WHICH vehicles are in contention for 4x4 Of The Year comes down to the simple expediency of being all-new – or significantly revised, mechanically – in that year.
Given this selection process leaves out even best-in-class vehicles if they aren’t new or haven’t been significantly updated in the previous 12 months, the field thrown up is often criticised and sometimes misunderstood.
For example, in this lot you’ll find no LC200, Prado, Hilux, Ranger or Everest, just to name a few of the obvious suspects. For that we make no apologies given our on-going best-in-class tests published regularly and recently.
However, what you will find is arguably the most diverse range of 4x4s we have ever assembled to battle it out over a week of take-no-prisoners 4X4OTY testing.
For the first time in 4X4OTY we have a Chinese-designed-and-built 4x4, the all-new Haval H9. Think Chinese Prado but petrol-only. It’s close to the least-expensive vehicle here – despite being the top-spec model – but arguably the best equipped. At the other end of the spectrum the most expensive vehicle here, the just introduced Mercedes-Benz G-Glass Professional cab-chassis, is the most utilitarian.
The technology on display runs from the highly sophisticated Volkswagen Amarok, sporting a new V6 engine similar to that used in the likes of the Porsche Cayenne diesel, right across the spectrum to the relative simplicity of the revised Land Cruiser 70 Series. In between these extremes of cost, features, technology and function are two Holdens – the significantly revised Colorado ute and new Trailblazer wagon – and Mitsubishi’s Pajero Sport wagon.
All up there are four utes and two wagons based on utes, all of which is a sign of the times in the four-wheel drive world.
All bar one engine in the field is a diesel, again a sign of the times. Ditto an almost exclusively all-automatic field with only one manual. And, interestingly, the only non-diesel, a very modern low-pressure turbo-petrol engine, could be the way of the future given the threat posed to diesels by end-of-decade emissions regulations.
As ever, our weeklong testing involves set-piece 4x4, trail driving and touring on a wide variety of roads, and pits the seven aspirants to the 4X4OTY throne not against one another but against our five award criteria, listed opposite. Each of our judges (in blind voting) awards every vehicle points out of 10 for each of the five criteria. All the points from all the judges are then tallied and the vehicle with the most number of points wins. Simple, really.
MORE 4X4 OF THE YEAR
HOME: 4X4 OF THE YEAR 2017
The seven most interesting 4x4 vehicles of 2016 get together for a week to determine the 4x4 Of The Year.
Meet the seven most interesting 4x4 vehicles of 2016 battling it out to be crowned 4x4 Of The Year.
Only one of the seven best 4x4s from 2016 can be crowned 4x4 Of The Year 2017
4X4 OF THE YEAR HOME
Finding Australia's Best 4x4s