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4WD BUYERS GUIDE UPDATES

Latest: Isuzu D-Max 2017

The 4WD Buyers Guide and Working 4WDs sections are updated on a regular basis, shortcuts to our updates are on this page.
If you're after information about 4WDs and Soft-roaders, new models and previous models, you'll find it here. 4WD Wagons, Utes, Campervans, Motor-homes and Trucks.

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LIGHTFORCE GENESIS LED

LightForce reckons the Genesis LED is a game changer - January 2017

New from LightForce, the 140W Genesis LED is said to redefine LED performance, with a 1053m range from a pair of lights and 5000-Kelvin colour temperature.

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STEDI TYPE-X

These driving lights are well made and keenly priced - February 2017

A Stedi Type-X pair of LED driving lights produces a NATA-accredited photometric laboratory tested 13,310 lumens, which is considerably more nett light volume than many prominent brands that cost up to three times the price.

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DOMETIC'S NEW CFX FRIDGE RANGE

The market leader has upped the ante - February 2017

​Dometic has launched an improved Dometic Waeco CFX portable fridge range. Aligning with a new brand promise 'Mobile living made easy', Dometic Waeco CFX units now feature the latest WiFi technology, which allows you to control and monitor the temperature of your unit remotely via an app.

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TOWSAFE WEIGHT SCALE

This low-profile weight scale is a useful safety tool - February 2017

Knowing your ball weight and axle weights is an important step in complying with the law and keeping your towing vehicle and trailer safe. The Towsafe caravan and trailer weight control scale is a useful tool for preserving trailer balance.

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ARE YOU REALLY PREPARED FOR AN OUTBACK ADVENTURE

Here's an OTA website visitor's report on a bush stranding

You never know when things can go horribly wrong in the Outback. Here's an account of a six-day stranding in the remote Northern Simpson Desert.

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RANGE EXTENDED ELECTRIC 4WDS ARE COMING

Big design changes are coming faster than most people think.

It seems inevitable that the future of 4WDs is as hybrids and range-extended electric vehicles.

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SOFT SHACKLES

The alternative to heavy steel shackles - December 2016

​We’ve been asked by many website visitors about the viability of soft shackles in 4WD recoveries, so we’ve been testing them for the past two years.

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iDRIVE PERFORMANCE ENHANCER

A plug 'n' play way to improve accelerator pedal response - December 2016

Among the myriad products that we get to test here at Outback Travel Australia a stand-out product arrives occasionally. Our first impressions are that iDrive is one of those products.

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NIGHT DRIVING GLASSES DON'T WORK

This scam resurfaces every few years - December 2016

The myth that yellow-tinted driving glasses can help you see better at night just won't go away. Scientists have debunked the idea and you can read why right here.

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UTE MAKERS PLAY MUSICAL CHAIRS

Partnerships made and broken in 2016 - January 2017

​Several global joint ventures fell over in 2016 and new ones were born. Here’s the state of play at the beginning of 2017.

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MAXXIS TYRES ON TEST

We're giving a set of these popular tyres a big bush test in 2017.

Maxxis is a relatively new player in the 4WD tyre scene, so we're evaluating a test set over the next 12 months, to see how they compare with more established brands. We'll have regular updates for you.

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VKS737 HF RADIO NETWORK

The 'Flying Doctor' radio network is a very useful remote area communication tool

Outback Travel Australia relies on the VKS737 network on all bush trips. Contrary to the belief of many, HF isn't 'dinosaur' system, but thanks to recent developments is the communications network of choice for remote area travel and disaster relief.

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4WD INSURANCE ISSUES

Make sure your vehicle and accessories are really insured. - updated December 2016

It’s all very well loading your vehicle up with accessories, but it’s not so easy getting their value correctly assessed and insured. One company we found stands out from the crowd.

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NISSAN PATROL

Le roi est mort; vive le roi - December 2016

The old 'square-rigged' Patrol is finished Down Under and final stock will be gone by early 2017. That leaves Nissan with the under-marketed, new-generation petrol V8 model.

