Being the toughest 4WD out there is something of a subjective matter, and difficult to nail down. But there is something else this 2019 Iveco Daily 4x4 is in the running for, and that’s being the most capable 4x4 off the showroom floor in Australia at the moment.
This Daily 4x4, however, has some specs that nothing standard can come close to. Let me run through them for you.
Firstly, tyres. While the Ranger Raptor is proud of 33-inch rubber, and the Wrangler Rubicon makes do on 32s, the Iveco Daily is big enough to make 37-inch tyres look small. That’s a seriously big tyre; something that typically takes a lot of modification to fit onto any other 4WD. It’s an option, with our tester using Federal Couragia Mud Terrain tyres.
The wheelbase is a great length, 3400mm. It's good news for those who want to load up the tray, but it's also good for off-roading. The approach and departure angles of 48 and 39 degrees respectively, depending on what your rear tray set-up is, are huge. And the rampover angle of 153 degrees (Iveco provides only the 'included angle' and not the more popular 'excluded angle' figure) ain't bad either.
Next up is traction. Being a full-time 4WD, the Daily 4x4 is triple locked. That means when all three lockers are engaged, each of the four wheels rotates at exactly the same speed. That means virtually zero wheelspin.
Another big point is gearing, and it’s one place where the Daily 4x4 knocks any competition for dead. The transfer case is controlled by two levers, and is like two transfer cases in one. That means you’ve got double reduction when you’ve got it.
One gear lever gives you 1:3115 reduction, which is already impressive. Throw in the 1:1.244 reduction as well, and when you count the already low gearing of the main gearbox and differentials, you get a stonking 101:1 ratio in the lowest possible combination.
Gearing is epic, traction is top-shelf, and the tyres are well up to snuff. What about clearance? Tyres are a big part of that, with 255mm of ground clearance underneath those mammoth differentials. Because the body sits so high (the seat bases are at standing eye level), general running clearance and sill clearance are massive. Even though it’s a big truck, this Daily 4x4 can approach some ridiculous terrain without touching down.
That height does have some issues behind the wheel, however. It’s a big rig, and really takes some getting used to. The height, in particular, feels a little disconcerting at times. When you’re driving through ruts, it’s kind of like being on the top floor of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It’s not that much of an angle, but that doesn’t stop code brown from the driver’s seat.
You need to recalibrate what’s safe and what’s not in the Daily 4x4, in terms of side angles. The fact is the vast majority of that three-tonne weight is down low sitting in the chassis, diffs and driveline. The tall bits, in the cabin, are relatively lightweight. While you might not like the lean, the Daily doesn't seem to mind. In my driving it remained surefooted, despite lifting wheels off the deck and dropping into some seriously big ruts.
The situation is helped by the big flex available through the chassis and suspension. You wouldn’t think so: big truck, big payloads and leaf springs normally equate to twisting up like a brick. But it’s not the case with the Daily 4x4.
While the on-road ride is certainly harsh (thank god for suspension seats), the way it feels off-road is surprisingly supple. The parabolic leaf pack is made up of only three main leaves, clearly separated to reduce inter-leaf friction. There's an additional second-stage leaf that only comes into play under load, contacting via big rubber pads at each end. Because we were driving unladen, they were mostly kept out of the equation.
The Daily is powered by Iveco's 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel truck engine making 130kW and 430Nm, and complying with Euro6 emission standards. It doesn't sound like much, but it's a surprisingly grunty performer. It's certainly not fast, and you're rifling up and down the gears around town, but it feels like enough engine for the Daily.
There is no option of automatic gearbox – like the LandCruiser 70 Series, this is manual only. It's a six-speed unit, with short, almost overlapping ratios. The torque comes on very early in the rev range, leaving the engine feeling unstressed. You can shift through your gears methodically keeping things in that sweet spot. Yes, it's like driving a truck, because it is a truck.
The transfer case does give some handy extra versatility on-road: the 1.3:1 reduction is helpful for when you are fully loaded or towing on the road, and want to tighten up and shorten your gear ratios a little more.
Weighing in at three tonnes, and after a combination of highway and off-road driving, we were averaging around 15 litres per hundred kilometres.
It's a reasonably comfortable experience, thanks mostly to the adjustable suspension seats. The suspension is no doubt very firm, and shudders pretty hard on bigger hits. But hey, your visibility is awesome, and it feels happy enough when plying the highway at 105km/h.
Inside, it's surprisingly decent. There's a small and basic infotainment unit that has Bluetooth functionality and native mapping. Below that is a very effective climate-control system and a couple of storage cubbies. Some family SUVs could learn a trick from this Daily, with the vast number of storage areas it has. They're literally everywhere, and are all a good size.
The Daily 4x4 is difficult to add up just as an off-roader. Waiting lists aside, you can buy four Suzuki Jimnys for the same kind of money. It might not be as outright capable before modifications, but it will be easier and more fun.
Where the Daily 4x4 really stacks up is the rest of its capability: 2.5-tonne payload, 3.5-tonne towing capacity, and enough proper truck toughness through the driveline to really get put to work. And it can do all of this while taking on some horrendously challenging terrain.
The Daily 4X4 is not a cheap proposition, with a pricetag to match it's size and capacities. Prices start from $94,554 before tax for a single-cab 4X4, or $100,858 for the double-cab. Add in the taxes, on-roads and some kind of tray for the back (it's a cab-chassis), and you'll be well into the territory over six digits before it's all said and done.
Servicing isn't covered by a capped-price program, and will probably depend on how hard you are using your Daily 4X4. Once again, the Daily 4X4 is a proper truck, so don't expect to get cheap services.
Who needs this kind of vehicle with such capability? It's a perfect base to build an off-road motorhome like an EarthCruiser, or could work for anyone who needs to haul a lot of gear to hard to reach, far-flung places. It's certainly not everybody's cup of tea, but will undoubtedly be an almost perfect vehicle for a small group of Australians.