Ford BF RTV Ute
- 4.0 litre DOHC Six 190kW
- 5-speed manual with 4 speed auto option
- $31,950 plus options
- 3 year / 100,000km warranty
The current RTV is the rural version of the Ford ute, continuing a trend begun with the formidable Outback ute some ten years back. High, 1-tonne suspension, heavy-duty underbody protection and now with ABS and switchable diff-lock, every bloke wants one wrapped up under the Chrissy tree – if he can wait that long!
Following tradition, power is still derived from a muscular 4.0 litre straight six, although the current donk is a far cry from the trusty carby-fed 250ci ones of old. The newie has double overhead cams, multipoint fuel injection and comes with a dedicated LPG engine as an option. The option list doesn’t stop there and Ford allows an almost complete control over possible fitments and enhancements including tow packs, a V8, manual or auto transmissions, cab chassis or tray-backs.
Thumbs Up: • Powerful, high torque engine • Rugged, well protected • Good cabin comfort • Extensive option list Mmmm. • Maximum three adult capacity. • I miss the long range tank • No diesel option
Like a Trooper
Toyota LandCruiser Troop Carrier LC78 • 4.2 litre diesel with turbo option • 5-speed manual • $48,900 plus options • 3 year / 100,000km warranty
The Toyota LandCruiser, despite its Japanese heritage, is the stuff of Aussie outback legend. It’s the 4WD all others are measured by and continues to draw the greatest track cred and biggest boasts in any caravan park. Its status is a result of numerous factors, not the least of them being Toyota’s much envied reliability and build quality. Contenders like Nissan’s Patrol, Jeep and even Land Rover have come close but the mighty LandCruiser has always kept at least its head in front of the pack.
Boiled down to the basics of LandCruiser usefulness and practicality is the Troop Carrier. It’s a bare-bones, austere bodied version of the plush urban variety and built with the land in mind. Forget petrol and automatic transmission options, this wagon means business and is built accordingly. You’ll need more than a big stick or an old axe handle to kill one of these – try an RPG!
Available in six smart colours. Go and ask for French Vanilla, I dare you!
Thumbs Up: • Economical, sturdy diesel engine • ‘Military’ build spec • Nine model range • Extensive option list Mmmm. • Spartan interior at basic end • No petrol option • No auto transmission
You’ll Want One Outback
• 2.5 litre four-cylinder or 3.0 six • Permanent four-wheel drive (AWD) • $36,990 plus options (2.5) • 3 year/unlimited km warranty There was a time when you’d point and giggle at anyone who turned up in a Subaru Leone. But the little petal has grown up and is now a respectable member of the rural fleet. The most impressive thing about the Symmetrical AWD system now perfected by Subaru and standard on every car they sell, is its ability to cope with a wide variety of road surfaces with confidence. There are times when you want a comfortable sedan and there are times you want the 4WD. Subaru’s clever Outback comes close to delivering both. The intelligent transmission system talks to each wheel and brake, delivering power to wheel most in need. If a wheel begins losing traction, for example, its power is reduced and the surplus transferred to the wheel with the most grip. The principle is not exclusive to Subaru, but hard to find on cars in this price range. Although it won’t take on a LandCruiser, its useful cross-trainer ability is perfect for commuters who face a daily dirt drive. Thumbs Up • Superb build quality • versatile performer • great road holding in varied conditions Mmmm. • Needs a bit of pedal, especially 2.5 • Automatic transmission not best feature
Never Mind the Kingswood
Holden Commodore Omega VE
• 3.6 litre Alloytec V6 180kW • 4–speed automatic • $34,490 • 3 year / 100,000km warranty Like a favourite sweater or golf bag, a Holden Commodore is a comforting, confidence-inspiring vehicle that can take you pretty much anywhere a 2WD can go. Like its long-time sparring partner, the Falcon, Commodore makes sense. You can get in at sun-up, drive all blinkin’ day and half the night and still get out in decent shape. It’s comfortable, reasonably economical, powerful enough and looks good on the road. And hey, the ladies don’t mind it either. With more choice than ever in the new car market these days, it’s easy to get carried away with fanciful notions and hybrid machines, but in the end it needs to be the right decision. Ease of service, availability of parts, versatility and peace of mind have to count for something. The 21st Century Holden sedan still uses a GM V6, although the new Alloytec variants bear little resemblance to the old push-rod Buick 3.8 litre ones first seen in 1988 in the VN. However, some critics have been quick to point out that the old 125kW VNs were actually quicker to 100 km/h than the new 180kW VEs. Go figure. All new Holdens set the motoring media abuzz and the new 2006 VEs were no different. Generally, praise was heaped on the new Commodore with particular mention made of the quality trim of the entry-level Omega. Whatever happened to the Belmont? Thumbs Up: • Comfortable, all-day cruiser • Lively road manners • Enhanced stability and safety features Mmmm. • 4 speed auto feels dated • Wot! No full-sized spare tyre?