Isuzu D-MAX 2020, Mazda BT-50 2020, Ford Ranger 2020, Toyota HiLux 2020

Best ute 2020 comparison: Isuzu D-Max v Mazda BT-50 v Toyota HiLux v Ford Ranger v Mitsubishi Triton v Nissan Navara v VW Amarok v LDV T60 Trailrider

2020 Ute mega test

We test eight of Australia’s favourite utes in our annual mega test.

By JOSHUA DOWLING and SAM PURCELL

Australians continue to gorge themselves on utes as thousands plan to holiday at home while most international borders remain closed.

For the better part of a decade, buyers have had the upper hand as dealers have been overstocked.

Now the opposite is true. A pause in production earlier this year due to the coronavirus crisis – combined with an unexpected spike in demand due to government incentives – has left many showrooms almost empty or out of stock.

The car industry has responded by raising prices on some of our most popular models.

The official line is that cars now have more standard equipment and more advanced safety technology than ever before, and exchange rates have also pushed up prices.

The forces of supply and demand also appear to be contributing factors to the price hikes.

Better equipped and safer cars no doubt cost more, but recent price rises of between $8000 and $13,000 – or close to 25 per cent in some cases – seem a bit of a stretch no matter which way you cut it.

If you’re looking for a bargain, you may want to pump the brakes and wait for end-of-year deals. Otherwise, be prepared to pay, because if you don’t buy that shiny new ute at the price the dealer is asking today, chances are it will be sold to the next person who walks through the door.

With that in mind, we started this year's annual ute mega test in interesting times. Due to COVID-19 interstate travel restrictions, we couldn't retrace last year's route on the outskirts of Melbourne – or use its convenient base where we could also load and unload cargo – which enabled us to combine four elements in one test.

So this year’s test is focused towards on-road driving – with the trays empty, and also when towing a caravan.

Last year we also included a road loop with a 650kg load, as well as an off-road obstacle test. We will do a separate analysis of off-road and load-carrying performance in the coming months.

This year, we have an interesting line-up. Most utes have a model life cycle of 10 years (rather than five-, six- or seven-year changeovers for passenger cars).

So, we have a curious mix for 2020. The Isuzu D-Max and Mazda BT-50 twins are brand-new and the first complete redesign for each model in almost a decade.

The Toyota HiLux has just had a midlife facelift, five years after this generation went on sale. The Ford Ranger has had another of its annual tweaks to help keep it fresh.

The Mitsubishi Triton and Nissan Navara – now two of the oldest in the segment – have had only subtle tweaks since last year.

Volkswagen has just introduced a 580Nm version of its mid-grade Amarok Highline (this model grade’s TDV6 was previously capped at 550Nm) and we are among the first to get behind the wheel.

China’s LDV T60 Trailrider 2 is the second iteration of this limited-edition model, now with an all-new 2.0-litre turbo diesel developed in-house replacing the previous 2.8-litre diesel.

Let’s check them out.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Due to the design of our template, it is not possible to align photo blocks perfectly with each model section. We apologise for any confusion this might cause.

Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain

This is our fourth assessment of the new-generation Isuzu D-Max in two months, so we’re starting to get familiar with it.

This is the first completely new Isuzu D-Max in eight years; there are no carryover components on the body or chassis. Although the engine remains a 3.0-litre turbo diesel, it too is all-new. Only the conrods are carried over from before.

We have once again tested the flagship Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain because it lines up closest on price and equipment compared to the main rivals.

PRICE AND SPECS

The RRP for the Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain is $62,900 plus on-road costs; however, as this article was published it was advertised for $58,990 drive-away as an introductory offer.

As the flagship in the range, the Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain comes with every available piece of equipment, including a long list of advanced safety technology (see below).

The X-Terrain is distinguished by a body kit, roller shutter cover and tub liner; however, a tow bar is still an extra-cost option even though it is standard on a Toyota HiLux SR5, Rugged X and Rogue, and Ford Ranger XLT and Wildtrak.

The 18-inch wheels are the same as those fitted to the mid-grade Isuzu D-Max LS-T, but with a charcoal finish to match the grille and fender flares.

SAFETY

The Isuzu D-Max is arguably the safest vehicle in the ute class, with the most up-to-date safety rating among its peers. The D-Max earned a five-star score against the harshest (2020) criteria to date.

Standard fare includes eight airbags, including a centre airbag between the front seats; a first for the ute class. Located in the inboard cushion of the driver’s seat, it’s designed to prevent front occupants from head injuries in a side-impact crash.

There is also a host of safety technology designed to prevent a crash in the first place. Adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance, speed-sign recognition, rear cross-traffic alert, autonomous emergency braking (including crash prevention in intersections) and blind-zone warning are all standard.

However, some owners may find the safety systems too intrusive. They can be muted or disabled, but some functions are reset every time you turn on the ignition, so you need to go through the same motions to mute or disable them again.

In some cases, the D-Max wanted to pull the steering out of our hands when trying to change lanes, or over-reacted to other warnings. At times, the safety aids felt counterproductive.

While the Isuzu D-Max should be praised for the long list of advanced safety tech (and new cars will increasingly have similar systems), a ‘favourites’ button on the dash or steering wheel – to enable drivers to quickly activate their preferred safety settings – would be a welcome addition.

The rear-view camera has a large display, but the image is not as sharp as it is on the Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux, especially in low light.

Subjectively, the bi-LED low- and high-beam lamps on the Isuzu D-Max were the best showroom-standard headlights on this test. They project a bright, broad beam of light immediately in front of the car on low beam, and throw light a long way down the road on high beam, with no gap between the low- and high-beam spread.

CABIN

Standard equipment includes dual-zone air-conditioning, leather seats, electric adjustment for the driver’s seat, a sensor key with push-button start, and auto-locking as the driver walks away with the sensor key.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, digital radio and embedded navigation are included, but there are no volume or tuning dials, only buttons below the display or on the steering wheel.

Height- and reach-adjustable steering is rare in the class but standard on all new D-Max utes. There’s power to the front and back seats, (one USB port front and rear and a 12V socket up front), but no household power socket (standard on the HiLux and Ranger models tested).

Back seat passengers get rear air vents. There are two ISOFIX child seat mounts and two top-tether straps.

ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION

While three litres of turbo diesel capacity might sound familiar, there is precious little carryover under the bonnet of the new D-Max. In fact, only the conrods are common to the old motor.

With a new block, new variable-geometry turbo, new fuel injection system and lightweight aluminium pistons, Isuzu’s new 4JJ3-TCX boasts modestly improved numbers compared to the previous 4JJ1: 140kW at 3600rpm and 450Nm at 1600–2600rpm. The six-speed gearbox, either an Isuzu manual or Aisin automatic, is also familiar to the older Isuzu.

Isuzu diesel enthusiasts will be happy to know what while the block and head castings are different, they use the same materials (including a melt-in cylinder liner). And, importantly, a timing chain (with double scissor gear) continues service on the front of the engine.

ON-ROAD DRIVING

The Isuzu D-Max is much more refined than before, but it’s similar to the HiLux and Ranger rather than being a standout for quietness.

The D-Max does not have the most power and torque in the class (140kW/450Nm), but it makes good use of its available grunt, never feels flustered, and is well matched to the six-speed auto, which shifts intuitively and efficiently.

Our 0–100km/h test showed it stopped the clocks in 10.2 seconds versus 10.4 seconds for the upgraded Toyota HiLux, and 9.7 seconds for the Ford Ranger Wildtrak bi-turbo 2.0-litre.

Ride comfort is good for a heavy-duty double-cab ute, with relatively modest levels of flutter and shake over bumpy roads. The brake pedal feels precise. The D-Max has a floating front calliper rather than a four-piston design as per the HiLux, but the swept area is as big as, or is slightly larger than, the Toyota’s front brake pads.

The D-Max performed well in our emergency braking tests in the wet and dry. The D-Max, BT-50, HiLux and Ranger happened to be on identical Bridgestone Dueler highway tyres and their performance was almost identical. However, the VW Amarok Highline 580 and LDV T60 Trailrider 2 on road rubber pulled up shorter still (see table below).

The fuel economy on our road loop – a mix of suburban and freeway driving with limited traffic stops – was respectable (7.6L/100km versus 8.0L/100km on the fuel rating label) and among the most efficient of the eight utes tested. At 100km/h, the D-Max was ticking over at about 1500rpm in sixth gear. With stop-start traffic and a heavy load, this consumption figure would climb.

TOWING

Isuzu’s D-Max seems to rev a little less in direct comparison to the HiLux, as it aims to eke out mid-range torque over top end power. Rather than changing gears, revs modulate via the torque converter, and lends to a relaxed feeling under load.

While the D-Max lacks the outright peak torque bragging rights that that others in this comparison have, my seat-of-pants experience tells me that the Isuzu seems to make plentiful torque on either side of it’s peak curve. It doesn’t really get caught out, and allows the gearbox to shift with a nice, deliberate infrequency.

Ride is another strong point for the Isuzu, with the new (longer) chassis and updated suspension yielding a nice combination of comfort and control.

Although the Isuzu’s electric power steering is impressively light-fingered at low speed manoeuvres, it did feel particularly light and vague at highway speeds.

The off-centre feel in particular would get tiresome on long drives, and only gets exacerbated by lane departure warning often working against you and your lane placement.

When you’re towing, you often prefer to use all of the lane at your disposal. Worth pointing out, these aids can be turned off.

CHECK OUT: D-Max news and reviews


Mazda BT-50 GT

The Mazda BT-50 is now an Isuzu under the skin after the Japanese brand’s 50-year partnership with Ford came to an end. The previous-generation Mazda BT-50 was based on the 2011 Ford Ranger, so this model is a big step up compared to its predecessor.

