Utes on a 30k budget? Here's 10 of NZ's best workhorse bargains
Search Driven for vehicles for sale
It makes sense why utes are such popular things in New Zealand. We're a nation of go-getters and weekend adventurers, towing boats and jet-skis and trailers loaded to the brim with trash for the landfill.
Utes now dominate the domestic registration charts, making up the majority of the top five. But for those who aren't looking to buy new, there's also a well supported second-hand space packed with all sorts of decent, low-kilometre utes available for barely more than the price of a new Toyota Corolla.
Here's 10 of the best, as currently listed on Driven.
There are two utes on this list that stand out as being criminally underrated, and this is one of them.
The current D23-generation Nissan Navara has been around for a wee while, but that doesn't negate some of its standout qualities. It's one of the most handsome utes on the market, and backs that up with a solid powertrain line-up and car-like drive qualities.
It's worth noting that a big chunk of that car-like capability stems from Nissan's decision to use a coil-spring rear suspension set-up. The drawback of this system is that the Navara isn't as confident when towing as some of its rivals, although they did improve this with some revisions in late 2016.
This Northland-based Navara is two-wheel drive, but it's also low kilometres (79,680km) and a high-spec ST-X model. This means different wheels, running boards, cruise control, a reverse camera, and more. Click here to check it out.
The Holden Colorado has a few big things going for it.
It looks smart, comes well equipped, and can sometimes be particularly good buying on the second-hand market when compared like-for-like with equivalent models from the competition.
The Colorado's biggest trick, however, is its engine. Newer models like this Auckland-based 2016 example come with a 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine that produces a segment-best 500Nm of torque. Newton metres in the pocket are handy at the best of times, but grow in importance when it comes to towing.
This example is an upper-spec 4x4 LTZ, outstripped only by the range-topping Z71. Smart black wheels and a six-speed manual gearbox compliment a reverse camera, sports bar, and a miniscule 32,000km indicated. Click here to check it out.
The notion of buying a European ute would've seemed farcical a decade or two ago. But not only is it now possible, but also surprisingly logical.
The Volkswagen Amarok hasn't had many changes since it first hit the market in 2010. That can sometimes be a sign of complacency, but it can also indicate an 'if it ain't broke' attitude. And there's not much broken with the Amarok.
Those interested in the Amarok should expect an interior with superior materials and build quality compared to that in most other utes. Models fitted with the high-power V6 engine aren't yet available in this price window, so if you're wanting one you'll have to settle for an economical 2.2-litre TDI. This particular example comes in grey (always better than straight silver), has 74,234km on the odometer, and the added bonus of a canopy on the back. Click here to check it out.
And now for the wildcard.
The first-generation SsangYong Actyon isn't about to win prizes for off-roading prowess, payload, or towing capabilities. It does, however, pack enormous value.
Like many fledgling brands trying to prove themselves, SsangYong aimed to impress with the face-lifted Actyon by offering huge amounts of equipment for very little price. And these models are now available for peanuts. This Auckland-listed example comes with big 22-inch wheels, faux-leather seating, and a multi-function steering wheel. And despite complimenting that with low kilometres (34,000km), it's priced well under budget at $17,990. Click here to check it out.
Actually, maybe this is the real wildcard?
While SsangYong is starting to gain some proper momentum, Foton remains a relative unknown in New Zealand. The Chinese brand has an admittedly mixed reputation, but this new 4x4 Tunland is undoubtedly good value at $32,990 with mere delivery kilometres (41km to be exact) on the clock.
What makes the Tunland rather compelling are some of the components in its construction. A Getrag transmission and Borg Warner transfer case have helped it gain a cult following, but the 2.8-litre Cummins turbo-diesel engine is the jewel in the crown. Avoid the earliest models with their noted issues, and you've got a good solid ute. Click here to check out this Waikato-listed model.
6. 2017 LDV T60
Completing our trio of odd-ball utes is this; a 4x4 2017 LDV T60.
Beyond its value proposition, the T60's core strengths are its standard equipment, space, towing capabilities, and proven underpinnings.
Each model comes fitted with a VM Motori-sourced 2.8-litre turbo-diesel. A 10-inch infotainment screen is amongst its key toys, while — if you squint a fair bit, admittedly — it even looks alright.
This isn't the top-spec Luxury model, but that's no huge issue. The Luxury's model-specific suspension system is known for being too soft, making this the trim to buy. Click here to check it out
The new Mitsubishi Triton launched earlier this year, prompting a run-out on the last of the last-generation models.
While that brand new Foton is a bit of a steal for just over $30k, a delivery-kilometres Triton can be had for even less. This Auckland-based two-wheel drive 2.4-litre GLX-R is listed for $29,990 and has just 10km on the odometer.
Note that the Triton is a bit smaller than almost all of the other utes in the segment, which is why it tends to undercut most of the competition. But if that or the faintly Hannibal Lecter looks aren't a concern, it's a safe and sound bet. Click here to check it out.
So, along with the Navara, this is the other ute from the 'criminally underrated' pile.
The BT-50 was initially developed alongside the Ford Ranger, which means the way it drives is reasonably similar. Yet, one tops the sales charts while the other exists as a bit of a footnote.
Part of this is because the Ranger has had much more development since it landed. But those shopping for a Ranger should still consider the BT-50. This Auckland-based example comes with the familiar and popular 3.2-litre inline five-cylinder turbo-diesel that you also find in many Rangers. Click here to check it out.
The trick to buying a tough-looking ute is to opt for white bodywork and black steelies. Works. Every. Time.
It certainly works here, with this relatively low-kilometres 2016 Hilux SR. Despite the slightly 'base spec' aesthetic, it still comes with a decent level of kit — including a reverse camera, cruise control, and a lined bed sealed with a tonneau cover. As a bonus kilometres are low too, at 54,298km. Click here to check it out.
It might seem cliche to pick a Hilux, but there's one big side-benefit — resale value. Hilux models always do a better job maintaining their value than rivals, primarily because of local reputation for reliability.
If purchasing this latest generation, make sure to check to see whether its diesel particulate filter has been changed as part of this year's recall. Also take note of ride quality — its leaf-sprung rear end is one of the stiffest in the business.
And then there's the daddy of them all, the Ford Ranger.
The Ranger has sat on top of New Zealand's registration data for quite some time now, and for good reason. It cuts a well-balanced line between car-like driving feel behind the wheel and solid off-road and towing capabilities. Such is the success of Rangers locally that they defy many other Ford models in retaining healthy resale value.
With 30k in your pocket, your best bet is either a pre-facelift 4x4 XLT or Wildtrak (the latter comes with swanky seats, extra branding, nicer wheels and more) or a rear-wheel drive current-shape XLT like this blue one listed in Waikato.
It comes with a low 43,000km on the clock, and with a handy canopy out back. Click here to check it out.