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    Grey nomad vehicles: five best options to travel Australia

    The 200 Series LandCruiser is one of the most popular 4WD wagons in the country (image credit: ARB).

    Grey nomads are a peculiar bunch – yet at the same time, they’re quite normal (whatever ‘normal’ implies in this day and age).

    Formally defined, according to the ABC, as “Australians over 55 years old who travel for an extended time — from weeks to months — and cover more than 300 kilometres in a day across semi-arid and coastal Australia”, grey nomads are really a microcosm of society, they’re just a bit older than some of the rest, that’s all.

    By the nature of their rambling lifestyle and sub-culture, grey nomads do a lot of travelling, and if a person, a couple or indeed a family does a lot of travelling, then a comfortable and capable vehicle is an absolute must.

    Note: I will be referring to 4WD variants in this yarn, but you’re just as likely to see 2WD versions kicking around in grey nomad circles.

    So, what grey nomads vehicles are preferred by the grey nomads themselves? What could be regarded as the best grey nomad vehicle? Well, read on. (Note: Before you rush headlong into the Comments section, scream-typing “Why is my [insert your beloved 4WD here] not on this list?!”, please consider that any ‘Top’ list is a fluid thing, as absolute specifics are near-impossible to pin down. This list is, however, based on my extensive experience and that of my well-travelled colleagues and friends, as well as the many grey nomadic folk I know. Enjoy.)

     

    Toyota LandCruiser 

    • The Toyota LandCruiser has long been a hit with grey nomads (image credit: Brendan Batty). The Toyota LandCruiser has long been a hit with grey nomads (image credit: Brendan Batty).
    • The Toyota LandCruiser has long been a hit with grey nomads (image credit: Brendan Batty). The Toyota LandCruiser has long been a hit with grey nomads (image credit: Brendan Batty).

    This stalwart of Australian 4WDing has long been a hit with grey nomads who drive on- and/or off-road for several reasons, and those include, but are certainly not limited to, its drivability (ease of use and comfort); its capability (in general driving terms, as well as for hauling heavy loads); its reputation for reliability (which is undeserved or has lapsed in recent years, some say); and its inherent fixability if something does actually go wrong. If you’re in the middle of nowhere, and you suffer vehicle-based strife, then you should be able to find or source Toyota parts without too much hassle – or at least that’s how the ol’ oft-repeated story goes.

    There is a major trade-off though: the LandCruiser is expensive, and that’s even in used form. Just ask anyone trying to buy a second-hand Cruiser about the dreaded and unofficial ‘Toyota tax’, i.e. the persistently high re-sale value of any Toyota that’s for sale, generally a Cruiser.

    There are plenty of Cruisers being used as grey nomad vehicles, but which Cruiser variant is the preferred choice of those over-50 adventurers who rely on a reliable, capable and comfortable long-distance tourer to tow their grey nomad caravans? Well, any kind, really. Take your pick: 80, 100, 105, or 200 Series... You still 60s kicking around too.

    Another Cruiser bonus: you can build up and customise your ultimate tourer with the help of Australia’s awesome aftermarket industry – think ARB, Ironman 4x4, TJM, and the like.

    You’d better hurry because the current model year Cruiser, with the 4.5-litre V8 twin turbo-diesel engine (200kW/650Nm), may represent your last chance to buy a new V8 version.

    Towing capacity is listed as 750kg (unbraked) and 3500kg (braked).

    Price: Expect to pay anywhere from $14,000 for a 1998 GXL (with 458,000km on the odo), to more than $80,000 for a new base-spec 200 Series and more than $120,000 for a top-shelf 2021 Sahara.
     

    Nissan Patrol

    The Nissan Patrol is another of Australia’s favourite touring vehicles (image credit: Brendan Batty). The Nissan Patrol is another of Australia’s favourite touring vehicles (image credit: Brendan Batty).

    This beefy well-respected 4WD wagon is another of Australia’s favourite touring vehicles and can be seen everywhere on the nation’s roads, and parked in caravan parks, or set up for camping.

    In Y62 Series 5 guise, it’s more than suitable for the nomadic lifestyle and it has proven itself time and time again as one of the most comfortably capable when called on to tow grey nomad caravans, or grey nomad camper trailers.

    Our recent road-test reviews have proven that any criticisms of the 5.6-litre patrol V8 Patrol’s fuel consumption being outlandish are off the mark because the big Nissan actually uses about the same as its rival, the diesel 200 Series – and the 298kW/560Nm Patrol costs considerably less to buy than the Cruiser does.

    As with the Cruiser, the Patrol can built up and customised as an ultimate tourer with the help of Australia’s great aftermarket industry (ARB, Ironman 4x4, et al).

    Towing capacity is listed as 750kg (unbraked) and 3500kg (braked).

