400, NOT OUT. It’s a fair innings by anyone’s standard and enough to put any New Zealand cricket team to shame.
In magazine terms it’s exceptionally good, as printed mags are generally on the decline while online products blossom. We’ve been bucking the trend for a while now and are happy to report strong growth both in print and online, which puts 4X4 Australia in a healthy position for another 400 to come.
So you’ll forgive a little chest-beating as we look back over the last four decades of the magazine, reminisce about the good times and ask our past editors about their time at the helm.
What’s been interesting as we look back is how things have changed, not just the 4x4 vehicles but the gear we use when we travel. There was no need for solar panels, power-packs and engine data scanners in the early days, and the closest thing to electronics that Moonie ever took on a road test was a two-way radio.
Something that has changed massively is 4x4 utes. Those early Hiluxes were about as basic as they come, and they didn’t get any more refined for a long time. They were strictly for government departments and tradies who didn’t need comfort, safety and capacity. Even 10 years ago 4x4 utes were still way behind the wagons in these terms, and I remember doing a test of all the then-current dual-cabs and, with no electronic traction control or diff locks, they couldn’t climb a simple hill that a stock Pajero and Prado had conquered just a week earlier.
Nowadays, utes have five-star safety, electronic traction aids and semi-luxury models, and the top-spec ones are selling for $70K. They’re the hottest market in 4x4 vehicles and the manufacturers can’t bring out new models fast enough. It will be interesting to see how new players to the segment – Mercedes-Benz, Jeep and Land Rover – go in the next three years.
What the manufacturers aren’t giving us are performance models. As the market evolves and new buyers come to a segment they may never have looked at before, the range needs to broaden. You won’t be able to buy a new V8 Holden ute by the end of the year, and there’ll be plenty of blokes looking for an alternative. They will look to 4x4 utes like Colorado, Ranger and Hilux, but baulk at the paltry diesel engines.
Once again we’re thankful the aftermarket has come up with a result, and we’re excited to see the LS3-powered Colorado featured in this issue. Let’s hope there will be more to follow for Ford and Toyota fans out there.