The majority of beginners interested in adopting off-roading as a hobby only begin looking for answers to questions about starting out after having purchased their first off-road vehicle. But the reality is that choosing the right off-road vehicle is no easy task. For a start, it’s important to be completely realistic about not only about how often you are able to indulge in your new passion, but also the rigorousness and the difficulty of the routes that you are likely to take up.
Whilst the majority of vehicles in the price-class of more affordable and don’t require you to splash out all your winnings from betting on the AFL Grand Final are perfectly capable of navigating even the most neglected of dirt roads in terms of regular upkeep, it’s only the higher-priced specialised single-purpose 4×4 vehicles that are equipped to navigate every kind of hindrance on any kind of trail.
It therefore stands to good reason that the choice of off-road vehicle largely depends on its proposed use.
2WD Crossover Vehicles
Vehicles that fall into the most affordable price class are 2WD crossover vehicles. These vehicles are in essence built on front-wheel drive family car suspension systems. What this means is that they offer sufficient ground clearance as well as the visual charm of a typical off-road vehicle, but without the complex bells and whistles of a full-on off-roader.
They are generally much cheaper than their 4×4 big brothers but by the same token are also not capable of navigating anything more complex than typical dirt roads featuring grades of no more than 5 degrees. It’s important to take note of specific weather conditions too, as standard 2WD crossover vehicles aren’t suited for crossing water with a crossing depth of more than 3 inches deep.
4WD Crossover Vehicles
4WD vehicles will typically continue to function at 2WD capacity until such time as it becomes crucial to move into 4WD mode. The downside is that these vehicles have to come to a complete stop before 4WD mode can be engaged.
4WD vehicles are typically bought by those who want to enjoy the perks of being able to “go where family cars aren’t able to go”, but not necessarily by folks interested in adopting off-roading as a serious hobby. On the up side, 4WD crossover vehicles are very reasonably priced.
4WD Trucks & Lifestyle SUVs
These vehicles come kitted out with 2WD as well as 4WD capabilities. A definite added benefit is that they are generally kitted out with low-range 4WD functionality too; a handy set of features to have when navigating soft ground as soft surfaces can severely damage a vehicle’s drivetrain system.
The Real Deal – Ultimate 4×4
These are for those serious about ultimately learning how to navigate the most treacherous of terrains in the world of off-roading. They are typically equipped with diff-locks that are manually interchangeable – front, rear and central lock. Specialised single-purpose 4×4 off-roaders hand much of the control and decision-making back to the driver of the vehicle. Because of the specialised and super-tech nature of full-on 4×4 vehicles, they are much more pricy than most other vehicles.