These are 5 unorthodox utes you shouldn't overlook
Pickup trucks or 'utes' as they are called downunder, are a local phenomenon. Utes like the Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux, Nissan Navara and the Mitsubishi Triton dominate local car sales. In New Zealand, the Ford Ranger was the top selling car last year and has also sold the most units for the year to date which basically satisfies the legend that everyone in the country lives on a farm and has sheep. But are you tired of seeing the same old Ranger Wildtraks around, consider yourself the road less traveled sort of person? Well, I have just the ute for you.
Say you don't want a Ranger or a Hilux or a Navara or a Triton, you may think that you really don't have many options left but oh, you do!
1- ISUZU D-MAX
Probably the first ute that comes to mind when you think outside of the four best sellers. The Isuzu D-Max is a top seller in the Asian markets because it's tough and very reliable. The double cab starts at a very reasonable $39,000 NZD for what is a properly tough ute. The steering is heavy and you feel like you are sitting high because you are, the D-Max is not going to make you feel like you're in a car. Plus, it's got a 3litre turbo diesel engine that'll tow 3.5 tones with ease.
2- Mazda BT-50
Mazda has been doing exceptionally well in the SUV market recently with their CX-5 being one of the top sellers in this part of the world. However, the same cannot be said with their BT-50 ute as sales haven't been all that good. That's not to say that it isn't a good value ute as prices start at $35,000 and progress to $59,000 NZD. Mazda are said to be working on a new BT-50 so you could snap up a good deal on one the older models. The biggest pro of the BT-50 is it punchy 5 cylinder turbo diesel engine which kicks out 470Nm of torque!
3- LDV T60
LDV was a little known company when it first opened operations here but since then they've grown a large following because of their great value vehicles. The T60 comes with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, a large infotainment screen, a tub liner and a reversing camera as standard. The range starts from $35,000 with the luxury model priced at $40,000. The engine is probably the biggest con of the T60 as it puts out a meager 360 Nm which will tow 3 tonnes at a stretch.
4- Mahindra Pik-Up
The unorthodox looking Mahindra Pik-Up is probably the best value ute here. The Indian manufacturer might be new to the NZ market but they are no stranger to making off-road vehicles as they have been doing so for over 50 years since acquiring the license to make the Willys Jeep in India. Mahindra is a massive conglomerate so they develop their components in house which means they can keep the costs low so pricing starts at $26,000 with the top spec model costing $34,000. It is the Suzuki Jimny of the ute market, cheap and simple but extremely capable and rather unique looking.
5- SsangYong Rhino
The second offering from the Mahindra group on this list, the Rhino is built on the same platform as the Rexton SUV. Naturally then, it's got a spacious cabin and some of the best rear seats in a ute so if you've got a family then this is the one to get. The Rhino has the shortest bed in class but the extended wheelbase (XL) offering has the largest bed in class! The 2.2L turbo diesel engine puts out 420Nm which is more than enough for the Rhino. Prices start at $29,000 and go right up to $52,300 for the top spec long wheelbase model.
Conversely, if you don't want any of these utes. Then you have a choice of either the ridiculously overpriced Mercedes Benz X-class or the excellent Volkswagen Amarok.