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PROJECTA JUMP STARTER WITH UNLIMITED STARTING

Goodbye to heavy jump-starter trolleys - December 2016

Projecta has released an all-new, heavy-duty 1500A, 12V jump starter that's designed for frequent trade use in busy workshops.

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DIESEL FUTURE UNDER A CLOUD

Emissions compliance has spoiled diesel simplicity and reliability - December 2016

Five years ago we’d have laughed if someone said 4WD diesel engines are higher-maintenance and more likely to break down than petrols, but that’s the situation today. The latest diesels are high-maintenance and fragile.

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CANIA GORGE and KROOMBIT TOPS NPs

Sandstone cliffs and steep 4WD tracks in the semi-tropics.

These two national parks are close together and offer an excellent sandstone escarpment experience for visitors.

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DON'T 'SOCK' YOUR SNORKEL

Think about what's happening and you won't want to do it - August 2016

There's a current craze for fitting a plain or oily-foam 'sock' over a snorkel. It may seem like a good way of keeping your air cleaner element dust-free, but it isn't.

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ROH WHEELS FOR VEHICLES WITH INCREASED GVM

A GVM increase dictates wheels with the right amount of strength - October 2016

It's absolutely vital for safety and legal compliance that the wheels and tyres fitted to these vehicles have load carrying capacity to match increased axle weights.

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YOKOHAMA GEOLANDAR A/T-S TEST

We're checking out Yokohama's all-terrain tyre over the next few months - October 2016

We’ve been waiting for an opportunity to test Yokohama’s Geolandar A/T-S tyres in on and off road conditions and we now have a test set of six tyres in 265/75R16 size, with 10-ply rating and load-speed ratings of 123/120R.

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MERCEDES-BENZ G-WAGON PRO

This version of the G-Wagon family has a market success chance - October 2016

The tray-back version of the G-Wagon is due for release in early 2017. Outback Travel Australia managed to get its hands on one of the pre-production vehicles for an exclusive report.

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LAND ROVER DISCOVERY 4

Nice wagon, but its large diameter tyres are vulnerable in the bush.

OTA owned a Discovery 3 for three years, so we reckon we’re in a good position to evaluate the improvements (and otherwise) incorporated in its successor, the Discovery 4. The Discovery 5 is due for release in July 2017.

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SCRUBBA WASH BAG

Easy washing on the run - October 2016

We've been testing this novel portable 'washing machine' for the past few months and it's earned a permanent place in our camping kit.

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MSA4X4 ALUMINIUM DRAWER UNITS

This storage solution company has gone metal - September 2016

MSA4x4 is well known for its soft storage systems, but the company has now released an aluminium drawer range that breaks new ground.

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TVAN TURNS 18

This go-anywhere hard-shell camper has stood the test of time.

The fourth generation Tvan was launched in 2016 - the 18th year of manufacture of this revolutionary camper.

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LIGHTFORCE STRIP LIGHTING

Easy to pack and dimmable tent lighting - September 2016

LightForce is best known for its hunting lights and driving lights, but the South Australian company now has strip lighting to brighten up a campsite.

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SAFE TAILGATE OPERATION FROM SAMMITR

This kit takes the 'crash' out of ute tailgate operation - September 2016

It's often difficult to lower a tailgate without dropping it and that action can cause injury - particulalry to small children that might be standing underneath it. The T-Lift gas strut kit softens the lowering action and aids the closing action.

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TRAYON CAMPERS EXPORT ACTION

This Queensland company is exporting Aussie-made slide-on campers to Europe

Although Trayon campers have been exported to Europe since 2005, these campers were mainly for the French market. Recently, the contract for Trayon and Traytek Campers in Europe has been picked up by another company and henceforth Trayon (Europe) will be based in Switzerland, to supply all of Europe.

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OPPOSITE LOCK NON-LOOP WINCH BARS

Many owners don't need a full-height bar - September 2016

Modern 4WDs have a taller stance and low-profle grilles, making traditional 'loop' bars more difficult to design and fit. Opposite Lock's solution is a range of non-loop bars that sit beautifully with modern 4WD frontal design.

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COMBINATION HID-LED DRIVING LIGHTS

Combinations of HID distance and LED spread iights are the best you can get.

