The ‘Big 3’ used rugged off-road cars of all times
The obvious choice: Land Rover Defender
Pros: Ultimate 4x4, choice of body styles
Cons: Poor on the road, high prices
No list of rugged off-roaders would be complete without the Land Rover Defender – the original and, in the eyes of many, the very best of the bunch.
A separate low-range gearbox and locking differentials, plus near-perfect ground clearance, make short work of the rough stuff. That said, the Defender is hard work on the road, with lots of wind noise, little ventilation and a surprisingly cramped cabin.
Your choice of long-wheelbase, short-wheelbase, crew cab or panel van will ultimately dictate what you get for your money.
The reliable option: Toyota Land Cruiser Amazon
Pros: Reliability, equipment, lusty diesel
Cons: Thirsty, rare on used market
The Toyota Land Cruiser Amazon has a reputation for never going wrong, and the chassis is ideal for off-roading thanks to the separate low-range gearbox and differential locks. If you’re looking for toughness and reliability, it’s ideal.
Most vehicles come with plenty of equipment, so expect to see air-conditioning, leather and seven seats.
The rare classic: Mercedes G-Wagen
Pros: Cult following, excellent off-road
Cons: Expensive, scarce
If you like the idea of a Defender, but want some extra comfort and prestige, the Mercedes G-Wagen is for you. It’s almost the equal of the Land Rover off-road, with three locking differentials and a separate low box, but its on-road manners leave something to be desired.
Both three and five-door models were made, with petrol and diesel engines, although many of the latter did without a turbocharger and are painfully slow.
The G-Wagen’s a rare sight on the used market and is much in demand, so those who have them will seek sky-high bids.