The new Mazda BT-50 has arrived in local showrooms about two months after the Isuzu D-Max, and is built by Isuzu on behalf of Mazda at its factory in Thailand, the source of most utes in this test.

PRICE AND SPECS

We’ve tested the top-of-the-range Mazda BT-50 GT, which starts from $59,990 plus on-road costs. This undercuts the RRP of the Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain by $3000, but is dearer than its twin’s introductory drive-away price.

Unlike the flagship Isuzu, the top-line Mazda BT-50 is available with a manual transmission, though it misses out on the X-Terrain’s standard tub liner and hard lid. As with the Isuzu, a tow bar costs extra.

The Mazda is identical to the Isuzu under the skin and has the same advanced safety technology (see below).

Over the Isuzu, the BT-50 gains an auto-dimming mirror, extra padding near the centre console, heated leather seats and a matching alloy spare (the Isuzu gets a steel spare wheel).

SAFETY

Mazda this week received a five-star safety rating from ANCAP (the same overall score as the Isuzu D-Max) after being tested to the latest and toughest criteria. The Mazda was marked down 2 per cent in pedestrian safety compared to the Isuzu, however the total still amounted to a respectable five-star score.

This makes the Mazda BT-50 the equal-safest ute in the class, with the most up-to-date safety rating among its peers. A five-star score against 2020 criteria is a higher achievement than a five-star score from 2011, for example.

As with the Isuzu, standard fare includes eight airbags, including a centre airbag between the front seats; a first for the ute class. Located in the inboard cushion of the driver’s seat, it’s designed to prevent front occupants from head injuries in a side-impact crash.

There is also a host of safety technology designed to prevent a crash in the first place.

Adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance, speed-sign recognition, rear cross-traffic alert, autonomous emergency braking (including crash prevention in intersections) and blind-zone warning are all standard.

However, as with the Isuzu, owners of the Mazda BT-50 may find some safety systems too intrusive. They can be muted or disabled, but some functions are reset every time you turn on the ignition, so you need to go through the same motions to mute or disable them again.

In some cases, as with the D-Max, the BT-50 wanted to pull the steering out of our hands when trying to change lanes, or over-reacted to other warnings. At times, the safety aids felt counterproductive.

While the Isuzu and Mazda utes should be praised for the long list of advanced safety tech (and new cars will increasingly have similar systems), a ‘favourites’ button on the dash or steering wheel – to enable drivers to quickly activate their preferred settings – would be a welcome addition.

As with the Isuzu, the Mazda’s rear-view camera has a large display, but the image is not as sharp as it is on the Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux, especially in low light.

Subjectively, as with the Isuzu D-Max, the bi-LED low- and high-beam lamps on the Mazda BT-50 were the best showroom-standard headlights on this test. They project a bright, broad beam of light immediately in front of the car on low beam, and throw light a long way down the road on high beam, with no gap between the low- and high-beam spread.

CABIN

Mazda has added a wider section of soft-touch material to the dash and on the lower section of the centre console. The BT-50 also gains heated leather seats and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.

Isuzu fans may notice the Mazda lacks the extra cupholders that pop out from the dash near the air vents.

Otherwise, standard fare is identical to the Isuzu D-Max. Standard equipment includes dual-zone air-conditioning, leather seats (in brown only, rather than black in the Isuzu), electric adjustment for the driver’s seat, a sensor key with push-button start, and auto-locking as the driver walks away with the key.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, digital radio and embedded navigation are included, but there are no volume or tuning dials, only buttons below the display or on the steering wheel.

Height- and reach-adjustable steering is rare in the class but standard on the BT-50. There’s power to the front and back seats, (one USB port front and rear and a 12V socket up front), but no household power socket (standard on the HiLux and Ranger tested).

Back seat passengers get rear air vents. There are two ISOFIX child seat mounts and two top-tether straps.

ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION

Few new-generation vehicles launch with less power and torque than the previous model. But now because it is based on the Isuzu D-Max (rather than the Ford Ranger and its 3.2-litre five-cylinder), that’s exactly what has happened to the Mazda BT-50.

Interestingly, the Mazda has managed to stay at the top of the class when capacity is concerned.

Previously, the Ford-sourced 3.2-litre five-cylinder engine made 147kW at 3000rpm and 470Nm at 1750–2500rpm. In comparison, the new Isuzu engine offers 140kW at 3600rpm and 450Nm at 1600–2600rpm.

That’s 20Nm less peak torque, but the curve is wider and flatter. And with seven less kilowatts, the redline is noticeably taller with this new engine.

Choices of transmission are still six-speed manual and automatic transmissions, but they now mimic Isuzu’s offering (in terms of hardware and calibration).

ON-ROAD DRIVING

When the Mazda BT-50 and Ford Ranger were twins, the two utes had a unique suspension tune. Not so this time around.

The Mazda BT-50 drives exactly the same as the Isuzu, no matter what you might want to believe. The steering, suspension and stability-control settings are identical, and so too are the tyre pressures.

That said, the new BT-50 is much more refined than the old 3.2-litre five-cylinder, though some fans may miss its gruffness.

The BT-50 has gone backwards in terms of power and torque (140kW/450Nm), but the new model is lighter than before, so performance and economy have improved.

As with the Isuzu, the Isuzu 3.0-litre in the BT-50 (only the badge on the engine cover is different) makes good use of available power and torque, never feels flustered, and is well matched to the six-speed auto, which shifts intuitively and efficiently.

Our 0–100km/h test showed it stopped the clocks in 10.2 seconds versus 10.4 seconds for the upgraded Toyota HiLux, and 9.7 seconds for the Ford Ranger Wildtrak bi-turbo 2.0-litre.

Ride comfort is good for a heavy-duty double-cab ute, with relatively modest levels of flutter and shake over bumpy roads. The brake pedal feels precise. The BT-50 has the same brakes as the Isuzu: a floating front calliper rather than a four-piston design as per the HiLux, but the swept area is as big as, or is slightly larger than, the Toyota’s front brake pads.

The BT-50 performed well in our emergency braking tests in the wet and dry. The D-Max, BT-50, HiLux and Ranger happened to be on identical Bridgestone Dueler highway tyres and their performance was almost identical. However, the VW Amarok Highline 580 and LDV T60 Trailrider 2 on road rubber pulled up shorter still (see table).

The fuel economy on our road loop – a mix of suburban and freeway driving with limited traffic stops – was respectable (7.8L/100km versus 8.0L/100km on the fuel rating label) and among the most efficient of the eight utes tested. This was 0.2L/100km worse than the Isuzu, only because we encountered more traffic on that run. At 100km/h, the BT-50 was ticking over at about 1500rpm in sixth gear, the same as the Isuzu of course.

TOWING

The BT-50 was, unsurprisingly, an experiential facsimile of the Isuzu D-Max. Don’t forget, Mazda hasn’t done anything to the suspension, driveline, steering or brakes.

Driving the Mazda reconfirmed for us how good this 3.0-litre diesel is for a tow rig. While others are no doubt faster, it has a nice relaxed feeling to it, never seeming to be stressed and having enough power available to get the job done.

The gearbox is a good companion, modulating revs via the torque converter and only changing down gears when you really asking for everything.

The ride is comfortable, but the experience of vagueness through the steering wheel once again at highway speeds was a thorn in the side of an otherwise good experience.

CHECK OUT: BT-50 news and reviews


Ford Ranger Wildtrak

The Ford Ranger Wildtrak has increased sales even as the model nears the end of its current life cycle.

A new-generation Ford Ranger is due in local showrooms about a year from now, but the current model is holding its own against newer competition thanks to continual updates.

The minor changes for this year are brighter low-beam LED headlights, a USB charging port in the mirror housing for dash cams, a powered roller shutter hard lid that can be opened and closed via the remote key fob, and new smartphone connectivity that enables owners to operate certain functions of their vehicle remotely.

PRICE AND SPECS

Ford has crept up the price of the Ranger. The Wildtrak powered by the twin-turbo 2.0-litre four-cylinder (157kW/500Nm) and 10-speed auto now starts from $65,790 plus on-road costs, making it the most expensive vehicle in this test by some margin.

Standard equipment includes the aforementioned roller shutter hard lid (now with remote operation), partial leather seats (with electric adjustment for the driver), dual-zone air-conditioning, a sensor key with push-button start, puddle lamps, and 18-inch wheels instead of 17s on the XLT and Raptor.

A tow bar with a 12-pin connector is standard, and the ute tub has a tray liner and a 12V power socket.

Ford recently fitted a horizontal spring to the tailgate to make it easier to close.

SAFETY

Six airbags are standard on the Ford Ranger, which has a five-star safety rating from 2015.

Radar cruise control, speed sign recognition, individual tyre pressure monitors, and autonomous emergency braking are standard, but blind-zone warning and rear cross-traffic alert are not available.

Front and rear parking sensors complement the clear rear-view camera. The guiding lines turn with the steering, but there is no 360-degree camera view on the Ranger.

The new, rectangular LED low beams are an improvement but, subjectively, the Isuzu and Mazda twins with bi-LED low and high beams are best in class. The Ford's high beam is weaker than the twins and doesn’t throw as much light down the road as the others.

Our testing showed the Ford Ranger takes a little longer to pull up in an emergency stop (wet or dry) than the Isuzu, Mazda, Toyota, Volkswagen and LDV utes, possibly due to the Ranger’s smaller front discs and heavier overall weight.

CABIN

The cabin is starting to look dated but it is highly functional, with large door pockets, centre console and glovebox.

The driver’s seat is comfortable, and it’s easy to find the right position even though the steering has tilt adjustment only (not height and reach).

