2023 Volkswagen Amarok ute first drive review

2023 VW Amarok PanAmericana

Danny Baggs

Posted May 31, 2023

The all-new Volkswagen Amarok ute is bigger, beefier and better than ever before. Does the Amarok have what it takes to go against the top-selling Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux?

Volkswagen isn’t new to utes. Thirteen years ago, Volkswagen released the first-generation Amarok: a tough ute with a premium edge that quickly became one of the best in its class that includes the Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi Triton, Isuzu D-Max and Nissan Navara.

Since Australia is the Volkswagen Amarok’s biggest market, it makes sense that the second-generation Amarok has some notable Australian influence. The brand's local team, based in Melbourne, had a hand in the vehicle's design, engineering and development, plus the development of accessories available for the ute.

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The 2023 Volkswagen Amarok Aventure is top-of-the-line. Image: Supplied.
The Amarok Style is the mid-range model. Image: Supplied
The Amarok PanAmericana is built for off-road adventures. Image: Supplied

How much does the 2023 Volkswagen Amarok cost?

The 2023 Volkswagen Amarok ranges from $52,990 to $79,990, excluding on-road costs and optional extras. Here’s the price breakdown by model:

Amarok Pricing

Amarok Pricing

Price (excluding on-road costs and optional extras)

Core (2.0 TDI405)


Life (2.0 TDI500)


Style (2.0 TDI500)


Style (3.0 TDI600)


PanAmericana (3.0 TDI600)


Aventura (3.0 TDI600)


Aventura (2.3 TSI452)


Customers can opt for one of two service plans: an upfront 5 Year Care Plan for an $1,800 locked-in price, or 5 individual services across 12 month or 15,000km intervals at $329, $329, $414, $329 and $400, with prices subject to change.


three VM Amarok models on grass

Amarok prices vary depending on model. Image: Supplied


Is the 2023 Volkswagen Amarok safe?

The 2023 Volkswagen Amarok comes with a 5 Star ANCAP Safety Rating thanks to nine airbags, ABS braking, adaptive load control, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist monitoring, roll-over mitigation, driver fatigue warning, and emergency calling via smartphone in-range connection. Dynamic stability control, electronic brakeforce distribution, emergency brake assist, traction control and trailer sway control all add to the Amarok’s safety.

The Amarok has had more than 30 safety and driver assistance systems added to the vehicle, over 20 of which are all-new to this season’s models. Common to all grades are useful driver assistance features like:

  • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)  
  • Rear View (Reverse) Camera
  • Front Assist pedestrian and cyclist monitoring
  • Lane Assist lane-keeping and departure warning
  • Speed Sign Recognition and Dynamic Road Sign Display
  • Intelligent Sped Limiter
  • Hill Descent Control
  • Swerve Steer Assist
  • Front & Rear Park Distance Control.

Additional driver assistance features are loaded onto the higher Amarok grades, such as:

  • Rear Traffic Alert from the Life up
  • Side Assist with blind spot monitoring from the Life up
  • Front View Camera from the Style up
  • Area View 360 Degree Camera from the Style up
  • Park Assist from the Style up.


amarok panamericana with V6 engine and bright lights

Bright LED headlights help keep drivers safe on and off the road. Image: Supplied


What does the 2023 Volkswagen Amarok look like?

The new Amarok has been totally redesigned, with a longer body (now 5350mm), higher ground clearance (now 235mm), increased wading depth (now 800mm), increased wheelbase for additional rear legroom, and a reduced front and rear overhang for 30-degree approach and 26-degree departure angles.

All models have sidesteps, front and rear mudflaps, alloy wheels, underbody protection for the engine and fuel tank, and electric folding side mirrors.

