Roughing it: New Zealand's top-selling SUVs (that can actually go off-road)
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SUVs dominate the New Zealand new-vehicle landscape.
But as we all know, SUVs aren’t what they used to be: most are designed for urban/family buyers and serious off-road ability is now a rarity rather than a given.
However, there’s still a core of 4WD wagons that can do amazing things in the rough. We’re celebrating those in this special rural edition of DRIVEN, with a look at the five top-selling SUVs that can actually go off-road.
What constitutes a proper off-roader is open to interpretation, of course. But we’ve focused on models with low-range and/or separate chassis construction. Or just the ones we know are supreme rock-hoppers.
Suzuki Jimny ($26,990-$30,990)
The latest Jimny (pictured above) has definitely crossed over into fashion-icon status: it’s incredibly popular with trendy city buyers thanks to its compact size and adorable looks.
But it remains an absolute mountain goat of a thing, with a combination of rugged construction, low range and light weight that will astound you off-road. It’s as authentic as it ever was.
Ford Everest ($74,990-$79,990)
Part of that “ute with boot” genre that’s served Kiwi rural buyers for so long, the Everest is a close relation of the Ranger ute – but with seven seats and improved refinement thanks to more sophisticated rear suspension (so you give up some off-road ability, but not much) and full-time 4WD.
Ford’s slick 2.0-litre biturbo-diesel engine is now standard across the range, with a 10-speed automatic.
Land Rover Defender ($94,900-$169,900)
The all-new Defender 110 proved one of the “it” SUVs of 2020, combining a wealth of new technology with the off-prowess expected of the brand.
It’s also proving to be incredibly popular among buyers in 2021, with Land Rover literally selling every vehicle it can get hold of. It’s the third best-selling 4x4 wagon in NZ so far this year, and really on a roll with the recent arrival of the short-wheelbase 90 range.
Toyota Land Cruiser (out of production)
It’s no secret that the legendary Land Cruiser 200-series is due for replacement this year. Click here to see our first take on the all-new 300 Series (including video), or check out the inside story on the new GR Sport version. First deliveries will start in October.
In the meantime, buyers have lapped up the last of the current generation, with the mighty 200 outselling its smaller and cheaper Land Cruiser Prado sibling. According to Toyota NZ, the big fella is now officially sold out. Sorry.
We haven’t featured Prado here to save on Land Cruiser overload, but it deserves a mention because it’s sold exactly the same number year-to-date as the next (and last) SUV on our list…
Jeep Grand Cherokee ($81,990-$123,990)
So Land Cruiser is 70 this year? Big deal, Jeep has turned 80.
The current fourth-generation Grand Cherokee has been with us since 2011, so it’s no surprise that it feels somewhat familiar.
But it remains a spacious family wagon and mighty off-roader, with the mud-plugging honours going to the $96,990 Trailhawk: Quadra-lift air suspension, all-terrain tyres and skid plates.