high though as they are not the most reliable things on the road. Your budget is quite low for a diesel car with decent safety.

Yeah I had a feeling that I might be undercutting the price point a bit when it comes to the features that I'm looking for. Reliability is a bit of a key point for me too, so that kinda cuts jeeps out of the picture. From what I can see 4x4s have typically been a little bit late to the party regarding safety, with a lot of the more common safety features adopted after many vehicles have gone from 'off-roader' to 'soft-roader'. Some of the later Pajeros have side airbags but they're a bit out of my budget.

My suggestion would be to save more and get a better, newer and more reliable vehicle.
Buying an older worn out 4wd can get very expensive very quickly. If you can DIY that helps though.

I agree with older 4wds getting expensive fast - last thing I need to deal with is a ton of bills, especially as a student.

I have been thinking a little bit about getting a cheap but safe daily so that I can at least get around, and then saving a little bit more for an older 4x4 - I know that there are risks associated with older cars but I must admit that I have always liked the idea of a rugged 4x4 that you can be a bit of a bush mechanic with because the engine and transmission are much simpler than today's electronically-controlled juggernauts (or at least have electronics to a minimum). My thought process so far is that its a bit like owning a classic car - if you're not driving it as a daily driver and you take it out to places where there's not a lot of traffic, there is probably an acceptable risk involved in undertaking the hobby/passion. If I was driving something like a GQ patrol daily in the city then of course there is an increased risk of injury if an accident were to occur.

One kind of older diesel 4wd that I did find has dual airbags in it is a Holden Jackroo 3.0TD, however I've heard from some people not to touch the 4JX1 engine with a 10 foot pole hahaha, whilst some others have said that its fine with proper maintenance and if you ensure that the injector seals have been replaced. But I don't think it will be worth the risk for now.


Well-Known Member
your a uni student with low budget so any 4wd will stretch you , more to buy , more to run , more to maintain.
If you look at any petrol 4wd the fuel bill will send you broke , if you need any major repairs it will send you broke.
Thats the bad stuff so you have a heads up, I have 3 kids all went through uni so I know what your up against.
The Disco 2 I wouldn't touch in your situation, to many costs involved.
The Disco 1 on the other hand with a 3l TD is very reliable, very capable and cheap to buy, maintain ( do your research on Aulro , buy a service manual and get parts from UK) and comfortable.


Well-Known Member
105 series petrol.

Get into one for $10k ish and will last 1 million kms.

Unless it's like the ones I drove with slipping autos, siliconed shut sunroofs, oil leaks and wear and tear like a 30 year old car with 3x less kays than youre suggesting they all last... Toyota badges don't make cars last forever, regular servicing and repair do.


Well-Known Member
I would like to know how a uni student would come up with enough $$ to pay toyota tax AND the fuel bill for a thirsty petrol


Well-Known Member
When are people going to realise that if you don't have the cash to start with, you are only throwing good money after bad buying other peoples problems they want/need to offload quickly ?


Well-Known Member

old parthy

Active Member
If I've said once , I've said many times, Being a 1st timer.... you like myself know/knew very little about what to buy...
I spent just $1000 for my car, and yes i was in the right place at the right time.. But in saying that one has to remember that your 1st 4WD will get knocked around a little while taking on your new journey ... (And mine has the battle scares to prove it)
So i would buy a cheaper car .... Thats just me....
And if you find that you do enjoy it... Then up grade once you understand that what you need from a car.
What car? well thats the Question we have all asked our self's.. and keep asking when we get into the sh$&...
I own a pathfinder,, and do get a lot of " stick" form some ... i don't care thou.. it does every thing i want from a 4WD and often more.
Yes its an older car ... 1995.. but it was low KMs when i got it. ( 3 years ago)
Have i spent to much on repairs... Yes .. but its from taking it on harder tracks and pushing it and myself to the next level..
But the money has been well spent , i have not broken down on a trip, ( so far.. LOL )
Would i buy anther Pathfinder , if i was looking for my 1st car?.......Yes.. but now i know that i like doing the harder tracks i would up grade to a later/better car that can do what i'm doing.
I was never a nissan , toyota , and or other makes when i was looking for my 1 st car.
Still not even thou i drive a nissan, Just get out there and enjoy, talk to someone on the street about what they like about there car and hate about it.
Talk to clubs in your area about going along to meetings.. often you will get more info from other newbies at those meetings ..sometimes it helps and sometimes it don't.


Well-Known Member
G'day Al, mate with your budget you'll pick up a fairly decent 4x4, just look around and don't rush into the first one you see, there are a lot of older 4x4's running around with a lot of k's on them and are still going as good as ever, there are also a lot of the cheaper brand cars that are a lot later model and will do the job just fine like Foton, Great wall, LDV.........I realise your a uni. student and not everyone can afford to run out and buy some $40,000 late model thing ( which there is also no guarantee won't cost just as much to own ) so get what you like, what suits your needs and learn the ins and outs of 4 wheel driving then down the track upgrade to something more suitable when you can, like most things in life you have to compromise when your first starting out................................


New Member
I drove around for 6 years during Uni in a 1979 Toyota BJ40. Slow as a snail but reliable and great to work on. 25 years later my mates still remind me of how much hot air leaked past the firewall on a 40 deg day ...