About three years ago I wrote an article for Leisure Wheels, mentioning that I had had a near head-on smash and that I didn’t think the compromises in safety with vehicles like the Defender and Land Cruiser 76 were worth it. At the time I considered vehicles like the Pajero and Prado. I was accused of going ‘soft’. I like to think of it as going ‘sensible’. Then I drove the Pajero and realized I might be heading in the wrong direction. Then I drove the Fortuner and thought that IFS front suspension was really very good, and that I needn’t insist on solid axles.
Now again, I have the same dilemma. At the time I chose a Land Cruiser 100 GX. It has much better brakes, ABS and airbags, things that at the time no heavy-duty solid-axled 4x4 were offering. While that has changed to a degree, the handling of all 70-series Land Cruisers and the Defender is diabolical, when compared to say an FJ Cruiser, Discovery, Prado and even Fortuner.
So the big questions remain: is IFS good enough for what I do, considering that while the 4x4 routes I travel are tough, they are not ‘challenge’ tough? And, must it be a station-wagon?
The Discovery expedition up Baboons pass will no doubt answer some questions. Its on-road performance is outstanding. What has surprised me the most, that it’s a bit better on-road than the Land Cruiser 200VX. It’s quieter, smoother, has a nicer interior. Is it as good off-road? Because the LC200 isn’t great in standard form because it can’t take much of a load and it’s too low.
But right now my eyes are avariciously turned toward the FJ. But it’s too cute to be a serious expedition 4x4 – or is it? I don’t want a Jeep. I don’t want a Ford, or Isuzu. I like the Nissan Patrol, but the diesel is a bit of a dog, and the petrol uses more fuel than a 747. I will wait for the V8 Land Cruisers, as these could add vehicles that right now, are not part of the choice.
So if you don’t hear from me for a while, know that it’s because I’m off answering these questions – and shooting my TV show in the process.