It’s always nice to be ahead of the bell curve of public opinion. But even here at NZ4WD magazine – where we have been extolling the virtues of the current crop of turbo-diesel double cab utes for years now – we have been blindsided by the veritable tsunami of recent sales.
Changes are unprecedented. Numbers of new registrations per month continue to top those of the month before. And the two top-selling utes, Ford’s Ranger and Toyota’s Hilux, are also the two top selling models overall, with Toyota’s Corolla third then Holden’s Colorado (ute) fourth and the first SUV model, Toyota’s RAV4, fifth.
Add in Mitsubishi’s Triton at six, and Nissan’s Navara at seven and five of the ten top-selling individual selling ‘cars’ are utes for a total ‘sample’ year-to-date to the end of October (the latest figures available as this is written in late November) of almost 21,000.
Driving the trend is a buoyant economy and the race to try and house a population that keeps on growing (particularly in Auckland) courtesy record levels of immigration.
And so to the nominees and winners of our annual NZ4WD of The Year. The vehicles we short-listed here were tested and/or driven between November 2015 to October 2016. Criteria, as always was multi-faceted best in class but with a weighting toward off-road ability. And as always we can only short-list vehicles we have actually been offered, and driven.
COMPACT 4WD SUV OF THE YEAR
SUZUKI VITARA TURBO
Last year it was the tactile chassis that earned Suzuki's new Vitara. This year it is the new Turbo model’s eager-beaver 1.4 litre Booster Jet engine and genuine value-for-money.
MEDIUM 4WD SUV OF THE YEAR
RAV4 gets the nod this year despite serious competition across the feature/price spectrum. New diesel version is worthwhile addition to range and at entry (GX) level represents good value.
4WD WAGON OF THE YEAR
With the same beguiling mix of standout five-cylinder engine and standard-setting chassis dynamics as the Ranger ute, Ford’s Everest is the pick of the current station wagon crop.
LUXURY 4WD OF THE YEAR
Deeply impressive new F-Pace proof - if ever it was needed – that cars are more than inanimate objects.
4WD UTILITY OF THE YEAR
FORD RANGER XLT
Simply put the big Ford has yet to be bettered. All sorts of potential threats on the horizon but Ranger remains the benchmark.
OVERALL 4WD OF THE YEAR
FORD RANGER XLT
Each time we drive a new 4WD ute we ask ourselves the obvious question, ‘is it better than the current Ranger?’ The answer so far has been, ‘close, but no!’
To read the full story in 2017 NZ4WD Annual & Buyer’s Guide go to zinio.com (December 12) or purchase your own hard copy at the Adrenalin store