Workhorses that will give you a run for your money
Focus on second-hand commercials
Published 27/08/2014 | 02:30
Irish Independent Motoring Editor, Eddie Cunningham and car-market expert Aidan Timmons look at the secondhand 4x4 commercials that might work for you.
IT'S the time of the year when you may start thinking of buying an additional vehicle to meet growing demands, or replacing the old model that has served you well for years .
Aidan is co-editor with Motor Trade Publishers and produces a valuation service to the motor trade, insurance companies and finance houses. His publications include The Car Sales Guide and The Light Commercial & Four Wheel Drive Guide.
Eddie Cunningham: I think, Aidan, we will have a look at what we think is best under two budget headings: €15,000 and €25,000.
We will use treat those figures as VAT inclusive, so those who are registered and compliant can do their own calculations.
Before getting down to the nitty gritty, I think it is important to point out a few things.
When you consider what these 4WDs are built to do and the conditions under which they are often asked to operate, it is absolutely vital that you get a comprehensive service record.
Look, we've all been tempted (and in my case succumbed) by the 'great' deal. "It's a clean car," I've been told. Clean all right. One nearly cleaned me out it gave so much trouble.
So if you are going to part with all that money try to protect your investment in some way. And one way is to insist on a comprehensive service record.
Walk away there and then if there isn't one, or there is some hesitation. Any doubt at all: walk.
Never forget that when you are buying a secondhand vehicle of any description you are taking over the good, bad and ugly of what's gone before.
Remember too that these vehicles have serious technology in them - 4WD doesn't come easy or cheap. Neither do repairs. So, please, if and when you think you are near a deal have someone you really trust and who really knows his stuff to have a look.
A good tip from Aidan is to keep an eye out for a motor that has done most of its work on the road as opposed to pulling and dragging around a farmyard, building site or up the side of a mountain.
A road-going 4WD with a clean bill of health is your ideal, really. We may not have as many building sites these days, but there are bound to be foremen and contracts managers now thinking of trading up their Commercials as things turn the corner a bit.
If you come across something that has spent more time on motorways than off them, don't be too concerned about mileage.
Diesel engines, generally speaking, tend to go forever if minded.
So a few thousand kilometres above what you consider desirable shouldn't, of itself, be a deterrent if the rest of the vehicle stacks up: clean, not too much wear on seats, back bumper, loading area, tyres, suspension etc. Check under mats for signs of damp and leakage.
And, obviously, check the underbody for signs of big scrapes, dents or intrusions - rocky outcrops can do a lot of damage. Much of this is common sense so I won't bore you with the obvious. It's just that sometimes we overlook it.
In any case, Aidan and I have discussed the realistic options at some length and here's the pick of the bunch within each of the €15,000 and €25,000 budget tiers.
Aidan: Here goes with some well-known stalwarts and some examples of the less obvious and, perhaps, not as narrowly-focused commercial 4WDs. Just to remind you, again, that the budgets quoted are inclusive of VAT.
Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 CRDi: Budget €15,000
You should find that 2010 models comfortably fall within this budget. The Santa Fe is a capable SUV. It's road-mannerly but has decent ground clearance for negotiating the rougher stuff.
However, it is still a road-focused vehicle so it's front and rear overhang won't appreciate really tricky ground. That said, it's lower stance eases the strain of loading and unloading. It's got permanent four-wheel-drive and with the right tyres it should be a stable workhorse. Santa Fes largely came in one level of specification so don't expect any luxuries beyond a multi-functional steering wheel and air con.
Mitsubishi Outlander 2.0 CRDi: Budget €15,000
Although better known for the Pajero and L200, Mitsubishi's Outlander commercial is a sensible choice at this budget. With a payload of 665Kg (around 30kg less than the Santa Fe) it's got enough space and a large enough carrying capacity to suit a range of requirements.
Mitsubishi also make one of the best 4WD systems in the business. With €15,000, you should come away with change in your pocket after buying a 2010 'Invite' model.
This is the entry-level spec but few higher grades were sold. It's an uncomplicated, capable machine.
Subaru Forester 2.0 TD commercial: Budget €15,000
I'm pushing the boat out ever-so slightly here. You will most likely have to fork out an extra €1,500 on top of our budget of €15,000 for a 2011 Forester commercial but it will be worth every cent. Subaru are renowned for their Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system and the 2.0 diesel boxer engine (pistons running horizontally) makes this package almost too good to resist.
Excellent ground clearance, a short rear overhang and a respectable load compartment makes this a solid choice. It hasn't a split-folding tail gate like the Outlander, though. They are rare so don't expect to be spoiled for choice or to have much wriggle room on the price.
Toyota Land Cruiser 3.0 D4D GX: Budget €25,000
Widely regarded as the best in the business. There is no messing around with the 'Cruiser'.
You will have to wear your haggling hat if you want a new shape 2011 model, though. 2010s are the old shape and won't trouble this budget.
And in fact, many buyers prefer the old shape anyway. It's a matter of taste, of course. The short-wheelbase is much preferred by those who need to tow a trailer. The long-wheelbase can be awkward to reverse when towing. Despite the longer body costing €2,000 more to purchase new, both body shapes make similar money.
As depreciating assets go, Land Cruisers have always been as safe an option as any for those wanting to minimise their losses.
They have great carrying capacity, drive like a dream and are virtually indestructible.
Mitsubishi Pajero 3.2: Budget €25,000
The Pajero doesn't quite have the same appeal as the Land Cruiser but that makes it an attractive option for those wanting a newer vehicle.
You could find 2012 models aren't too far out of reach. It's a similar story to the Toyota when it comes to body shapes. The SWB is more popular; the LWB isn't worth a great deal more, if anything at all.
The 3.2 litre diesel engine is as old as the hills and it's a reliable unit.
It's not terribly exciting to drive but Pajeros have a rich pedigree of tackling the hi-roads, by-roads and boreens of Ireland.
It might lose ground in terms of its value to the Land Cruiser but it doesn't lag that far behind in performance.
Land Rover Discovery 3 & 4: Budget €25,000
I'm lumping the two Discovery models in together as the newer shape is so rare that it's almost irrelevant.
The old model Discovery 3 won't test this budget in the least, but it's still a great choice.
It's a V6 in a predominantly four-cylinder segment so for those wanting a more rewarding drive on motorways, the Discovery won't disappoint.
Some also come with automatic transmission which further separates its refinement from the rest of the pack.
The 5-seat utility tops most buyers' wish list but is out of reach regardless of VAT redemption.
Still, keep a watchful eye on this model in years to come. It's the best of both worlds.
Eddie: When you boil it all down, there are relatively few to choose from. Which makes it easier, I suppose, to make a decision. There are a few others I'd like to mention in the €25,000 tier: the Volkswagen Touareg and Mercedes ML.
In each case it should be possible to get a decent 2010-reg, especially with the Volkswagen.
The V6 in the Touareg is a real power machine though the five-cylinder in the Mercedes had huge pulling power (torque).
I think most sold here were automatics - not a bad bonus if you're doing a fair bit of driving.
But no overview of the market would be complete without mention of the Nissan Pathfinder, a vehicle that is always in keen demand because it has proved itself over the years.
So there you have it.
We hope you found it of some help.
Good luck with your search and, again, put safety and service record first on your list of checks.