An all-function, no-fashion off-roader for bad conditions, especially snow. Buy assuming you will be the last owner. It's the sort of car you run on snow tyres year round.
- Transmission is over engineered
2WD/4WD, can switch on the move. O/D, LSD rear, central diff locking, crawler gear, auto and manual options. Dash light that shows 2/4WD can malfunction and flash, but no worries; it's just the electrics playing up. Better than a Forester in deep snow.
Sump shield, thin plate but foam rubber between sump. Totally inadequate for bad bumps, so you might as well remove it for extra cooling. Alternatively, get another from a donor and double-skin. Or as template for making a heavy duty guard.
Fuel tanks (there seem to be two) are shielded in the same thin plate material, but adequate as a stone guard.
Propshaft universal joint into rear diff has a H/D shield.
- Ground clearance
Good, but central diff cross-member sticks down. Could be an issue in deep snow.
Quite stiff in standard form. Steering alignment never seems to need adjusting.
Disc/drum. The plungers on the fronts need greasing when you change pads. Adequate, especially with ABS; drums on the rear are hardly a deal breaker.
- Power steering
Belt squeaks/slips so you briefly lose power steering when you go through water. Adjustment is not that easy.
The standard battery is small. Changing to a larger battery means you have to address that small/large terminal pillar terminal issue. Changing the headlight bulb on the battery side is a problem, especially as disconnecting the battery means you have to reset the tickover.
Discoloured headlight lenses exacerbates dismal performance. However, bumper-mounted fogs serve as cornering lights.
A bit choppy, especially the short wheelbase version. Can't get it to handbrake turn.
Grips well in 4WD.
215/70/16 seems over-tyred, and for snow a narrower wheel/tyre would be an advantage. However, 21mm wheel nuts with deep fixing means that although 16" Toyota/Nissan wheels fit (if you drill out the holes), you will also need spacers. Best advice; don't go that route.
The stem that takes HT to the spark plug shorted out, but even on three you can get around. Standard servicing is relatively easy once you get that useless sump guard out of the way. Note that the fuel filter is fitted above the fuel tank.
One tip: Use spacers on the seat belt buckles to prevent movement so you buckle up on the move.