In Aotearoa, few vehicles can match the versatility, ruggedness, and power of a ute, making them some of the most popular vehicles around. If you're considering joining the league of ute owners, you're in for quite a ride. In this review, we delve into the details of the top-selling utes in New Zealand for 2023 to date: the Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux, Mitsubishi Triton, Toyota Hiace, and Nissan Navara.
We provide a breakdown of each vehicle's features, performance, awards, and price ranges. But first, here's a fun fact: The Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux were the top two selling vehicles in New Zealand in 2022, even outselling the number one passenger vehicle, the Mitsubishi Outlander!
1. Ford Ranger
The Ford Ranger remains the jewel in the crown of New Zealand's vehicle market, combining powerful performance, safety, and a dash of style. The Ranger is nothing short of a masterpiece of automotive engineering.
- Under the bonnet, the Ranger is powered by a 2.0-litre bi-turbo diesel engine that churns out a respectable 157kW of power and 500Nm of torque, coupled with a ten-speed automatic transmission.
- Safety is not compromised in the Ranger, as evidenced by its 5-star ANCAP safety rating. The Ranger ensures that you can navigate New Zealand's roads securely and confidently.
- Here's a fun fact: The Ford Ranger was the first ute to feature Adaptive Cruise Control, a smart system that adjusts speed automatically to maintain a safe distance from vehicles ahead.
Over the years, the Ranger has won numerous awards, with one notable victory being the International Pick-up Award in 2020. The Ford Ranger's price ranges from a pre-owned starting price of $10,000 up to a brand-new high-spec price of $120,995.
- Powerful performance
- Top-notch safety features
- High-tech equipment
- High-end models can be expensive
- Fuel efficiency could be improved
2. Toyota Hilux
The Toyota Hilux, a bastion of reliability and off-road prowess, has carved a strong reputation in the ute segment.
- The Hilux is equipped with a 2.8-litre turbo diesel engine that delivers 150kW of power and 500Nm of torque.
- Like the Ranger, the Hilux has a 5-star ANCAP rating. Its robust suite of safety features includes seven airbags, vehicle stability control, and an anti-lock braking system.
- For a bit of fun trivia, the Toyota Hilux gained fame after being driven to the magnetic North Pole in an episode of Top Gear.
The Hilux was honoured as the Best Lifestyle Vehicle in the 2020 AA Driven New Zealand Car of the Year awards. The price of a new Hilux varies from a used car starting price of $7,000 to a top-tier new model price of $95,000.
- Renowned for reliability and durability
- Excellent off-road capabilities
- Proven track record
- The cabin could be quieter
- Higher-end variants can be expensive
3. Mitsubishi Triton
While not as lauded as the Ranger or Hilux, the Mitsubishi Triton is a standout in its own right, balancing affordability and performance to deliver a compelling package.
- The Triton is equipped with a 2.4-litre MIVEC turbo diesel engine that puts out 135kW of power and 437Nm of torque. It boasts a towing capacity of 3100kg.
- Safety is well represented in the Triton, with a 5-star ANCAP rating and features such as Forward Collision Mitigation, Lane Departure Warning, and Blind Spot Warning.
- Fun fact alert: The Triton was the first ute to have a Super Select 4WD system, allowing drivers to switch between two and four-wheel drive at speeds up to 100km/h!
The Triton won the Best Value for Money award in the 4x4 Australia awards in 2020. Depending on the variant, a Triton costs between $8,950 for older models and $84,990 for new, high-spec models.
- Great value for money
- Advanced safety features
- Comfortable ride
- Lower towing capacity compared to other utes
- Not as powerful as some competitors
4. Toyota Hiace
Though not traditionally considered a ute, the Toyota Hiace has earned a place on this list due to its popularity among New Zealanders who need a dependable commercial vehicle.
- The Hiace is powered by a 2.8-litre turbo diesel engine that puts out 130kW of power and 450Nm of torque.
- Safety is not an afterthought in the Hiace, which boasts a 5-star ANCAP rating and features such as Pre-Collision System, Lane Departure Alert, and Auto High Beam.
- A fun fact for the vehicle enthusiasts: The Hiace has been in production for over 50 years, making it one of the longest-running commercial vehicle models in the world!
The price of a Hiace varies from a used car price starting at $5,500 to a high-end new model price of $89,990.
- Known for reliability and durability
- Abundance of cargo space
- Robust safety features
- Not as versatile as traditional utes
- Can be expensive for a commercial vehicle
5. Nissan Navara
The Nissan Navara brings a harmonious blend of power, comfort, and smart technology, making it a fascinating choice in the ute market.
- The Navara is powered by a 2.3-litre twin-turbo diesel engine that puts out 140kW of power and 450Nm of torque.
- It has a 5-star ANCAP safety rating, with features like Intelligent Emergency Braking, Intelligent Around View Monitor, and Lane Departure Warning.
- For a bit of fun trivia: The Navara was one of the first utes to adopt a coil spring rear suspension system, providing a more comfortable ride than traditional leaf springs!
The Navara’s price ranges from a pre-owned starting price of $8,995 to a brand-new high-spec price of $84,410.
- Comfortable ride
- Advanced safety features
- Robust off-road capabilities
- Less powerful than some competitors
- The infotainment system could be more user-friendly
Choosing the Perfect Ute: Practical Advice for Buyers
Selecting the right ute is not just about the vehicle; it's also about your needs and budget. Here are some tips to guide your decision:
- Budget: Set a budget and strive to stick to it. Remember, pricier utes often come with additional features and capabilities.
- Purpose: Identify why you need a ute. Is it for city driving, off-roading, or hauling heavy loads? Some utes are more suited for certain tasks than others.
- Performance and Fuel Efficiency: Consider the performance and fuel efficiency of each ute. While a powerful engine is attractive, remember that it may consume more fuel.
- Resale Value: The Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger, for example, hold their value very well. Resale value can be a crucial factor in your decision.
- Test Drive: Finally, always test drive the ute before buying. This will give you a feel for its performance, comfort, and features.
Selecting a ute is a major decision. With this guide, we hope to have made the process a bit easier for you. Happy hunting, and may you find the perfect ute that will accompany you on many thrilling New Zealand adventures!