New 4x4s from Land Rover, Jeep, Nissan, Isuzu and most likely Toyota and Mazda will hit the showrooms in 2020. Here’s a rundown on what to expect…
Nissan’s Y62 Patrol has been around a surprising 10 years now (eight in Australia), but somehow still seems new, perhaps because of its still-ahead-of-the-game high-tech suspension.
For 2020, all the Y62 basics, including the trick suspension and thundering V8 remain, but there’s new safety tech galore, especially on the less expensive of the two models, the Ti.
It gains radar cruise, lane-departure warning/intervention, and blind-spot warning/intervention. The Ti and the Ti-L then gain automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning and rear cross-traffic alert. New colours, distinctive new front and rear styling, and some seemingly unnecessary fiddling with high-speed damper response complete the 2020 overhaul. And while prices have drifted north by $2000 to $3000, they still remain well south of what Toyota asks for its LandCruiser 200.
4x4 news: All-new Patrol now on sale in Australia
What you don’t get with the Patrol is, of course, a diesel engine, but the Patrol’s 5.6-litre petrol V8 is a cracker; energetic, urgent and free revving, it brings performance aplenty despite Patrol’s notable size. And while thirsty if you dip into the power on offer, light-throttle cruising can be surprisingly thrifty.
Either way, the 140-litre tank ensures you don’t run out of petrol too often. And all this performance isn’t lost on a chassis that offers near physics-defying on-road handling with flat cornering and a supple ride thanks to fully independent Hydraulic Body Motion Control suspension. Off road, the active hydraulic rams and the lack of suspension-travel restricting swaybars provide excellent wheel articulation, even if a bit more ground clearance would be handy.
More significant than the new Patrol for Nissan in 2020 is the new ‘hero’ model in the Navara range in the form of the N-Trek Warrior.
The Warrior builds on the Navara N-Trek, but where the N-Trek is merely an exercise in styling enhancement, the Warrior is an exercise in chassis engineering. This is performed locally by Premcar, the current embodiment of the Prodrive, Tickford, FPV dynasty, so has proven expertise and experience to call upon.
Aside from new springs, dampers and wheel/tyre package that headline the Warrior’s upgrade, there’s also a bespoke steel front bar, stainless steel underbody protection, an LED light bar and various styling enhancements. Premcar will manufacture the Warrior in Melbourne and it will be sold through Nissan dealers with full Nissan factory warranty.
4x4 review: Navara N-Trek Warrior
The chassis changes have brought 40mm more lift, 25mm of that via the taller 275/70R17 Cooper Discoverer light-truck all-terrains, while the extra wheel offset has increased wheel track 30mm to 1600mm at both ends. Lighter initial springs rates but firmer secondary rates, the front via an extra long progressive rubber bump stops, are matched with more substantial Tenneco dampers specifically valved by Premcar’s engineers.
We have driven it and it works. On the road the ride initially feels firm, no doubt due to stronger compression damping and despite the softer initial springs, but the faster you go the better it feels. So good in fact that every Navara should have this sort of expertise directed at its suspension.
Off-road, the larger diameter, more robust and more aggressive tyres and the extra clearance both combine to take the Warrior to an off-road competence level that a standard Navara can only dream about. The Warrior carries over a standard Navara powertrain and will be offered with both six-speed manual and seven-speed automatic gearboxes.
Four years have passed since the last of the ‘old Defenders’ ended 67 years of continuous production of a line of 4x4s that evolved from the original 1948 Land Rover.
What will appear as the Defender in 2020 bears no resemblance to the past and is very much a product of today. No separate chassis and no live axles, the new Defender couldn’t be any more high-tech with its largely aluminium monocoque construction and fully independent suspension.
The good news is the Defender has been developed from the current Discovery platform, which in turn was developed from the current Range Rover/Range Rover Sport platform that debuted in late 2012, so it has provenance. It will be initially available in Australia in a number of spec levels with lots of equipment options but only as a ‘110’ four-door wagon. A two-door ‘90’ will follow, possibly in 2021.
Australian buyers can choose from two four-cylinder 2.0-litre bi-turbo diesels (147kW and 177kW) or a supercharged and turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine with a sizzling 294kW and an energy recouping ‘mild hybrid’ system.
All Australian models will have an eight-speed automatic gearbox, dual-range full-time 4x4 and height-adjustable air suspension. Wheel sizes start at 18-inch and Land Rover promises the new Defender will be the most off-road capable Land Rover ever. We can’t wait!
Given the popularity of pick-up trucks in North America and utes just about everywhere else in the world, it’s no surprise Jeep has developed the Gladiator. It’s actually not the first time that Jeep has made a pick-up or ute and it’s not the first time that the Gladiator name has been attached to the same.
While it looks like the Gladiator is a Wrangler with a tub on the back, the wheelbase has been extended and the five-link rear suspension adapted from the Ram 1500 pick-up to give it a bigger payload and towing capacity than the Wrangler.