Notably, there’s a 3.5 per cent increase in tub volume across the Amarok range. Six tie-down points in the ute tub paired with cargo box LED lighting makes transporting tools and camping gear, easy. The Style and Aventura models add a 12V power source in the tub, while the PanAmericana has a durable sprayed liner in the tub for rough off-road use. Two front towing hooks, a 3.5-tonne towbar, 12-pin trailer plug, and roof rails (on the PanAmericana and Aventura) round out the Amarok’s hauling capacity.

Lighting is a priority, with LED daytime running lights, automatic headlights with high-beam control and an auto-dimming rearview mirror coming standard on all Volkswagen Amarok models.  


Sleek, muscular lines define the Amarok. Image: Supplied
All Amarok models feature durable sidesteps. Image: Supplied
Big alloy wheels turn heads on the road. Image: Supplied
The PanAmericana tub has a durable spray for outdoor adventures. Image: Supplied

What is the 2023 Volkswagen Amarok like inside?

Aesthetically and to touch, the Amarok’s interior is premium for dual cab standards. The Aventura and PanAmericana models are treated to leather seats, but a leather steering wheel and gearshift knob plus a stitched leather-look dashboard and door inserts comes in several lower grades.

In the centre of the dash is a massive 10.1- to 12-inch infotainment screen with wireless phone charging and a USB charge socket in the rearview mirror, plus 12V, USB and USC power outlets in the dash. The system is fitted with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for simple wireless app connection. A navigation system is also loaded onto the Style, PanAmericana and Aventura models. For audiophiles, the PanAmericana and Aventura feature premium Harman/Kardon sound systems with eight speakers and a subwoofer.

Seating is comfortable in the Volkswagen Amarok, with at least 6-way adjustment on the driver seat and 4-way adjustment on the passenger seats all the way up to 10-way electric heated seats on both driver and passenger seats in the PanAmericana and Aventure grades. Backseat passengers can also ride in comfort with a rear centre armrest and an additional 45mm of room compared to last generation. In the Style grade and up, rear passengers are also treated to dual zone air conditioning with rear air vents.


Amarok cabins combine convenience with luxury. Image: Supplied
Infotainment screens range up to 12 inches in the Amarok. Image: Supplied
SATNAV is included in higher grades of the Amarok. Image: Supplied
Premium audio systems are installed in the PanAmericana and Aventura models. Image: Supplied
Wireless smartphone charging is an excellent inclusion from Volkswagen. Image: Supplied

What’s under the 2023 Volkswagen Amarok's bonnet?

Under the bonnet, the Volkswagen Amarok comes in four engine grades.

The Core base model has a four-cylinder single turbo-diesel engine 2.0L TDI running at 125kW that works with a six-speed manual or automatic gearbox complete with three drive modes using the 4MOTION AWD system: 2H, 4H and 4L.

The Life model and Style 2L TDI model upgrade the engine to a four-cylinder twin-turbo diesel engine 2.0L TDI producing 154kW. They use a 10-speed automatic gearbox and the same 4MOTION AWD system.

The Aventura 2.3L TSI model shifts features a four-cylinder single turbo-petrol engine producing 222kW. It retains the 10-speed automatic gearbox of the Life model but upgrades the 4MOTION AWD to four drive modes: 2H, 4A, 4H and 4L.

Finally, the Style 3L TDI, PanAmericana and Aventure 3L TDI models top out the range with a V6 single turbo-diesel engine producing 184kW. The AWD system is the same featured on the Aventura.



Under the bonnet, the Volkswagen Amarok is powerful and efficient. Image: Supplied
The Amarok's digital cockpit makes customising your driving easy. Image: Supplied
Volkswagen's 4MOTION AWD system allows you to switch between 2WD and AWD. Image: Supplied

How does the 2023 Volkswagen Amarok drive?

The Amarok allows you to switch between up to six driving modes depending on your road conditions for optimum on- and off-road control. You’ll start in Normal mode for everyday drives, but you can swap to ECO to get maximum fuel efficiency and increase your driving range, or Slippery mode to lower your throttle response and optimise shifting on loose and slippery surfaces, like rainy roads.

