The best off-road vehicles 2011 - 2012

If you always dreamed about driving to the top of the steep Ouberg Pass near Sutherland, or trampling the vast desert hills of Sossusvlei with an unstoppable 4×4, it would be wrong not to experience the sheer power of an off road vehicle sometime in your life… preferrably before retirement.

Many 4×4 enthusiasts would agree that choosing the right off road vehicle is just as import as choosing the right spouse. Doing your homework by talking to ex-partners (reading reviews), dating the person (hiring a 4×4), and getting to know your potential road partner before you make a decision (test driving) are great ways to get clued up about what you are letting yourself into. Drive South Africa has referred to reviews on the best off road vehicles of 2011 to 2012 and are also offering most of these vehicles to hire.

Go ahead, make an informed decision and choose a road partner with enough grit to take you to Happy Ever After and beyond.

Top off road vehicles 2011 – 2012

Off roaders had a field day with many new and exciting off road vehicles being released in the past year and a half.

1. Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

Reviewers all over the world raved about the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon that was released last year. Even Landrover fans would agree (though hesitantly) that it has “just as much soul as a Landy,” as Jaco Kirsten from DriveOut pointed out in Rapport’s motoring supplement Inrat. “It is chunky, in your face, and there is a reason why you see more and more of them on our roads. This must be the most unstoppable vehicle you’ll find out there, and the facts prove it.”

The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is a top off road vehicle that has taken the 4×4 world by storm.

“The current generation Wrangler (JK model) is one of the few field driving vehicles with fixed axles and coil springs as well as diff-locks in the front and in the rear. The Rubicon’s anti-roll bar’s front shaft can be  disconnected at the push of a button for even better wheel articulation. The low gearbox’s 4.1:1 relation makes it possible to rev loudly at 0.8 km/h. Compare that to a Hilux’s 2.56:1.”

“And the bad news? I don’t own one.”

Engine 3,6-litre V6 petrol engine (209 kW/347 N.m)
Gearbox six-speed gearbox,  four wheel drive (part-time), high and low range
Performance 0-100 km/h in 8,1 sec. and 159 km/h top speed; 12 litre/100 km

2. Suzuki Jimny

We at Drive South Africa recently test drove this nifty off road slicker ourselves and were pretty amazed at what this tiny machine could do. Do not judge it by its size as it can easily get you on top of that steep climb. The Suzuki Jimny seats two people and can be equipped with everything you need, from a fridge to a drawer where you can stack your clothes. This vehicle definitely deserves to be on the best off road vehicles of 2011 to 2012 list.

The equipped Suzuki Jimny is great for any road trip.

Engine 1,3-litre V6 petrol engine (122 kW/110 N.m)
Gearbox Five-speed gearbox, low range
Performance 0-100 km/h in 14,1 sec. and 159 km/h top speed; 7.5 litre/100 km

3. Toyota FJ Cruiser

The folks at Topcar were very positive about the Toyota FJ cruiser.

Nothing will stand your way in the Toyota FJ cruiser. This vehicle is one many people’s “Best off road vehicles” list.

Motor journo Angus Thompson states with condifence that the FJ shares suspension parts with the 120-Series Land Cruiser.

“That means a high-mounted, double wishbone front suspension with coil springs and a stabiliser bar as well as a four-link rear suspension with coil springs, a lateral rod and stabiliser bar. The result is a massive 200 mm of front wheel travel and 231 mm of articulation at the rear. Even through the most arduous cross-axle obstacles we tackled on our off road evaluation in the Magaliesburg area, there was no sign or sound of chassis twist.”

Engine 4,0-litre V6 petrol engine (200 kW/380 N.m)
Gearbox Five-speed gearbox,  four wheel drive (part-time), low range
Performance 0-100 km/h in 10,18 sec. and 176 km/h top speed; 12 litre/100 km

4. Land Rover Defender

You can’t have a best off road vehicle list without mentioning a Land Rover.

The Land Rover Defender does Land Rover’s name proud if you look at the various reviews. Austrailian couple Stan and Marianne Rogers are doing a Cape to Cairo trip as I am typing this. Reading their regular updates, I stand in awe as “Tin Can”, their Land Rover Defender gets them to unimagined spots, such as the highest pub in Africa at 2784 metres above sea level!

Albertus van Wyk from DriveOut shares his first Defender experience…

“If you grew up on a farm, it’s contrary to your instincts to step on the gas when the wheels spin, but on a 35º uphill with loose stones the computer made the wheels cooperate nicely if you stepped on the accelerator.”

Up Sani Pass in a Landrover Defender. Photo by: Stan Rogers

Engine 2,2-litre Diesel engine (90 kW/360 N.m)
Gearbox Five-speed gearbox,  four wheel drive (part-time), low range
Performance 0-100 km/h in 10,18 sec. and 176 km/h top speed; 12 litre/100 km

Do you agree with our selection of the best off road vehicles of 2011 to 2012? If not, comment below and tell us what your top off road vehicle of 2011 – 2012 is.

Also see our specials on selected 4×4 vehicles like The Jeep Wrangler Sahara that is available at a discounted price until the end of October 2012.