The Ranger has the most user-friendly infotainment, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, digital radio and embedded navigation, with large volume and tuning dials.

The instrument cluster has a digital speed display and there are plenty of power sockets up front (three USB and one 12V) plus a household socket in the centre console.

Handy touches not available on other utes: extendable sun visors to block side glare, and tiny LED lights in the central-locking switches in both front doors, so you can be sure you’re safe when driving through a dodgy area.

There are no air vents or power sockets for back seat passengers, but the Ranger has among the roomiest and most comfortable back seat.

ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION

While the older 3.2-litre five-cylinder engine is still available for the Ranger, Ford’s two-litre ‘Bi-Turbo’ diesel engine is the newest and most expensive choice.

And what it lacks in outright capacity, it looks to make up in a modern and efficient overall design. A low-friction timing belt lives within the engine (partially submerged in sump oil), and the turbochargers and fuel injectors are on the cutting edge.

Ford’s fuel injectors can deliver as little as one sugar grain’s worth of fuel, six times per combustion cycle. A smaller, variable-geometry turbocharger kicks in lower in the rev range, while a larger turbo (with fixed geometry) services the top end of the tachometer.

It yields impressive numbers: 157kW at 3750rpm and 500Nm at 1750–2000rpm. With a relatively narrow band of peak torque, a 10-speed automatic transmission (your only choice with this motor) looks to keep the engine in its sweet spot as often as possible.

The gearbox is a design shared between Ford and General Motors, and is used in a variety of applications like the Ford F-150, Mustang and Transit, Chevrolet Silverado and Camaro, and Cadillac CT6.

ON-ROAD DRIVING

The Ford Ranger remains near the top of the class for on-road dynamics for a heavy-duty four-wheel-drive ute, though the VW Amarok is still the overall benchmark and the updated Toyota HiLux has closed the gap.

The engine sounds muted most of the time and is really only noisy under load. The 10-speed auto has occasional indecisive shifts and didn’t deliver exceptional fuel economy on our road loop.

It was the second quickest from 0–100km/h behind the VW Amarok V6, with a time of 9.7 seconds on the day (versus 7.8 seconds for the VW).

The Ranger averaged 8.0L/100km on our test loop (compared to 7.4L/100km on its fuel rating label, and versus 7.6 on the Isuzu and 7.4 on the HiLux on test) largely because it didn’t maximise all 10 ratios. When it did eventually slip into 10th gear, at 100km/h the Ranger was pulling just under 1500rpm.

Braking performance feels average compared to the other utes on test, with the pedal feeling spongy and the pads lacking bite. The Ranger also took longer to pull up than most others in this test, wet or dry.

One other thing we noticed more in this comparison versus other recent tests with the Ranger: there is noticeable 'head toss' over bumps, such as when turning into or leaving a steep driveway. Other utes didn’t display this trait. Perhaps it was caused by a stiffer body, suspension bushes, or swaybar, but the Ranger was definitely less comfortable than the others in those scenarios.

Comfort over bumps is otherwise supple and well controlled – splitting hairs, the HiLux is right alongside the Ranger now in this regard.

The electric power steering has good balance between feedback and ease of use, and cornering grip is slightly better in the Ranger versus the Isuzu and Mazda (despite running identical tyres).

However, the overall feel of the electric power steering in the Isuzu and Mazda twins was the best of the electrically assisted bunch.

TOWING

Of all of the utes, the Ranger’s two-litre engine was one of the quietest under load, with only a muted warble emanating into the cabin. Although, you could feel it was lacking the outright punch that the larger 2.8 and 3.0 litre engines had.

The 10-speed gearbox does jump around between gears as it chases that peak torque range. Although the gear changes are smooth and often almost imperceptible, even skipping multiple ratios, we preferred other drivelnes that were able to build momentum while holding a gear.

Call upon more acceleration, and the gearbox skips a beat as it raises revs over 3000rpm. It’s not cantankerous, and seems to rev freely. And importantly, decent power is available when you need it.

The electric steering feels noticeably heavier in comparison to the Isuzu and Mazda, almost hydraulic-feeling at times with its weighting. Its nicely dialled for towing, with no vagueness to report.

The suspension also rides nicely, with good damping and plenty of control making this a good highway cruiser.

CHECK OUT: Ranger news and reviews


Toyota HiLux SR5+

The Toyota HiLux has just had its biggest facelift since this generation went on sale in 2015.

Behind the new nose is an uprated engine and overhauled suspension, while the cabin gains extra creature comforts such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a digital speed display.

The HiLux remains Australia’s top-selling nameplate; however, this is when 4x2 and 4x4 sales are combined. When comparing the tally of 4x4 models such as this, the Ford Ranger outsells the HiLux.

This update model aims to reverse that trend. However, the updated HiLux only has 12 months or so to make an impact, because by this time next year it will likely be up against an all-new Ford Ranger.

PRICE AND SPECS

Although the Toyota HiLux Rugged X and Rogue flagship models are just around the corner, at the time of this test the Toyota HiLux SR5 Plus Pack – priced from $62,490 plus on-road costs – was the top of the range.

This has pushed the drive-away price to about $67,900 – an increase of more than $13,000 over its previous drive-away price.

The Plus Pack, which adds heated leather seats, is $2500, while auto is $2000.

Although the SR5 is still available as a manual, we’ve tested the automatic and listed the price for the automatic for each of these utes.

A tow bar remains standard, but there is no tub liner or tonneau cover on this model.

SAFETY

The Toyota HiLux carries over the five-star safety rating it received in 2019 when it received advanced safety then such as autonomous emergency braking, speed sign recognition and radar cruise control. This was in addition to seven airbags to protect occupants should the worst happen.

Front corner sensors and full rear sensors have been added to the updated model, which retains a relatively clear rear-view camera.

However, a 360-degree camera, blind-zone warning, and rear cross-traffic alert are not available.

The updated HiLux also has improved roadholding, a more advanced stability-control calibration, and strong, reassuring front brakes.

CABIN

The judges were divided over the HiLux interior. Some didn’t like the extensive use of hard plastics, others liked its clean, open, and extremely practical design.

The HiLux also has the coldest and fastest-working air-conditioning on the market, though it’s still only single-zone rather than dual-zone air-conditioning as per most rivals.

There is still only one USB port and one 12V power socket in the entire cabin (despite the recent update), but at least there is a household power socket (and air vents) at the rear of the centre console. Two shopping bag hooks (one in each front seat back) are a thoughtful touch.

In keeping with its hard-as-nails image, there is no vanity mirror for the driver (versus lit vanity mirrors in the Ranger, reflecting its use as a family car).

There is good (electric, as part of the Plus Pack) adjustment in the driver’s seat – and height and reach adjustment in the steering column – to find the perfect seating position.

Oddment storage is good, though the door pockets could be wider. And extendable sun visors (such as those on the Ford Ranger) would be a welcome addition. Toyota offers them on certain Prado models but, oddly, not the top-end HiLux.

ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION

While this facelifted HiLux carries over the same 2.8-litre '1GD-FTV' four-cylinder diesel, it’s had a bit of a birthday for the 2021 model.

There is a host of small changes to the engine and its ancillaries, but a bigger turbocharger and a new fuel injection system are the big-ticket items.

There’s a handsome bump to power and torque for the new HiLux: 150kW at 3400rpm and 500Nm at 1600–2800rpm. That compares to previous figures of 130kW at 3400rpm and 450Nm at 1600–2400rpm.

Although, if you opt for a six-speed manual transmission, torque is capped at 420Nm at 1400–3400rpm.

It’s important to note that Toyota has also made changes to the software and hardware of its diesel particulate filtration system, since widespread owner problems precipitated a class-action lawsuit against the manufacturer.

ON-ROAD DRIVING

It may seem hard to believe, but the Toyota HiLux has made a genuine leap forward with this update in terms of chassis dynamics and comfort over bumps. We were impressed the first time we drove the updated HiLux in a single-car review, and again in the comparison with the Ranger and D-Max.

But having spent even more time behind the wheel – including on a skid pan – we have a new appreciation for the HiLux’s new breadth of ability.

It performed well in our slalom tests, with effective and intuitive stability control, and better braking in the wet or dry than the Ford Ranger.

We were perhaps a touch harsh on the hydraulic power steering on the HiLux in our recent test (versus the super-light electric power steering on the Isuzu and Ford). However, in isolation, the HiLux power steering feels fine, well weighted and reassuring. It just feels heavy initially after you swap into it after driving a ute with electric power steering.

The HiLux’s revised suspension has good compliance over bumps, and engine noise is fair by ute standards – not a standout but not the worst in class.

The uprated 2.8-litre turbo diesel (150kW/500Nm) feels perky and responsive even at light throttle, and works well with the six-speed auto, which holds gears when it should and shifts into a taller ratio when it’s best to do so.

Interestingly, though, despite its impressive power numbers, its acceleration time of 10.4 seconds was a touch slower 0–100km/h than the Isuzu and Mazda twins (10.2 seconds).

At 100km/h, the engine ticks over at about 1850rpm in sixth gear, which is a touch higher than the others.

Interestingly, on our test loop the HiLux returned a fuel economy average of 7.4L/100km, the best on test (and better than the fuel rating label figure of 8.1L/100km). It was so good we thought there may have been an error, so we did the loop again and got an even better result. But we have published the fuel figure from the first lap because the other utes only got one go.

The pre-facelift Toyota HiLux SR5 had excellent low and high beams from its bi-LED headlights; however, the new lamps don’t seem as bright and nor do they appear to throw their beam as far down the road. There is also a noticeable line across the middle of the beam. By comparison, the Isuzu and Mazda headlights saturate the road ahead with bright white light.

