USUALLY our February 2021 edition of 4X4 Australia magazine would contain the annual 4x4 Of The Year report, where we bring together the best new 4x4 releases of the previous year and put them through a rigorous week of testing to determine our 4x4 Of The Year.
We do the testing for this event as late as possible each year so we can include all of the new and substantially updated models from the manufacturers. It usually happens in the first week of December.
2020 being what it was, we weren’t able to do that testing in our regular timeslot because of border closures, travel restrictions and general uncertainty of what we would be free to do.
So we’ve moved the testing to the first week of February this year (we’re on it now) and the results will come to you in the April 2021 edition.
Our test will still focus on the best new 4x4s released between December 1, 2019, and November 30, 2020, so anything that might have hit the market late last year or early in 2021 will still have to wait until the next round.
And, again, 2020 being 2020, the number of new contenders released was relatively small, but it is still a quality field.
Our five finalists present a broad cross-section of the market – from the popular double-cab utes to a lone wagon, all-new vehicles and a significantly upgraded one.
Those finalists are (in no particular order) the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon, Land Rover Defender 110 P400, Mazda BT-50, Isuzu D-MAX and the Toyota Hilux. Obviously, the Hilux is the upgraded model and our testing of it in late 2020 deemed the improvements to the ute warrant its inclusion.
As always, we’ll bring together a team of experienced four-wheel drivers to do the testing, and our best photographers and videographers willk document the process as we put them through their paces at the proving ground and in the bush.
There’s a lot of work involved in the testing, but it’s also a lot of fun. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be out four-wheel driving with a group of blokes I call mates and get paid for it?
The real work starts when we get back to the office and wade through the pages of notes, data and the judges’ scores to determine a winner. Yes, it’s work, but I wouldn’t miss it for quids!