With premium brands like Bentley and Rolls Royce entering the fray with $300k-plus luxo-barges, and a top-spec Range Rover nearing $400k, there are more fully loaded 4x4 models on the market than ever before. But for those with a champagne taste on a beer budget, there are still plenty of well-equipped 4x4s for the not-so-well heeled.
Here are our Top 5 top-spec 4x4 wagons for less than $75k.
1. Haval H9 Ultra – $44,990
Fancy a back massage as you cruise down the highway or scrabble up a rocky track? Not a problem in the Haval H9 Ultra, which undoubtedly offers more bang for your buck than any other 4x4 wagon on the market.
Earlier this year Haval rejigged its H9 line-up and the Prado-sized seven-seat wagon is now better value than ever with the range-topping Ultra now less than $45k. Despite this the H9 Ultra comes with loads of standard luxury equipment including eco-leather seats with heating, massage and ventilation functions for the front row and heating for the second row, heated steering wheel, panoramic sunroof, premium 10-speaker Infinity sound system and tri-zone climate control air-conditioning.
The Haval H9 is both comfortable on the road and capable off it. It’s built on a separate chassis with independent front suspension and a live-axle rear with coil springs, and power comes courtesy of a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine that makes a claimed 180kW at 5500rpm and 350Nm from 1800-4500rpm. The only transmission option is an eight-speed auto mated to a mode-selectable full-time 4x4 system with a two-speed transfer case.
On-road performance is impressive and the H9’s boosted petrol four makes plenty of mumbo from low in the rev range and delivers ample midrange torque. Ride quality is also generally good, although the H9 could use a bit more damping control at higher speeds.
Off-road performance is impressive thanks to the H9’s well-calibrated traction control system, good low-range gearing, auto-locking rear diff and generous rear wheel travel. It also offers an impressive 700mm wading depth.
As well as luxury appointments, the H9 Ultra is loaded with safety equipment including side curtain airbags for all three rows, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, driver condition monitor, tyre pressure monitor, DRLs, adaptive front lighting system and front fog lights.
Not yet sure about a Chinese-made luxury 4x4? As well as the value-for-money equation, Haval hopes a five-year/100,000km warranty might convince potential buyers.
2. Ford Everest Titanium – $73,990
Ford has recently upgraded The Everest wagon and the top-spec Titanium model now comes standard with the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder bi-turbo-diesel engine that powers the Ranger Raptor. And despite scoring this new engine, the Titanium is now $1201 cheaper than the 3.2L five-cylinder turbo-diesel model it replaces.
As you’d expect of a top-spec model the Everest Titanium comes loaded with luxury gear including leather accented seat trim (excluding the third row), eight-way power adjustable front seats, rear privacy glass, 20-inch alloy wheels (or no-cost optional 18-inch alloys), hands-free power tailgate, dual-glass-panel power sunroof with power blind, and heated power-fold exterior mirrors with puddle lamps. It also has tech features such as traffic-sign recognition, adaptive cruise control and front and rear parking sensors.
The Everest Titanium’s new 2.0-litre engine develops a claimed 157kW at 3750rpm and 500Nm from 1750-2500rpm, and it’s mated to a new 10-speed automatic transmission and a two-speed transfer case. The Everest also features a sophisticated full-time 4x4 system with selectable modes to suit conditions including ‘Normal’, ‘Snow/Grass/Gravel’, ‘Sand’ and ‘Rock’, and it comes standard with a rear diff lock.
As well as offering slightly improved performance, the new engine and transmission combination offers improved fuel economy, thanks partly to taller overall gearing. And despite its small capacity, the engine makes plenty of torque from low in the rev range and decent power up top.
Ford has also tweaked the Everest’s suspension with the 2019 update to improve ride quality and minimise body roll when cornering.
Off-road performance is impressive in the Everest Titanium thanks to a combination of decent 227mm ground clearance, good approach and departure angles, an effective traction control system, the standard rear diff lock, sufficient low-range reduction and a class-leading 800mm wading depth.
The Everest Titanium is packed with safety features including side curtain airbags for all three rows, Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Traffic Sign Recognition, a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with Cross-Traffic Alert, roll stability control and trailer sway control.
Ford has recently improved its warranty offering which is now five years/unlimited kilometres on the Everest Titanium.
3. Grand Cherokee Trailhawk – $73,500
In the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk Jeep offers genuine luxury with impressive off-road capability at a sub-$75k price.
Although the Grand Cherokee has been around for quite some time, Jeep updated the model in 2017 by adding electric power steering, an Eco mode on the transmission and fitment of an acoustic windscreen and front door glass. It also threw in a few extra features including Lane Departure Warning Plus and Parallel and Perpendicular Park Assist.
There’s plenty of luxury packed into the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk’s compact five-seat body, including dual-zone climate control air conditioning, black Nappa leather and perforated suede seats, satnav, keyless start and entry, eight-way powered front seats, heated front and rear seats, reversing camera with trailer-hitch view, 8.4-inch colour touchscreen, 18-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlamps, fog lamps, daytime running lamps, rain-sensing wipers, automatic high-beam, power tailgate and dual pane panoramic sunroof.
The Grand Cherokee’s 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel engine produces plenty of power and torque, with respective peaks of 184kW at 4000rpm and 570Nm at 2000rpm. The transmission is an eight-speed auto and the Trailhawk has a full-time 4x4 system and two-speed transfer case.