TOWING

With new suspension and more power and torque, the HiLux is now a better tow rig than the older model could have ever wished to be. While the ride is still slightly jiggly through the bumpy and undulating part of our test loop, it also felt stable and well controlled.

With extra torque on tap, the engine doesn’t need to go over 3000rpm in order to give meaningful progress. We noticed that the throttle calibration of the HiLux is more responsive than other utes, needing less right-foot input to achieve your desired results.

Another nice touch is the Power and Economy buttons near the gear selector, which effectively tightens and dulls throttle response respectively, according to your own preferences.

While steering is relatively heavy in the HiLux (especially in comparison to the electric-assisted utes), it’s not burdensome and seems perfectly acceptable in isolation. When towing, it remains well dialled and controlled.

We experienced a couple of DPF regenerations as indicated through the instrument binnacle during our test, which indicates that this new HiLux might be doing more regular burn-offs to reduce any chance of clogging.

CHECK OUT: HiLux news and reviews


Mitsubishi Triton GLS Premium

The Mitsubishi Triton GLS Premium has just been superseded by the similarly equipped – but renamed – Triton GSR.

However, for the purposes of this test, the essentials are the same. The 2.4-litre engine and six-speed auto remain, and the 18-inch wheels and chrome grille shown here now have black accents.

The Triton received advanced safety tech two years ago and those features continue on this model.

PRICE AND SPECS

Priced from $52,790 plus on-road costs, the Mitsubishi Triton has a price advantage of at least $10,000 in this company.

Standard equipment includes dual-zone air-conditioning, a sensor key with push-button start, 18-inch alloys, and Mitsubishi’s Super Select II 4WD system that can be used on sealed roads if necessary. It is the only switchable 4WD system among these rivals that can use 4WD on tarmac.

The test car was equipped with a tow bar, tub liner and hard lid, but these were options on the GLS Premium.

SAFETY

The Mitsubishi Triton received advanced safety features such as autonomous emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-zone warning, and lane-wander warning (though not lane-keeping) when this bold facelift arrived last year.

Radar cruise control, speed sign recognition, and lane-tracing tech are still not available. And the Triton is the only vehicle in this test without a digital speed display.

Despite the recent updates, the Triton retains its five-star ANCAP safety rating from 2015. Seven airbags protect occupants should the worst happen.

Interestingly, the Triton has a 270-degree camera (rather than a 360-degree view) as it lacks a camera on the nose. And the image from the camera is milky versus the others. However, the top-end Triton does have front and rear parking sensors.

CABIN

The Mitsubishi Triton cabin feels smaller compared to most rivals on this test, in part because the underpinnings of this model date back to its predecessor.

Mitsubishi made worthwhile upgrades to this model when it arrived in 2015 – including the adoption of height and reach steering and a better seating position – but the cabin is small, due in part to the shorter wheelbase (which, in turn, delivers a tighter turning circle).

The leather seats have heating up front and electric adjustment for the driver. The back seat has a comfortable, passenger-car-like rake but otherwise it feels a touch cramped.

The Triton cabin has two USB ports and two 12V sockets. Cool air is redirected to back seat passengers via a roof fan. It merely recirculates air from the front vents – there is no ducting in the roof.

Other observations: the Triton’s Bluetooth audio comes out of the speaker in the front passenger’s door, which can be hard to hear, and makes you feel the need to yell at the person on the other end of the phone just to be heard.

The plastics are hard-wearing and storage space is limited versus the class leaders, but the wallet you will be sitting on will be fatter because the Triton is so much cheaper than the rest.

ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION

In service since 2015, Mitsubishi’s 2.4-litre ‘4N14’ took over from the long-serving and well-regarded 2.5-litre ‘4D56’ diesel, which was used in one form or another since the 1980s.

This new Mitsubishi design is the first passenger diesel engine to use variable intake valve timing, using an all-alloy construction to keep weight down, and has a relatively low compression ratio of 15.5:1.

While the engine family comes in a variety of sizes and outputs, the Triton gets the most powerful iteration.

Numbers seem meagre by today’s ever-improving standards: 133kW at 3500rpm and 430Nm at 2500rpm. That makes it the second least impressive motor on paper in front of the LDV. There is a single variable-geometry turbocharger, and torque isn’t capped for the manual transmission.

While most utes (except for the Amarok) operate a part-time 4WD system with rear-wheel drive on-road, the Triton has a foot in both camps. Super Select lets you choose between rear-wheel and all-wheel drive on-road, with a locking centre differential for off-roading in high and low range.

ON-ROAD DRIVING

The 2.4-litre turbo diesel (133kW/420Nm) now matched to a six-speed auto makes easy work of the lightest ute on this test, but it was surprisingly thirsty on our road loop (identical route and near-identical conditions for each car).

The Triton returned an average of 8.9L/100km (versus 8.6L/100km on the rating label) when driven without a load.

The engine ticks over at about 1600rpm at 100km/h and works well with the six-speed auto; however, it’s now noticeably noisier than newer rivals (and one old one). It did 0–100km/h in 11.4 seconds on our timing equipment – slightly perkier than the Navara and LDV T60.

It’s civilised and refined enough to live with, but you’re not going to mistake this for a luxury SUV. The Triton still gets the jiggles and even feels a touch firm on bumps, like old-school utes used to be.

The hydraulic power steering is relatively well weighted, and the tightest turning circle in the category is a plus in the city and suburbs. But steering feel overall is not in the same league as the Isuzu, Mazda, HiLux and Ranger.

The testers also noted there was slightly more tyre hum than on the Isuzu, Mazda, HiLux and Ford.

The Triton performed the best in emergency braking in the dry among the utes wearing off-road tyres; however, its wet-weather braking was the worst on test by a significant margin. Indeed, no other ute had such a disparity in the wet versus the dry in the emergency braking tests.

Overall, the Triton feels like a stronger proposition with lesser models further down the pricing ladder.

TOWING

The Triton’s rear suspension feels somewhat soft in comparison to the rest of the utes in this mega test, when towing the two-tonne van. One reason for this would be the relatively short wheel-base, and the cantilevering effect of the long rear overhang.

Although, we never lost confidence or control behind the wheel. Perhaps if our test van was another tonne heavier, results could be different.

The Triton’s trusty 2.4-litre diesel is a better engine than the numbers suggest, pulling heartily without needing excessive revs. It’s still behind the pack leaders in this regard, but lines up evenly against the Navara (according to our seat-of-pants experience).

Combine good steering and an unfazed automatic gearbox, and the Triton is a solid towing prospect.

Another note: if we happened to have inclement weather or some low-traction surfaces to navigate, the all-wheel drive ability of Mitsubishi’s Super Select system would have been a real boon.

CHECK OUT: Triton news and reviews


Nissan Navara N-Trek

A facelifted Nissan Navara is just around the corner, but for now the N-Trek is Nissan’s answer to the Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain, Ford Ranger Wildtrak, and Toyota HiLux SR5.

We’ve not tested the highly regarded Nissan Navara Warrior in this comparison, as that’s more of a rival to the Ford Ranger Raptor and Toyota HiLux Rugged X.

For now, the Navara N-Trek is the closest ute in Nissan’s line-up to compare in this company.

PRICE AND SPECS

The Nissan Navara N-Trek is priced from $59,600 plus on-road costs, which positions it alongside better-equipped rivals for the same or similar money.

Drive-away offers and finance deals come and go, but to ensure the playing field is level, we have relied on RRPs for each of the utes tested.

The N-Trek comes with partial leather seats (with electric adjustment for the driver), dual-zone air-conditioning, a sensor key with push-button start, a 360-degree camera, a sliding rear window, a tub liner, and Nissan’s clever tie-down hooks on an adjustable rail.

A tow bar is not standard on this model, even though it is standard on the equivalent Ranger and HiLux.

SAFETY

The Nissan Navara has a five-star safety rating from 2015, when this generation was released.

The Navara lacks the latest advanced safety aids (such as autonomous emergency braking, blind-zone warning, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assistance or departure warning, and speed sign recognition), though some or all of this tech could be just around the corner with the facelifted Navara.

The Navara is one of the few utes in the class with a 360-degree camera. The Navara has rear sensors, but is the only ute on this test without front sensors.

CABIN

The judges were divided on the seat comfort in the Navara. Most noted the seating position was too high and it was hard to get comfortable, especially as the steering had tilt adjustment only (not height and reach).

Last year, the Navara received Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – and volume and tuning dials on the infotainment – as well as a digital speed display.

Most controls are well placed and easy to use. The sliding back window is unique in the class (Navara-based X-Class notwithstanding) and handy when trying to yell – or receive – instructions, such as when reversing a trailer.

Dual-zone air-conditioning is standard on this model and it works well. Storage space is smaller than most rivals in the centre console and door pockets.

There is only one USB port and two 12V sockets in the cabin, but the Navara is one of the few utes in the class with air vents to the back seat.

ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION

Although Nissan did once boast of a 3.0-litre diesel V6 in the previous-generation D40 Navara, that is now a distant memory. While other makes have since made headway with a V6, a 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine (which is sourced from Renault) has been the sole choice of power plant for the Navara range since 2015.

We’ve got the most powerful variant here, which makes 140kW at 3750rpm and 450Nm at 1500–2500rpm. Solid numbers, and the Navara does claim to be efficient at the same time: 7.0L/100km. Although, some of the new competition has eaten into that advantage somewhat.

Peak torque comes on at low revs thanks to the sequential turbocharging set-up. A smaller, high-pressure turbocharger is first in line, which gets progressively overtaken by the larger low-pressure turbo as revs rise. Running through a seven-speed automatic transmission (in our case), you can also get a six-speed manual gearbox.

