Used 4×4 ute buying guide

HISTORICAL commerce alliances – and rivalries – within the global ute market requires that now, in 2020, all the celebrated new utes currently on sale are all either arrive the end of their generational life, or midway through a generation.

In ample terms that means they are all arrive 10 years old, or five years old among none of the current popular utes being new-generation designs.

In simple terms the ‘oldies’ are the VW Amarok, Ford Ranger, Mazda BT-50, Holden Colorado and Isuzu D-Max, which arrived in Australia in that jabber in 2011/12. The mid-generation utes include the Mitsubishi Triton, Nissan Navara and Toyota Hilux, all of which arrived here in 2015.

Of course, things haven’t remained completely static with those utes meanwhile their respective initial arrivals, although some own changed more than others.

Courtesy of a potent V6 diesel, the Amarok is the most changed although the 2016 re-engineering of both the Ranger and the Colorado also transported significant changes, as did the optional 2.0-litre 10-speed powertrain in Ranger in 2018. Even the mid-generational utes have seen evolution and progresses in the last five years with Triton receiving a mid-life refresh remaining year.

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All of this bodes well if you’re looking to buy a second-hand ute, as you can go wait on a good number of years to something that’s additional affordable without having to settle for a remaining generation design, which, by and large, deficiency the performance, safety, equipment, general amenity and, in slightly cases, the cabin size of the unusual generation utes.


BUYING second-hand and making sure you get a obedient ute is not rocket science but fixes require patience, perseverance and, above all, a plan!

You might be thinking of either buying privately or buying through a dealer, as both have advantages and disadvantages, but it’s best to notice both. The wider the net you throw, the better chance of catching the best fish.

The main car-selling websites, which are the best place to starting looking for a second-hand ute, continue to combine private-sale and dealer second-hand cars anyway – unless you retract another level of sorting – so that wider net is automatically thrown for you.

YAY OR NAY? necessity you buy a used car.

Dealer cars near with certainly of title and ownership, and generally among some warranty but will cost more and may not be necessarily be a helpful car, depending of course on the manufacturing of the dealer.

Private-sale cars are generally cheaper, but come with no warranty and you’ll demand to thoroughly check that the person selling the car actually owns the car.

On the subject of throwing a wide net, those same websites give you to select a ‘distance from you’ as one of the search criteria. No point in even considering utes that are too far away to explore with reasonable convenience unless to get a better belief of average prices for the type of ute you’re looking for. If you live discontinuance to a state border, the ‘by state’ searches are too irrelevant and another reason to use ‘distance from me’.

Once you acquire selected your preferred price range, the next key search criteria you essential to use is ‘lowest mileage’, which is generally far additional important than a ute’s age in years given all utes possess a finite mechanical life – hopefully at least 400,000km – and the more of it that is aged up when you buy it, the less that is left. The only qualifier on this is you may possess a low-mileage older ute that’s been out in the climate all its life and its poor exterior condition overrides its mechanical youthfulness.

As ever, a documented service history is close to being vital (dealer car or not), while a documented ownership history is too important although not as vital as the ceremony history.

A professional road-worthiness inspection by a mechanic is too very worthwhile if you’re not mechanically minded. Even having a friend along when inspecting a potential steal is a good idea if, for no other reason, they may notice something you don’t.

Here’s a rundown of the unusual 4×4 utes and how they shape up as a second-hand buy, and presented according to new-sales popularity.


THE current generation Ranger arrived here in slack 2011 but was revised heavily for the 2016 model year plus improved engine response and refinement, electric citation steering and changes to the way the chassis electronics behave, which, along with the generous wheel proceed, helps make the Ranger a top-tier performer off road.

The Ranger has a big roomy cabin that’s second-to-none in words of combined front and rear legroom, and among the gutsy 3.2-litre five-cylinder diesel is about as estimable as it gets for heavy-duty low and tow work.

An optional powertrain, a 2.0-litre bi-turbo diesel with a 10-speed automatic, came in 2018 and while the itsy-bitsy bi-turbo engine has the same towing capacity on paper as the 3.2 it doesn’t match the bigger engine when there’s serious performance to be done, although it’s quiet and refined and peppy enough with moderate loads.

