Why you don’t need a 4×4 Overland Truck – and what you need instead

Can you drive around the world in a two-wheel drive truck? Yes you can! All of our group overland trucks were two-wheel drive trucks and our new family overland truck is also a 4×2.

In our experience of driving trucks across Asia, South America and Africa, here’s our thoughts on 4×2 vs 4×4 overland trucks.

Most driving doesn’t require a 4×4 overland truck

At the heart of it there is this – most of the driving that you will do on an epic overland trip will be on roads that don’t require 4-wheel drive.

We have taken our 4×2 trucks along dirt roads and tracks, corrugations, through mud, onto beaches, and across rivers… and yes, we have got stuck every now and then. But so do 4×4 overland trucks.

Even if your eyes are drawn to every track that heads off over the hills, the vast majority don’t need a 4×4 overland truck and can be done with a 4×2 truck.

Consider using someone else’s 4×4

There are some places that we have needed a vehicle with 4-wheel drive, such as game viewing in South Luangwa National Park in Zambia, or the incredible drives up to Altyn Arashan in Kyrgyzstan, or across the slipface on the road to Ushguli in Georgia. But in these instances, we were able to hire Toyota or Waz 4x4s to take our groups – and in both of these cases, the roads were unsuitable for overland trucks of our size anyway.

In the wrong conditions, even a 6×6 won’t help you

A few years ago, on an expedition from London to Singapore in a 4×2 Mercedes Benz 1820, we got rather spectacularly stuck in a farmer’s field in the mountains of Georgia. We had ended up in the field to repair a broken rear spring, and after deciding to camp there for the night we were enjoying some local hospitality when the rain started, and it proceeded to rain all night. As a result the ground under the truck slowly turned to mud and, by the morning, we found ourselves up to the axles in mud.

As knowledge of our stuck-ness spread around the village, a 6×6 army truck arrived to help pull us out of the field. The only problem was, the entrance to the field was so muddy that the 6×6 truck couldn’t even get into the field and after realising they too would get stuck, they reversed out and heading off on their way.

The moral to the story is: if the mud is deep enough, even a 6×6 won’t help you.

We did get out of the field with the help of our sand mats and a bit of digging. To celebrate the farmer brought us some fresh mare’s milk to warm us up. It’s fair to say it’s an acquired taste…

Cheaper to buy, cheaper to maintain

4×2 trucks are generally cheaper to buy and cheaper to maintain than their 4×4 truck equivalents.

Save your money and use it to travel further… There’s always another destination on the list 🙂

Worry about wheelbase and entry & exit angles instead

For off-road driving ability, short wheelbases generally rule the roost. More manoeuvrable (which also makes navigating around cities easier), and more amenable to those tempting dirt tracks that lead up and over the hills. Also worth considering entry and exit angles so you can drive through dips or rivers, or easily load onto ferries.

Whether you end up with a 4×4 overland truck, or a 4×2 overland truck, there’s sure to be an epic journey waiting for you.

Need some advice about overlanding around the world? Contact us to see if we can help.

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About us

We are Pete and Kirsten, and we are overland travel addicts. Having been lucky enough to work in the overland tour industry for many years including owning our own overland travel company, we are now heading off on independent overland adventures with our 2 kids. Read more

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