If you already drive one it would have come as no surprise to you that last year, Ford’s all-conquering Ranger was not only named NZ4WD magazine’s Ute of the Year award, it also won the Best (overall) 4WD gong.
Today’s utes – and here we are talking in particular about the double (or crew) cab variety – are literally all things to all people; farmers, tradespeople, recreational users and those with a need to regularly tow a caravan or ‘toy’ trailer.
Driving the appeal is the ‘L’ word, ‘lifestyle.’
Where once a ute was just that, a ‘utility’ vehicle primarily used by farmers and rural contractors, a new-generation of rural AND urban buyers have been won over by the double-cab platform’s versatility and ever increasing mechanical and electronic sophistication.
As defending champ, Ford’s Ranger XLT was the anchor on which we based our test list this year. Sister magazine Company Vehicle’s Ute of The Year, the Holden Colorado LTZ was next, followed by Mitsubishi’s all-new Triton, Toyota’s ubiquitous Hilux and Volkswagen’s ‘lifestyle’ leader the Amarok.
Seeing as how we’re a 4WD mag we wanted a proper ‘test’ too. After seeing what it offered when we tested the two Jeep Cherokee models last year the Bay of Plenty’s TECT Park (www.tectallterrainpark.co.nz) was the obvious place to return to.
Over two days our group covered almost 1000kms on and off the road in the five utes. And when it came to ticking ‘our favourite’ all but the Toyota earned someone’s number one stamp.
However, when the numbers were added up and the opinions evaluated Ford’s Ranger was a clear and very worthy winner for a second year in a row.
Second was the Volkswagen Amarok Highline, third the all-new Mitsubishi Triton GLS, fourth Holden’s Colorado LTZ and fifth Toyota’s Hilux TRD Sportivo.
That was the order they finished in as far as on-road performance goes as well. But off-road the Colorado tied for second behind the Ranger with the Amarok, pushing the Mitsubishi back to fourth.