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2ND PLACE Toyota HiLux SR5
Last year’s winner is still a great
vehicle, but improvements to the Ford
Ranger just pushed the Toyota HiLux
SR5 back to second. The drivetrain is
smooth and quiet and the cabin is well
insulated from engine noise.
The interior of the high-spec SR5 is
modern and has high-quality materials,
which is noteworthy considering its
working vehicle focus. A seven-inch
touchscreen multimedia system with
sat nav, Bluetooth and iPod
connectivity dominates the centre
console. Convenience features such as
climate control and a smart key are
included, as is tilt-and-reach-adjustable
steering – a rarity in this category.
The HiLux was also equal best in class
for tray space, but it can’t match the
other two finalists for towing.
Holden Colorado LTZ
Holden’s new Colorado ended up being
a fair way off the pace in design and
function, mainly due to some sub-par
scores for its environmental
performance and space compared with
the other two finalists. But it was every
bit the match when it came to value for
money and what is was like on the road.
The Colorado has the best-performing
engine of the trio, with a prodigious
500Nm on tap from very low revs. It’s
also several thousand dollars cheaper
than the other finalists, but still has a
similar level of features to the dearer
Ranger. Its MyLink infotainment system
has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
connectivity as well as digital radio,
embedded sat nav and voice recognition.
Best Dual Cab Ute
Perennial favourite the Ford Ranger XLT is back on top of the dais
Engine: 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel Transmission: six-speed automatic
Power: 147kW Torque: 470Nm Fuel consumption: 8.7L/100km (claimed)
ANCAP: HHHHH Price: $60,491 (indicative drive away)
The list of luxury features in the Ford Ranger
is the benchmark for this market
THE FORD RANGER won the inaugural
4x4 Dual Cab Ute award in 2013 and has
only been defeated on one occasion since
then, which was when the all-new Toyota
HiLux claimed victory last year. Now, after
a model refresh and some extra kit, the
Ranger is back with a comfortable win.
It excels in all the things that make
these utes popular, including towing
capability and a practical design that
makes them easy to live with. Utes are
also becoming more civilised and car-
like, with the inclusion of some luxury
features, and the list in the Ranger is the
benchmark for this market. A rear-view
camera and reversing sensors have
become standard across most of the
line-up, and the XLT also has front
parking sensors as standard.
The update also saw the XLT
receive Ford’s new SYNC 3 in-vehicle
communications and entertainment
platform that’s faster, has better
conversational voice recognition, a
smartphone-like touchscreen, improved
graphics interface and Apple CarPlay and
Android Auto integration. The Ranger
can also be used as a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Its cabin was equal best in class for
space, and tray space was equal to or
better than any of the other contenders.
The seating comfort was also equal best
in class and, during the upgrade, Ford
put more sound deadening in the XLT.
As such, the cabin is quieter, but it’s still
not as good as the HiLux.
Even loaded with three judges plus
half a tonne in the tray, the Ranger easily
lugged its way up a steep 4WD test track
thanks to the 147kW/470Nm 3.2-litre
five-cylinder turbo-diesel powerplant.
Only the new Colorado did the climb
better. In fact, the judges were impressed
with how well all three finalists coped with
the off-road testing. All have six-speed
automatics to make the best use of the
Buyers are particularly interested in
how well these utes tow, and the Ranger
topped the list here, with a more-than-
useful 3500kg towing capacity.
Supported by trailer sway mitigation
and tyre pressure monitoring, it takes
some of the stress out of towing. It’s
also the only vehicle in the class to have
a towbar as standard.
This class of 4X4 has come a long way
over the years and tradies who need a
ute to earn a living and then load the
family into on weekends are now spoilt
for choice, with the impressive Ranger
leading the charge.
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