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4x4 of the Year 2019: Introduction

By Fraser Stronach | Photos: Ellen Dewar, 23 Feb 2019 4x4OTY

4x4 of the Year 2019 Introduction feature

Eight very different vehicles are vying for the 4x4 Of the Year crown, but there can be only one winner…

The eight vehicles fighting for the honour of being the 4X4 of the Year are here for one reason: they are the best new 4x4s from 2018. Some are new from the ground up, while others are a revision of an existing model.

As ever, the shortlist represents more than just the best new 4x4s for the year; it’s also a reflection of the trends at play in the broader 4x4 market. Of the eight shortlisted vehicles, six are utes and one of the other two is ute-based. All eight are diesels and seven have just four cylinders.

Of the eight vehicles, seven have automatic rather than manual gearboxes. While the field is skewed by having three Fords with the same 2.0-litre/10-speed powertrain, there’s still a broad trend to smaller capacity engines and automatics with an increasing number of ratios. Six of the eight engines are 2.3 litres or smaller, and six of the seven automatics have more than six speeds.

Also in a sign of the times we have emerging ‘budget’ brands in the form of India’s Mahindra and South Korea’s SsangYong coming hot on the heels of Chinese brand Haval’s appearance in 4X4OTY in the last two years.

While there are many similarities in the technology on display there’s still a broad spread of prices, with the most expensive vehicle, the Ford Ranger Raptor, more than twice the price of the least expensive, the Mahindra Pik-Up.

In between (in ascending as-tested price) is the SsangYong Rexton, VW Amarok V6 Core, Ford Ranger, Ford Everest, HSV Colorado SportsCat+ and Mercedes-Benz X250d.

However, this is not a comparison test and, while the eight shortlisted vehicles are referenced against each other – which is inevitable given they are driven back-to-back – they are not judged against each other. Instead, they are judged against the award’s five longstanding criteria (listed below).

Each judge scores each vehicle for each criterion out of ten, for a possible maximum of 50 points. The individual totals are then tallied to determine the winner.

The testing procedure involves set-piece 4x4 tests, touring on a wide variety of sealed and unsealed roads, traversing an even wider variety of outback tracks, cabin seating tests, luggage area appraisal, and under-bonnet inspections. For all but one night of the test we camped out, so we also had to ‘live’ out of the vehicle as well as drive them.

Let’s get to it then!

4x4 of the Year 2019 contenders

Mahindra Pik-Up S10
Can a $30k dual-cab keep up with the big boys?

SsangYong Rexton ELX
Can the well-built family wagon cause an upset at 4X4OTY?

Volkswagen Amarok V6 Core
VW’s stripped-out offering is a great bang-for-buck proposition.

Ford Ranger XLT
New powertrain and significant chassis tweaks makes the XLT an attractive option.

Ford Everest Trend
Can the Everest win its second 4X4OTY gong?

HSV Colorado SportsCat+
SportsCat+ among the pigeons?

Mercedes-Benz X250d
Can Merc’s X-Class hit the spot?

Ford Ranger Raptor
Is this the 2.0-litre four that could?

4x4 of the Year 2019 Judging Criteria

Value for Money
What the vehicle offers rated against what it costs. Expensive vehicles can be good value just as less expensive vehicles can be poor value.

Breaking New Ground
To what extent does the vehicle introduce new and effective technology?

Built Tough
How solid and well-built does the vehicle appear to be?

Bushability
How practical is the vehicle off sealed roads and on long distances away from service centres, and how easily can it be made more practical via aftermarket enhancement?

Doing the Job
How well does the vehicle do the job it’s designed for? A family 4x4 wagon, for example, isn’t designed to do the same job as a 4x4 ute.