The motor industry and the journalistic fraternity use very similar terminology some of which the man in the street struggles to comprehend or come to grips with. In fact the industry categorisation for the various segments of 4×4’s available to the public even features as definitions in the Unit Standards used for driver training, yet there are a host of other words bandied about by journalists who write about and review vehicles that may be interpreted differently dependant on the reader and his or her particular needs, so I thought it would be appropriate to look at some of the “words” and see what I could come up with. In fact if you can find all of these attributes in one vehicle then you would end up with a highly competent all round off-roader!
Okay lets kick off with the first and possibly most important one –“Capable”, a term often bandied around especially around the fire while waiting for the meat to cook, many vehicles and stories come to mind, here one refers to the vehicle’s ability to traverse diverse terrain in comfort and one immediately thinks of sand and mud, rocks and axle twisters difficult ascents and descents and deep water crossings!
Then we have “Durable”, it lasts no matter what you throw at it and continues to do so for many years without specific component failure, generally engine, drivetrain and chassis! The next oft used term will be “Reliability”, what comes to mind here is the vehicles ability to offer excellent service over the period of ownership used in rugged terrain without component failure leading to a serious malfunction.
Then we touch on “Capacity”, here you would look at a few things, generally the ability to carry weight as per the specifications but you would also be looking at the way in which the vehicle absorbs all the items needed for a long trip when packing and it’s towing ability. Lastly I would touch on “Economical”, this is often the deal breaker as it is not only limited to the fuel economy but also the cost of ownership in terms of servicing and maintenance plans as well as the cost of spare parts and labour.
Strangely when you find the ultimate blend you will be somewhere towards the top priced vehicles in the large SUV segment (large station wagons) and it is generally recognised that they are the ultimate overland vehicles. But then that’s where compromise comes in and the smaller station wagons and double cabs feature, in accessorised guise these remain highly capable and do the job- hence their popularity as over landers.
And then there is one more thing to remember- “dealer network”, when leaving our borders ensure that you know the locations of your vehicles dealers and the necessary contact details as that will greatly assist you should you have a problem of any sort and don’t have the necessary spares or tools! Although the very important one is “Insurance”, are you adequately covered when you cross borders ,if unsure chat to your broker about a Cross Country policy and it’s benefits!