On-road performance is strong tanks to the engine’s healthy outputs and willingness to rev, and the fully independent suspension endows the Trailhawk with an agility that can’t be matched by vehicles with a live-axle rear-end. Ride quality is on the sporty side but the suspension soaks up bigger bumps without a problem.
The Trailhawk is just as strong off the road as on it. The 4x4 system offers driver-selectable modes for different terrain including ‘Snow’, ‘Sand’, ‘Mud’ and ‘Rock’, or it can be left in ‘Auto’ and the Trailhawk will choose the best setting by itself. The suspension is height-adjustable, and in its highest setting it provides 260mm of ground clearance along with impressive approach, departure and ramp-over angles of 36.1°, 27.1° and 22.8° respectively.
There are several features exclusive to the Trailhawk that make this Grand Cherokee more capable off-road, including extra skid plates, Kevlar reinforced 265/60R18 Goodyear Wrangler tyres and red recovery points up front. Strangely, there are no such rated recovery points at the rear, and wading depth isn’t great at 508mm.
On the safety front, the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk scores full-length side curtain airbags, All-speed Traction Control and Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Selec-Speed Control, Adaptive Cruise Control with stop, Trailer-Sway Control (TSC), Forward Collision Warning with Crash Mitigation, Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM), Rear Cross Path (RCP) detection, reverse camera and front-row active head restraints, as well as the aforementioned Lane Departure Warning and Park Assist.
Jeep hasn’t had a stellar reputation for reliability over the past few years but the company is striving hard to turn that around, and it now backs the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk with a five-year/100,000km warranty.
4. Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Exceed – $54,200
Mitsubishi has continued to drop the price of its Pajero Sport Exceed and this top-spec variant of the seven-seat wagon now slips under the $55k price point, yet it still comes loaded with tech, safety and luxury appointments.
Standard equipment on Exceed includes 18-inch alloy wheels, leather trim, electric-adjust and heated front seats, dual-zone climate control air-conditioning, premium eight-speaker sound system, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control and multi-around monitor.
The Pajero Sport Exceed is powered by a 2.4-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine that’s both modest in capacity and output. But although it only musters a claimed 133kW at 3500rpm and 430Nm at 2500rpm, the engine is mated to a smooth-shifting eight-speed auto that makes the most of the available power and torque.
The Exceed employs Mitsubishi’s effective Super Select II 4WD system, which is essentially a selectable on-demand 4x4 system that provides a choice of 2WD or 4WD unlocked for road driving, or 4WD locked or 4WD low for off-road driving. The Exceed also comes with electronic traction control and a standard rear diff lock.
While the Exceed’s engine outputs might not look that flash on paper, on-road performance is surprisingly good thanks in part to the eight-speed auto and the vehicle’s relatively light 2105kg kerb mass. This light weight also aids on-road handling, which is quite lively compared to some of the Pajero Sport’s direct competitors. On-road ride quality is also good and the Pajero Sport Exceed does an admirable job of soaking up bumps.
While outright off-road capability is far from the best in class, the Pajero Sport Exceed’s traction control system works well, and the standard rear diff lock comes in handy in undulating terrain. It should be noted, however, that engaging the rear diff lock disengages the traction control system, which seems somewhat counterintuitive.
The Pajero Sport Exceed’s safety package includes curtain airbags, traction control, stability control, trailer stability assist, hill start assist, reverse camera and front and rear parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers, dusk-sensing headlights, forward collision mitigation, Ultrasonic Misacceleration Mitigation System and blind spot warning.
The Pajero Sport Exceed is covered by a five-year/100,000km warranty.
5. Toyota Fortuner Crusade – $56,990
Despite its sub-$60k price tag, the top-of-the-range Toyota Fortuner Crusade seven-seat wagon certainly comes with plenty of luxury features.
Standard equipment on the Crusade includes 18-inch alloy wheels, leather accented seat and door trim, power adjustable driver’s seat, an airconditioned cool box, keyless entry and start, privacy glass, climate control air conditioning, power tailgate, satnav and premium 11-speaker JBL sound system with DAB+ digital radio.
The Fortuner Crusade uses the same 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine used in HiLux, and it makes a claimed 130kW at 3400rpm and 450Nm at 1600-2400rpm. It’s very smooth for a diesel engine, which is a good match for a top-spec model like the Crusade. The transmission is a smooth-shifting six-speed auto and the Fortuner Crusade has a two-speed transfer case and a shift-on-the-fly part-time 4x4 system.
On-road performance isn’t particularly startling, but the Crusade’s tall fifth and sixth gears provide relaxed highway touring befitting this style of vehicle, and aid fuel economy. The Fortuner Crusade also offers a well-sorted ride and handling package thanks to extensive local suspension tuning and development work.
The Fortuner Crusade is a mixed bag off-road. While it offers good ground clearance (225mm) and decent approach and departure angles (30° and 25° respectively), wheel travel is not as good as some class competitors. Low-range gearing is impressive, however, the traction control system works well and the Crusade is fitted with a standard rear diff lock, although when engaged the traction control system deactivates.
The Fortuner Crusade has a reasonable safety package with features including curtain airbags, a reversing camera, stability control, trailer sway control and hill descent control, but at this stage it misses out on features such as blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB).
As with all Toyotas, the Fortuner Crusade is covered by a three-year/100,000km warranty, which was the industry standard not so long ago. We reckon it won’t be long before Toyota is forced into matching its competitors with a five-year warranty.