However, with a payload of just 620kg and a tow rating of 2721kg it’s still well down on what the popular dual-cab utes offer. The Gladiator does have live axles at both ends, though, which will distinguish it from all of the popular utes here bar Toyota’s LC79, and will help off-road.
Initially, the familiar 3.6-litre petrol V6 from the Wrangler will be offered with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, and if we do see a diesel down the track it may be the 3.0-litre V6 diesel from the Ram and Grand Cherokee rather than the 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel in the Wrangler.
Overland and Rubicon models will be offered, the latter with bits from the Wrangler Rubicon: front and rear lockers, front swaybar disconnect, lower axle ratios and a lower transfer ratio. It appears as though the Gladiator will get a full-time 4x4 mode in both of the two transfer cases on offer.
4x4 review: Gladiator Rubicon driven!
Also slated for a mid-year release is the next-generation D-Max, which unlike the current D-Max is not a result of a joint venture with General Motors. This new D-Max is in fact an Isuzu from the ground up, which is the way that Isuzu has historically gone about designing its own utes.
The 2020 D-Max is bigger overall than the current model, no doubt to compete with the big utes like the Ford Ranger and Volkswagen Amarok. The 2020 D-Max also will be better equipped and seemingly more passenger-car like in presentation and detail compared to the more commercially flavoured current model. At the same time, more wading depth and a standard rear locker suggest more 4x4 ability; although, the true benefit of the locker will depend on how it is integrated with the electronic traction control as some lockers switch off the ETC across both axles, so don’t bring much benefit.
4x4 news: 2020 D-Max - 10 things you need to know
Significantly, the 2020 D-max will be powered by a slightly tuned-up (140kW/450Nm vs. 130kW/430Nm) version of long-serving 3.0-litre four-cylinder diesel currently used, presumably backed by the current six-speed Aisin automatic and six-speed Isuzu manual gearboxes.
While a smaller (1.9-litre) bi-turbo and Euro 6 compliant diesel is offered elsewhere, it’s unlikely to come to Australia until Euro 6 does. If and when Euro 6 comes into play, Isuzu may still prefer to fit selective catalytic reduction technology (AdBlue) to the ‘big’ 3.0-litre four.
New features on the D-Max include electric power steering, tilt-and-reach steering wheel adjustment, auto headlights and wipers, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. Rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot warning also become standard features. The Thai reveal of the 2020 D-Max didn’t mention AEB, but that could well make it onto Australian models.
Mazda isn’t giving anything away right now but a new BT-50, with ties to the 2020 D-Max, is reportedly in the pipeline and will appear in late 2020. If so, this is a swapping of partners for Mazda and Isuzu, given Mazda worked with Ford and Isuzu with General Motors in the design and development of the current-generation utes.
The fact that Isuzu has already revealed its new D-Max while Mazda remains light-lipped suggests that, if these two new utes are indeed a co-operative effort, then Isuzu has taken the lead in this project. Isuzu being the senior partner would also make sense given Isuzu’s main game is utes (and trucks) where Mazda’s main game is passenger cars and SUVs.
Assuming that Mazda does have a new ute in the pipeline, and there’s a tie-up with Isuzu, there are a few possibilities. Mazda could just stick its badge on a D-Max , or do a re-skin (new body panels), or perhaps do all that and add its own powertrain. Mazda’s CX-8 has a 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel that claims 140kW and 450Nm, which matches the new D-Max’s numbers.
Toyota LandCruiser 200 and LandCruiser Prado
In 2020, Toyota’s LandCruiser 200 will be 13 years old while its Prado, or LandCruiser 150, will be 11 years old. Time for new models, one would think. Mind you, we have been saying that for ages and new models are yet to materialise. What’s more, Toyota is saying nothing.
The timeline for release in Australia of either a 200 replacement (let’s call it a 300) or a 150 replacement (let’s call it a 180) will likely hinge around the implementation of Euro 6 emissions regulations, which is still up in the air.
If Toyota released the ‘300’ and the ‘180’ now – as in time of writing – it could make do with the current Euro 5 diesel engines. If Euro 6 comes into play before then, the 2.8-litre four in Prado can be readily converted to Euro 6 with the addition of selective catalytic reduction (AdBlue). Toyota has already told us that much. The 4.5-litre V8 diesel should also be able to meet Euro 6 but will require more work.
New petrol engines for both the ‘300’ and the ‘180’ are also in the pipeline, but they may not appear in Australian models in the short term while buyer preference in this market sector remains firmly in the diesel camp. And when new petrol engines do appear they will be most likely teamed up to secondary electric motors in hybrid powertrains.
Otherwise it’s probably business as usual; separate chassis, a rear live axle and mechanical full-time 4x4.
Ford Raptor V8
Earlier this year, Wheels Magazine published a yarn claiming Ford is readying a high-performance Ranger Raptor complete with V8 power. The report claims Ford will replace the vehicle's four-cylinder diesel engine with a Ford Mustang-spec 5.0-litre V8; what's even better, Wheels states the project has been sanctioned by Ford Australia and "will be the result of a local engineering effort". Read Toby Hagon's breaking story here.