Took the Duster for a hoon around the flooded back roads where I live- great fun all taken in its stride....
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I was thinking, after my post #2, that maybe the 4WD sump-shield was also part of the "problem". However, I'm thinking you don't have a shield on the 4x2 (?)i totally agree, and having wipers on before hitting any standing water in the Duster is a must....i'm not sure wether its the shape of the wings or the front but most of the displaced water goes 'up and over' rather than out to the sides!
As regards front wheel position, that's what I'm thinking too. However, will be interesting to see whether any owners of "real" off-roaders (Landies in particular) report similar.I think its the same with the 4 x 2 as it has a large steel plate under the engine sump. Held in place by lots of bolts and weighs a tonne according to my mechanic when he did the oil change.
My personal feeling about the water throw was the wheels sit further outbound of the body than on a normal car, that and the depth of tread from the crossover tyres.