Large, seven-seat four-wheel drives with low-range aren’t traditionally thought of as performance cars, but how well they accelerate and brake is critical.

After all, a few metres can be the difference between your family emerging unscathed from an emergency stop, and an expensive repair bill.

Along with a round-robin drag race, we subjected the vehicles on our test to a series of performance tests – both unladen, and with our 3kN dyne trailer attached.

On the back of those tests, we’ve awarded the best-performing 4WD SUV overall, and the best-performing four-cylinder model. Those awards are based on all the tests conducted – and are revealed at the end of this story.

To stay across everything that’s happening with the 4WD SUV Mega Test, check out our dedicated page. Our next video to go live will be the towing test on Monday, June 12.

Unladen performance testing

We used the high-speed bowl at the VinFast (nee Holden) Proving Ground in Lang Lang, Victoria, for our testing.

We measured their 0-100km/h sprint time, and their 100km/h-0 braking distance. Overtaking ability was tested, as was the standing quarter mile.

The results are laid out in a series of tables below:

Vehicle0-100km/h100-0km/h1/4 mile
Ford Everest Platinum V69.39s3.16s @ 44.74m16.80s @ 135.44km/h
Ford Everest Trend Bi-Turbo10.78s3.4s @ 46.07m17.65s @ 125.84km/h
Isuzu MU-X11.27s3.04s @ 42.63m17.63s @ 124.14km/h
Nissan Patrol7.49s3.19s @ 44.99m15.43s @145.64km/h
Jeep Grand Cherokee L10.19s2.99s @ 40.19m17.25s @ 131.72km/h
Land Rover Defender 110 D3008.10s3.21s @ 42.39m15.91s @ 141.35km/h
Land Rover Defender 110 P525 V85.43s2.96s @ 40.92m13.63s @ 169.02km/h
Lexus LX6007.09s2.95s @ 41.76m15.05s @ 152.22km/h
Mitsubishi Pajero Sport12.61s3.54s @ 45.81m18.63s @ 120.01km/h
SsangYong Rexton11.09s3.30s @ 41.56m17.78s @ 126.18km/h
Toyota Fortuner10.97s3.38s @ 43.9m17.66s @ 129.76km/h
Toyota LandCruiser 3008.11s3.35s @ 42.84m15.85s @ 143.20km/h
Toyota LandCruiser Prado11.38s2.93s @ 39.03m17.89s @ 126.03km/h
Ford Everest Platinum V65.26s7.04s
Ford Everest Trend Bi-Turbo6.16s8.40s
Isuzu MU-X7.00s9.03s
Nissan Patrol4.11s5.18s
Jeep Grand Cherokee L5.66s7.18s
Land Rover Defender 110 D3004.48s5.87s
Land Rover Defender 110 P525 V82.76s3.40s
Lexus LX6003.71s4.57s
Mitsubishi Pajero Sport7.26s10.17s
SsangYong Rexton6.30s8.55s
Toyota Fortuner6.19s7.57s
Toyota LandCruiser 3004.43s5.53s
Toyota LandCruiser Prado6.61s8.28s

Laden tests

We got our hands on a state-of-the-art trailer dynamometer with a variable load retarder that allowed us to impart up to 10kN of resistive load to the tow vehicle.

What does this mean in real terms? Think of the trailer dynamometer as an anchor. Varying the dynamometer load allows us to change the weight of that anchor.

This weighted anchor allows us to simulate a long steep climb for the tow vehicle, which ultimately puts immense load on the engine.

This 1600kg trailer dynamometer is wirelessly linked up to a computer that lets the operator adjust the degree of resistance force as measured in kilonewtons (kN) – in our tests we set it to 3kN, which simulates a fairly steep ascent, but one that should be within each vehicle’s abilities.

With this trailer attached we measured the 0-100km/h time, as well as the 0-90km/h time, because as you’ll see not all of the competitors made it to three digits.

Ford Everest Platinum V613.30s 17.18s10.54s
Ford Everest Trend Bi-Turbo16.01s FAILFAIL
Isuzu MU-X19.05sFAILFAIL
Nissan Patrol10.08s12.47s7.11s
Jeep Grand Cherokee L15.40sFAILFAIL
Land Rover Defender 110 D30010.31s12.66s 7.32s
Lexus LX6009.62s11.36s7.01s
Mitsubishi Pajero Sport23.24sFAILFAIL
SsangYong Rexton18.79sFAILFAIL
Toyota Fortuner17.58sFAILFAIL
Toyota LandCruiser 30011.65s14.13s 7.83s
Toyota LandCruiser Prado18.58sFAILFAIL
Note: The Defender 110 V8 wasn’t available for tow testing

Then we did another two fuel economy laps to see how hard the engine was working with the load active. Fuel economy is a key consideration for anyone who’s towing a big, heavy trailer a long way.

