Ute wars

Labourers, your new breed of utes are arriving … fast. Ford has this week released its Australian-designed, Thai-built Ranger, with rivals Holden Colorado and Mazda BT-50 set to follow in the next twelve months. Confirming the imminent ute-segment war, Toyota has just revised its top-selling HiLux, adding equipment and introducing cheaper entry-level models.

Ranger opens the bidding at $19,740 for the XL cab-chassis petrol, or $750 above the base HiLux Workmate. However the Ford is the first ute on the market to include electronic stability control standard on every model; only top-spec HiLux SR5 dual-cabs get ESC. The 2.5-litre petrol-four in the base Ranger produces 122kW and 226Nm, besting the HiLux 2.7-litre by 6kW/14Nm.

Up-spec Rangers take more of a hit from a refreshed Toyota opposition. A new HiLux Workmate diesel variant brings the entry price for a 4x4 single cab bodystyle to $31,990; the equivalent Ranger is $38,390. Likewise entry to the 4x2 double cab bodystyle is $26,990 for the HiLux Workmate petrol, compared with $30,240 for the Ranger XL petrol. At the top end, new Ranger tops out at $57,390 for the Wildtrak 4x4 dual-cab, a full $6400 more than a HiLux SR5 TD dual cab.

In most instances, the Ranger is the better equipped ute, and the Ford turbo-diesels - 375Nm 2.2-litre four or 470Nm 3.2-litre five – out-torques the sole Toyota oiler’s 343Nm.

Time will tell if tradies will pass on the class favourite and spend the extra on the newer ute … if not Ranger, then, from next year, Colorado and BT-50.

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