ON-ROAD DRIVING

How time flies. The Nissan Navara ranked relatively well last year, but the twin-turbo 2.3-litre (140kW/450Nm) is starting to sound noisy among newer company.

The engine works well with the seven-speed auto; however, its fuel economy advantage appears to have been eroded. On our test loop, the Navara returned an average consumption reading of 7.9L/100km (versus 7.0L/100km on the rating label).

At 100km/h, the Navara engine was ticking over at about 1800rpm in seventh gear. For the majority of our test loop, the gearbox was intuitive and smooth.

It’s not meant to be a race car, but the Navara did the 0–100km/h dash in 11.7 seconds – the second slowest here, just ahead of the LDV T60.

The hydraulic power steering has been tweaked over the years and it does the job, but it’s not a particular highlight.

The Navara made a bit of a hash of the wet and dry slalom test, and braking in both conditions was a heart-starter due in part to the slippery Toyo tyres.

The Navara was one of the biggest handfuls on this test in the slalom (even by ute standards), and had the longest braking distance in the dry and the second-longest braking distance in the wet (only the Triton had a longer wet-road braking distance).

The tyres were also a touch noisier than the others on our loop, which had a mix of coarse chip and smooth bitumen.

The ride over bumps feels a touch firm but it’s not bone-jarring. It’s not in the same league as the Isuzu, Mazda, Ford and Toyota, but traditional ute buyers likely won’t mind.

TOWING

Fourth-time lucky for Nissan indeed, with the Series 4 Navara’s unique coil-sprung rear end now delivering the goods of suppleness and control without giving the bumpstops a workout.

Although 450 newton-metres measures up well against the competition, the Navara didn’t seem to have the same raw pulling power as the Isuzu, Mazda, Toyota and Volkswagen. But, it’s also respectable, and didn’t leave us red-faced in traffic.

We did note that when under load and working hard, the 2.3-litre engine is now getting a little noisy. The seven-speed gearbox is good, allowing the engine to pull through it’s revs without changing gears too often.

Steering is also well dialled now. While it has stuck with hydraulic assistance, the faster steering ratio and more balanced suspension as part of the most recent updates give it a good sense of control when towing.

CHECK OUT: Navara news and reviews


VW Amarok Highline 580

Volkswagen now offers the 580Nm version of its 3.0-litre turbo diesel V6 in the mid-grade Highline model. It has literally just arrived off the boat and this is one of the first road tests of the new model.

Although showroom versions of the new Highline 580 come with a new 18-inch ‘turbine'-style alloy wheel, our test car was equipped with the 20-inch wheels and sports bar from the Black Edition. The roof-rack is also an accessory, but this was the only car we could get our hands on.

The Amarok is the only V6 in this test and the only full-time all-wheel-drive in the class now the Mercedes X-Class is about to be axed.

PRICE AND SPECS

The VW Amarok Highline 580 starts from $61,990 plus on-road costs, and bridges the gap between the Core and Sportline base models and the Ultimate and W580 flagship models.

Standard equipment includes bi-xenon headlights, front and rear parking sensors, a rear-view camera, dual-zone air-conditioning, a spring-loaded tailgate, four-wheel disc brakes, full-time all-wheel drive, and highway tyres.

The VW Amarok Highline 580 also comes with extra charge ports in the cabin, colour-coded door handles, sports seats and carpet floor covering.

SAFETY

The Volkswagen Amarok has a five-star safety rating from 2011, when this generation was introduced.

At the time, rear (curtain) airbags were not a requirement to earn a five-star rating. The focus was on front-seat occupant protection, which was measured after driving one vehicle into a barrier at 64km/h and another striking a pole side-on.

In these disciplines, the Amarok scored 32.99 out of 37 points. By comparison, the same year the Ford Ranger scored 35.72 out of 37, the highest of any vehicle at the time.

ANCAP now requires car companies to date stamp its star ratings and has since given scores an expiry date of six years.

Under the current criteria, the Amarok would not earn a five-star score due to its lack of rear airbags – and due to the lack of any kind of advanced safety tech such as autonomous emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assistance, and blind-zone warning.

Under current guidelines, Volkswagen would also not be allowed to advertise a result that was nine years old; however, the expiry date rule was introduced in 2018, so VW is within its rights to advertise the 2011 five-star result.

Translation: although there are only four airbags in the Amarok (and no protection in the back seat) versus six, seven and eight airbags in its rivals gathered here, it will protect front seat occupants to five-star safety standards from 2011.

There are no plans to upgrade the Amarok with safety tech, as it has only two years or so left to run before it switches to a Ford Ranger-based new-generation vehicle.

CABIN

The VW Amarok has the widest cabin in the class and the largest door pockets (which also happen to have carpet lining). The plastics are hard to the touch, but the design is holding its age well, with a clean and functional appearance.

The infotainment screen is small but includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, embedded navigation, digital radio and a CD player (a rarity in the class).

The instrument cluster has a digital instrument display and tyre pressure monitors (not available on lesser variants or most rivals), but the brightness of the display can’t be adjusted.

The leather steering wheel is from an earlier-generation Golf, has a quality feel, and height and reach adjustment. With ample adjustment in the driver’s seat, it’s easy to find the perfect seating position.

There are no air-conditioning vents to back seat passengers and only one 12V socket. The front cabin has two 12V sockets and a USB port.

Auto headlights and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror are standard. The Amarok is one of only two vehicles in this test with one-touch auto-up windows on all four doors (the other is the HiLux). All other utes on this test only have a one-touch auto-up window on the driver’s door.

While the cabin is wide, the Amarok has among the tightest back seat space, with less knee room than most rivals because the emphasis was put on tray size.

ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION

Volkswagen first shoehorned a 3.0-litre diesel V6 engine into the Amarok back in 2017, making it the most powerful and torquiest 4x4 ute on sale in Australia. While Mercedes’s ill-fated X-Class was breathing down its neck, a further update in 2018 gave higher-specification Amaroks 190kW (200kW on overboost) and 580Nm, giving it bragging rights in terms of diesel-powered 4x4 utes.

It’s an engine sourced from the broader Volkswagen Automotive Group range, seeing action in a variety of subsidiary brands like Audi, Porsche and (obviously) Volkswagen vehicles. Our test vehicle makes 190kW at 4500rpm, while 580Nm is available in a broad rev range: 1400–3000rpm.

Along with being the only engine here that isn’t a four-cylinder, the Amarok also benefits from having full-time 4WD. All of the other utes (save for the Triton) have a part-time system that leaves them in rear-wheel drive for on-road use.

Instead of having a low-range transfer case, the Amarok’s eight-speed automatic transmission reserves a low first gear for usage mostly off-road. Seven speeds is plenty for this gearbox, however, thanks to that wide range of voluminous torque from the V6.

ON-ROAD DRIVING

The Amarok may be the oldest ute in the segment, but it remains the best ute in the class to drive on sealed roads, with effortless power and high levels of grip on wet or dry roads.

Handling-wise, the Amarok is in another league compared to the other utes, largely thanks to its road-biased tyres in a class dominated by all-terrain rubber.

Backed by a 3.0-litre V6, eight-speed auto and full time all-wheel drive previously used in the Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q7, the Amarok feels in many ways like the hot hatch of utes.

It did the 0–100km/h dash in 7.8 seconds on our timing equipment, which makes it the fastest here by some margin. VW claims a time of 7.3 seconds.

The engine has superior levels of refinement, effortless power delivery, and is matched to a well-calibrated eight-speed auto and constant all-wheel-drive.

At 100km/h the Amarok’s V6 ticks over at about 1650rpm in eighth gear. The Amarok was the thirstiest of the utes tested, but it returned a respectable fuel economy figure of 8.7L/100km on our test loop versus the rating level figure of 8.9L/100km.

Its grip in corners is head and shoulders above the rest and feels more sure-footed than the other utes here, and it has the most intuitive and car-like steering feel.

The low-profile, road-biased tyres hummed a little on certain surfaces, but the Amarok was exceptional in the slalom and in wet and dry braking. It had the shortest braking distance in both disciplines, and was the easiest to thread through the safety cones in a slalom.

The rear suspension feels a touch firm when the tray is empty, but it’s not uncomfortable.

The bi-Xenon headlights are a step up from the halogen headlights in the Amarok Core and Sportline, but not as good as the bi-LEDs in the Isuzu and Mazda.

TOWING

Although one of the oldest in the group, the Amarok shirks its years by feeling the least affected by the van hanging off the back.

The ride is smooth and controlled, with comparisons to butter highlighting how impressive the Volkswagen is.

While the suspension and hydraulic steering is no doubt nicely dialled, the Amarok also benefits from a relatively wide stance and wheel-track, lending extra stability.

The engine cares not for the weight, and is the closest iteration of effortless in this comparison. Rather than clattering away under load, the V6 whirs and hisses with ample mumbo in reserve. In our test loop, the engine barely reached 3000rpm. Most others went over this mark to keep the pace.

Having all-wheel drive is of benefit, especially when putting a surge of torque down to the ground from a standstill. While others chirped and squealed with traction control lights flashing as we attempted to cross a busy road with a big dose of throttle, four driven wheels let the Amarok take off without any theatrics.

CHECK OUT: Amarok news and reviews


LDV T60 Trailrider 2

This LDV T60 Trailrider 2 is the second series of this limited-edition model. It also happens to come with a new 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine developed in-house replacing the 2.8-litre still used in other T60 models.

The Trailrider 2 is available with manual or automatic transmission, and is aimed primarily at private buyers rather than business fleets.

We’ve tested the automatic as that is the most popular choice, and it lines up closest with the other utes in this test.

