The story is similar across the Tasman – where new Hilux is currently the top selling single vehicle – with Corolla second, Hyundai i30 third and Ford Ranger fourth.
Here, Ranger rules supreme, with Corolla second.
Colleagues ‘in the trade’ still wonder aloud how this sea change happened. Yet we can afford a wry smile. We were first, for instance, to include the SUVs everyone else seemed to think were a fad, in our annual ‘4WD Buyer’s Guide,’ and as you can see here, SUV models big and small now make up the lion’s share of the listings.
Initially we provided just a picture and a set of specs but feedback from you the reader said you wanted more; hence the pen portraits by our testers which we incorporated from the 2015 edition.
As the number of eligible vehicles (some sort of 4WD capability be it part or full-time) grew we also split the listings into four separate sections - SUV, Wagon, Luxury and Utility – five actually if you count work and recreational UTVs.
The SUV section features vehicles with 4WD, but without a low range transmission. They are the vehicles that have spurred the remarkable growth in the 4WD sector of late as they have largely replaced the traditional large and medium car in the local buyer’s minds.
They reflect the active lifestyle we pride ourselves on in New Zealand and offer plenty of space for families, comfort for long journeys and enough off-road ability to get to those out-of-the-way places that we have so many of in this great country.
The Wagon section features 4WD vehicles with a low range transmission. This section features a broader cross-section of vehicles, with the traditional ladder-chassis style 4WD mixing it with newer unibody style vehicles.
The one thing they all share is a stronger focus on off-road ability, although most still offer a wide range of car-like comforts and on-road ability. These are the vehicles that offer the most scope for modification for serious off-road applications, particularly those with traditional ladder-chassis construction.
The Luxury section is, rather obviously, where the big money stuff lies. Anything over $95,000 makes the grade for this section, regardless of whether it has a low-range transmission or not. Some do, some don’t, but there are still some very, very serious off-road vehicles in this section.
While that is the case, the main focus with most of the vehicles in this section is the luxury aspect, and they do this very well indeed. Leather is virtually compulsory, while advanced technology, thunderous stereos and electric-everything is also pretty standard across this section.
And finally, the Ute section is all about those vehicles that have always played a role in our working lives, but are increasingly becoming a big part of our down-time as they become ever-more lifestyle friendly.
Covering the full spectrum from basic work hacks to top-of-the-line family vehicles, the Ute segment is wide and fiercely contested. Especially recently, as an increasing number of utes move the goal posts every time a new one is released.
We have made these changes to better reflect what buyers are looking for in their 4WDs. Whether it be a lifestyle vehicle for everyday use and light off-roading in the weekend, a hard-core bush-basher or a dedicated work machine that has to tackle every environment, you will be able to find out about it here.
We hope you enjoy reading the 2016 NZ4WD Buyer’s Guide as much as we enjoyed putting it together for you!