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My 4wd project: which ute under 18 000 $?

Nicool

New Member
hi there,
I am starting to plan for my next 4WD, looking to buy sometimes around April 2020.
What i want is LOADS of space, still a vehicle that is able to go offroad pretty well, and sits comfortably 4 people (knowing the middle rear seat will be a bit of a pain), so i am set to get a double-cab ute, with a custom service canopy fitted instead of the tub.
I never drove a ute and getting a bit lost in the various models and their suitability for off-road, so thought i'd ask the community:

Which good off-road ute would you recommend to buy, being:
-diesel
-4wd
-automatic
-reasonably comfortable ride, given it will be a family car also used day 2 day
My budget being: max 17000-18000 $ including the main mods that particular vehicle would need for offroad (but i'm sparing budget for the service canopy on top). By mods i mean:
-snorkel
-bullbar with winch
-suspension lift, if necessary to get a reasonable clearance & wading depth
-undercover body protection, for vehicles where it's really needed

The last 2 points came to mind as i realize some serious-looking utes (that i've seen offroad) don't seem so suited off-factory, for instance a 2010 Navara has only 450mm wading depth and apparently key underbody parts are very exposed to bumps. Guess that's why they come much cheaper than the Ford/Mazda/VW/Toyota?
So i realize i struggle to get the whole picture, thought i'd ask for advice :)

thanks in advance
Nicolas
 

2002GU3

Well-Known Member
G'day mate, don't under estimate the ability of the Navara's, a mate who I 4x4 with has a 2010 dual cab navara and it has gone everywhere the other cars go (Patrols, wildtrack, Prado's, Disco) and it is pretty much stock as far as off road extra's go, other than a 2" lift and snorkel..........I have seen it go through water at bonnet depth !
 

Bomber2012

Well-Known Member
Do you need all the mods you’ve listed immediately? Best to buy a vehicle take it out on a few trips and see what mods you need, lift , tyres and snorkel are a good starting point but then again it depends on what type of terrain you will be travelling in .
 

smitty_r51

Well-Known Member
i have the pathfinder that goes everywhere so can speak from experience rather than heresay

The navara was a better specc'd ute than the equivlent toyota/izuzu for the same money. the 450mm wading depth bottom of the doors, i assume Nissan were not confident in their seals, having said that mine has done the water crossings including the balfour track with water up to the windows without issue just stop regularly and let the water that has built up in the doors back out ;)


In terms of ground clearance the biggest issue with them is some bright spark at Nissan made the plastic raditator tank the lowest part of the vehicle (hangs down to the cross member) and when you then fit a decent bash plate that sits against said radiator (and trans cooler in the auto) so the first thing you hit cracks the tank (twice if you don't realise that is what caused it) couple of washers to space the bash plate solves the issue.

If you can get the 2010+ My10 or the 550 v6, they seem to have sorted most of the issues out that you read about online (timing chains, milkshake coolant)
 

Triton14

Well-Known Member
All I can say is no matter what configuration you choose vehicle wise the 1 thing that sticks you to the track is tyres!

They are what you rely on most of all, when they cant pull you out of a situation then add Trax, then if that doesn't hep then you have a winch.
 

Albynsw

Well-Known Member
The Navara and Tritons would be the best bang for your buck, the Navaras have really bad resale value and Triton is not much better but don’t know much about them
The Toyota equivalent will be the dearest and everything else sits in between.
I would have a look at all of the brands and see what takes your fancy as they vary with things like rear seat comfort and leg room, standard inclusions etc and then do some more specific research to see what are the known potential issues with your short list.

In general they will all pretty much do what you want from them, some will have more aftermarket accessories available than others
 

Batts88

Well-Known Member
Sounds to me with the list of requirement your after you may need a bigger budget and get a 350mm chassis extension for example on a dual cab or you may end up a member of the bent chassis brigade.
 

Nicool

New Member
Wow thanks a lot guys for all the replies!


What do you drive at the moment ?
A Disco 3 petrol V6 :)


Do you have the need for child restraints in the rear seats ?
I have 2 child car seat that will need to be there indeed

All I can say is no matter what configuration you choose vehicle wise the 1 thing that sticks you to the track is tyres!
They are what you rely on most of all, when they cant pull you out of a situation then add Trax, then if that doesn't hep then you have a winch.
Fully agreed, that’s why i didn’t even think to put tyres in the list :)

I wouldn't worry about wading depth mate, thats the least important stat to angst over as long as its reliable and solid is more important.
I hear you, but if i am to setup a new 4WD that will please me for years, i wouldn’t want one that can’t take much water while others happily splash in.

G'day mate, don't under estimate the ability of the Navara's, a mate who I 4x4 with has a 2010 dual cab navara and it has gone everywhere the other cars go (Patrols, wildtrack, Prado's, Disco) and it is pretty much stock as far as off road extra's go, other than a 2" lift and snorkel..........I have seen it go through water at bonnet depth !
OK that’s good to know, and i haven’t done any serious river crossing yet, wouldn’t attempt one just by myself.
So on the wading depth, are the Nissan folks just very conservative then?

Do you need all the mods you’ve listed immediately? Best to buy a vehicle take it out on a few trips and see what mods you need, lift , tyres and snorkel are a good starting point but then again it depends on what type of terrain you will be travelling in .
Well that’s a fair point, but i believe these mods are what i would need: i don’t see myself in the bush without a bull bar, and have already suffered the absence of a winch in wet forest, so definitely want one.
Note i did refrain from adding comms, second battery and fridge :)
« trying to be reasonable » :p

Sounds to me with the list of requirement your after you may need a bigger budget and get a 350mm chassis extension for example on a dual cab or you may end up a member of the bent chassis brigade.
Yeah i’ll have to look at the maths in details.
Must confess i don’t know what a chassis extension is, are you pushing the rear axle farther back or just extending the tub further back?
Why do you reckon i’d need one? Sounds like a pricey mod?