The LDV T60 Trailrider 2 costs at least $20,000 less than most other utes in this comparison, but we wanted to include it because LDV sales are on the rise, and we are regularly asked how the T60 ranks compared to newer and more expensive utes from mainstream rivals.

And it’s the most expensive ute LDV sells in Australia for the time being.

PRICE AND SPECS

LDV doesn’t publish recommended retail prices, instead the $39,990 price is drive-away with automatic transmission for ABN holders, or $42,095 to private buyers.

The Trailrider 2 comes with extras such as a sports bar, roller shutter hard lid, side steps, black 19-inch wheels and Continental road tyres, a blacked-out grille and Trailrider badging on the tailgate.

As with the Isuzu D-Max, the LDV T60 Trailrider comes with a steel spare wheel and tyre rather than a matching alloy.

SAFETY

The LDV T60 has a five-star safety rating from 2017. At the time it was the first Chinese ute sold in Australia to earn a five-star safety rating after scoring an impressive 35.46 points out of 37.

As with a number of utes in this comparison test, the LDV T60 would not earn five stars if assessed to today’s safety criteria because it lacks advanced tech such as autonomous emergency braking and lane-keeping assistance; however, it does have lane-wander warning and blind-zone alert.

Six airbags protect occupants should the worst happen.

Front corner sensors and rear parking sensors are standard, as is a 360-degree camera, but the image is blurry compared to other utes in this test, and is especially fuzzy at night.

The LDV T60 performed well in our wet and dry braking tests, due in large part to the road-biased tyres and four-wheel discs in a category dominated by rear drums.

CABIN

The LDV T60 Trailrider 2 is based on the LDV T60 Luxe, which comes with leather seats, a sensor key with push-button start and a 10.0-inch infotainment screen.

It has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; however, the functionality is frustrating to use and requires patience and practice. The digital speed display is small and it can be hard to read the speedo dial in direct sunlight.

There is plenty of room in the front and back seats, and visibility all around is good.

There are two USB ports and one 12V socket in the front cabin. There are air vents for back seat passengers, but the front cabin only has single-zone air-conditioning.

ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION

LDV’s T60 originally launched in Australia with their own variant of Italian engine manufacturer VM Motori’s 2.8-litre, four-cylinder turbo diesel engine. While more powerful iterations were used in the likes of Jeep’s JK Wrangler and Holden’s Colorado, LDV’s numbers were more modest: 110kW and 360NM. This engine is still available, in other variants of the T60 range.

LDV is following the trend of smaller engines with greater outputs, with the new 2.0-litre motor in our Trailrider 2. An engine of LDV’s own design and manufacture, it makes 120kW @ 4000rpm and 375Nm @ 1500-2400rpm, easily the least powerful on test. While Ford’s powerplant is a similar capacity, it is able to render much more power and torque thanks to it’s two sequential turbochargers.

We’d prefer to see the LDV D90 SUV’s twin-turbo version of the same capacity engine in the T60, which makes a sprightlier 160kW and 480Nm, running through an eight-speed gearbox.

ON-ROAD DRIVING

The engine may be new, but it’s still noisy by class standards and comes up short on power (120kW/375Nm). The engine sound seems to come through the windscreen rather than the firewall.

The engine hustles along okay when the ute is empty and works well with the six-speed auto, but it struggles when towing or carrying a load.

It did 0–100km/h in 12.2 seconds, which is the slowest in this test; however, it's two seconds quicker than the same model last year but powered by the old 2.8-litre.

The steering is unevenly weighted and could do with further improvement. It feels like the tyres are doing all the work and making up for a shortfall in steering precision.

That said, the cornering grip is impressive and has more traction than most utes with off-road tyres.

The LDV T60 Trailrider also had the second-best braking performance in the wet or dry behind the VW Amarok and ahead of the others. This was also due to the LDV and VW being equipped with road tyres versus off-road rubber. However, the brake pedal would benefit from a more precise feel.

The LDV was relatively comfortable in a straight line, and felt similar to a Mitsubishi Triton in terms of the jiggles older utes tend to get over bumps.

The engine ticked over at about 1750rpm at 100km/h in sixth gear. According to the car’s instrument cluster it averaged 7.7L/100km on our road loop versus 8.5L/100km on the rating label.

TOWING

LDV’s new 2.0-litre engine is the noisiest of the group, with a coarse and loud rattle being hard to ignore when towing.

Outright engine performance is the worst of the group also, requiring recurring visits to the redline to build and maintain speed. It was also the only ute to start losing speed going up one steep overpass.

The T60’s ride is good when towing, yielding comfort for the driver and control of the van. Although, the T60 didn’t feel as sure-footed handling bumpy roads and corners as other utes. Steering was also quite good, and the quality highway-oriented Continental rubber paid dividends in terms of grip.

While the T60 has a three-tonne towing capacity, we’d be hesitant to tow more than the two tonnes we had on this comparison. More weight would equal less acceleration, and more duress on the suspension.

It’s also worth noting that the indicated fuel economy of our test loop was suspiciously low, and had to be an inaccurate measurement.

CHECK OUT: T60 news and reviews


Features & Specs

NOTE: This table scrolls horizontally. See bottom scrollbar on desktop, or scroll by finger on mobile. (If on mobile, you'll see more detail in landscape view.)