On Core Automatic and Life models, you also have access to Towing/Heavy Load mode, which optimises your gearbox operation when pulling a heavy trailer. Gears are only shifted up at higher engine speeds to reduce shifting frequency, while engine braking is enabled in all forward gears to decelerate the vehicle on downhills.

Style, PanAmericana and Aventura models allow drivers to switch into Mud/Track (which enhances vehicle performance on muddy, rutted and uneven terrains) or Snow/Sand (for off-road driving on deep snow or soft, dry sand) modes too.

The new Volkswagen Amarok comes with front and rear ventilated disc brakes from the Life up (on the Core, you have rear drum brakes). Electric power steering helps you navigate tight suburban roads with ease.

4MOTION is the name of Volkswagen’s AWD system, which features up to four selectable modes to customise your driving experience. The 2H rear-wheel drive mode delivers maximum fuel efficiency and manoeuvrability for general on-road driving. Then there’s the 4H (High AWD) mode for strong traction on off-road surfaces, mud and snowy winter roads, plus the 4L (Low AWD) mode for maximum traction on deep sand, steep slopes and when pulling heavy loads. If you opt for a Style V6, PanAmericana or Aventura model, you’ll also have access to the 4A (Automatic AWD) mode that delivers locked drive power to the front and rear wheels as required in varying on-road conditions.


Style, PanAmericana and Aventura models feature the Mud/Track driving mode. Image: Supplied
The Amarok PanAmericana can handle serious off-road conditions. Image: Supplied
The Amarok's Tow/Heavy Load mode optimises your gearbox operation when pulling a heavy trailer. Image: Supplied

Which 2023 Volkswagen Amarok model should I buy?

Amarok Core – the workhorse

The Amarok Core is the entry-level workhorse of the Volkswagen Amarok lineup. Standard features include LED headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels, 2L turbo-diesel engine, eight-inch digital cockpit, 10-inch infotainment interface, and 26 drive safety and assistance systems.  

Amarok Life – the versatile on-roader

The Amarok Life is a truly versatile ute, with plenty of comfort and enough aesthetics for those looking for something that can double for work and lifestyle duties. Think leather steering wheel and gear shifter, electric park brake, LED fog lights and eight-way driver and passenger seat adjustment for more premium interior touches.

Amarok Style – the predicted top seller

Volkswagen predicts that the Amarok Style will become the top-selling grade of the range. The Style comes with flashier features, such as IQ.LIGHT Matrix LED headlights, massive 12-inch infotainment and digital cockpit screens, a 360-degree area view camera and stitched leather-look dashboard and door trims. You can choose between four- and six-cylinder turbo-diesel engines depending on how much grunt you need.

Amarok PanAmericana – the offroad specialist

The Amarok PanAmericana is the offroad specialist ute of the range. Think dynamic suspension, 18-inch all-terrain tyres, a durable sprayed tub and a V6 diesel engine to tackle tough, tricky terrain. Its darkened sports exterior accents, including black alloy wheels, lend the PanAmericana a gnarly appearance. Inside, leather seats and a premium Harman/Kardon audio system elevates this ute to a new level of off-road sophistication.  

Amarok Aventura – the top of the line

If the PanAmericana is the top-of-the-line offroad specialist, then the Volkswagen Aventura is the premium on-road ute. Chrome accented exteriors, largest-ever 21-inch VANBERG alloy wheels, an electronic ute tub roll cover, Savona leather seats, dynamic suspension and a premium Harman/Kardon audio system create an Amarok without compromise.



The information provided is general advice only. Before making any decisions, please consider your own circumstances and the Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determinations. For copies, visit racv.com.au. As distributor, RACV Insurance Services Pty Ltd AFS Licence No. 230039 receives commission for each policy sold or renewed. Product(s) issued by Insurance Manufacturers of Australia ABN 93 004 208 084 AFS Licence No. 227678.