In terms of ground clearance the biggest issue with them is some bright spark at Nissan made the plastic raditator tank the lowest part of the vehicle (hangs down to the cross member) and when you then fit a decent bash plate that sits against said radiator (and trans cooler in the auto) so the first thing you hit cracks the tank (twice if you don't realise that is what caused it) couple of washers to space the bash plate solves the issue.
So you’re saying that if i the bash plate is spaced properly away you do achieve good underbody protection? Plus i guess a 2 inches lift gets you sufficient clearance.
I really enjoy rock crawling with the Disco and woudln’t want to give up on that.


The Navara and Tritons would be the best bang for your buck, the Navaras have really bad resale value and Triton is not much better but don’t know much about them
The Toyota equivalent will be the dearest and everything else sits in between.
I would have a look at all of the brands and see what takes your fancy as they vary with things like rear seat comfort and leg room, standard inclusions etc and then do some more specific research to see what are the known potential issues with your short list.
In general they will all pretty much do what you want from them, some will have more aftermarket accessories available than others
Right and i like the budget wiggle room that the Navara would give me plus find it good looking. Any clue as to why they re-sell cheaper?
 

dno67

Well-Known Member
The whole idea of mods, is to make a standard vehicle better off road and safer.
Don't get too hung up on things like standard wading depths, l'd look for reliability comfort, safety and availability of aftermarket accessories. Especially with a young growing family. I believe not all duel cabs come with factory child seat restraint points. Just another option to add to your shopping list.
 

Albynsw

Well-Known Member
Right and i like the budget wiggle room that the Navara would give me plus find it good looking. Any clue as to why they re-sell cheaper?
Don’t know why, a young bloke at work is in the market for a second hand dual cab and he commented at how cheap the Navaras are but he would not buy one and has his eye on a current series Hilux or maybe consider a BT50
 

dno67

Well-Known Member
The navara was cheaper to buy new. They also had a few issues over different models, engine, gearbox and suspension. Thats not saying don't buy one, just do your homework.
 

discomatt

Well-Known Member
Just curios but why do you want to get out of the D3 and into a ute?
I would keep the 18k for mods and service of the D3 assuming its not a neglected unreliable bucket of crap
 

Nicool

New Member
Just curios but why do you want to get out of the D3 and into a ute?
I would keep the 18k for mods and service of the D3 assuming its not a neglected unreliable bucket of crap
It will actually break my heart to sell the disco, i love that vehicle so much.
But for trips we are out of space even in roomy D3, cause we need to bring:
-camping gear, and we like comfort so that’s big family tent, seats, weber babyQ, gas, mattresses, etc etc
-food
-child stuff and...
-scuba diving gear: we re both experienced scuba divers and have heaps of gear to carry
I am actually amazed of how much we packed in the Disco during last 3 trips, but we still sacrifice on gear, can’t get a fridge, and packing/unpacking is sooo cumbersome.

that’s why we’re set to get a ute with service canopy :)
 

Nicool

New Member
The whole idea of mods, is to make a standard vehicle better off road and safer.
Don't get too hung up on things like standard wading depths, l'd look for reliability comfort, safety and availability of aftermarket accessories. Especially with a young growing family. I believe not all duel cabs come with factory child seat restraint points. Just another option to add to your shopping list.
Good to know on seat restraint
Comfort and classical car soecs are things i certainly can i will check - although takes time i enjoy doing my research.
My question is all around mods or « mod-ability » of the utes on the market, like are there some which are so unfit for 4wd that you would spend too much on mods and should rather rule these out and focus on other cars.
And that’s the bit i struggle with, for example on comfort and look i like the Amarok. Looking at specs i see 500mm wading depth, so i would fit a snorkel to get more. But how much more would it get? Snorkel will help with higher air intake but maybe the problem is a low ECU that i can’t do anything about. Wouldn’t want to find out something like that 2 years down the track when i do extra mods.
 

discomatt

Well-Known Member
I would get a trailer and keep the disco, drive a few utes and see how they compare;)
I was going to move away from LR as our touring 4wd for a few reasons, I did all the research, and that was months of reading and searching, I drove a few of the options and weighed up the pros and cons of all them.
Last of all I decided to test drive a D4, I bought said D4 and couldn't be happier.
If your looking at Amarok's do some research on the auto, in particular no low range and no ability to reverse in difficult situations without computer mods
 

Barra GU

Well-Known Member
I think bang for buck best ute in that catagory sub 18k would have to be an MN Triton.

2.5 litre diesel engine
Auto is 400nm torque
Manual 430

The standard tub is one of the biggest in the class
You wamt room in the back for people? For long drives ? Well theyve thought about that too...

Go sit in every other dual cab ifs ute remember what those seating positions are like then go check out the triton... Mitsubishi purposely curved the rear end of the cabin to be able to place the rear passenger seats in a more comfortable position.

As far as modifications go you can get the lot...

As dont know how far you wish to go but they are they ONLY ifs dual cab ute that can actually purchase crawler gears for... so pairing them with upper control arms, diff drop kit, nice suspemsion lift and twin lockers on 33s the thing will go anywhere...

100% the pick for me...

Negatives?
There is one... back in 2015/2016 they had s recall on most mn Triton as they were copping an overheating issue due to some shitty machine work of the head. They fixed it (bandaid fix) by get this.... adding a thicker coolant to get them all out of warranty so its no longer their problem .

Mine got an new engine at 70,000 kay and had no dramas since...


In saying this i wouldnt be too scared about it... they were mostly earky model MN's

My brother and a few mates have tritons amd never had a problem
 
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