RANGER TOW TEST: 2.0-litre vs 3.2-litre

Unfortunately, it also has to work harder to do the same job as the 3.2, which complains the ‘big’ five-cylinder engine still the occupy of the two. Such is the Ranger’s popularity it now outsells the Hilux in 4×4 models, which keeps second-hand prices strong. And an all-new Ranger is due in the next combine of years.


THE Toyota Hilux is probably the greatest sought after of second-hand utes due to its solid reputation, and the high demand keeping prices high and the chances of sketching a ‘bargain’ Hilux quite low.

The unique generation Hilux 4×4 arrived here late in 2015 by three different engines and the usual cabin and drivetrain options.

2.8-litre Hilux

The Hilux is a ute that performs most things well enough although the margin engine – the 2.8-litre diesel – is a limited underwhelming in performance and over-geared with the automatic and works better as a manual. The 2.4-litre diesel in lower spec 4x4s performs an admirable job but is no powerhouse.

If, by chance, you’re after a petrol ute what is more the Hilux is the only option in this class among the novel generation utes. The 4.0-litre V6 in inquire is a rare find second-hand but is considerable, if relatively thirsty, and offers simplified maintenance compared to contemporary high-tech turbo diesels.

3.0-litre Hilux

The Hilux is too physically smaller than big utes like the Ranger and the payload and towing capacities not as high in one cases. Like the Ranger, the Hilux is except a top-tier off-road performer due largely to its class-leading reverse wheel travel.


THE current generation Triton arrived here in 2015 and is noted from the other popular utes by being a bit smaller and not as worthy for carrying or towing heavy loads, but it’s moreover handier in confined places and the least expensive of the adulthood utes.

This is why its new sales obnoxious only behind Hilux and Ranger. The low new heed also translates to low second-hand prices, while well-defined new sales also means good supply on the used market. If you want a less costly ute than the Triton, then you’ll be looking at a Chinese, Indian or Korean offering.

Recent-model Tritons are greatest strong with add-on safety equipment, while more expensive variants also have the inherent important safety bonus of full-time 4WD, a consistently underrated lead that the Triton holds over the other popular utes, bar automatic Amaroks. And in the case of the Amarok, the full-time system is single range, whereas the Triton offers the combination of full-time 4×4 and dual range.

RIVALRY: Triton vs D-MAX vs Navara

Unfortunately, while that helps the Triton in a touring role, the limited wheel travel means the Triton’s star fades off road and, inoperative with the Navara and D-Max is a bottom tier off-road performer.


THE announcement that US carmaker General Motors is closing the Holden price in Australia can only force down the value of second-hand Colorado utes.

Holden has guaranteed parts and facility until 2025, but beyond that it determination mean sourcing parts through independent channels. And unfortunately, while there are some common parts between the Isuzu D-Max and the Colorado greatest of the service-sensitive items such as the engines and gearboxes are different.

Outside of that the Colorado offers a biggish cabin and a hard-working engine that gets the job done. Excellent automatic gearbox too. It could well be the value buy in the used-ute market.

The recent generation Colorado came out in mid-2012 and a top-to-bottom re-engineering in 2016 formed it far better in terms of body and powertrain refinement, ride and handing, and steering courtesy of electric organization steering.

END OF AN ERA: What Holden’s closure denotes for the Colorado

The introduction of second-generation off-road specific electric traction regulation in that year also moved the Colorado from a bottom-tier off-road performer to a mid-tier off-road performer. So, if you’re after a Colorado, plus you definitely want a 2016 or later model!


THE unusual Nissan Navara, or D23, was another 2015 release and is eminent in the broader ute market as very dual-cab variants having coil springs at the earlier, and not traditional leaf springs.

It’s fine to say that this generation Navara has existed a disappointment for Nissan, sales-wise, failing to rep the market penetration of its predecessor, the D40. Despite claiming a 3500kg tow rating to match the bigger utes in the class such as Ranger and Colorado, the Navara proved none too good at either towing or carrying heavy loads, although this was improved for the 2017 model and again in 2018.

You can get traditional leaf springs at the rear of a Navara D23, but merely with the less powerful single-turbo engine and not among the more powerful bi-turbo engine that is the default engine across the broader range.

