UTES & CAB CHASSIS – MEDIUM
All the utes and cab-chassis in the Australian market are here: new ute reviews and a summary of previous models, for those buying used.
The Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ Premium edition has been given the right hand drive treatment by HSV. Like all US-market ‘1500’ series utes it has limited payload of around 700kg, but can tow up to 4500kg.
Jeep has re-entered the Australian 4WD ute market after an absence of 35 years. The newly announced Gladiator is based on the Wrangler four-door, but with an extended wheelbase.
The remanufactured RAM 2500 and 3500 RHD models have achieved success in Australia, and were joined by the lighter-duty 1500 version in mid-2018. A petrol V8 is the standard offering and a three-litre diesel option was released in August 2019.
The ‘Benz dual-cab ute is based on the Nissan Navara, using its chassis, most body parts, four cylinder diesel powertrain and driveline. Rumours in mid-2019 suggested the X-Class may be discontinued.
Ateco has previously distributed Foton Chinese-made utes, but that agreement ended in mid-2017. Now, Ateco is distributing the LDV brand, hopefully with more longevity and market success. A Trailrider limited edition model and suspension upgrades were released in 2019, and a new diesel in 2020.
We compare the 2015 Isuzu Ute D-Max with four 2016 model year upgraded utes: Ford Ranger, Toyota HiLux, Mitsubishi Triton and Nissan Navara. OTA chose extended-cab versions to test.
Mitsubishi Motors’ restyled 2015 Triton made its international debut in 2014 and was released in Australia in crew cab form initially in May 2015. Upgrades were made in late 2016, with a facelift and new auto box for 2019, and further changes for 2020.
The Foton Tunland is a well-made, keenly-priced ute from China, with American-designed powertrain components, making it one of the best value for money utes in the market.
Tata is the world’s fourth-largest commercial vehicle maker and the owner of Land Rover. This giant multinational company didn’t get that way from making rubbish, but the Xenon will appeal to those wanting a basic ute, not a frills machine. Pricing is very, very good.
The 2013 Great Wall was better put together than the early efforts and our brief road test indicated reasonable performance for the money. The renamed post-2017 Steed model had greatly improved specifications.
On paper, the Nissan Patrol ute had it over the opposition, because its live-axle, coil-sprung front end could be matched with a choice of leaf rear springs or coils In DX spec’ level. However, the execution wasn’t brilliant and the Patrol finally bit the dust in 2016.
Mazda’s ute market entries have ticked most of the boxes. The 2010 BT-50 had part of the required package for market share improvement, boasting the most potent four-cylinder diesel engine in the ute class and the post-2011 range had a class-leading five-cylinder.
The Land Rover Defender cab/chassis and utes are no more. Production ceased on January 29, 2016 and the replacement model is a wagon-only model – no ute.
Jointly-developed Ford Ranger and Mazda BT-50 utes are hounding the traditional ute-market leader in Australia. The Ranger Mk II model was released in August 2015 and was updated in mid-2016, in mid-2018 and in mid-2019. A high performance Raptor model and a two-litre bi-turbo with 10-speed auto option was announced in early 2018.
Post-2012 Colorados had different engines and transmissions from D-MAXs. Upgrades were made in 2016, 2017 and 2019, before an announcement that the Holden brand and the Colorado would disappear from the market in late 2020.
Although it has the smallest engine capacity in the crew-cab ute class the Amarok has ample grunt and is physically larger inside and in the cargo tray than HiLux and Navara crew-cab utes. A V6 option was released in October 2016, but it’s a top-spec’ only vehicle until late 2018.
HiLux, the traditional market leading 4WD ute model, has been under Ford Ranger pressure since 2015 and lost its 4WD market leadership in 2017. However, upgraded models helped in 2018 and 2019.
An current SsangYong Musso dual cab ute was released in December 2018, following lacklustre sales of its predecessors. Previous SsangYongs tested well, but were very poorly marketed and supported.
The Navara D22 4WD single and dual cab model range was released in early 2002, with power from Nissan’s ZD30 diesel. This DOHC, four-cylinder displaced 2953cc and featured an M-Fire combustion system, Allan Whiting from Outback Travel Australia reports.
The NP300 Navara was released in June 2015, with much needed improvements in power and torque. The Series II models were announced in November 2016 and upgraded again in March 2017. Upgraded rear springs and dampers were released in early 2018 and the warranty was increased in March 2019.
‘Never judge a book by its cover’ our parents urged us as children and the old saw applies to the Mahindra Pik-Up. This work vehicle’s quirky exterior hides a roomy interior, a state of the art engine, a slick transmission and the first application in this market of Eaton’s mechanically locking differential (MLD).
Isuzu Ute’s D-MAX was given a performance boost in mid-2017, along with new six-speed transmissions and additional upgrades in mid-2018 and mid-2019.