In this section we're examining combinations of HID distance and LED spread lights. This pairing offers the best blend of distance and beam width. Some combinations are contained in the one pair of lights, but most combine a bar and two driving lights.

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UNEEK 4X4 GRAND CHEROKEE HIDDEN WINCH MOUNT

This winch mount design preserves the stock look - September 2016

This hidden winch mount tucks in behind the factory bumper and is said not to block any air flow, nor to impede parking sensor operation. It can be fitted on its own, or in conjunction with the Uneek 4x4 Pre Runner kit: three bash plates to protect the front end.

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TJM AIRTEC SNORKEL RANGE EXPANDS

The custom-designed Airtec range suits more new 4WDs - December 2016

A snorkel is often the first accessory fitted to a four wheel drive. A snorkel is essential for deep water crossings and can reduce the amount of dust that gets to the air cleaner element, extending its life.

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TYRE PRESSURE MONITORING

Pressure monitoring is a bush travel essential - May 2016

Outback Travel Australia has been evaluating different types of tyre pressure monitoring systems over the past six years and we wouldn’t go bush without one.

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VARIABLE COMPRESSION RATIO ENGINES

This holy grail of engineering may have been discovered - August 2016

Infiniti presented a VC-T (Variable Compression -Turbocharged) engine at the 2016 Paris Motor Show on 29 September 2016. It’s claimed to be the world’s first production-ready variable-compression-ratio engine.

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IVECO EUROCARGO 4X4

This medium truck combines bushability and comfort - August 2016

Iveco is one of the world’s largest producers of off road vehicles, for civilian and military customers. The Eurocargo 4x4 is an all-terrain development of the 4x2 road-oriented medium truck range.

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EXPANDING HOSE

We've tested an easy-pack extendable hose - August 2016.

Filling the water tank on our Tray Tek camper is easy enough at home, using a hose on a reel, but filling from the widely differing water outlets around Australia is another matter.

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LEAVE YOUR COMMON-RAIL DIESEL ENGINE ALONE

It's tempting to fiddle with turbo-intercooled diesels, but we suggest not - August 2016

Boys love to play around, don’t they? They buy a perfectly good vehicle and can’t help wanting to ‘tweak’ it.

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CAMPER TRAILER FOR THE MOBILITY-CHALLENGED

OTA helped with this successful initiative - August 2016

Outback Travel Australia is proud to be associated with a venture to design and construct a camper trailer that’s purpose-built for wheelchair people. The first such product is now doing sterling service for Jol Fleming and his crew.

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ENFORCER SPOTLIGHT FROM LIGHTFORCE

A cordless handheld multi-use spotlight on test - August 2016

We’ve been testing the LightForce Enforcer 140mm LED handheld spotlight for a few months and we reckon it’s one of the best portable spotlights/hunting lights on the market.

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REDARC MANAGER30 BATTERY CHARGER

The Manager30 can charge all battery types - including lithium.

Redarc’s Manager30 can charge auxiliary Lithium Ferro Phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries as well as lead acid, calcium and AGM batteries.

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VISTA RV CAMPERS IN CLOSE UP

We visited the company's Melbourne factory and we've done a bush test.

Vista RV campers are 'crossover' designs that blend camper trailer and off road caravan characteristics. These revolutionary vehicles are built in Melbourne, with a very high degree of Australian content. We've also tested one in severe outback conditions.

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SEA TO SUMMIT COOKWARE AND 'CROCKERY'

Light, compact and easy to use silicone camping kit - July 2016

Space is always at a premium when it comes to loading your vehicle or camper. Pots and bowls that fit inside each other used to be as good as it got, but now there are collapsible pots, pans and ‘crockery’.

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RUDALL RIVER NATIONAL PARK

This ruggedly beautiful Park is as remote as it gets - July 2016

Rudall River National Park is one of the most remote national parks in Australia and is strictly for experienced and well equipped 4WD travellers

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KARIJINI and MT AUGUSTUS NATIONAL PARKS

World famous gorges and a world famous mountain - updated July 2016.

