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Traveling and off-roading

I’ve been spending a great deal of my spare time lately doing some research into 4WD vehicles. I have quite a few ‘must haves’ though, which include:

– the ability to handle most off-road situations
– a comfortable drivers seat for my bad back over very long distances
– good leg room and comfort for rear passengers
– enough space in the back with folded seats to put a mattress
– a reversing camera or sensors
– less than 3 years old so I can lease it for 4 years or more (you can only lease vehicles for up to 7 years in Australia)
– around $50,000 or less

I’ve looked into the best of the lot, the Toyota Prado, but it’s just too expensive for what I’m looking for, plus the suspension felt too ‘soft’, with lots of body roll. I’ve looked into the Land Rover Freelander 2, but it also doesn’t match my needs. It was too expensive with very little leg room in the back. I’ve looked into a whole bunch of ‘soft roaders’, but they’re not even close.

I think it’s come down to three vehicles…

There’s the Nissan X-Trail, the larger version. It seems to have the room for a bed in the back, and all the reviews about it are positive. it even has a storage tray built in, so that supplied can be put under the tray with slide-out drawers, allowing the mattress to go on top… I have to test drive it though, to find out what the seats are like.

The 2011 Toyota FJ Cruiser uses a Prado body and engine, but it’s very ‘functional’. You can even wash out the inside with a hose, it’s that functional! I’m not sure how comfortable the seats will be for my back and long distances, so I’m going to give it a test drive sometime soon.

The last one is the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee. I’ve already taken this for a drive, and while it was very impressive (it even has a night-vision rear mirror, for God’s sake!), I wasn’t so sure about the seat. It felt a little too hard. This one is coming third at the moment because I’m going to have another drive of it so I can get more of a feeling for how it feels with my back. I’m also going to look into the space in the back and see how it suits a mattress.

Exciting times! I think I’ll be in a suitable 4WD before Xmas, but it just depends on finding something that fits all my needs.

Please leave me a comment if you have any suggestions for something you recommend I look at, or if you have any feedback on the ones I’ve mentioned.

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