D-Max X-TerrainBT-50 GTRanger WildtrakHiLux SR5+Triton GLS PremiumNavara N-TrekAmarok Highline 580T60 Trailrider 2
Year of platform introduction2020202020112015Year of platform introduction2015201520112017Year of platform introduction
Country of manufactureThailandThailandThailandThailandCountry of manufactureThailandThailandArgentinaChinaCountry of manufacture
ANCAP safety rating5 stars5 stars5 stars5 starsANCAP safety rating5 stars5 stars5 stars5 starsANCAP safety rating
ANCAP safety rating year2020202020152019ANCAP safety rating year2015201520112017ANCAP safety rating year
Airbags8867Airbags7746Airbags
Stability controlYESYESYESYESStability controlYESYESYESYESStability control
Trailer sway controlYESYESYESYESTrailer sway controlYESNOOptionalNOTrailer sway control
Forward crash alertYESYESYESYESForward crash alertYESNONONOForward crash alert
Autonomous emergency brakingYESYESYESYESAutonomous emergency brakingYESNONONOAutonomous emergency braking
Cruise controlYESYESYESYESCruise controlYESYESYESYESCruise control
Radar cruise controlYESYESYESYESRadar cruise controlNONONONORadar cruise control
Lane wander warningYESYESYESYESLane wander warningYESNONOYESLane wander warning
Lane keeping assistanceYESYESYESNOLane keeping assistanceNONONONOLane keeping assistance
Blind spot warningYESYESNONOBlind spot warningYESNONOYESBlind spot warning
Rear cross-traffic alertYESYESNONORear cross-traffic alertYESNONONORear cross-traffic alert
Speed sign recognitionYESYESYESYESSpeed sign recognitionNONONONOSpeed sign recognition
Digital speed displayYESYESYESYESDigital speed displayNOYESYESYESDigital speed display
Individual tyre pressure monitorsNONOYESNOIndividual tyre pressure monitorsNONOYESYESIndividual tyre pressure monitors
Emergency assistance ‘000’NONOYESNOEmergency assistance ‘000’NONONONOEmergency assistance ‘000’
Auto headlights (dusk sensing)YESYESYESYESAuto headlights (dusk sensing)YESYESYESYESAuto headlights (dusk sensing)
Daytime running lightsYESYESYESYESDaytime running lightsYESYESYESYESDaytime running lights
Front parking sensorsYESYESYESCORNERFront parking sensorsYESNOYESYESFront parking sensors
Rear parking sensorsYESYESYESYESRear parking sensorsYESYESYESYESRear parking sensors
Rear cameraYESYESYESYESRear cameraYESYESYESYESRear camera
360 cameraNONONONO360 cameraNOYESNOYES360 camera
Auto dimming rear view mirrorNOYESYESNOAuto dimming rear view mirrorYESYESYESYESAuto dimming rear view mirror
Power folding side mirrorsYESYESYESYESPower folding side mirrorsYESYESNOYESPower folding side mirrors
Push button startYESYESYESYESPush button startYESYESNOYESPush button start
Sensor key opens both front doorsYESYESYESYESSensor key opens both front doorsYESYESNOYESSensor key opens both front doors
Sensor key opens driver door onlyNONONONOSensor key opens driver door onlyNONONONOSensor key opens driver door only
Turn-key start with remote fobNONONONOTurn-key start with remote fobNONONONOTurn-key start with remote fob
Auto-up power window (driver only)YESYESYESNOAuto-up power window (driver only)YESYESNOYESAuto-up power window (driver only)
Auto-up power windows (front only)NONONONOAuto-up power windows (front only)NONONONOAuto-up power windows (front only)
Auto-up power window (all four)NONONOYESAuto-up power window (all four)NONOYESNOAuto-up power window (all four)
AM/FM radioYESYESYESYESAM/FM radioYESYESYESYESAM/FM radio
Digital radioYESYESYESYESDigital radioYESNOYESNODigital radio
Apple Car PlayYESYESYESYESApple Car PlayYESYESYESYESApple Car Play
Android AutoYESYESYESYESAndroid AutoYESYESYESYESAndroid Auto
NavigationYESYESYESYESNavigationNOYESYESNONavigation
CD playerNONOYESNOCD playerNONOYESNOCD player
USB ports (front cabin)1121USB ports (front cabin)2112USB ports (front cabin)
USB ports (rear cabin)1100USB ports (rear cabin)2000USB ports (rear cabin)
12V power sockets (front cabin)111212V power sockets (front cabin)133112V power sockets (front cabin)
12V power sockets (rear cabin)001012V power sockets (rear cabin)001112V power sockets (rear cabin)
Household power socket00YESYESHousehold power socketNONONONOHousehold power socket
Chilled console00YESYESChilled consoleNONONONOChilled console
Central locking switch x 1YESYESNOYESCentral locking switch x 1NOYESYESNOCentral locking switch x 1
Central locking switch x 2NONONONOCentral locking switch x 2NIBSNONONOCentral locking switch x 2
Illuminated central locking switch x 1NONONONOIlluminated central locking switch x 1NONONONOIlluminated central locking switch x 1
Illuminated central locking switch x 2NONOYESNOIlluminated central locking switch x 2NONONONOIlluminated central locking switch x 2
Single zone air-conditioningNONONOYESSingle zone air-conditioningNONONOYESSingle zone air-conditioning
Dual zone air-conditioningYESYESYESNODual zone air-conditioningYESYESYESNODual zone air-conditioning
Rear air ventsYESYESNOYESRear air ventsYESYESNOYESRear air vents
Extendable sun visorsNONOYESNOExtendable sun visorsNONONONOExtendable sun visors
Height only steering adjustmentNONOYESNOHeight only steering adjustmentNOYESNOYESHeight only steering adjustment
Height and reach steering adjustmentYESYESNOYESHeight and reach steering adjustmentYESNOYESNOHeight and reach steering adjustment
Vanity mirror (driver)YESYESYESNOVanity mirror (driver)NOYESYESYESVanity mirror (driver)
Vanity mirror (passenger)YESYESYESYESVanity mirror (passenger)YESYESYESYESVanity mirror (passenger)
Vanity mirror illumination (driver)NONOYESNOVanity mirror illumination (driver)NOYESNONOVanity mirror illumination (driver)
Vanity mirror illumination (passenger)NONOYESNOVanity mirror illumination (passenger)YESYESNONOVanity mirror illumination (passenger)
2 x Isofix child seat mountsYESYESYESYES2 x Isofix child seat mountsYESYESYESYES2 x Isofix child seat mounts
2 x top tether mounts or strapsYESYESYESNO2 x top tether mounts or strapsYESNONOYES2 x top tether mounts or straps
3 x top tether mounts or strapsNONONOYES3 x top tether mounts or strapsNOYESYESNO3 x top tether mounts or straps
Driver’s seat height adjustmentYESYESYESYESDriver’s seat height adjustmentYESYESYESYESDriver’s seat height adjustment
Passenger’s seat height adjustmentNONONONOPassenger’s seat height adjustmentNONOYESYESPassenger’s seat height adjustment
Power seat adjustment (driver)YESYESYESYESPower seat adjustment (driver)YESYESNOYESPower seat adjustment (driver)
Power seat adjustment (passenger)NONONONOPower seat adjustment (passenger)NONONOYESPower seat adjustment (passenger)
Seat heating (front seats)NOYESYESYESSeat heating (front seats)NOYESOPTIONALYESSeat heating (front seats)
Seat cooling (front seats)NONONONOSeat cooling (front seats)NONONONOSeat cooling (front seats)
Leather seatsYESYESPARTIALYESLeather seatsYESPARTIALOPTIONALYESLeather seats
Steering wheel shift paddlesNONONONOSteering wheel shift paddlesYESNONONOSteering wheel shift paddles
Tinted rear glassNONOYESYESTinted rear glassYESYESYESNOTinted rear glass
Roof railsYESNOYESNORoof railsNOYESNOYESRoof rails
Side stepsYESYESYESYESSide stepsYESYESYESYESSide steps
Sports barNONOYESYESSports barYESYESYESYESSports bar
Ute tub lightingNONOYESNOUte tub lightingNONOYESYESUte tub lighting
Roller shutter hard lidYESYESPOWEREDNORoller shutter hard lidOPTIONALNOOPTIONALRoller shutter hard lid
12V power in ute tubNONOYESNO12V power in ute tubNONOYESNO12V power in ute tub
Tub liner standardYESNOYESNOTub liner standardYESYESOptionalYESTub liner standard
Spray-on tub protectionNONONONOSpray-on tub protectionNONONONOSpray-on tub protection
No tub protectionNOYESNOYESNo tub protectionNONOYESNONo tub protection
Tow bar fitted as standardNONOYESYESTow bar fitted as standardNONONONOTow bar fitted as standard
Tray length, our tape measure (mm)14501450140155Tray length, our tape measure (mm)137146148140Tray length, our tape measure (mm)
Tray depth, our tape measure (mm)4804805049Tray depth, our tape measure (mm)46465051Tray depth, our tape measure (mm)
Wheelhouse to wheelhouse width (mm)11101110110110Wheelhouse to wheelhouse width (mm)104107118105Wheelhouse to wheelhouse width (mm)
Tie down points2444Tie down points6444Tie down points
Engine capacity3322.8Engine capacity2.42.332Engine capacity
Cylinders4444Cylinders4464Cylinders
Single turbochargerYESYESNOYESSingle turbochargerYESNOYESYESSingle turbocharger
Twin turbochargersNONOYESNOTwin turbochargersNOYESNONOTwin turbochargers
Auto stop start engine when idleNONOYESNOAuto stop start engine when idleNONONONOAuto stop start engine when idle
Euro IVNONONONOEuro IVNONONONOEuro IV
Euro VYESYESYESYESEuro VYESYESYESYESEuro V
Euro VINONONONOEuro VINONONONOEuro VI
Fuel tank capacity (litres)76768080Fuel tank capacity (litres)75808075Fuel tank capacity (litres)
Fuel economy average (L/100km claim)887.47.9Fuel economy average (L/100km claim)8.6798.5Fuel economy average (L/100km claim)
Power (kW)140140157150Power (kW)133140190120Power (kW)
Torque (Nm)450450500500Torque (Nm)430450580375Torque (Nm)
Transmission6A6A10A6ATransmission6A7A8A6ATransmission
Rear diff lockYESYESYESYESRear diff lockYESYESYESYESRear diff lock
Limited slip differentialNONONONOLimited slip differentialNONONONOLimited slip differential
Open rear differentialNONONONOOpen rear differentialNONONONOOpen rear differential
Permanent all-wheel-driveNONONONOPermanent all-wheel-driveNONOYESNOPermanent all-wheel-drive
Switch 2WD to 4WD on sealed roadsNONONONOSwitch 2WD to 4WD on sealed roadsYESNONONOSwitch 2WD to 4WD on sealed roads
Switch 2WD to 4WD off-road onlyYESYESYESYESSwitch 2WD to 4WD off-road onlyNOYESNOYESSwitch 2WD to 4WD off-road only
Kerb weight (kg)2130203522462045Kerb weight (kg)2045198421042060Kerb weight (kg)
Payload (kg)9701065954955Payload (kg)855926976815Payload (kg)
Towing capacity (kg)3500350035003200Towing capacity (kg)3100350035003000Towing capacity (kg)
Gross combination mass (kg)5960595060005650Gross combination mass (kg)5885591060005950Gross combination mass (kg)
Front disc and rear drum brakesYESYESYESYESFront disc and rear drum brakesYESYESNONOFront disc and rear drum brakes
Four wheel disc brakesNONONONOFour wheel disc brakesNONOYESYESFour wheel disc brakes
Length (mm)5280528054465330Length (mm)5409525552545365Length (mm)
Width (mm)1880187018671855Width (mm)1815185019541900Width (mm)
Height (mm)1810179018211815Height (mm)1795185518341887Height (mm)
Wheelbase (mm)3125312532203085Wheelbase (mm)3000315030953155Wheelbase (mm)
Ground clearance (mm)240240237225Ground clearance (mm)220228192215Ground clearance (mm)
Approach angle (degrees)30.530.42931Approach angle (degrees)27.533.22827Approach angle (degrees)
Departure angle (degrees)24.224.22126Departure angle (degrees)2328.223.624.2Departure angle (degrees)
Rampover angle (degrees)23.823.825NARampover angle (degrees)2524.72321.3Rampover angle (degrees)
Wading depth (mm)800800800700Wading depth (mm)500600500550Wading depth (mm)
Turning circle (m)12.512.512.712.6Turning circle (m)11.812.412.9512.6Turning circle (m)
Full size spare tyreSteelMatching alloyMatching alloyMatching alloyFull size spare tyreYESYESYESYESFull size spare tyre
Tyre size265/60/18265/60/18265/60/18265/60/18Tyre size265/60/18255/60/18255/50/20255/55/19Tyre size
Tyre brandBridgestoneBridgestoneBridgestoneBridgestoneTyre brandDunlopToyoBridgestoneContinentalTyre brand
Tyre typeHighwayHighwayHighwayHighwayTyre typeHighwayHighwayHighwayHighwayTyre type
Warranty years6555Warranty years5555Warranty years
Warranty distance (km)160,000UnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedWarranty distance (km)100,000UnlimitedUnlimited130,000Warranty distance (km)
Service intervals (months/’000km)12/1512/1512/156/10Service intervals (months/’000km)12/1512/2012/1512/15Service intervals (months/’000km)

Price spread


VERDICT

As the newest, safest and most advanced utes in the segment, the Isuzu D-Max and Mazda BT-50 are worthy winners of this test.

It is the first time CarAdvice has handed out a joint victory to two vehicles, but it’s the right result given the two are identical under the skin.

They have the same engine and transmission, same chassis, as well as the same suspension and steering calibrations. They are even made on the same production line. Only the exterior design and some interior touches are different.

When deciding between the Isuzu and Mazda utes, buyers will choose one over the other based on their preference for looks, the dealer network, and whatever price they’re able to negotiate.

