Towing regulations had begun to tighten in 1989 , too . Road safety and vehicle regulations were starting to be taken seriously , so towing something heavy with the family car was no longer so easily overlooked . By the mid-1990s , 4WD wagons , already becoming fashionable , were becoming less ‘ prehistoric ’ in terms of their drivability and , as a bonus , they had a far more generous towing capacity .
These 4WDs popularised the turbodiesel , which offered something approximating decent performance that the previous , naturally-aspirated diesels couldn ’ t muster . Added to that was decent fuel-efficiency , especially the fourcylinder models .
This was when fuel prices were only rising and owning the alternative petrol 4WDs – typically large displacement six-cylinders or V8s – could become very expensive just driving around town , let alone chugging down petrol while towing on the big lap .
In the early 2000s , we had reached a high point for turbodiesels . This was the era of the GQ Nissan Patrol , Toyota Land Cruiser 80 Series and Land Rover Discovery II . Many such 4WD turbodiesels had a maximum 3500kg towing capacity and would lug a heavy van more than well enough to keep up with highway traffic in most cases – something the old naturallyaspirated diesels could never do .
In retrospect these turbodiesels now look incredibly simple , almost primitive . They relied on mechanical fuel injection , the diesel pump supplying the fuel to injectors at less than 1000bar .
As for the ownership / reliability standpoint , this is perhaps the high point of the technology . It is , in part , why the value of such wagons is sky-rocketing .