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Best utes arriving in 2019

Ute sales increased by 7.4 per cent month-on-month in November this year, while new car sales dropped.
Andrew Chesterton
Contributing journalist
CarsGuide

19 Dec 2018 • 13 min read

I know it seems like the army of SUVs currently marching across Australia will never be defeated, but there is a pocket of resistance forming, and it's one that is genuinely fighting back against the rising tide of high-riders. These rebel fighters are utes, of course (and specifically dual-cab pick-ups), who are almost single-handedly propping up Australia's now-flagging new car sales statistics.

In November 2018, for example, new car sales dropped some 7.4 per cent compared to the same month last year, but ute sales actually increased, holding three of the top four sales positions (Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi Triton), with the Corolla the only passenger vehicle to sneak into third place.

And it seems 2019 will be no different, with another crop of new or updated utes touching down in Australia. From Russell Crowe-themed Jeeps to the return of perennial favourites, tour the key the releases of 2019 with us.

Mitsubishi Triton

Despite being due for an update, the Triton occupied the fourth spot on the November best-seller list this year. Despite being due for an update, the Triton occupied the fourth spot on the November best-seller list this year.

The Mitsubishi Triton is sometimes overlooked when discussing the country's best-selling utes, mostly because the HiLux and Ranger steal the headlines with their battle for first place on the sales charts, but the Japanese workhorse is ferociously popular in Australia.

In fact, despite being due for updating, the Triton occupied the fourth spot on the November best-seller list, which bodes well indeed for incoming 2019 model.

As reported here earlier, the update focuses on an exterior overhaul (as well as safety, tech and ride updates), with the engines left mostly alone. Key among the changes, though, is the tough new Dynamic Shield design at the Triton's snout, which, along with its raised bonnet height, gives the Japanese ute a vaguely American truck-style road presence. Added safety is another big talking point for this updated model.

The Triton is expected to arrive in January, and will help offset the price increases that will accompany the new model with the offer of a seven-year warranty for those who purchase before June 30.

Jeep Gladiator

The Gladiator will arrive in four trim levels - Sport, Sport S, Overland and Rubicon - and will be available with either a 3.6-litre petrol V6 or 3.0-litre diesel V6. The Gladiator will arrive in four trim levels - Sport, Sport S, Overland and Rubicon - and will be available with either a 3.6-litre petrol V6 or 3.0-litre diesel V6.

There’s something so joyously unhinged about the incoming Gladiator, which was unveiled in all its “are you not entertained?” glory at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November.

The Jeep Gladiator essentially looks like the brand’s boxy Wrangler off-road icon, only with a tray now glued to the back.

Internationally, the Gladiator will arrive in four trim levels - Sport, Sport S, Overland and Rubicon - and will be available with two engine choices, a 3.6-litre V6 good for 209 kW and 353Nm (paired with an eight-speed automatic or six-speed manual), with a 3.0-litre diesel V6 to launch sometime later.

The Gladiator stretches 5539mm in length, 1875mm in width and up to 1907mm in height, and towing is listed at "up to" 7650 pounds, or around 3.5 tonnes.

The only question, then, is when exactly we’ll see it. While the Gladiator launches in the USA next year, Jeep in Australia suggests a 2020 launch date is more likely here.

Ram 1500 Diesel V6

Ram is yet to confirm local power figures, but it's understood stats won't stray far from Jeep's 184kW/570Nm. (V8 petrol variant pictured) Ram is yet to confirm local power figures, but it's understood stats won't stray far from Jeep's 184kW/570Nm. (V8 petrol variant pictured)

The hulking Ram 1500 will welcome a new and, presumably, more frugal engine option in 2019, with the brand to introduce a 3.0-litre diesel V6 to the line-up.

The engine choice, which will sit above the entry-level Hemi V8 in the range, is borrowed from FCA sister brand Jeep, where it is used in the Grand Cherokee.

And so while Ram is yet to confirm local power figures, it's understood the numbers won't stray far from those on offer in the Jeep, which produces 184kW and 570Nm.

The new engine won't impact towing capacity either, with the diesel-powered Ram to deliver up to 4.5-tonnes of pulling ability.

Look for the new Ram 1500 diesel in January 2019.

The long shot: Mazda BT-50

We don't know much about the next-gen BT-50, other than it will focus on being "masculine and strong”. (Current-gen pictured) We don't know much about the next-gen BT-50, other than it will focus on being "masculine and strong”. (Current-gen pictured)

Mazda's new BT-50 - jointly developed with Isuzu - is expected to be revealed at some point over the next 12 months or so, with the brand targeting a 2020 on-sale date. And barring "a miracle", that's exactly what will happen.

But what's Christmas if not a time for miracles? We don't know much yet, other than that the new BT-50 will ditch the sleek and swooping lines of the brand's broader Kodo Phase II design language for a tougher, more masculine look, with executives saying its ute product won't look like an SUV with a tray, and will instead focus on being "masculine and strong”.

The ultimate long shot: Nissan Titan

The Titan is currently being “studied” for our market, but it would take a mountain of fortune to see one touch down before the end of 2019. The Titan is currently being “studied” for our market, but it would take a mountain of fortune to see one touch down before the end of 2019.

Nissan's top brass say its jumbo American pick-up, the Titan, is currently being “studied” for our market, but it would take a mountain of fortune to see one touch down before the end of 2019.

Inspired by record sales in the USA, Nissan’s executive team is now actively investigating other markets it believes could prove equally successful for the full-size pickup. And Australia, where converted left-hand-drive Titan models sold through importers are fetching six-figure sums, is at the top of its wish list.
But will it happen next year? Unlikely. But we can cross our fingers, right?

The established heavy hitters: Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger.

With our two best-selling utes recently updated, it will be a quiet year ahead for the Ranger and the HiLux. Toyota tells us to watch for "technical updates" throughout the year, while Ford is promising a special edition or two, along with the introduction of new safety tech.

What's your pick of the incoming crop of utes? Tell us in the comments below.