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The best off-road vehicles 2011 - 2012

If you always dreamed about driving to the top of the steep Ouberg Pass near Sutherland, or trampling the vast desert hills of Sossusvlei with an unstoppable 4x4, it would be wrong not to experience the sheer power of an off road vehicle sometime in your life... preferrably before retirement.

Many 4x4 enthusiasts would agree that choosing the right off road vehicle is just as import as choosing the right spouse. Doing your homework by talking to ex-partners (reading reviews), dating the person (hiring a 4x4), and getting to know your potential road partner before you make a decision (test driving) are great ways to get clued up about what you are letting yourself into. Drive South Africa has referred to reviews on the best off road vehicles of 2011 to 2012 and are also offering most of these vehicles to hire.

Go ahead, make an informed decision and choose a road partner with enough grit to take you to Happy Ever After and beyond.

Top off road vehicles 2011 - 2012

Off roaders had a field day with many new and exciting off road vehicles being released in the past year and a half. 

1. Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

Reviewers all over the world raved about the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon that was released last year. Even Landrover fans would agree (though hesitantly) that it has "just as much soul as a Landy," as Jaco Kirsten from DriveOut pointed out in Rapport's motoring supplement Inrat. "It is chunky, in your face, and there is a reason why you see more and more of them on our roads. This must be the most unstoppable vehicle you'll find out there, and the facts prove it." 

The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is a top off road vehicle that has taken the 4x4 world by storm.

"The current generation Wrangler (JK model) is one of the few field driving vehicles with fixed axles and coil springs as well as diff-locks in the front and in the rear. The Rubicon's anti-roll bar's front shaft can be  disconnected at the push of a button for even better wheel articulation. The low gearbox's 4.1:1 relation makes it possible to rev loudly at 0.8 km/h. Compare that to a Hilux's 2.56:1."

"And the bad news? I don't own one."

Engine 3,6-litre V6 petrol engine (209 kW/347 N.m)
Gearbox six-speed gearbox,  four wheel drive (part-time), high and low range
Performance 0-100 km/h in 8,1 sec. and 159 km/h top speed; 12 litre/100 km

2. Suzuki Jimny

We at Drive South Africa recently test drove this nifty off road slicker ourselves and were pretty amazed at what this tiny machine could do. Do not judge it by its size as it can easily get you on top of that steep climb. The Suzuki Jimny seats two people and can be equipped with everything you need, from a fridge to a drawer where you can stack your clothes. This vehicle definitely deserves to be on the best off road vehicles of 2011 to 2012 list.

For more information, check out the YouTube review below:

The equipped Suzuki Jimny is great for any road trip.

Engine  1,3-litre V6 petrol engine (122 kW/110 N.m)
Gearbox Five-speed gearbox, low range
Performance 0-100 km/h in 14,1 sec. and 159 km/h top speed; 7.5 litre/100 km

3. Toyota FJ Cruiser

The folks at Topcar were very positive about the Toyota FJ cruiser.

Nothing will stand your way in the Toyota FJ cruiser. This vehicle is one many people's "Best off road vehicles" list.

Motor journo Angus Thompson states with condifence that the FJ shares suspension parts with the 120-Series Land Cruiser.

"That means a high-mounted, double wishbone front suspension with coil springs and a stabiliser bar as well as a four-link rear suspension with coil springs, a lateral rod and stabiliser bar. The result is a massive 200 mm of front wheel travel and 231 mm of articulation at the rear. Even through the most arduous cross-axle obstacles we tackled on our off road evaluation in the Magaliesburg area, there was no sign or sound of chassis twist."

Engine 4,0-litre V6 petrol engine (200 kW/380 N.m)
Gearbox Five-speed gearbox,  four wheel drive (part-time), low range
Performance 0-100 km/h in 10,18 sec. and 176 km/h top speed; 12 litre/100 km

4. Land Rover Defender

You can't have a best off road vehicle list without mentioning a Land Rover.

The Land Rover Defender does Land Rover's name proud if you look at the various reviews. Austrailian couple Stan and Marianne Rogers are doing a Cape to Cairo trip as I am typing this. Reading their regular updates, I stand in awe as "Tin Can", their Land Rover Defender gets them to unimagined spots, such as the highest pub in Africa at 2784 metres above sea level!

Albertus van Wyk from DriveOut shares his first Defender experience...

"If you grew up on a farm, it’s contrary to your instincts to step on the gas when the wheels spin, but on a 35º uphill with loose stones the computer made the wheels cooperate nicely if you stepped on the accelerator."

Up Sani Pass in a Landrover Defender. Photo by: Stan Rogers

Engine 2,2-litre Diesel engine (90 kW/360 N.m)
Gearbox Five-speed gearbox,  four wheel drive (part-time), low range
Performance 0-100 km/h in 10,18 sec. and 176 km/h top speed; 12 litre/100 km

Do you agree with our selection of the best off road vehicles of 2011 to 2012? If not, comment below and tell us what your top off road vehicle of 2011 - 2012 is.

Also see our specials on selected 4x4 vehicles like The Jeep Wrangler Sahara that is available at a discounted price until the end of October 2012.

Cheréne Pienaar

Cheréne Pienaar Title: Blog Contributor
Affiliation: Drive South Africa Blog

Born and bred in Bloemfontein, this Free state gal is an obsessive reader and hiker and loves discovering... all the time. As an e-marketing assistant and copywriter she believes social media is the future and plans to conquer Africa one word at a time.