Here’s how each car’s indicated fuel economy changed with the dyne trailer attached on the high-speed bowl.

VehicleFuel economyLaden fuel economy
Ford Everest Platinum V69.0L/100km32.2L/100km
Ford Everest Trend Bi-Turbo7.6L/100km28.4L/100km
Isuzu MU-X8.2L/100km27.4L/100km
Nissan Patrol10.9L/100km35.7L/100km
Jeep Grand Cherokee L8.4L/100km39.8L/100km
Land Rover Defender 110 D3007.2L/100km29.2L/100km
Lexus LX6009.6L/100km37.2L/100km
Mitsubishi Pajero Sport9.2L/100km32.3L/100km
SsangYong Rexton*8.1L/100km25.0L/100km*
Toyota Fortuner9.2L/100km28.9L/100km
Toyota LandCruiser 3009.0L/100km31.4L/100km
Toyota LandCruiser Prado8.4L/100km30.4L/100km
Note: The Defender 110 V8 wasn’t available for tow testing

As explained in our towing test, the SsangYong Rexton’s cruise control wouldn’t hold the vehicle at 100km/h and kept slowing down to around 70km/h before changing down a gear. As a result, this laden fuel economy result is worth discounting.

But wait, there’s more data!

Along with the data above, we recorded a few extra figures that may be useful to potential owners.

Using our GPS performance logger, we tracked how fast each SUV was actually going at an indicated 100km/h.

VehicleGPS speed at indicated 100km/h
Ford Everest Platinum V697km/h
Ford Everest Trend Bi-Turbo96km/h
Isuzu MU-X95km/h
Nissan Patrol92km/h
Jeep Grand Cherokee L96km/h
Land Rover Defender 110 D30096km/h
Lexus LX60097km/h
Mitsubishi Pajero Sport95km/h
SsangYong Rexton93km/h
Toyota Fortuner98km/h
Toyota LandCruiser 30097km/h
Toyota LandCruiser Prado97km/h
Note: The Defender 110 V8 wasn’t available

Finally, we used our calibrated sound meter to measure how loud each car was at 80km/h and 100km/h on smooth and coarse road surfaces.

VehicleSmooth 80km/hSmooth 100km/hCoarse 80km/hCoarse 100km/h
Ford Everest Platinum V657.8dB62.5dB63.3dB67.0dB
Ford Everest Trend Bi-Turbo60.6dB62.5dB62.6dB65.6dB
Isuzu MU-X62.2dB65.8dB66.0dB68.1dB
Nissan Patrol58.4dB62.1dB63.6dB66.3dB
Jeep Grand Cherokee L60.3dB62.9dB67.8dB69.0dB
Land Rover Defender 110 D30059.2dB63.0dB66.1dB67.8dB
Lexus LX60057.7dB61.2dB62.1dB65.0dB
Mitsubishi Pajero Sport61.2dB63.5dB65.7dB68.5dB
SsangYong Rexton58.3dB61.9dB63.9dB66.2dB
Toyota Fortuner62.7dB66.3dB66.2dB70.0dB
Toyota LandCruiser 30060.3dB62.7dB64.4dB66.2dB
Toyota LandCruiser Prado58.5dB64.1dB64.2dB67.2dB
Note: The Defender 110 V8 wasn’t available

And the winners are…

The best performance 4WD SUV is the Lexus LX600.

Not only is it quicker in a straight line than all its rivals barring the slightly unhinged Defender 110 V8, was the quietest on every road surface at every speed, and didn’t lose its breath with our 3kN trailer attached.

Throw in an impressive performance in the braking test, and there was no real doubt as to our winner.

The best-performing four-cylinder is the Ford Everest Bi-Turbo.

It’s lived sightly in the shadow of its V6 sibling since launch, but the difference between the pair was impressively narrow in our testing – and the Everest was a more capable, comfortable performer than the MU-X, Fortuner, Prado, Rexton, and Pajero Sport in the majority of our unladen tests.

Throw a trailer on the back and it really shines, as the data collected with our 10kN trailer hooked up shows.

The impact of its all-terrain tyres shows in the braking test, however. There’s still room for improvement, even if the Everest represents the summit of four-cylinder performance in our testing.

To stay across everything that’s happening with the 4WD SUV Mega Test, check out our dedicated page. Our next video to go live will be the towing test on Monday, June 12.

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Scott Collie

Scott Collie is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Scott studied journalism at RMIT University and, after a lifelong obsession with everything automotive, started covering the car industry shortly afterwards. He has a passion for travel, and is an avid Melbourne Demons supporter.

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