Around this time last year I returned from a holiday into central Australia, visiting Uluru (Ayers Rock) and meandering along the Oodnadatta Track. It was awesome, but it made me feel I didn’t need to do the off-roading any more, so I sold the FJ Cruiser and bought a BMW. I haven’t regretted it at all, nor have I missed the 4WD.
However, with my wife undergoing IVF right now, we’ve been considering a family car that she can drive around as her daily driver, and which I can drive as well when we’re together. So it’s got to be something we’ll both enjoy driving and be comfortable in. She was initially interested in the BMW X5 (I’m not going to go into the story of that process, which included Audi’s, BMW X3’s, X4’s and X6’s… you don’t want to know), but only a few days ago she got a revelation.
We regularly enjoy Facebook’s feature ‘On This Day’, which reminds us of things we’ve shared ‘on this day’ in the past. Over the past couple of weeks it’s reminded us of all the photos we shared on our holiday to central Australia last year. And then on this past weekend we went out to a small country town for lunch where we found a photography gallery run by a very good photographer who specialised in Australian landscapes. The photos of various Australian locations were beautiful.
As we were driving home, she turned to me and said “We should get another 4Wd….” Well, whatever she wants, I get – if I can, of course. You know – ‘happy wife, happy life’ and all that. It’s true.
Last year we had originally thought about getting her a Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk as her family SUV which was offroad capable as well. But we’ve become spoiled by the luxury interior of the BMW, so I’ve been looking around for a luxury family SUV that’s also 4WD. And no, AWD doesn’t count….
What I’ve settled on for a short list includes:
2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport HSE
2013 Land Rover Discovery 4 HSE
From what I can tell from my research, they’re both the only fully capable luxury 4WD vehicles on the market today, within my $65k budget. I’m not including the Toyota Prado Kakadu because it just doesn’t have the same ‘luxury’ feel or features as the Land Rovers do. (Feel free to disagree with me and point out the differences I might not know about!)
I’ve test driven the Discovery Sport SE yesterday. It’s ok, but there were a few niggly issues I had. I need to test drive the HSE – the more luxurious version – to see if those niggles are dispelled. Namely the seats. They need to be a lot more comfortable than what they are in the SE. When you’re driving along the freeway for 12-14 hours a day, or along bouncy bush tracks for 8 hours a day, you NEED it to be comfortable. My preference is for the larger Discovery 4, because it’s going to be a VERY comfortable ride. Soft, supported seating, and air suspension. But it’s a big 4WD, not a small one like the Discovery Sport. So if it’s going to be my wife’s daily driver, it’s something she’s got to be comfortable in.
And while I don’t miss the FJ Cruiser or the offroad adventures, it’ll be nice to have something capable enough to go offroad IF WE WANT TO. That’s what it’s about. The FJ Cruiser was purchased in 2011 with the express purpose of going offroad, but the new 4WD (whatever it ends up being) will be a city-based family car that can go offroad if we want to. That won’t be the primary purpose, but it’s certainly got to be capable enough if we do.
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