Hi John, I wish to replace a Holden Rodeo RA 2003 turbodiesel. I would appreciate your advice on Hilux, Triton, BT-50, Great Wall, Navara, etc. What is the benefit of metallic paint, considering it is an extra cost? Is the end of financial year sale a real saving? Wary of common rail diesel. Thank you, Richard
Frankly I'd leave Great Wall out of the picture. Great Wall is not quite there yet. They're OK for a farm ute, or as an alternative to buying a used vehicle, but they're not in the same league as the others. All the rest are pretty much built in Thailand - except the ST-X version of Nissan Navara (Spain) and the Volkswagen Amarok (Argentina). Thailand is Australia's second-largest automotive trading partner, and we have a free-trade agreement in place.
There are not all that many real differences between them, and a lot of the decision will be based on personal preference. However, if you want to be really objective about it, it's possible to get to a short list by demanding six-speed manual or six-speed auto transmissions as well as a five-star ANCAP safety rating, then you'd scratch the Toyota HiLux, Mitsubishi Triton, Isuzu D Max, and the Nissan Navara.
This somewhat mis-matched pair of Holden Colorado and Isuzu D-Max are essentially shared-platform vehicles. Five-star safety rating across both model ranges. Very perverse differences, however. The Isuzu D Max has a 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel with 130kW & 380Nm mated to five-speed auto or five-speed manual. The Holden Colorado has a 2.8-litre diesel with six-speed manual/six-speed auto. Manuals pump out 147kW and 440Nm whereas autos pump out 500Nm. (This is a software cap on the torque output of the manual, which must not be able to handle the 500Nm the auto gets.) Isuzu has its fans, but the Colorado beats it resoundingly - it's a race between the Colorado and the BT-50/Ford Ranger for best ute ... with the auto Colorado in front by a nose.
EQUAL 2nd PLACE:
& Ford Ranger
This pair of Mazda BT-50 and Ford Ranger are the same vehicle, essentially. Co-developed on the same platform. Five-star safety rating. Diesel only (3.2 five-cylinder and 2.2 four-cylinder versions) with six-speed manual/six-speed auto options. These are premium utes in the context of today's market and definitely two of the only three a rational person would consider buying.
This Mitsubishi Triton platform is reliable and well built but is also as old as the hills and has only a four-star safety rating. Old everything - especially the outdated four-speed auto (and the manual is only five-speed too). Unlike most competitors it actually has a 2.4-litre petrol model in the range (many other utes are exclusively diesel these days). However the 2.4i is just the price-leading shitbox 2WD poverty pack Triton (the Abu Ghraib of Tritons). Basically it's outdated and as such a 'don't buy' in my book.
The Nissan Navara has only a four-star safety rating (D40 model 4x4 - the 4x2 hasn't been tested). Has the most grunty ute variant of all - the ST-X 550 with 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel (170kW & 550Nm). The ST-X 550 is made in Spain, and the other models come from Thailand. Has five- or six-speed manual (depending on model variant - D40 models get six speeds and D22 models get five) or five-speed auto across most of the range. However, ST-X and ST-X 550 models get a seven-speed auto. There is a 2.5-litre diesel in the other models. D22 variants are only three-star ANCAP rated on safety while the more modern D40 is a four-star proposition. Frankly they are all outdated and are another 'don't buy' proposition.
The Volkswagen Amarok is made in Argentina. Looks good on paper but Volkswagen has massive reliability problems and a poor customer service record, so I'd be steering away there. This is a real issue if it's a work ute that may be integral to running your business - you can't afford to be off the road for the length of time it might take to repair a Volkswagen. Don't buy an Amarok - too risky.
Definitely the most popular ute in the country (sometimes it's the top-selling vehicle of all in Australia, by month). Huge model range. ($19,000 to $54,500 price range...) Five-star ANCAP safety rating for 2WD & 4WD models. Has a 2.7-litre petrol four on poverty-pack 'Workmate' 2WD models which is there as a price-leader, complete with ancient four-speed auto. The 3.0-litre diesel is a good engine (most common engine in the range) and there's also a 4.0-litre petrol V6, which is a bit of a rarity among dual cab utes. These engines have auto or manuals with only five speeds while plenty of competitors offer six.
Regarding your question about metallic paint: There's no benefit to metallic paint other than - it looks better. Not all manufacturers charge extra for it. Most do. For example, Mazda doesn't.
There are some good offers at this time, however my personal view is that you can do just as good, if not better by using a broker or just bargaining hard with a dealer at the end of the month (any month) and finding a dealer who is motivated because of low sales that month.
More on how the brokerage process works here >>
See my video about bargaining with a car dealer here >>
There's no need to be wary of common-rail diesel. I don't think you can buy a diesel that's not common-rail any more in any case. There's no other way to deliver the kind of injection control that gives modern diesel such strong performance. Every modern diesel is common-rail, and there's no problem with it. Keep the servicing up to it, is all. Common rail is a real plus for diesel performance, and although there are horror stories they are few and far between.