FAMILY TRUCKSTER

OUR PATROL DRAGS A CAMPER TRAILER AWAY FOR A WEEKEND OF FAMILY FUN.

WORDS & PICS STUART JONES

ďDAD ... weíre so not giving this backĒÖ backseat approval had been decreed.

I was quite stoked when Matt threw me the keys to the top-spec Ti-L Patrol for a long weekend away with the boys and kids on the Murray River. It wasnít the most arduous off-roading trip, but a weekend up bush under the stars is always enjoyable.

Packing for the trip was easy, as thereís plenty of room in the rear for a fridge, food boxes and clothing; plus, I strapped the kidsí bikes to the Ironman 4x4 roof rack. The kids loved the extra room in the back seats compared to our regular GU Patrol, while the Bluetooth headphones that come with DVD players in the headrests meant there was a complete lack of cords around their feet to get tangled in.

My little Tambo Camper Trailer weighs in at about 800kg loaded, and hooking it up to the Patrol was simple. Towing was a breeze and overtaking was just as easy; there was no dropping a gear on long run-ups, like I need to do with my 3.0L Patrol. Simply wait for a break in traffic, point, squirt the 298kW, and itís all over and done before you have a chance to glance at the speedo.

We spent the weekend in the Murray River Reserve, about 20 minutes outside Echuca, and there are plenty of riverside options to pull-up for a stay. Christies Beach is popular for good reason, but on this trip we stayed at Betts Beach, as it had a rope swing (OH&S parents disapprove, but kids love it) and is close to the beach.

The roof rack came in handy when it came time to collect wood, as we didnít want to dirty the plush cabin. The Ironman Instant Awning was also a bonus, as a couple of the older kids had the old open-to-the-elements swags and the awning kept the dew off them; all they had to worry about was the threat of mozzies and an early morning lick from Max the Blue Heeler. The Ironman awning comes with an inbuilt LED strip light, which is a well-thought-out addition that comes in handy after dark.

If this Patrol was mine, Iíd need a fridge slide and a second battery for the fridge Ė Iím so used to these in my own car that now Iím spoilt. For the long weekend I had take the fridge out of the rear and run it off the trailerís battery/solar set-up.

Stepping out of my old, faithful 3.0L GU and into the Ti-L made me realise how far cars have developed since 2001: lane departure and forward collision warnings, blind spot monitors, and Intelligent Distance Control are constant reminders of how far things have come. However, it was that V8, with a complete lack of turbo lag, which was the biggest winner for me.

How much did it drink? Around town I achieved 17.47L/100km; a tour up the Hume one weekend when unladen gave me 13.14L/100km; and on the Echuca camping weekend with the trailer we achieved 18.45L/100km. Itís not the end of the world, but there is a price to pay for effortless power.

EDITORíS NOTE

THIS is the last instalment of our six months with the Y62 Patrol. Just like Stu, weíve loved it for its power and performance, the massive amount of interior space and its generous list of standard features. Whatís more impressive is the price of the Patrol against any of its large 4x4 wagon competitors. And before anyone wants to complain about the fuel use of a petrol V8 engine, the money you save on purchase price over a similar dieselfuelled wagon buys you a hell of a lot of premium gasoline. Weíre missing the big bus already!