Two of the must-visit sites in Western Australia are Karijini National Park and Mount Augustus National Park, although neither place requires a tough 4WD. The access roads to both areas are gravel and that’s the extent of the driving adventure.

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PERFORMANCE MODIFICATIONS

You’re happy with your 4WD, but you feel that it could be even better - July 2016

There are two approaches to improving 4WD engine performance: ‘hotting up’ the existing engine or repowering the vehicle. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages

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NARVA DAYTIME RUNNING LAMPS

A great safety initiative to retro-fit.

​LED Daytime Running Lamps from Narva produce an exceptionally bright light and are ideal for use during extended driving periods, thanks to low current draw and the long life expectancy of LEDs.

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CUSTOM-DESIGNED PROJECTA BATTERY TRAYS

Model-specific trays for easy fitment - July 2016

Projecta has provided the ideal solution to mounting a second auxiliary battery into a vehicle with the launch of a range of custom built heavy duty battery trays.

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OODNADATTA TRACK

This historic drive is not to be missed - updated July 2016.

The Oodnadatta Track is one of the most scenic and interesting drives in Australia. The country is flat to gently undulating for the most part and the gravel road is generally kept in good condition.

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DIAMANTINA DREAMING

The OTA team travelled down the legendary Diamantina River - updated June 2016.

Like many of Australia’s giant rivers the Diamantina has its source in shallow hills, spreads majestically wide when full and ends anti-climactically in an inland swamp. Also like many inland rivers the Diamantina is little more than an expanse of dusty channels, with isolated waterholes, in most years. Flooding rains change that scene.

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BEWARE THE ELECTRONICALLY CONTROLLED FRIDGE

You don't need complicated electronics in the bush.

Electronics have crept into the camper fridge market. Our experience with one such fridge wasn’t great, but a fix was easy.

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CANIA GORGE and KROOMBIT TOPS NPs

Sandstone cliffs and steep 4WD tracks in the semi-tropics.

These two national parks are close together and offer an excellent sandstone escarpment experience for visitors.

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BLUE MOUNTAINS - NSW

Spectacular mountain scenery with great 4WDing.

There are plenty of 4WD tracks in the NSW Blue Mountains region. We’ve picked out some of the highlights.

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BLACKDOWN TABLELAND NATIONAL PARK

A refreshing change from the mine-dominated surrounding countryside.

This high-altitude Queensland destination offers rainforest and gorge walks, forest camping, spectacular lookouts and an interesting 4WD loop track.

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BURDEKIN RIVER ROMP

This week-long tour of the Burdekin River area is great fun.

There’s great scenery and history on this North Queensland trek that weaves along the watercourse of the mighty Burdekin River.

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RE-ENGINEERED SAFARI SNORKEL RANGE

The best-known snorkel range just got better - May 2016

Safari has re-engineered its product lineup, dividing the existing snorkel range into two separate product lines and adding a new line of high-flow, performance snorkels.

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SNOW DRIVING

The white stuff is pretty, but it can be scary, too - updated May 2016.

Snow driving falls into two categories: getting to the snowfields on plough-patrolled bitumen roads; and dirt road and trail driving. Both pursuits have their hazards.

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AL'S PROJECT 75 SERIES

This old warhorse continues to be our bush beast - updated May 2016.

Our Outback Travel Australia restoration project, rebuilding and modifying a LandCruiser 75 Series tray-back, is progressing well. We're now putting the finishing touches to this four-year exercise.

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TANAMI ROAD

Corrugations, stones and wandering stock are ever-present hazards.

The main purpose of the Tanami Road for 4WD travellers is a short cut between Alice Springs and The Kimberley, but there's plenty to see along the way.

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MICKEY THOMPSON ATZP3 TYRES ON TEST

We've been checking out a set of M-Ts with success so far - May 2016

OTA Team members Michelle and Andy Parry have clocked up 37,000km on their six Mickey Thompson ATZP3 tyres in the last 12 months.

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PIONEER MITCHELL

This wedge-shaped, hard-roof, hard-floor hybrid is a class act - May 2016

Some hybrid and crossover camper trailers make the mistake of being too bulky to fit on many bush tracks, but the Pioneer Mitchell crams a lot of features into a small package.

