Four of the best dual-cab utes, a comparison guide
Battle of the dual-cab utes: a comparison guide to four of Australia’s top selling models.
Buyer preferences in the automotive sector have shifted dramatically in the past 20 years. Back in 1999, the two top-selling models were the Australian-built Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon sedan and wagon ranges.
Fast forward to 2019 and the most popular vehicle in Australia is Toyota’s HiLux ute, closely followed by Ford’s Ranger pickup. Mitsubishi’s Triton is also a top-10 player, while Holden’s Colorado ute is the brand’s best-selling model by some margin. And it is not just tradies buying these vehicles. Along with SUVs, dual-cab utes are fast becoming the family car of choice. They have the high ride height of an SUV but offer the versatility of a massive tray and the flexibility of five seats, while four-wheel drive adds off-road ability.
The increase in popularity of these weekend warriors means manufacturers have had to lift their game in terms of cabin comfort and safety features. We take a look at four of the top picks in the segment.
Four of Australia’s top-selling utes, compared
Ford Ranger ($28,340 to $75,990)
Thumbs up: Rugged design and excellent powertrains help elevate the Ranger above many of its rivals.
Thumbs down: Can get pricey depending on the variant and it’s showing its age in some areas.
Ford’s Ranger may be getting on in years, but it remains one of the best drives in the segment, with plenty of grunt and space. Designed and engineered in Australia, the Ranger is so popular that it makes up a whopping 63 per cent of all Ford’s Australian sales.
Rugged looks, a big tray and a particularly high ride height add to the appeal. The addition last year of the hardcore Ranger Raptor flagship variant has also given the brand a halo model, increasing the Ranger’s appeal even more. Even in lower grades, it is a touch pricier than some of its rivals, but that has not turned buyers away.
It comes with a hardy interior, comfy seats in all grades, a spacious cabin and a trio of powertrains. We would skip the 2.2-litre diesel unit for either the meaty 147kW/470Nm 3.2-litre five-cylinder unit or the newer 2.0-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder biturbo diesel lifted from the Raptor that outputs 157kW/500Nm. The latter two can tow up to 3500 kilograms.
The Ranger has a five-star ANCAP crash safety rating, while even the entry-level XL and XLT grades have the SYNC3 infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
Holden Colorado ($31,690 to $57,190)
Thumbs up: Excellent towing capacity and unquestionable value for money.
Thumbs down: Some old technology in the ageing cabin.
It might not sell as many units as the Ranger or HiLux, but Holden’s Colorado punches above its weight and is one of the best overall packages in the segment.
When the current-generation Colorado launched in mid-2012 it met lukewarm reviews. It didn’t do anything particularly wrong, but was a fair distance behind the class-leading Ranger at the time. Holden addressed some of the issues around driveability, refinement, comfort and practicality with the heavily revised version that arrived in 2016.
The exterior design got a big pull through with a more appealing front end and the cabin benefited from a complete overhaul that included new materials and greater functionality. The mechanical changes brought the Colorado much closer to the Ranger in terms of dynamic ability and it benefited from greater insulation in the cabin, making for a quieter ride. The Colorado has a reputation as an excellent tow vehicle as well with a 3500-kilogram towing capacity.
Holden introduced a model year 2020 Colorado in June that added more standard equipment and a choice of five accessory packs. It remains one of the best value-for-money offerings in the segment. Like the Ranger and the HiLux, the Colorado is imported from Thailand and comes with a five-star ANCAP rating.