    Price: Expect to pay anywhere from $19,000 for a 2010 Patrol ST (4x4), through to more than $100,000 for a new top-shelf 2021 Ti-L.

     

    Toyota Prado

    The Prado is popular because of its rock-solid reputation as a capable and comfortable touring vehicle (image credit: Toyota). The Prado is popular because of its rock-solid reputation as a capable and comfortable touring vehicle (image credit: Toyota).

    It’s the Cruiser’s less macho little bro, but the Prado is still very popular because of its rock-solid reputation as a capable and comfortable touring vehicle.

    Easy to drive and with a dependable 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine, the 150kW/500Nm Prado may have less Insta appeal than a 200 or 70 Series Cruiser, but it holds clear advantages for those of us who prefer to spend the lion’s share of our time in the real world.

    The Prado is – surprise, surprise – supremely well catered for, in terms of the sheer volume of aftermarket gear available for it.

    Towing capacity is listed as 750kg (unbraked) and 3000kg (braked).

    Price: Expect to pay from $15,990 for a 2010 Prado GXL (4X4), through to more than $90,000 for a new top-of-the-range 2021 Prado Kakadu.
     

    Ford Ranger/Everest

    • The Ranger has long been the standard against which all other dual-cab utes are measured (image credit: Offroad Images/ARB). The Ranger has long been the standard against which all other dual-cab utes are measured (image credit: Offroad Images/ARB).
    • The Everest is refined, comfortable and capable (image credit: Brendan Batty). The Everest is refined, comfortable and capable (image credit: Brendan Batty).

    The Ranger has long been the standard against which all other dual-cab utes are measured, and its wagon stablemate, the Ranger-based Everest, is no different in its section of the market.

    Both are refined, comfortable and capable, and make great platforms as on- and off-road touring vehicles.

    The Ranger – with either a 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel engine (147kW/470Nm) or a 2.0-litre four-cylinder twin-turbo diesel engine (157kW/500Nm) – makes for a solid and nice-driving unit.

    Same goes for the Everest, though because it’s a wagon, it lacks the Ranger’s utilitarian flexibility. But, no worries, because it more than makes up for that with its smoother ride and handling.

    The Ranger and Everest have become more and more prevalent on our roads in recent years and it’s not difficult to see why they appeal to grey nomads who crave comfortable and capable touring vehicles.

    A refresh though not desperately needed will be welcome.

    For hints or tips on how to deal with any vehicle-based strife or to help find the best vehicle for you, have a good read through the ‘Ask the guide’ section of carsguide.com,.au, and hit the forums.

    The Ranger has listed towing capacities of 750kg (unbraked) and 3500kg (braked).

    Price: Expect to pay from $11,500 for a 2010 Ranger XL (4X4), through to more than $78,000 for the top-spec 2021 Ranger Raptor 2.0 (4X4).

    The Everest has listed towing capacities of 750kg (unbraked) and 3000kg (braked) for all new Everest variants except Trend 2.0L Bi-Turbo Diesel (RWD / 4WD), Sport 2.0L Bi-Turbo Diesel (RWD / 4WD), and Titanium 2.0L Bi-Turbo Diesel (4WD), which each has a listed braked towing capacity of 3100kg.

    Price: Expect to pay from about $37,000 for a 2017 Everest Trend (4X4), through to $74,000 for the top-spec 2021 Everest Titanium (4X4).

     

    Mitsubishi Pajero

    The Pajero is a no-nonsense 4WD wagon with ample appeal for grey nomads (image credit: Marcus Craft). The Pajero is a no-nonsense 4WD wagon with ample appeal for grey nomads (image credit: Marcus Craft).

    Though Mitsubishi is tipped to cease production of its Pajero altogether this year, this no-nonsense 4WD wagon still holds ample appeal for grey nomads and other tourers – and that’s why there are plenty of them around, on the blacktop, out in the bush and on our beaches.

    While not the most exciting off-roader in the market, in terms of looks or performance, the 3.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel Pajero (141kW/441Nm) nevertheless has a legion of fans due to its simple, no-fuss and gutsy approach to life on and off the road. It’s not the heaviest hauler around (tow capacity is 3000kg), but it’s a gutsy unit.

    It’s easy to drive, very capable and very functional and – bonus – the 4WD Pajero also has Mitsubishi's supremely effective Super Select II 4WD system.

    The 2.4-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel Pajero Sport (133kW/430Nm), though light on in terms of towing capacity (3100kg) compared to segment rivals and dual-utes and general standard packability, still makes an appealing proposition as a tourer.

    Price: Expect to pay from $21,000 or so for a MY2010 Pajero GLS (4X4), through to approx. $63,000 for a top-spec Exceed (4X4).

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