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TOURING OUTBACK DOWN UNDER

Advice for overseas visitors to Australia.

Outback Australia is one of the last remaining frontiers on this over-populated planet. Those who enjoy remote-area beauty will love it, but there are pitfalls that need to be avoided.

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UTE PAYLOADS AREN'T WHAT THEY SEEM

Utes have claimed payloads and towing ratings that can't be realised in the real world.

Every ute maker claims at least a nominal one-tonne payload figure and more than three tonnes trailer towing capacity for several 4WD utes in its range, but you need to check spec sheets and real-world tare weights for the true position.

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CUB FORWARD FOLD CAMPER

Cub released its forward-fold model in April 2016.

Forward-fold campers occupy less ground space and provide a dinette area - just like a small caravan. Cub's model looks to be truly off-road compatible as well.

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LED DRIVING LIGHT VIDEO TESTS

The lineup of LED driving lights keeps growing.

LEDs – light emitting diodes – have taken over the headlight and driving light arena, having already dominated the flashlight, head torch and camping light business. LED lights are bright, white and directional, and have unprecedented durability. But how do they stack up as driving lights?

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TRU TRACKER WIDE-TRACK KIT FOR LANDCRUISER 70s

An engineered fix for the narrrow rear track on V8 LandCruiser 70 Series.

The Multidrive Tru Tracker rear track correction system for the V8-powered LC79 and 78 Series widens the track of the rear axle so that it matches the front.

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DIY CAMPERVAN OR MOTORHOME

Are you up to making your own conversion - Novemberl 2016

​Many tradies and handy-folk have built their own campervans and motorhomes. Here’s a guide to the process, so you can see if such a project is right for you.

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RHINOMAX DISCOVERY HYBRID

This crossover is well made, light and compact - March 2016

The Discovery Hybrid is a 4.3-metre (14ft) pop-top camper that is designed to offer the benefits of a caravan with the agility of a camper trailer.

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LED LIGHT BAR TESTS

LED light bars on test - Latest: Hella 470 pair - November 2016

Light bars are often easier to mount than large, round driving lights and can even be fitted to roof racks. However, while light bars give good spread beams, they don't have the beam distance of HID lights.

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DODGE RAM IN RHD

Many people want a large towing ute and the Cummins-powered Ram can do the job - March 2016

The Dodge Ram is a LHD-only vehicle that has been Cummins-powered since 1989. It's taken nearly 30 years to make it Down Under as RHD-converted ute, but, significantly, the brand 'Dodge' has been dropped.

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WIDE-TRACK, HEAVY DUTY LANDCRUISER REAR AXLE

Dana has come up with a replacement axle for V8 70 Series Toyotas.

This new Dana 60 axle variant could be the solution to the Toyota 70 Series' narrow-rear-axle-track problem.

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AL-KO's 2016 INDEPENDENT TRAILER SUSPENSION

Best known for its torsion bar axles AL-KO has developed an off-road wishbone suspension.

AL-KO Enduro suspension is available in two configurations: one for on-road and one for off-road conditions. Both have been engineered and built in Australia, and have been subjected to an extreme testing program.

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MCHITCH UNIGLIDE TRAILER COUPLING

This new design suits most trailers and offers easy coupling - March 2016

​McHitch has come up with a new design that promises easy coupling and uncoupling. It suits trailers with electric brakes or override mechanical and hydraulic brakes.

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COMBINATION HID-LED DRIVING LIGHTS

Combinations of HID distance and LED spread iights are the best you can get.

In this section we're examining combinations of HID distance and LED spread lights. This pairing offers the best blend of distance and beam width. Some combinations are contained in the one pair of lights, but most combine a bar and two driving lights.

Read guide


ISUZU FSS and FTS 4X4 RANGE

Heavy Isuzu 4x4s now come with a choice of engines - March 2016

The Australian 4WD truck market leader has extended the appeal of its 8-9-tonnes-payload capacity 4x4 truck models with the addition of two new diesel engine variants. A new, powerful four complements a variant of the proved six that's purpose-designed for off-road operation.

