4x4

Offroading, 4WDing, overlanding and…

How do we describe what we owners and drivers of 4X4 vehicles actually do?

THERE IS NO DICTIONARY of Aussie offroad terms, just generally accepted usage…sort of. Here’s a general guide to what means what in Australia:

Who we are

4WDer – a common term for those that love 4WD vehicles and use them for something offroad, be that touring, transport or competition.  Example “most experienced 4WDers would prefer to avoid deep mudholes than drive through them”.

Offroader, 4X4er – not often used.

Comprehensive Car Insurance

Wheeler – not in Australia. That’s a USA term.

Grey nomad – a couple with a combined aged of at least 160 who have retired and are living the dream usually on a big lap. Extremely annoying to everyone else as they are prone to making comments like “oh, must rush, got to be back in the city by next August”.

What we call our vehicles

4X4/4WD – they mean different things, as 4WD means four wheels driven so a 6-wheeled vehicle with 4 driven wheels is a 4WD, just like a 2WD is used to mean a four wheeled vehicle with 2 driven wheels. A 4X4 is four wheels, four wheels driven. But generally used interchangeably.

4by, fourby, fourbie – slang term mostly used by people who want to appear ocker and laid back.

Four-wheel-drive – only used by newspaper journalists because their style guide says so.

Rig – a bit USA-ish, has connotations of large vehicles. Not often used.

SUV – we try not to use this, but in the 4X4 industry the term generally means a softroader, if it is used at all. It is far more frequently used by the non-specialist offroad press to mean anything from a CX-3 to a LC79.

Softroader – generally used to refer to light-duty offroaders like Foresters and Outbacks. Sometimes also ‘softie’.

Truck – not even the heaviest duty 4X4s are trucks, but people still like to call them trucks, mostly people that have not driven an actual truck.

Car – some people have a real aversion to calling a 4X4 a car because it has connotations of softness, but sometimes it just makes sense. For example: “We have another four cars to winch up this hill” is easier than “we have another four 4X4s to winch up this hill”, or “we have a five-car convoy”.

Vehicle – those that can’t handle 4X4s being called cars are ok with this.

Tourer – a 4X4 modified for and used for trips, which are offroad journeys. The offroad modifications are usually limited to a suspension lift, slightly larger tyres and maybe a locking differential or two. The rest of the coin goes on things like cargo systems, bullbars, winches and roofracks.

Comp car/truck – a 4X4 modified for competition, usually to the point where it is unroadworthy, even if some carry engineer’s certificates that were valid when it had 31s and before the supercharger and rollcage went in.

Daily – short for ‘daily driver’, this is a vehicle that you use every day for personal transport such as errands to the shop or commuting. Not all 4X4s are ‘dailies’, some sit in the garage waiting for the next trip.

Paddock basher – not necessarily a 4×4, but a beaten up vehicle not fit for the road which is used for general hoonage.

Show pony, shiny, shiny pony – a 4×4 dressed up for offroading but never actually used as such. In the street world this is known as hardparking, in the 4×4 world we are less polite.

What we do

4WDing – the act of driving over rough terrain.  Also sometimes 4X4ing.

Offroading – same as above, but less often used.

Four-wheel-driving – far too much effort to type except for newspaper journalists.

Touring – driving a 4X4 for a journey to see what to you want to see and what you might find.

Overlanding – kind of means very long distance international offroad travel. Rarely used in Australia, sounds a little try-hard to our ears.

Wheeling – a USA term that means the act of driving offroad. Not used much in Australia.

Trip – a journey in your 4X4, anything from a single day ‘day trip’ to a multi-month journey.

Expedition – nobody in Australia uses expedition. That sounds way too pretentious. We do trips, maybe daytrips, or long trips, or outback trips.

Daytrip – as it implies, out and back in a single day.

Basecamp – drive to a fixed location, camp, and run daytrips out of your base, then pack up and go home.

A quick spin – going out the door promising it’ll be just a couple of hours when in fact you have every intention of making it a night drive and it turns into a winching session that ends at daybreak.

What other jargon do you use to describe who we are, what we drive and what we do?


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Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper is a motoring journalist, offroad driver trainer and photographer interested in anything with wings, sails or wheels. He is the author of four books on offroading, and owns a modified Ford Ranger PX which he uses for offroad touring. His other car is a Toyota 86 which exists purely to drive in circles on racetracks, and that's when he isn't racing his Nissan Pulsar. Visit his website: www.l2sfbc.com or follow him on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/RobertPepperJourno/ or buy his new ebook!