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13 Responses on this page.Add your own

  1. Gravatar Hubert Lindelauf says:

    Al die karre lyk lekker.
    Ry net van noord Afrika (Sahara landen) tot Zuid Afrika (SA nie ingesluit nie), breek jou kar net die Toyota Lancruiser en Hilux is weer vinnig op pad. By ander karre wag jy weke vir die spareparts.
    So is die kar mooi of is hy goed in die veld, modder, sand of klippies maak nie saak nie, as hy breek hoe vinnig kan jy weer op pad is baie belangryker.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Gravatar Mauritz Pienaar says:

    Wat van die Land Rover Discovery. Hy sal baie Toyota’s en ander 4x4 op hulle neuse laat kyk.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Gravatar Lucas Botha says:

    I like the choices above, I prefer the FJ out of them all.  The 1GR-FE engine is a beast!  However, as an expedition vehicle I would add the 70-series Cruiser.  Hubert were you referring to the 70-series?  Diesel or Petrol?  Mauritz jy het ‘n punt beet die Discovery stoot ongelooflike krag uit, 600Nm.  Ek wil net weet wat maak jy as jy in Afrika ingaan en daar is nie skoon diesel nie? Verkies jy dalk die petrol model?  Ek weet nie dis waarom ek vra.  Dankie

    Reply to this comment
  4. Gravatar Lucas Botha says:

    Moet ook nie vergeet van Merc se GelandeWagen nie. Very capable although it comes at a price.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Gravatar Anil Dukkan says:

    Agreed the Jeep rubicon is the best of the lot.
    Remember we are talking off roader not over landing vehicles.
    However if you talk over landing then Toyota rules the roost.
    I was in the Serengeti a few years ago and we were on a game drive. I noticed that almost 90 percent of the vehicles were cruisers. So I asked the driver why they chose cruisers over the Landies, and the answers was simply because the cruisers were tougher vehicles with less breakdowns and lasted a lifetime.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Gravatar S Ghosh says:

    Hi where is the Toyota Landcruiser

    Reply to this comment
  7. Gravatar christo brits says:

    Ek het ‘n Namibië toer gedoen met ‘n Isuzu KB320 petrol (2000 model) met 270 000km op. Geen probleme, geen olie verbruik oor 9000 km. Het duine gery en ook ruwe terreine. Het nie kennis v nuwe modelle nie, maar hierdie is ‘n puik voertuig.

    Reply to this comment
    1. Gravatar Asanda says:

      Hi Christo

      Baie dankie vir jou terugvoer. Ons is baie bly dat jy so gelukkig is met die Isuzu. Wanneer ons weer ’n paar voertuie toets sal ons verseker die Isuzu ook ingedagte hou.

      Thanks for your feedback. We are very happy that you are impressed by your Isuzu. When we do our next vehicle review we’ll definitely keep the Isuzu in mind.

      Enjoy your day. :)

      Warm Regards,

      Reply to this comment
  8. Gravatar John Starfinder says:

    Ek dink mense word aan hul neuse rond gelei. As jy in die wild tuin ry sien jy net impala’s en Toyotas. As jy die TV aansit sien jy net Toyotas op 4 x 4 programme ( gaan dit oor borgskap ?)
    Toyota is vir my ver agter in tegnologie en word gery met oogklappe aan seker net omdat almal gevoer word dis die beste.
    Nee man waar is die ander voertuie? Ek wil sien hoe Hyundai, Jeep, Land Rover, Nissan, doen. TOYOTA IS GOED, GEEN TWYVEL MAAR VREK AFGESAAG. 95% van ons gaan klim nie berge waar bobbejane moed op gee maar stel ook in die natuur en buite lewe belang en wil ook weet wat anders is betroubaar en wat die voertuie kan doen.

    Reply to this comment
    1. Gravatar Renier van Schalkwyk says:

      Dankie vir jou kommentaar John. Hierdie was 2011/12 se beste modelle. Watter 5 modelle sou jy graag in hierdie jaar se opname wou sien?

      Thanks for your comments John. These were 2011/12’s best models. If you had to choose 5 models to review this year, which would they be?

      Reply to this comment
  9. Gravatar Allister says:

    I shall agree on the models,but I disagree with some comments ,I work in Africa fom Namibia now until Nigeria and although one see really much Toyota (its mostly new ones),land rovers one see every where still the series 3 and 2 models and they still keep going ,personally I believe that the new land rovers is not the same,but I also believe that the old cruiser is better then the new one and remember much depend on the driver ,I think there is no complete list without Toyota or Land rover

    Reply to this comment
    1. Gravatar Asanda says:

      Hi Allister

      Thank you for your comment. We definitely welcome any suggestions that you think we must add to our list of 2011/12.

      Enjoy your day.

      Reply to this comment
  10. Gravatar isaac khubana says:

    A city car. Kids school transport. Small grocery items collector. Funny to drive. Less consumption. Less maintenance. Affordable. Real off road car. Practical but less space. That is Suzuki jimmy. I rented one last year for just over a week and I traveled just below 2000km on road and off road. It felt good everywhere. My tears nearly dropped when I had to return it. You have to drive it in order to understand what it offers. Am planning to own one soon

    Reply to this comment

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