Budget 16 lakh: Need a new or used 4×4 with good ground clearance

This is for a commercial operation. I have a 12-year-old petrol AT 1.8TSI Skoda Superb as the other car, and it is totally unsuitable for these weekly trips and a bit unreliable.

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2600 kms per month. Including weekly 350kms return trips to a commercial farm with eight kms of return rough village road (No tar). The weekly trip would be on Mumbai Goa Route from Thane to Mahad area. This is being developed into a fine road but will take another 4 years to be completed in my estimate.

In the interim period there would be the usual skipping/ shifting from one side of the divider to the other as in under construction roads, passing adjacent to under construction flyovers and underpasses on hastily constructed roads, driving on undulating surfaces etc. The last section of four kms is a rough village road with no Tar. Road sections would have muddy slush and water logging.

The initial period would involve staying in Tents, while a farmhouse gets ready.

This is for a commercial operation. I have a 12-year-old petrol AT 1.8TSI Skoda Superb as the other car, and it is totally unsuitable for these weekly trips and a bit unreliable.

I would be making 60% of the trips Solo and driving myself. I am 6 Ft, 115Kgs.

Critical Requirements:

  • Max 16L – Lower the better as it all gets added to the project cost.
  • Ground Clearance.
  • 4X4 or AWD?
  • 4 Seats minimum, 5 Ideal.
  • Roof Rack
  • Good Load Carrying capacity. Capability of adding Roof-Mounted Tent etc.
  • Diesel – For fuel efficiency and associated Load pulling torque.


Carry my Dog and Cat (In a cat carrier) along.

Good to have Requirements:

  • AT – Ruggedness is fine but comfort too is important.
  • Safety, Stability of vehicle, Reasonable speed to save time.
  • 7 Seats with last row fully foldable to add luggage space.

Note: The shortlisted vehicles are compared by many but not for the specific requirements and nor with a target price as above:

ISUZU V-Cross – 2017-2020 models Preowned ONLY. The new ones are simply overpriced (if not how could they sell for so less just 3 years back) and folks don’t give me the Toyota profit margin reasoning – They are bigger culprits. (Profits retained outside India itself while calculating transfer pricing).


  • Load Bay is always useful on a Farm. 1 Ton plus capacity.
  • Proper 4X4
  • Space for Pets.
  • 5-Seater.
  • Has all the required features.
  • Most preowned vehicles have the required accessories fitted. Canopy will be extra cost though.
  • Good Water Wading Capability.
  • Good commanding visibility.


  • Unlikely to be able to get a AT 4X4 version.
  • Long wheelbase – Cumbersome in rough roads.
  • Likely to be 80K kms run and hence reliability? Clutch? Suspension? @80k kms.
  • Likely to have met some abuse in previous life.

This is presently top of mind for my requirements presently.

Force Gurkha: New


  • Superb visibility.
  • 4X4X4 – Differential Locks.
  • Superb rough use matting provided by the company.
  • All accessories are approved by the factory itself and provided as a pack. Nice Orange and Green colours.
  • Factory warranty.
  • Striking unique visibility and massive presence. exclusivity.
  • Best water wading capability.
  • Very commanding visibility.


  • Just 4 Seats
  • Interiors – Will have to get them customized.
  • Poor Engine – 90BHP. Had 90BHP Safari TCIC from 2001 to 2010 – Back to origins for me.
  • Gear lever is rubbery and Short in height for taller drivers.
  • Low Ground Clearance effectively due to a metal protection plate between the front wheels. – Needs a tyre height upsize hence and it costs.
  • Stretch budget as it is effectively now 18L OTR – (Discounted value will be closer to 17L.) I feel like I can get a much better vehicle preowned and not that the Gurkha will exhibit phenomenal reliability for being new.
  • Plus, what when the novelty wears out the power shortcomings will come to haunt me.
  • One must go at your own pace. Not for cornering at pace for speed runs.

This is second in my consideration set presently despite the price, absence of load bay. Can I live with it?

TATA Hexa: Preowned XT AWD.


  • I loved the Aria Pride AWD during my 2.5 years and 65k kms with it.
  • 7-Seater.
  • AWD and AT both are superb – But why not together.
  • It has all the features and ground clearance I need.
  • Modest Water Wading Capability.
  • Well within budget.
  • Rear Seat folds.
  • Would get 7-seater with bench in middle so that too can fold.
  • Can sleep inside.
  • Excellent Ride comfort.
  • Quality interiors are better than that of the Fortuner even.


  • It lost roof rails in models from mid 2018. Got a better screen that I would immediately replace with a Woodman System. So, I need to add costs for that.
  • Can’t get both AWD and AT is same vehicle.
  • It is an AWD not a 4X4. A disadvantage. Experts do comment if it would be enough for my usage to get to my farm and back over rough village track.
  • MT AWD has Leg-space shortage for taller Drivers. But I did use the Aria AWD for 65k kms. So, Ergonomics is a worry.
  • Reliability? (For a 2017-2018 model). It will be out of warranty.
  • 19″ Alloy wheels are not the best for rough roads. Only MRF has reasonably priced Tires for those alloys.

