There’s no better companion to the tradie than the ute, or utility vehicle. For hauling big and cumbersome loads, tools and equipment, it’s an essential part of the job of a tradesman. But which ute is the best? Here are five of the top utes in the Australian market for 2014.
5. Toyota Hilux
The Toyota Hilux is Australia’s highest selling utility vehicles, now in its eighth-generation. The current and “unbreakable” Hilux has taken on a more solid-looking front, reminding one of an SVU or 4WD. It comes in a 2.7L four cylinder and 4L V6 petrol versions as well as a 3L turbo diesel. The back is narrower compared to most utes, but overall it’s a rough and ready machine capable of tackling the hard jobs.
4. Ford Ranger
The Ford Ranger is a premium dual-cab ute with an interior as plush and comfortable as any similar sized car. It comes in a 2.2L TDCi six-speed manual and the “Wildtrack” 3.2L auto. Aimed at commuters as much as tradespeople, the ute arrives with rain-sensor wipers, Bluetooth audio streaming, reverse-parking sensors and satellite navigation. Those looking for a ute modeled on the American style “pick-up truck” will find a lot to like.
3. Nissan Navara
The new model Nissan Navara has one of the easiest and most carefree rides in this lot of utes. It’s 3L V6 turbo blows some of its rivals with similar sized petrol engines out of the water. It’s unbelievably quiet for a ute that grunts up 170kW and 550Nm! Suspension absorbs nearly everything that runs underneath the tyres and grips surfaces with ease, even when hauling a brake-trailer rated 3000kg.
2. Mazda BT-50
The Mazda BT-50 is the most masculine looking ute in the list, looking tougher with optional bulbar and stand-offish angular lines dominating the front. The 3.2L turbo diesel shifts between gears effortlessly and only takes 9.2L/100km on both city and country use. The interior is modeled on SUV style comfort and combines 5-inch colour screen with music streaming, climate control, and a 6-speaker audio system. The only things keeping it from the 1 spot are sluggishness at low revs and a rather noisy power plant.
1. Volkswagen Amarok
The Volkswagen stands out from the pack as it’s the only ute with a full-time all-wheel drive, while others are part-timers or controlled via in-dash switches. On paper, it seems the weakest, bearing a 2L four cylinder engine. Two turbochargers really up the torque, spinning 420Nm suiting it for towing the biggest and meanest loads. Handling is smooth and consistent going up or down gradients. If you’re carrying people as well as materials, the Amarok fits three adults comfortably in the back. It’s also the only ute with a complete five-star ANCAP safety rating. This all adds up to the best ute in the shootout.