Best Double-Cab Bakkies for Off-road Driving

Ford Ranger Raptor Front

We examine the best off-road and 4x4 double-cab bakkies for sale in South Africa. While nearly every bakkie is capable when the tarmac ends, some models have been purposely engineered to spend their days in the dirt and come out the other side without breaking a sweat. Here are our top five.

While cars are designed to be driven primarily on tar, there’s a segment of the car-buying public who will be looking to purchase a vehicle based on its off-road and 4x4 skillset. 

These double-cab bakkies are rated by their 4x4 capabilities, with ground clearance, approach/departure angle, low-range gearbox availability as well as off-road driving modes and differentials. 

Best Off-road Bakkies

Ford Ranger Raptor

Ford-Ranger-Raptor

  • Ground clearance: 283 mm
  • Approach/Departure angles: 32.5/24 degrees
  • Low Range: Yes
  • Off-road modes: Yes
  • Differentials: Yes, front
  • Priced from: R875 700
  • Wading depth: 850 mm

The Ford Ranger Raptor is an absolute off-road weapon, thanks to a combination of trick off-road-biased tyres, Fox Racing suspension, and clever off-road modes including an insane Baja no-holds-barred setup. It has been assembled from the ground up to be a purpose-built off-road specialist. It stands some 51 mm taller than a standard Ranger with the front and rear tracks widened by 150 mm for extra off-road stability. It also boasts a higher ground clearance (283 mm) and has a wading depth of 850 mm. 

The Ford's 2.0-litre bi-turbocharged diesel engine (with 157 kW and 500 Nm of torque) is mated with a new 10-speed automatic transmission, and while some petrolheads will complain about the lack of a loud petrol engine, this powertrain is more than up to the task. The best part is that you don't have to drive it like an off-road racer all day, it still boasts all the creature comforts you'd ever need in your family double cab bakkie.

The latest Ford Ranger Raptor price and specs

Read a review of the Ford Ranger here

Browse new and used Ford Ranger Raptors for sale here
 

Isuzu D-Max Arctic Trucks AT35

Isuzu-DMax-AT35

  • Ground clearance: 268 mm
  • Approach/Departure angles: 36/28 degrees
  • Low Range: Yes
  • Off-road modes: No
  • Differentials: Rear differential lock
  • Priced from: R889 100
  • Wading depth: 718 mm

The Ford Ranger Raptor has had the performance section of the double-cab market to itself, but that hasn't stopped Isuzu from forging ahead with its D-Max Arctic Trucks AT35. Impressively, these monsters are assembled mostly on the same line as the standard D-Max, before being pulled aside at various points in the process for the conversion. The Isuzu D-Max AT 35 features flared arches, gargantuan wheels (shod with 35-profile BF Goodrich tyres) and a bespoke Fox Performance suspension. 

The AT 35 utilises the same 3.0-litre turbodiesel motor (130 kW/380 Nm) and 6-speed automatic transmission. It's an older spec engine, so don't expect performance fireworks, but its more than up to the task of sending the AT 35 up and down sand dunes, or wherever you'd like to go. Isuzu is still making these, but they're quite limited and the future of this model is in doubt as the all-new D-Max production starts in 2022. Still, what a machine!

The latest Isuzu D-Max AT35 price and specs

Read a review of the Isuzu D-Max AT35 here

Browse new and used Isuzu D-Max units for sale here


Toyota Land Cruiser 79

Toyota-LandCruiser

  • Ground clearance: 235 mm
  • Approach/Departure angles: 33/27 degrees
  • Low Range: Yes 
  • Off-road modes: No
  • Differentials: Three diff locks
  • Priced from: R700 900
  • Wading depth: 700 mm

This something incredibly endearing about the decidedly old-school Toyota Land Cruiser. It's never had gadgets or gizmos, relying on tried-and-trusted mechanicals to do all the work. There's a reason why Toyota still makes the 70-Series of Land Cruisers, despite the rise of vehicles offering similar levels of capability, with far more comfort and convenience features; reliability. Toyota sells its Land Cruiser range in 170 different markets and its customers are some of the most demanding owners imaginable: people who use their vehicles to run businesses and emergency services where there are none. For them, vehicle durability is of paramount importance. 

There's a choice of petrol and diesel engines, the latter tuned to run on poor quality fuel that's found far off the beaten track. Us? We'd lean towards the mighty 4.0-litre V6 petrol. One of our contributors calls this the ultimate bakkie of the decade...

The latest Toyota Land Cruiser 79 prices and specs here

Read a review of the Toyota Land Cruiser here

Browse new and used Toyota Land Cruiser units for sale here
 

Toyota Hilux 2.8 GD-6 4x4 Auto

Toyota-Hilux

  • Ground clearance: 286 mm
  • Approach/Departure angles: 29/26 degrees
  • Low Range: Yes
  • Off-road modes: Yes
  • Differentials: Yes, rear locking
  • Priced from: R780 900
  • Wading depth: 700 mm

The facelifted Hilux is a concerted effort to lift Toyota's flag-bearer to the top tier of leisure bakkies. Based on our impressions from the launch and having the vehicle on test, the bakkie is comfortable and settled on gravel roads, but also more capable on trickier off-road courses. With the raft of updates applied to the current iteration, the Toyota Hilux improves in many disciplines. There's a new, enlarged turbocharger, as well as a revised common-rail injection system and the Hilux 2.8 GD-6's power has been upped by 20 kW to 150 kW, and torque (in this automatic derivative) by 50 Nm to a meaty 500 Nm. The off-road discipline is an area in which the Hilux has always put in a class-leading performance, and the latest changes have certainly not impacted its performance in a negative way, although its weak-chin forebear arguably offered a better angle of approach.

The latest Toyota Hilux prices and specs here

Read a review of the Toyota Hilux here

Browse new and used Toyota Hilux units for sale here
 

Ford Ranger Wildtrak

Ford-Ranger-Wildtrak

  • Ground clearance: 237 mm
  • Approach/Departure angles: 25.5/21.8 degrees
  • Low Range: Yes
  • Off-road modes: Yes
  • Differentials: Yes, lockable rear
  • Priced from: R778 400
  • Wading depth: 800 mm

If you want a Ranger Raptor and your budget can't quite stretch that far, then there's nothing wrong with the standard Ranger Wildtrak. It loses the trick suspension and tyres, but still retains excellent ground clearance and a wading depth of 800 mm. The engine is the same as the one found in the Raptor, a 2.0-litre bi-turbocharged diesel with 157 kW and 500 Nm. The updates to the 2.0Bi-T DC 4x4 Wildtrak auto do make it a stronger proposition than ever. The all-new powertrain is impressive, refined and frugal, and represents a big leap forward for the segment. Those who'd like to recycle disparaging remarks about the "puny 2.0-litre motor" in the Volkswagen Amarok and level them at the Ford must be prepared to eat their words (yet again).

The latest Ford Ranger prices and specs here

Read a review of the Ford Ranger Wildtrak here

Browse new and used Ford Ranger units for sale here
 

Further Reading:

Winners: 2020/21 Cars.co.za Consumer Awards – powered by WesBank

Best Luxury Cars For Off-road Driving

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