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IVECO TRAKKER 4X4

The Trakker sits between the Eurocargo 4x4 and the Trakker 6x6 - February 2016

Iveco's Daily has given the Japanese 4x4 truck makers a fright and the new Trakker 4x4 might do the same at the heavy end of the 4x4 market.

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WIDE-SINGLES AND SUSPENSION UPGRADES FOR JAPANESE 4WD TRUCKS

Earthcruiser makes important, ADR-approved changes to Fusos and Isuzus.

You don’t have to buy an Earthcruiser motorhome to take advantage of this company’s ADR-approved wide-single, forged aluminium wheel and suspension upgrade package.

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LED DRIVING LIGHT VIDEO TESTS

The lineup of LED driving lights keeps growing.

LEDs – light emitting diodes – have taken over the headlight and driving light arena, having already dominated the flashlight, head torch and camping light business. LED lights are bright, white and directional, and have unprecedented durability. But how do they stack up as driving lights?

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OZHITCH TRAILER COUPLING TEST

We've bought an OzHitch coupling for hauling Jol Fleming's camper - February 2016

This low-profile hitch has been designed with maximum articulation and ample clearance when used with towing vehicle tailgates or barn doors. It also offers self-aligning coupling and uncoupling.

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SHOCK ABSORBERS EXPLAINED

Their workings aren't well understood and they're not all the same.

Shock absorbers are probably the least understood components of a 4WD's suspension. These devices are more properly called dampers and their function is to control spring action.

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HARMAN KARDON - MUSIC TO CAMP BY

Bluetooth speaker simplifes our camp entertainment kit - January 2016

Keeping up with the latest technology is, seemingly, a full-time job these days. Our latest purchase is a harman/kardon Esquire Bluetooth remote speaker that normally sells for around $300.

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LAND ROVER DEFENDER

Not pretty and way off a five-star safety rating the aged Land Rover has finally gone - January 2016

The Land Rover Defender cab/chassis and utes are no more. Production ceased on January 29, 2016 and the replacement model isn't scheduled to appear before 2018.

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MERCEDES-BENZ ZETROS

A bonnetted off-road truck series in 4x4 and 6x6 configurations - January 2016

Unashamedly military in appearance the civilian version of the Mercedes-Benz Zetros range is aimed at the Australian mining, exploration and fire-fighting sectors. Allan Whiting had some fun slip-slidin’ away on bush tracks around a damp Anglesea.

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E-Z LUBE LOW-MAINTENANCE TRAILER SPINDLES

This design takes the uncertainty out of trailer wheel bearing care - January 2016

A trailer running gear lubrication system that’s simple to maintain and completely submersible.

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2WD OR 4WD

Under some circumstances a 2WD can outperform a 4WD.

The success of the Peugeot 2008 DKR race machine in the 2016 Dakar event has prompted some off-road enthusiasts to suggest that there may be a place for a 2WD to challenge the accepted ability of a 4WD for off-road touring. It’s not that simple.

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PATRIOT X1 FAMILY PACK - 2015

Tony and Clare - QLD

Tony, Clare and their two kids are avid campers, who get the most out of their Patriot unit. They've been off-roading for years, so they know what they want.

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ULTIMATE EXPLOR - 2014

Andy and Michelle - NSW

Andy and Michelle did a lot of bush travel and research before purchasing their Ultimate camper trailer. They've travelled extensively throughout Australia and have driven many off-road kilometres.

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STONE STOMPER TRAILER PROTECTION - January 2016

Everyone who tows wants to reduce flying stone damage..

We've been testing the Stone Stomper system and reckon it's an excellent way to protect your trailer from flying stone damage.

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TOWING CORRECTLY - January 2016

A balanced rig and good driving skills are essential.

The correct towing technique can make the difference between the holiday of a lifetime and a nightmare.

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DUAL BATTERY SYSTEMS - January 2016

Your starting battery needs a mate in the bush

These days very few people travel without a portable fridge and camp lighting, and that dictates some form of auxiliary battery power. What do you need?

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