Expert Car Picks: Best ute under $60K for work and weekend duties
Search Driven for vehicles for sale
With all this talk about clean cars and EVs over the past week, there’s been an equally passionate amount of conversation about utes. The penalties proposed haven’t gone down well, and while we won’t dif too deeply into that at the moment, the point is, now is the time to buy a ute, because as of January 1, 2022, there stands to be a fee on most utes sold in NZ.
That leaves just six months to make a decision without risk of penalty, so our DRIVEN team has each opened up their website browser and testing insight to pick their best utes for their own lives, with a budget of $60,000, and the theme of work and weekend: dual purpose utes for both the working week and some fun or family time on the weekend, with a range of our own needs: from a family of five to adult kids, and no kids.
With $60k on hand, here’s what we’d buy.
Andrew: Nissan Navara ST-X
I've always been a fan of the Navara for its looks and capabilites, and the latest iteration has only added to both of those aspects as it now looks like the American Nissan Titan.
Like the majority of ute owners, I probably wouldn't get off into the rough stuff very often, so 4WD isn't a nessecaity, and I'd rather spend the extra dosh on getting a nicer-specced model.
In the new Navara, power comes from a twin-turbo 2.3-litre diesel engine that makes 14kW and 450Nm while keeping fuel consumption at a respectable 7.6L/100km.
On the inside, the Navara's interior is one of the nicest on the market (only second to the Mazda in my opinion), and this ST-X gets leather heated seats for those cold morning commutes.
On the outside, it wears a snazzy sports bar, and 18-inch alloy wheels, so you won't need to accessorise too much. And that's for the best, as at $57,490 I wouldn't be left with much change to do so.
David: Toyota Hilux SR Extra Cab
I’m a big fan of the Toyota Hilux and after testing pretty every specification last year, I’m sold on the entry SR. The chunky trim and black-painted steel wheels look the business and it’s the version that also ride the best, thanks to smaller rims and taller sidewalls.
But which SR? I know double cab utes are a real thing, but for work or weekend the best thing for me is a really long tray: fits the maximum amount of stuff for business and carries mountain bikes beautifully for my free time.
So the $40,990 SR Extra Cab it is, because an occasional rear seat will do me fine (my children are too old to want to travel with me anyway). It’s only available as a 2WD Prerunner, but no problems there either: I don’t need to do any hard-core off-roading.
With over $19k left over from our budget, I can go wild with accessories. But the black steel wheels will be staying.
Dean: Mazda BT-50 GTX
At $58,490, the GTX version of the BT-50 isn’t the top spec Limited (at $60,990, that adds leather, remote start and heated seats), but to squeeze under our $60k mandate, the GTX fills the job nicely.
I’d add the $515 for the black alloy 18-inch wheels and $189 for floor mats, and somewhat begrudgingly, the $415 for the tailgate assist eliminates the tailgate slamming open every time (but for $415?! Surely that should be standard), which brings my total to $59,609.
And with it, arguably the finest ute interior currently on sale (note currently, since the demise of Merc X Class) and with form and function, it’s a great place to be for both the work week and weekends, with plenty of practicality and tech to keep everyone happy, like eight-speaker surround sound roof speakers, reversing cameras and sensors with rear cross-traffic alert, and
I’d have to choose Red Volcano Mica, though there are six options. And here’s the kicker: it’s the only 4x4 model here, selectable via the dash switch, so if all that isn’t enough to sway your vote, you’re a hard person to please.