Buyers' Guide: Battle of the utes
Challenging the Ford Ranger
Samuel has asked why the all-new Toyota Hilux is no longer the number one selling ute in New Zealand.
“The Ford Ranger understandably stole the show while Toyota waited for the all-new model Hilux to launch, but last month’s sales were almost half those of the Ranger. Is supply an issue and are we likely to see a huge turnaround over the coming months?”
You’re not wrong: the Ranger grabbed a massive 22 per cent of the commercial segment (661 registrations) in January. The Hilux did end the month in second spot (300 registrations and 10 per cent market share).
We asked Toyota NZ for an explanation. The reply was something of a surprise, bearing in mind its past reputation for being very discount-friendly. Hilux supply is apparently all on track with sales only slightly down on January 2015. Toyota’s current priority is ensuring a return for its dealer network rather than significant discounting and pre-registrations to purely chase sales figures.
So it appears the Ranger will continue to be hard to beat on price alone, while the Hilux will have to stand on its merits and compete with the remainder of the pack for sales. But there is some competition for the Ranger.
There 21 different models available, priced from $36,990 to $70,490. If pricing remains reasonably firm, sales will be made more on driveability and in-cabin looks and feel, as well as that longstanding positive badge reputation. Interior looks and functionality wise, the Hilux works well but the tablet-like infotainment control screen is bound to polarise buyer opinion. Engine options are a new 2.8 diesel or a 4-litre petrol V6 in some variants. Some may find the 2WD has a more refined ride with less driveline noise while the 6-speed auto doesn’t seem to suddenly decide to change down on long descents as much as the 4WD.
Nissan Navara NP300
The Navara has always played the game of being a worthy alternative to “the other two” in this market segment. Priced from $31,990 to $55,490, the all-new Nissan is standing its ground across the range. In fact the driveability in the 4WD variant is extremely good and almost car-like. It’s also very user-friendly and has a high level of in-cabin smart technology in the mid to top end of the range. Like the Hilux there are diesel and petrol options to ponder.
The Triton tends to sell more on the value for money proposition (prices from $34,790-$59,4900), which is great for buyers who have a particular need rather than those looking to impress. No match for the Ranger overall but not afraid to offer big discounts either. Mitsubishi are currently offering the GLX-R manual as a trade special of $29,990, which includes 17-inch alloys, cruise control, keyless entry and a reverse camera.
Don’t forget to factor in the cost of all the optional extras.