Few owners expect as much from their vehicles as farmers. From towing to carrying heavy loads, and operating on all kinds of surfaces from tarmac to open field, farm SUVs 4x4s really are expected to do it all.
Commercial versions of SUVs dominate the sector, but there's an increasing choice thanks to the growth in popularity of the crossover/SUV segment in the consumer market, with many offered in two or four/five seat versions that qualify for commercial vehicle road tax.
Also growing in popularity are pick-ups, and with a host of new models launched in the last year, that trend can be expected to continue.
At the top end, these workhorses are expected to pull up to 3.5 tonnes, have a payload of at least half a tonne, and will often come with a low ratio gearbox to maximise towing and off-road capabilities.
Heavy-duty models such as the Toyota Land Cruiser, Mitsubishi Pajero and Land Rover Discovery have dominated the segment, but it's well worth casting an eye around at alternatives, particularly if maximum towing capacity isn't a requirement. These smaller 4x4s will have lower running costs, yet are well capable of handling the daily wear and tear of farming life.
Here we take a look at what commercial 4x4 models are currently on offer, including pick-ups.
The Duster has built a strong reputation for affordable practicality. Although the two seater commercial is priced the same as equivalent passenger models, it still represents excellent value for money. Two wheel drive versions start from €16,690, while a farming friendly 4x4 version, priced at €20,690, offers decent off-road capability.
A new arrival to the pick-up market is Fiat with the launch of the Fullback pick-up. With a payload of up to 1 tonne, and able to tow up to 3.1 tonnes, the Mitsubishi derived machine is more than capable of tackling tough jobs. It’s priced from €30,750.
A new Kuga Utility recently went on sale. The four-seater Commercial is available in FWD from €32,345 or 4WD at €38,000. 120PS 1.5 TDCi and 150 PS 2.0 TDCi engines provide power. A new Ford Ranger launched in 2016 has been impressing with a 1.4 tonne payload and towing capability of up to 3.5 tonnes. Double cab versions start at €35,250
For anyone in the market for a value-for-money pick-up, the Great Wall Steed is worth checking out. The Chinese machine is offered from €28,329. A 143 PS 2.0 diesel allows it to pull up to 2.5 tonnes and carry up to 1,050kg.
Ireland’s best-selling car, the Tucson, also comes as a two-seater commercial, including a 4WD version powered by the more powerful 2.0 CRDi diesel — it’s priced at €34,995. The Santa Fe Commercial offers a spacious load area and useful payload of 660kg, and can tow up to 2.5 tonnes. 4WD Executive Commercial models are priced from €41,995.
Kia’s two commercials share many of the same attributes as their Hyundai cousins. However, the Sportage Commercial comes in 2WD only. The 4WD Sorento represents good value for money, with a price starting at €38,995.
The Discovery, in five-seater Commercial guise, has been a huge sales success over the past few years. However, with an all-new model arriving this spring, Land Rover Ireland has confirmed that there will not be a five-seater N1 model - rear door dimensions are putting paid to that. They’re hoping to produce a two-seater version, though it’s unlikely to go on sale before 2018. Also having its final curtain call in 2017 is the venerable Defender, perhaps the ultimate off-road workhorse.
The Pajero has long been a favourite for heavy-duty farming work, offering robustness and a powerful 3.2 litre 200 PS DI-D diesel engine. Choose from Commercial versions in SWB (with 3-tonne towing capacity) or LWB which can pull up to 3.5-tonnes, or the 5-seater Executive version. A €3,000 Winter Bonus trade-in deal is currently being offered on Commercial versions. Prices from €37,950.
The Outlander Business comes in both diesel (€32,250) and plug-in-hybrid PHEV (€49,900) versions. With an efficient 150bhp 2.2 engine and 2-tonne towing capability, the 4x4 diesel version is a popular alternative to heavier SUVs.
A 4WD Qashqai Van can return up to 55mpg, but is capable of towing up to 1.8 tonnes. It’s priced from €30,300. The larger X-Trail Van offers useful load space, but otherwise it might be worth looking at the 5-seater passenger version which currently undercuts the van’s €37,650 asking price by €2,650.
Winner of the Pick-up of the Year 2016, the latest Navara has a unique selling point over rivals in that it comes with 5-link rear suspension instead of the usual leaf springs. It boasts 3.5 tonnes towing capacity and over 1 tonne payload with 160bhp and 190 bhp 2.3 diesel engines. Prices from €34,995.
You might not associate Skoda with commercial vehicles but the two seater Yeti Sherpa offers a useful 1,760 litres of interior space and a towing capacity of 2.2 tonnes. And 4x4 versions start from €24,195.
With 2-seater and 5-seater commercial offering, Ssangyong’s Rexton is worth consideration for those needing some serious performance. Capable of towing up to 2.6 tonnes via a 2.2 litre 155PS diesel engine, it can also carry up to 642kg. Also worth looking at is the Korando ECX Commercial, an all-wheel driver version of the compact crossover. And occupying a market niche of its own is the Korando Sports, a low-slung pick-up which may not have the ground clearance of other vehicles in this segment, but can still carry a standard Euro pallet, and tow up to 2.3 tonnes.
Subaru is synonymous with all-wheel-drive technology, so you can be sure both the XV Commercial and Forester Commercial will be able to do the business off-road. A generous 1,270 litres of cargo space belies the compact size of the XV, while the 2 seater Forester can tow a respectable two tonnes. Subaru’s characteristic Boxer diesel engine provides decent power. Prices from €32,995 for the XV Commercial and €34,795 for the Forester Van.
Such is its popularity, the Land Cruiser Commercial has virtually achieved ubiquitous status within the farming community. Renowned for its toughness and durability, a new 2.8 litre diesel engine has improved fuel efficiency. It’s available in short and long wheel base 2-seater Commercial versions priced from €40,950 and €42,950 respectively, and LWB 5-seater Business and Platinum models priced from €57,995.
The Hilux pick-up also has an enviable reputation for toughness, and an all-new model builds on that ruggedness while offering better refinement. Double-cab versions can now pull up to 3.2 tonnes, while an enlarged deck area can carry up to one tonne payload. Prices for double cab versions are from €36,500
A five-seat Commercial version of the new Touareg offers refinement with strong performance thanks to a 262bhp 3.0 V6 diesel engine that can pull up to 3.5 tonnes and has a payload of 770 kg. It’s priced from €62,570. Meanwhile for the ultimate in pick-ups, Volkswagen has launched the new V6 powered Amarok. It delivers up to 224bhp and can tow up to 3.5 tonnes, with prices from €37,450.