If you lie in bed at night thinking of sand dunes and badly eroded, near-vertical fire trails you can drive a vehicle up, we’ve got great news for you: 2024 stands to be a great one for brand new, off-road-ready vehicles.
In this article, we give you the off-roading and adventure SUVs heading to Australia this year, including a few utes, promising to make 2024 your dirtiest year yet.
Details are scarcer than honesty in politics, but camouflaged prototypes of BYD’s new dual-cab ute hint at a vehicle worth waiting for. BYD is set to beat Ford bringing a plug-in hybrid dual-cab ute to the Australian market. Again, there are no specifications, but we’d estimate 100km of electric range, with an onboard petrol engine extending total range to 1000km. It could be priced under $100,000.
BYD says the Australian market has been kept firmly in mind for development of its ute, a prototype of which is running around Down Under as we speak. An electric version will come later, although we don’t really know anything about that one just yet.
GWM Tank 500
While there’s no official plan to bring the GWM Tank 500 to Australia, it’s looking promising that the Chinese-made Toyota Prado rival will hit our shores. Barely camouflaged prototypes have been spotted in Australia with mystery powertrains, although we know in China the Tank 500 is offered with a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 producing 265kW/500Nm, mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission.
Built on a ladder chassis, like many Chinese models, the Tank 500 borrows its inspiration heavily from the world’s luxury car brands. Inside, depending on the model, there is Nappa-leather massage seats, a crystal gear lever and large, dual digital displays. As ever, you can expect any price to be annoyingly tempting, too.
The updated new Jeep Wrangler is almost here and can’t come soon enough as Australian Jeep sales continue to take a punish. While local specification has not been confirmed, in the US the new Wrangler gets a mild exterior redesign, a smarter interior – the focus of which is a 12.3-inch central infotainment screen – and big improvements to its safety suite.
We could also see the long-mooted arrival of the plug-in hybrid Wranger 4xe, which pairs a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder with electric motor power and a reasonably large lithium-ion battery pack, providing around 34km of electric-only range (on the US model at least).
The luxury twin of the Toyota Prado listed below, the Lexus GX mates intriguing boxy styling with a twin-turbo 3.5-litre petrol V6. There’s a ladder chassis, full-time four-wheel-drive, a rigid rear axle, locking centre diff and low-range, the GX promising a lot more off-road capability than the hordes of soft-roaders roaming Australian streets.
Inside, the GX drips with luxury and technology, including an enormous 14.0-inch central infotainment touchscreen. Despite being on-sale in the USA since 2002, it’s the first time Lexus will offer the GX in Australia. Pricing is yet to be announced, with the GX expected to plug a gap for the brand between $100,000 and $150,000.
It’s not often an entirely new, ground-up-redesigned dual-cab ute comes along, but that’s exactly the deal with Mitsubishi’s new Triton. With the previous model becoming quite long-in-the-tooth, the new Triton gets a much nicer and more spacious interior, an increased towing capacity of 3.5 tonnes (up 400kg), more power, torque and greater efficiency. There’s also locally-tuned suspension, and an impressive safety suite including a front-centre airbag.
Prices, unfortunately, are also up, with the entry-model 4X2 GLX dual-cab automatic now $43,690 (before on-road costs), with the biggest increase of $7600 impacting the GLS, now $59,900. But it seems it will be worthwhile, the new Triton upgrade enough to give the Hilux a real headache, if probably not the class-leading Ford Ranger.
As Australia’s best-selling large SUV, the new Toyota Prado is the biggest new model release for off-road fans this year. The new-generation model has gone full radical with the styling, too, featuring a boxy retro look almost like it’s been made out of Lego. There’s a new mild-hybrid diesel powertrain, utilising the current model’s 2.8-litre inline-four, which will be paired to an eight-speed automatic.
Sharing its ladder-frame chassis with the current LandCruiser 300 Series, power and torque are unchanged at 150kW/500Nm while Toyota is talking a big game with “dramatically improved off-road performance”, thanks in part to new electronically disconnecting sway-bars. Inside has been totally overhauled, while we await the price. Expect big increases over the current model.