This is third on my list. It tugs at my heart.

Fortuner: Preowned 2014-2016 models. Ideally 4X4 AT.


  • Reliable, It’s a Toyota, but at 100k kms plus?
  • 7-Seater.
  • It can take a Roof Rack and Rear Seats can be folded to the side.
  • Good water wading capacity.
  • Good visibility.


  • 4X4 AT are rare and the AT till 2015 were 4-speed ones.
  • Generally, they are all run 100k plus.
  • Bouncy Ride. Middle Bench is not comfortable. The under-thigh comfort is missing.
  • Boring to me. Common on the Roads. No exclusivity.

This is Joint third in my list but does not tug at the heart. Endeavour does but does not come within the budget.

Tata Safari Storme: Preowned VX Varicor 400 4X4 – 2016-2018.


  • Kinda 7-seater. The last two row seats fold away.
  • Superb ride.
  • Have 175,000 kms of Safari experience.
  • Decent power
  • Well within budget
  • Decent water wading capability and ground clearance.


  • Heavy for certain off-road sections.
  • Have already lived with a Safari for an exceptionally extended period. — Again?
  • Hard to find a 4X4 VX Varicor 400.
  • Age – Though actually younger than the Fortuners that I am considering.
  • Tempted to move it upward in the consideration set ranking. Presently fouth.

Scorpio S11: Preowned 4X4 (No combo with AT).


  • Good Engine
  • Well within budget.
  • Can take a roof rack.
  • Has decent features.
  • The water wading capability is not too high.


  • Short, Low Luggage space.
  • The middle row is cramped.
  • Bouncy Ride.
  • Common on the roads.
  • A new one comes just this month, and it will be a massive improvement.

Doesn’t excite me but will serve most of the purpose. Presently fifth.


  • Thar Diesel AT: 20L approx. OTR, Too small on the inside. No luggage space. Bouncy and busy ride. No roof rack provision. Sadly, a gem of an engine + AT gearbox combo that does not suit me. The compromises are too many for me at that price point when the objective is not just a lifestyle vehicle for show, nor for off roading fun.
  • Endeavour 4X4 AT 2.2 or 3.2: Even preowned 4X4 ones don’t fit into the budget – Or maybe I need to search better.
  • Duster Refresh 110ps AWD AMT: Tempting but too small. Well within budget. Renault Service? Older Dusters have expensive parts to replace, shorter in height.
  • New Sorpion-N 4×4: Likely to not have 4X4 at launch or be priced too high for comfort. For a new car, the max I have considered is 17.5L. (Only if new). I am ok with a mid-variant, but not the entry variant.

I am looking forward to adding for my consideration any options that I may have missed and need assistance in eliminating options that I shouldn’t consider so that I am left with just a top three set. Not considering any soft roaders without AWD or 4X4.

PS: The purchase will be in July most probably. I have test driven ALL the options listed by me above, at various times.

Here’s what GTO had to say on the matter:

Lots of asks for 16-lakhs. I would say that a pre-worshipped Jeep Compass 4×4 or Tata Hexa will suit your needs to the T. If new car, then you must strongly consider the Gurkha (owners are super happy with it) and wait for the Scorpio-N.

Here’s what BHPian condor had to say on the matter:

The AWD Hexa should be enough to get to a farm and back. Unless you are going to get into slush during monsoons.

The wheels/tyre combo can be taken care of. Get a set of 16″ alloys and tyres. Have seen ads for 25k for a set of 5 alloys. Though this will set you back by about 50-60k, the ride comfort will definitely improve. And any unplanned tyre replacements will not pinch so much.

Here’s what BHPian Kosfactor had to say on the matter:

Mahindra is the default choice in rural areas for overall durability and running costs. Scorpio would make short work of the 350kms and then you can take the rough sections slow or fast depending on your mood.

The S11 may look utilitarian compared to the N that is coming up but that utility is what matters to you at the moment. Get a white one please, helps you blend into the landscape, of course it helps.

Here’s what BHPian PrideRed had to say on the matter:

For the budget and from options listed I think you may get DMax or Hexa only. A well maintained 2014/15 Fortuner in Mumbai would easily ask 18-20L which I still feel is worth it. Since you travel solo most of the time, middle row comfort should not matter much. If you need, there are plenty of after market suspensions which you can look at. Since Fortuner is sold in good numbers, finding a good used copy is easier. The soft suspension is easy when you test drive, but on longer run starts eating driving pleasure(Personal take).

Few other options I would consider:

  • Thar D MT/AT- I find this better option than Gurkha, though scores a bit low on practicality.
  • XUV500 AWD- Mechanicals have proved to be reliable, fast and comfortable, should be available under 16L.

Here’s what BHPian Sheel had to say on the matter:

I will wait for Scorpio N to be launched. See the specifications, times lines for delivery, any niggles / issues reported and then take a call on this.

My second choice would be a mint Fortuner or a MU-X.

My third choice would be a Scorpio S11. I have the S10 4WD so do have some experience. It is super reliable (98.5K done, stock clutch, no mechanical issues to leave me stranded).

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

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