Arriving at joint winners may seem inevitable, but it wasn’t as straightforward as you might expect.

While the Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain currently has a drive-away price that undercuts the Mazda BT-50 GT by $3000, its regular RRP delivers a $3000 price advantage to Mazda.

The Mazda lacks a tub liner and roller cover shutter, but gains a full-size alloy spare wheel (versus a steel spare on the Isuzu), an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, and heated leather seats, which are not available at any price on an Isuzu.

While the drive-away deal on the Isuzu is an introductory offer, the price could revert to the RRP at any moment. Likewise, Mazda could introduce a sharp drive-away deal on the BT-50.

So in terms of price, it was line-ball because it depends whether you judge these vehicles on their RRP or the current drive-away deals – and we know Mazda dealers are already starting to sharpen the pencil on the BT-50.

Then there is the warranty: Isuzu offers six years/150,000km, Mazda offers five years/unlimited kilometres. Given the distances such vehicles will likely cover as people embark on new adventures, some customers may prefer unlimited-kilometre coverage, while others may prefer one extra year if they’re not doing huge mileage.

Servicing costs are also a close call. The Isuzu costs $2964 to service over six years versus $3042 for the Mazda over the same period. However, capped-price servicing on the Isuzu runs out after seven years, but Mazda offers price certainty up to 16 years and 240,000km.

Suffice to say, the Isuzu D-Max and Mazda BT-50 are hard to separate, no matter how you cut it.

The Ford Ranger Wildtrak ranked second in this test narrowly ahead of the Toyota HiLux SR5 in third place.

The Ford Ranger remains one of the benchmarks for driving dynamics (for a double-cab ute), but Toyota deserves kudos for its massive leap forward. The latest HiLux update is a genuine pleasure to drive and a welcome improvement.

The HiLux was knocked back a peg primarily because of its $13,000 price rise and relative lack of equipment versus similarly priced rivals. That said, there will be diehard Toyota HiLux fans who are happy to pay the premium and add gear as they see fit. The HiLux remains the only ute here with space in the engine bay for a second battery and with an accessories fuse box ready to go.

So, for the 2020 ute mega test, we ended up with a Top Four rather than a Top Three, but you honestly can’t go wrong with any of the above.

As our analysis revealed, no-one yet makes the perfect ute – or a vehicle with every available feature in a single model, because there are some features even the winning twins lack or could improve upon.

It’s a matter of choosing which compromises you want to live with, so we understand if not everyone will agree with our outcome.

For what it’s worth, though, here are the judges’ thoughts on the rest of the field.

The Mitsubishi Triton looks modern and undercuts most models here by at least $10,000. The engine and transmission work well and have fair levels of refinement. The tight turning circle – thanks to its short wheelbase – is a highlight.

Emergency braking in the dry was better than expected, but poor in the wet. Recent updates to safety tech have helped the Triton keep pace with prevailing standards, and ahead of rivals such as the Nissan Navara.

While it remains a strong value proposition, the Triton is now starting to show its age as most of its peers have improved since our last mega test.

The Nissan Navara has had four updates in five years, and is one of the favourites in the CarAdvice office for its tough looks and clever design touches, including the adjustable tie-down hooks in the ute tray.

After numerous revisions the suspension is finally sorted, and the Navara feels good on the road.

But not everyone was a fan of its high seating position, and its fuel economy advantage has been eroded by newer competition. The Toyo tyres and small-ish front brakes were also left wanting in our wet and dry brake tests. And it’s missing advanced safety tech that’s becoming standard on new or updated utes.

There is every chance the facelifted Nissan Navara due early 2021 will address some of these shortcomings.

The Volkswagen Amarok is now the oldest ute in the segment, but it’s still the most impressive to drive by some margin.

Backed by a 3.0-litre turbo diesel V6, eight-speed auto, and full-time all-wheel drive previously used in the Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q7, the Amarok feels in many ways like the hot hatch of utes. Its grip in corners is head and shoulders above the rest.

While the Amarok remains the best ute in the class to drive – with effortless power and high levels of comfort – its lack of creature comforts such as a sensor key with push-button start, radar cruise control, advanced safety tech, and rear airbags continue to weigh against it.

The LDV T60 Trailrider 2 is new for 2020. A new single-turbo 2.0-litre diesel developed in house by LDV has replaced the previous 2.8.

Despite the changes, the LDV T60 has the least power and torque in this test, and the engine was the noisiest – even by ute standards.

However, the LDV T60 certainly makes the most of its locally tuned suspension and Continental road tyres.

Quality rubber and four-wheel discs provide good braking performance, but overall, the T60 could still do with further improvement to steering and handling, and we look forward to future updates. That said, in this test the LDV T60 is still a lot of metal for the money.


Footnotes

Ssangyong Musso

We asked Ssangyong for a Musso to participate in this comparison, especially after it did relatively well in last year’s ute mega test. However, despite numerous attempts to source an evaluation vehicle – or even a staff member’s company car – Ssangyong declined to participate and said it would not have a vehicle ready in time.

We are hopeful this has nothing to do with Ssangyong’s uncertain future after major investor Mahindra expressed a desire earlier this year to get out of the loss-making business.

For its part, Ssangyong says it is here to stay and has no plans to leave the Australian market.

Caravan supplied courtesy of New Age Caravans

The caravan used in our towing test was supplied courtesy of New Age Caravans, now owned by the Walkinshaw Automotive Group.

The New Age caravan used in this test is a Manta Ray MP16E Luxury pop-top, which costs from $71,990. It weighs 2000kg, has a downball weight of 160kg, and a payload of 400kg.

It was hooked up to our utes via a DO35 hitch, which is ideal for off-road vehicles as the universal joint design is more forgiving over oblique turns, whether off-road or turning into steep driveways.

Dry brake testing

In last year’s ute mega test, we assessed emergency braking from 100km/h. However, on the skid pan this year, the run-up restricted us to test braking distances from 80km/h.

Predictably, utes with road tyres and four-wheel disc brakes – the VW Amarok and LDV T60 Trailrider – performed best. The Toyota HiLux, Isuzu D-Max and Mazda BT-50 stopped in the same average brake distance as they were on identical Bridgestone tyres.

The Ford Ranger, also on the same Bridgestones, took longer to pull up, consistent with numerous other brake tests we’ve conducted.

The Ford Ranger’s extra weight and smaller brakes are the likely culprits. The Mitsubishi Triton performed best of the bunch that weren’t on road tyres (in part due to its lighter weight), while the Toyo tyres on the Nissan Navara saw it consistently take the longest distance to pull up.

Dry braking from 80km/h

  • Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain 26.5m
  • Mazda BT-50 GT 26.5m
  • Ford Ranger Wildtrak 27.0m
  • Toyota HiLux SR5 26.5m
  • Mitsubishi Triton GLS Premium 26.0m
  • Nissan Navara N Trek 28.2m
  • VW Amarok Highline 580 25.0m
  • LDV T60 Trailrider 2 25.7m

Average braking distance over three tests using a V Box.

Wet brake testing

When it came to wet-weather braking (conducted at 70km/h due to the limited run-off area), the utes equipped with road tyres – the Volkswagen and the LDV – once again topped the class and stopped in the shortest distance.

The rest of the field – most of which were on Bridgestones – were line-ball. The wet-weather braking of the Toyo tyres on the Nissan Navara were near the back of the pack, but the biggest disappointment? The Mitsubishi Triton on Dunlop tyres had the longest braking distance in the wet by some margin.

It’s worth noting all utes weretested in the wet and dry on their recommended tyre pressures.

Wet braking from 70km/h

  • Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain 26.5m
  • Mazda BT-50 GT 26.5m
  • Ford Ranger Wildtrak 26.5m
  • Toyota HiLux SR5 26.5m
  • Mitsubishi Triton GLS Premium 31.2m
  • Nissan Navara N Trek 28.2m
  • VW Amarok Highline 580 22.9m
  • LDV T60 Trailrider 2 23.5m

Average braking distance over three tests using a V Box.

Fuel consumption

For this year’s mega test, we drove all eight utes over the same road loop without carrying a load, and once again while towing a 2000kg caravan.

The road loop had a mix of suburban and freeway driving, although not much stop-start traffic, which is why the fuel economy figures were generally good.

These figures are a guide only. Heavy traffic and carrying a load or towing would increase fuel consumption.

Empty fuel consumption

  • Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain: 7.6
  • Mazda BT-50 GT: 7.8
  • Ford Ranger Wildtrak: 8.0
  • Toyota HiLux: 7.4
  • Mitsubishi Triton GLS Premium: 8.9
  • Nissan Navara N-Trek: 7.9
  • VW Amarok Highline 580: 8.7
  • LDV T60 Trailrider 2: 7.7

Towing fuel consumption

  • Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain 13.5L/100km
  • Mazda BT-50 GT 13.5L/100km
  • Ford Ranger Wildtrak 14.1L/100km
  • Toyota HiLux SR5 15.5L/100km
  • Mitsubishi Triton GLS Premium 16.1L/100km
  • Nissan Navara N Trek 14.9L/100km
  • VW Amarok Highline 580 13.5L/100km
  • LDV T60 Trailrider 2 9.2L/100km* suspicious

Acceleration tests: 0–100km/h

  • Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain 10.2 seconds
  • Mazda BT-50 GT 10.2 seconds
  • Ford Ranger Wildtrak 9.7 seconds
  • Toyota HiLux SR5 10.4 seconds
  • Mitsubishi Triton GLS Premium 11.4 seconds
  • Nissan Navara N Trek 11.7 seconds
  • VW Amarok Highline 580 7.8 seconds
  • LDV T60 Trailrider 2 12.2 seconds
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