Next up in our week-long retrospective on 2023's finest automotive creations – off-roaders. These are the fun ones, the cars that may not be the quickest but they can take you far and wide across this great, big country of ours.
Or at least some of them can, because one is currently only available in the USA but it impressed us enough to make the list anyway. The rest you can head out to your local dealer to order and then plan your next adventure.
Let us know your favourite 4×4 & Adventure vehicle of 2023 in the comments or on our social media channels.
Land Rover Defender 90 V8
As we wrote in our review, this is arguably the most brilliantly bizarre vehicle on the market today – a combination of farm truck and sports car. The Defender 90 V8 is the British brand's now-iconic short-wheelbase off-roader with the same supercharged 5.0-litre V8 from the Jaguar F-Type squeezed under the bonnet.
Ok, so technically this isn't the Defender you'd take deep into the outback (not with its 14.5L/100km fuel consumption) but with its 368kW V8 it's ready for shorter adventures.
Being a Land Rover it still has off-road capability, so you can tear up the dust as you unleash the V8 beast.
Finally, after years of speculation, rumours and wishing, the blue oval's iconic F-150 has made it to Australia. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, we haven't driven one locally, but we did sample the F-150 XLT in the USA earlier this year.
It's easy to understand why the F-150 has been America's favourite ute for decades, it's big, powerful and practical. While there are those who question Ford's decision to offer the twin-turbo V6 instead of the V8, with just as much power (298kW) and more torque (678Nm v 555Nm) plus lower fuel economy, it just makes sense.
Whether or not Ford can catch-up on the head start for Chevrolet and Ram remains to be seen, but the F-150 is certainly capable of holding its own in the growing US pick-up truck contest in Australia.
This is the odd one out on our list, because despite some obvious demand for it, Ford is ruled out offering the Bronco in Australia anytime in the near-future. Fortunately, Torquecafe was part of a small group of Australian media who got to test drive the Bronco Heritage edition in the US earlier in the year.
We took an extended road trip in the Bronco, giving us a few days to really experience everything it had to offer. The bad news for Ford is that after living with the Bronco we're even more convinced than ever that it would be a worthy offering in Australia.
Our particular Bronco was fitted with the 2.3-litre four-cylinder EcoBoost engine, which sounds small on paper but it had little trouble powering us across America's picturesque south-east. The Heritage edition really leaned into the retro styling of the Bronco and it really highlights what a nice job they've done combining the past and present.
Ford Ranger Platinum
Yes, another Ford, but this one is homegrown.
And this isn't just any old Ranger variant, no, this is the all-new luxury take on the wildly popular ute. The Ranger Platinum follows the same formula as the Everest Platinum, with a focus on comfort and quality rather than performance (Ranger Raptor) or hard-work (Ranger XL).
This is the Ranger you buy when you've been promoted from the worksite or just want the ultimate practical family hauler.
Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe
Can Jeep evolve from utilitarian to luxury? That's the question the latest generation Grand Cherokee asks.
No longer the simple but rugged off-roader favoured by the military, the Jeep of 2023 is trying to compete with BMW and Mercedes-Benz. The new Grand Cherokee is a massive leap ahead from the previous model, bringing more style, more luxury and more technology – including a plug-in hybrid powertrain option.
We drove both the V6 and plug-in hybrid and both impressed in terms of presentation, even if the hybrid makes questionable sense from an efficiency point-of-view; you'll be out of charge long before you hit the outback.
Crucially, however, despite the luxury shift, the Grand Cherokee retains Jeep's legendary off-road prowess, and if you do have charge in the batteries the hybrid is actually the most serene way to drive through nature.