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LDV T60 2020 review: Luxe off-road

The LDV T60 was rather a pleasant surprise at its Australian launch in 2017. It was a Chinese-built dual-cab ute that actually looked pretty good, seemed well-built, drove nicely, was adequately capable off-road and it was sharply priced and well-equipped.

Now, a few years down the track, the big news is that all new LDV T60s on-sale now should come equipped with Australian-tuned suspension, which was only available previously in the limited edition Trailrider version of the LDV T60. Better still, the suspension tune-up was devised by Walkinshaw Automotive Group, the company responsible for long-time HSV production.

Has this change – aimed at improving the ute’s ride and handling and thus bolster its appeal to a ute-loving public – actually been successful?

We drove an LDV T60 Luxe, the top-spec of the two-variant T60 range, to find out.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

The LDV T60 Luxe automatic costs $37,331 (driveaway). Our test vehicle had metallic paint (premium paint an option, $500) and a tow bar/harness kit (list price $769.45 excluding GST, fitting and labour varies per dealer.) The base-spec is the Pro, which also comes in manual or automatic.

All T60s now have the new suspension tune fitted as standard.

The top-spec Luxe gets a whole bunch of stuff for such a sharp price including 10.0-inch colour touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, leather seats and a leather-bound steering wheel, electrically six-way adjustable and heated front seats, automatic climate control, ’Smart Key' system with Start/Stop button, 4WD with high and low range, 17-inch alloys with a full-sized spare, side steps, and roof rails, 360° view camera, adaptive headlights, as well as an automatic locking rear differential as standard.

The 10.0-inch colour touchscreen comes equipped with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The 10.0-inch colour touchscreen comes equipped with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

Not really, but not every vehicle has to be a stylistic champion – sometimes it’s nice for a ute just to be a ute with few pretensions. 

The T60 manages to strike a reasonable balance between being a bit retro, a little bit stylish and being mostly like a work-truck. The T60 manages to strike a reasonable balance between being a bit retro, a little bit stylish and being mostly like a work-truck.

The T60 manages to strike a reasonable balance between being a bit retro, a little bit stylish and being mostly like a work-truck.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

All T60s have a 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine, producing 110kW at 3400 rpm and 360Nm at 1600-2800 rpm. The Luxe auto has a six-speed transmission. The combination is workable, not clunky.

Under the bonnet is a 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine making 110kW/360Nm. Under the bonnet is a 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine making 110kW/360Nm.

How practical is the space inside?

The T60, one of the biggest dual-cab utes, is 5365mm long, 2145mm wide and 1887mm high. And it feels roomy inside to match those exterior dimensions. It also feels kind of classy inside, at least it does until you notice expanses of plastic and hard-wearing trim and it all strikes you as a bit cheap-looking.

The interior is all sweeping lines and big surfaces, made for real-world life. And you know what? You get what you paid for and the T60’s price-tag is pretty reasonable, remember?

The massive dash-top and the ute’s 10.0-inch touchscreen entertainment unit dominate the cabin.

The front seats are comfortable enough but lack support. The front seats are comfortable enough but lack support.

The touchscreen is clear and bright but it’s fiddly to operate, proven to glare and the camera views represented on it are often dark and muddy-looking.

The cabin itself is tidy with storage space for driver and front-seat passenger; a flip-top centre-console bin, big door pockets, a dash-height cupholder for driver and front passenger and a bits-and-pieces tray, replete with two USB ports and a 12V socket.

Rear-seat passengers get ISOFIX and top-tether points, door pockets, a centre armrest with two cupholders and a 12V socket.

The T60 feels roomy inside. The T60 feels roomy inside.

The front seats are comfortable enough but lack support, especially at the sides; the rear seats are flat and workmanlike. There’s plenty of room though, which is a big plus.

Interior fit and finish is good for the price and these build-quality positives, as before, may build on the ute’s appeal.

What's it like as a daily driver?

The 2060kg T60 gets around pretty well, though there are a few things you have to get used to. We did more than 400km in it, most of that on bitumen with about 50km of off-roading, and about 10km of that in low-range.

It’s never been the most lively of dual-cab utes to drive and often feels underpowered, but it still ticks along evenly enough, relaxed and under-stressed.

The engine is slow to respond and it can be noisy when pushed particularly hard, but generally the T60 is on the right side of quiet – inside the cabin, anyway.

The six-speed auto is mostly a smooth-working unit and produces no abrupt shifts up or down.

The suspension set-up is still double wishbone at the front and leaf springs at the rear, but Walkinshaw has worked its magic to improve ride and comfort. The Pro suspension was previously very firm (to cope with heavy loads), and the Luxe’s tended to wallow, due to its Comfort setting.

I can’t speak of the Pro’s* changes as a result of the tune because I haven’t been in one yet but the Luxe certainly feels more controlled, more comfortable than it did before, although it still feels like it errs slightly on the firmer side of the suspension equation. Damping control has been tweaked to improve general unladen ride quality – the result is not quite coil-sprung-like but it’s getting close. (Pro variants have heavy-duty rear springs for work duties.)

