Australian car market: Car sales, statistics and figures
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When you think about it, Australia and the USA have quite a lot in common. Well, not the Trump stuff. And not the guns, the lack of true universal healthcare, all the obesity stuff, or the fact that their race cars just drive around in big and boring circles.
Okay, so maybe we don't have that much in common. But there is at least one passion that runs equally deep in both our countries; utes. Or, as the Americans might call them, pick-up trucks.
See, in the USA, the best-selling vehicle is almost always the Ford F-150 truck. In much the same way that in Australia - at least recently - the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger are perched atop our best-seller lists.
So, it's particularly exciting that in 2018 our two countries will officially collide, with Chevy's huge Silverado officially joining Australia's ever-growing fleet of utes. And it won't be alone, with awesome new metal from Mercedes, Ford, Holden and Toyota all gracing our shores at some point over the next 12 months.
So join us as we tour the five most exciting utes of 2018.
Although privately left-to-right converted examples have been on offer for a while, the truly gigantic Chevy Silverado will be officially charging into select Holden and HSV dealerships across the country next year.
These genuinely massive trucks are going to wear Chevrolet badges, and will be offered in two sizes; the Silverado 2500HD, which will arrive in April, and the humungous 3500HD, which will touch down in June. With no factory right-hand drive production, they'll be converted in HSV's factory in Clayton, Victoria.
A big truck needs a big engine, and the Silverado doesn't disappoint. Think a 6.6-litre turbo-diesel V8 pumping out 332kW and an astonishing 1234Nm (yep, you read that right). It partners with a heavy-duty six-speed automatic transmission sending power to all four wheels. And should you need to tow a small unit block, the Silverado can handle that, too, with a maximum tow figure of around 6000kg.
While pricing on these two big beasties is yet to be revealed, they're unlikely to be cheap. We'd expect a starting point north of $100k.
From big and brutal to premium and polished, Mercedes' long-awaited X-Class will also touch down next year. And while we were all a little shocked that the German powerhouse - the world's best-selling premium manufacturer - was turning its attention to utes, having now seen and driven the X-Class, it's all starting to make more sense.
And that's because, while it's based on Nissan's Navara workhorse, Merc's engineers have weaved their magic inside and out, creating - especially in the more expensive models - a genuinely premium-feeling ute that feels far removed from its origins.
The X-Class will go on sale from April next year, and we already know we'll be choosing from three diesel engines; two four-cylinder units borrowed from Nissan, and one stonking V6 that is Mercedes' own. That will, for now at least, make the X-Class among the most powerful utes in Australia.
At least part of the Ranger's success lives in the fact that it looks tougher than an in-his-prime Clint Eastwood. And the good news, then, is that a tougher, faster and even cooler-looking version is en route for next year.
Full details for the Ford Ranger Raptor are yet to be revealed, but those holding out for a stonking V8 engine will be disappointed. Instead, the Raptor will be powered by a twin-turbocharged, four-cylinder diesel. Expect numbers of around 150kW/470Nm, paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission, along with tougher suspension and extra under-body protection.
The Ford Raptor is expected in Australia by the middle of 2018, and should start from around $80,000.
It will be a busy year for HSV next year, with the Holden Colorado SportsCat by HSV (catchy name, right?) scheduled for a February launch. The name, by the way, is a little like BMW's M sport or an AMG style pack; the model's been tweaked, but it hasn't been given the full overhaul.
Based on the Colorado Z71 4x4 dual-cab, HSV has worked on the ute's exterior design and on-road performance, but sadly left the engine as it is. So, there's no more power or torque on offer, meaning 147kW/500Nm from the 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel.
What you do get, though, is a sharp new look, HSV sports suspension with performance dampers and an improved ride height and approach angle. The top-spec model gets an anti-roll bar, too, and the traction control system has been re-calibrated.
It will arrive as a SportsCat or SportsCat+, and pricing should commence from around $60k.
While details are still being kept tightly under wraps, leaked images from Thailand have revealed a new and significantly beefier HiLux could be prowling our streets from next year.
Known as the Rocco there (but the TRD here) the reshaped HiLux takes on a more American-style front end, as well as 18-inch wheels and off-road tyres. Under the bonnet, you can expect to find an unchanged 2.8-litre diesel engine good for 130kW/450Nm.
That's about all we know for now, but watch this space HiLux fans...