2019 TWEAKS: Updated Nav

The Navara’s relatively poor alight clearance and limited wheel travel also averages it’s a bottom-tier off-road performer, despite coming beside a rear locker as standard.

If you desire a more general-duties ute and not a heavy-duty workhorse or off-road weapon, the Navara still offers decent performance and favorable levels of equipment, so can be favorable value. And if you want a dual-cab 4×4 beside a factory sunroof, or an opening attend window, then it’s the only choice!


THE Isuzu D-Max has existed the quiet achiever of the ute market, rising from near obscurity upon release in 2012 (at the same time as the Colorado) to a primary force in the market today.

Not grand changed in the first five years of this generation’s life but 2017 commanded a revised engine, new gearboxes and stronger all-round behave. The engine needed upgrading for Euro 6 emissions standards, which meant, among other things, the fitting of a diesel particulate filter.

The D-Max is detached a modest performer but will get the job done dusk when towing heavy loads. Call it an honest workhorse, every day, all day. Like the Colorado, whose bodyshell and ladder frame it shares, the cabin is mid-size, so bigger than Navara or Triton, but not as roomy as a Ranger, BT-50 or Amarok.

The D-Max nonetheless, isn’t anything special off road and once better than Triton or Navara, it tranquil falls in the bottom-tier utes in footings of off-road performance.

10 FACTS: The 2020 D-Max

With its kindly reputation for reliability and low service compensations the D-Max is a popular second-hand buy and one that keeps its second-hand value well. As with buying a second-hand Hilux, finding a ‘bargain’ D-Max won’t be easy.

An all-new D-Max is due in 2020 but the timing is dangerous given the CV-19 disruption. When it does come, it will be the first of the next-generation utes to do so.


WHEN this generation Mazda BT-50 arrived in leisurely 2011, it was a rebadged twin of the then-new Ford Ranger. There were a couple of minor technical shifts – steering-rack ratio and suspension damper calibration – but otherwise the two remained mechanically identical.

From 2016 on however, beside Mazda not adopting the mechanical enhancements reached to the Ranger in that year, the BT-50 fell leisurely the Ranger in a number of ways, notably engine refinement and flexibility, and off-road where the BT-50 is a mid-tier performer, although a good one at that.

On the other enclose of the ledger, you can make an argument for the BT-50 staying plus the proven, long-term reliability of hydraulic organization steering and not adopting electric power steering, as did the Ranger.

Despite the similarities the BT-50 has merely enjoyed a faction of the Ranger’s sales, so is not as common on the venerable market. But if you can find one, it offers the same basic attributes of the Ranger, namely a big cabin and excellent problem and tow performance thanks largely to the big and ‘grunty’ 3.2-litre five-cylinder diesel.

A new generation BT-50, sharing a platform with the upcoming Isuzu D-Max, is expected later this year.


VOLKSWAGEN’S Amarok original appeared in Australia in early 2011, initially among a four-cylinder bi-turbo diesel. This was married by a 3.0-litre V6 diesel in behind 2016. Even with its four-cylinder engine, Amarok set the benchmark for utes in many ways and the V6 has pushed that superiority out to new level.

In terms of performance, heavy-duty towing authority, ride and handling, the safety of full-time 4WD, fitting a full-size pallet between the wheel arches and ease of driving, there is none better.

Until recently, the V6 was only mated to a single-range full-time 4×4 auto orderliness but is now available as a part-time, dual-range 4×4 manual, however don’t expect to see many of these pop up on the second-hard market for a while yet.

Still, if you think the lack of low-range is a handicap off road for the Amarok automatic, then you would be wrong as it’s a proper top-tier off-road performer along with Ranger and Hilux and better than greatest utes with low range.

On the negative partition of the ledger, the Amarok has no posterior cabin airbags, in any model, while the absence of VW dealerships in regional and rural areas and the Amarok not being the favourite of independent farmland mechanics are other drawbacks.

An all-new Amarok isn’t far away and it appears it desire be based on a Ford platform, which requires the current Amarok could be one of a kind.

This article was written by with title Used 4×4 ute buying guide.
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Author: apprentice

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