Steering is generally on-point, although there is pronounced understeer on tighter corners, but otherwise the ute holds well through tight corners and longer, sweeping bends.

The T60’s all-terrain tyres – Dunlop Grandtrek AT20 (245/65R17) – are on the mild side of aggressive and do a solid job.

The T60 Luxe wears 17-inch alloy wheels. The T60 Luxe wears 17-inch alloy wheels.

The T60 has disc brakes all-round, which yielded plenty of bite during our “Watch out for that roo!” emergency-braking tests, one on bitumen, one on dirt.

Nit-picking: it’s annoying to adjust the rear-view mirror, as there’s a ceiling bulge that gets in the way; as mentioned, the parking camera and 360-degree view offer up quite a muddy on-screen view of the world outside; and, most worrying, there was a massive thump in the transmission while I was driving about 30km/h down a slight decline at the time, as if there’d been a violent shift between 2WD and 4WD. That happened on different days on different roads.

What's it like for touring?

On fast dirt tracks and rougher gravel roads, the T60’s new suspension tune seems to have reined in the worst of the previous T60’s skippier characteristics on irregular surfaces at speed. Shallow corrugations are managed well, but deeper, more pronounced holes tend to cause some movement when you punch through them in the Luxe. Not surprising and nothing to worry about.

During low-speed, low-range off-roading, the Luxe yields wheel travel enough for dirt-grabbing.

Elsewhere, the engine is never super torquey but it’s adequate in general terms.

The traction control system is, however, quietly effective and, when a tyre’s left scrabbling for traction, the auto rear diff is there to chip in if you need it.

Hill descent control is okay, rather than feeling rock-solid enough on the way down steeper hills.

For those into off-roading facts and figures, the notable numbers are: ground clearance is 215mm, wading depth is 550mm, and front and rear departure angles are 27 and 24.2 degrees respectively; ramp-over angle is 21.3 degrees.

Remember, it’s one of the biggest dual-cab utes around, so the T60’s generous dimensions encourage focussed driving at all times, on- and off-road, because you must steer to suit its size.

Underbody protection includes a plastic bash-plate at the front.

With regards to touring suitability, the tray, load height (from tray floor to the ground) is 819mm. The tray itself is 1525mm long (at floor level), 1510mm wide (1131mm between the wheel-arches) and 530mm deep. 

The tray itself is 1525mm long (at floor level), 1510mm wide (1131mm between the wheel-arches) and 530mm deep. The tray itself is 1525mm long (at floor level), 1510mm wide (1131mm between the wheel-arches) and 530mm deep.

The tray’s load-space liner – a polythene insert – feels a bit flimsy but may just prove durable enough. The tray has four tie-down points at low corner points, plus two adjustable ‘tub rim anchor points’, which are positioned higher up on the sides of the tray and seem more durable than they did in previous T60s.

Payload is 815kg in the Luxe. All LDV T60s have a 750kg unbraked towing capacity and a 3000kg braked towing capacity; 3500kg is the standard for dual-cab utes.

How much fuel does it consume?

LDV T60s have a 75-litre fuel tank. The LDV T60 Luxe auto has a claimed fuel consumption of 9.6L/100km for the auto; an average of 9.5L/100km was registering on the dash display.

We recorded an actual fuel consumption on test of 9.9L/100km after more than 400km of driving and that included about 30km of off-roading, with about 5km of that in low-range.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

The LDV T60 range has a five-star ANCAP rating, as a result of testing in 2017.

As standard, the Luxe has six airbags, two ISOFIX and top-tether points in the back seat, blind-spot monitor, EBA, 360°-view camera, rear parking sensors, hill-hold, a tyre-pressure monitoring system and more.

The T60 scores a 360 degree-view camera. The T60 scores a 360 degree-view camera.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

For what it is – a Chinese-built ute – the LDV T60 has been a sharply priced, well-equipped and rather decent work-and-play vehicle since its 2017 launch.

Now, a few years later, it’s still quietly impressive and with Walkinshaw-tuned suspension, I’m happy to say, it’s even a little bit better than it was. 

It still lags behind the class-leading light commercial utes in some areas, but it's a sign of the times that a Chinese product is so well built and feature-packed. The new suspension has only served to boost the package.

The LDV T60 makes a very strong case as a feature-packed budget buy.

 

 

$37,358

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

3.7/5

Adventure score

3.7/5

adventureguide rank

  • Light

    Dry weather gravel roads and formed trails with no obstacles, very shallow water crossings.

  • Medium

    Hard-packed sand, slight to medium hills with minor obstacles in all weather.

  • Heavy

    Larger obstacles, steeper climbs and deeper water crossings; plus tracks marked as '4WD only'

Price Guide

$37,358

Based on new car retail price