Iconic or not?

Understand how the top three iconic 7-seater 4x4 wagons stack up, according to Byron Mathioudakis.

Once upon a time, managers would swan about from site to site in a Ford Fairlane or Holden Statesman. These cars were markers of success, but without being as conspicuous as, say, a Mercedes-Benz.

With locally made luxury sedans now a fading memory, full-sized 4×4 wagons promising cross-country adventure have taken over. Here are three of the most compelling options.

The Contenders as driven:
Toyota LandCruiser 300 GXL
from $109,876: The global standard

Land Rover Defender 110 D300 SE
from $106,720: The crown jewel, reimagined

Nissan Patrol Warrior
from $101,160: The off-road hot-rod

Once upon a time, managers would swan about from site to site in a Ford Fairlane or Holden Statesman.

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Iconic or not?

Toyota LandCruiser 300 GXL $109,876

Only launched in late 2021, the 300 Series is still relatively new to the market, but a four cylinder petrol-electric hybrid powertrain is predicted within the next three years.

Since the 1950s, the Toyota LandCruiser has been woven into the Australian cultural fabric like no other vehicle. It really has endured in every corner of our vast country like a trooper.

Now in its sixth generation, the latest wagon version refines rather than reinvents the tried-and-tested formula of body-on-frame construction, low-and-high range, go-anywhere capability and caravan-ready towing ability.

Along with the gently-evolved styling, there is the adoption of a lighter yet stronger platform, a new powertrain and advanced electronic driving-assistance technologies.

Collectively they bring improved steering, handling and ride comfort on the open road, without compromising off-road prowess.

As spacious and airy as ever, the now-roomier interior features a modern, beautifully presented, thoughtfully designed and easy to use dashboard, comprehensive multimedia, excellent climate control, supportive front seats and superb vision. The middle row is also larger than before, though at the cost of some cargo capacity. And boot access is now via a one-piece lift-up door. The old split tailgate and barn-door alternatives are history.

Keep in mind that the $98,076 GX is the workhorse with rubber floors, five seats and steel wheels, so you’ll need to step up to the GXL for seven seats - which now has third-row seats that finally fold into the floor, not on the side. A great move.

On the safety front, you’ll find 10 airbags, autonomous emergency braking (AEB), adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring and Multi-Terrain Select - tech that alters the engine, transmission and driver aids to suit the terrain below.

This thing is a mountain goat.

Speaking of which, the classic old V8 twin-turbo diesel makes way for a new V6 twin-turbo diesel, resulting in strong acceleration for eager responses, though the old V8 exhaust burble is gone. At least today’s LandCruiser is more economical - aided by a 200kg weight cut, which in turn makes it steer and handle a lot less like a truck. More progress.

Yes, it’s expensive, but the LandCruiser delivers a spacious, comfortable and extraordinarily adept package for the whole family. That it can also climb mountains is just another side to its multi-faceted talents.

Land Rover Defender 110 D300 SE from $106,720

A facelifted Defender is anticipated by 2026, offering an electric vehicle option for the first time, along with a host of other updates across the range.

After 67 years in production, the original Land Rover was discontinued in 2016, and was replaced in 2020 by today’s L663 ‘post-modern’ Defender.

New from the ground up, it comes in three sizes - short three-door ‘90’, intermediate five-door ‘110’ wagon and a ‘130’ wagon with an elongated rear - spread over nearly two-dozen variants.

All Defenders now feature aluminium unibody construction instead of separate chassis, setting them apart from most other 4x4s, as well as independent suspension.

The 110 is basically a five-seater wagon with plenty of space up front, sufficient room for three in the back seat and a very usable cargo area.

Hefty doors, grandstand-style lofty seating and exceptional vision are key plus points, along with a designer, quality ambience for a premium vibe.

Uniquely, there’s also a $1,853 six-seater ‘Jump Seat’ (basically a bench seat up front) option, or a $4,973 5+2-seater three-row arrangement as per the others here.

The latter is, however, pretty tight for adult travellers.

The cheapest 110 trim level is the turbo petrol-only ‘S’, starting with the $91,270 P300’s leisurely 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine, or $97,970 P400’s far more rapid 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder (I6) version. Equipment levels include AEB, adaptive cruise control, air-suspension, leatherette trim, surround-view camera and a fast multimedia system.

You’ll need the ‘SE’ if diesel’s your thing, ushering in the brawny D300’s 3.0-litre I6 from $106,720, as tested here. That adds upgraded audio and a few other tempting luxuries. And then you can keep spending even more on hybrid and V8 models, with some approaching $250,000.

Whichever you choose, all offer exceptional off-road capability as you’d expected, along with a level of civilised on-road comfort and confidence that you may not, putting some related Range Rovers on notice. Speedy, smooth, frugal and refined, the D300 is also surprisingly nimble, assisted by direct steering, taut road control and an absorbent ride.

Sure, the options list is endless and expensive, but the Defender in 110 D300 SE guise could well be one of Land Rover’s most enjoyable value 4x4s to drive on as well as off-road.

Nissan Patrol Warrior from $101,160

At last! Nissan is poised to release an all-new Y63 Patrol this year, finally bringing the long-lived SUV into modern times. We can’t wait for that one.

Already three years late when it arrived in Australia in 2013, the Y62 Patrol initially failed to resonate with its traditional buyer base, having ditched the diesel engine for a V8 petrol, nearly doubling in price and lacking a manual gearbox option.

Sales were slow, but the pandemic and subsequent supply shortages (including with the Toyota LandCruiser that has been the Patrol’s arch rival since 1951) has given the long-lived Japanese 4×4 wagon a big boost.

Now, in turn, Nissan has shown it some extra love.

Enter the Warrior - an off-road upgrade package developed by Melbourne-based Premcar Vehicle Engineering. It scores more ground clearance, chunkier tyres, wider tracks, improved body control, revised suspension, a growly bi-modal side-exit exhaust, additional tow latches, a bash plate, restyled grille, beefier bumpers and wheel-arch moulds, enhancing what is already a capable off-road luxury wagon.

The big V8 remains untouched, and understandably so. It’s powerful enough - maybe too much for the regular Patrol. But, thanks to the drivetrain upgrades, the Warrior seems less nervous to drive at speed.

Plus, with an addictive exhaust note to match the stirring acceleration, it feels quite special compared to the duller-sounding diesel competition.

But, the fuel consumption is truly alarming - our trip computer read 20L/100km-plus. And the dead-light steering is not confidence-inducing.

Inside, the tired old chrome and wood cappings have been binned for some classy Alcantara and glossy black trim. While these cannot fix the woefully dated dash with its ancient touchscreen, pre-smartphone-mirroring multimedia system and other interior misgivings, they’re better than what you find in regular Patrols.

On the other hand, there are enough luxury trappings inside what is a massive three-row eight-seater wagon, encased in loads of plush leather and quality fittings, to effectively isolate you from the outside world.

Ultimately, the Warrior is the Y62’s last hurrah, and the best version there’s been. Far from perfect, but somehow more characterful than it has any right to be. This Patrol lives up to its name.



Global Pumps Website Advertising April, May, June 2024


Once upon a time, managers would swan about from site to site in a Ford Fairlane or Holden Statesman.

Share this quote
Global Pumps Website Advertising April, May, June 2024


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