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Dual-cab utes are big business in Australia, just look on any street or driveaway in the country and you will surely spot more than a few pick-ups.
And it makes sense too, with those $60,000-plus utes combining unique looks, go-anywhere capability, and long list of equipment and technology.
Oh, and don’t forget you can always throw tools (or camping and fishing gear) into the back to make the most of the tray, while a trailer/caravan can always be hitched to the rear to increase versatility.
Throw in second-row seating for kids, and its little wonder why dual-cab utes have exploded in recent years as one of the vehicles of choice for growing families, even if the parents can’t be found anywhere near a construction site.
The ute market is vast and confusing though, so here are four models you should have on your radar that will be at home ferrying around the family just as much as hitting the coast for a surf.
The newest ute on this list, the X-Terrain sits atop the third-generation D-Max range for now.
What sets it apart from the rest of the D-Max range is its unique exterior styling components, including fender flares, front grille, 18-inch wheels, side mirrors, side steps and aero sports bar finished in dark grey.
Front and rear underbody spoilers are also fitted, as is a hard roller tonneau cover.
Inside, the X-Terrain scores leather-accented trim, as well as a 9.0-inch multimedia system with wireless Apple CarPlay/wired Android Auto, keyless entry, push-button start, remote vehicle start, eight-speaker sound system and dual-zone climate control.
Safety wise, the X-Terrain scores autonomous emergency braking (AEB), adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, driver attention alert, and traffic sign recognition.
As one of the newest utes on the market, the D-Max X-Terrain also one of the only vehicles on the market with a front centre airbag between the driver and passenger, and solid top tethering anchoring point in the second row.
Ford’s take on the stylish dual-cab ute can be had from as little as $62,090, if you are happy with a six-speed manual and 147kW/470Nm 3.2-litre-turbo-diesel five-cylinder engine. A six-speed automatic will raise pricing to $64,290.
However, buyers can also opt for the Raptor’s 157kW/500Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel and 10-speed auto for $65,790.
Standing the Wildtrak apart from the rest of the Ranger line-up are grey exterior highlights (door handles, grille, mirror caps and bumper inserts), side steps, sailplane rear sports bar, 18-inch wheels, and roller shutter cover.
Inside, the Wildtrak is fitted with dual-zone climate control, a 4.2-inch driver display, leather steering wheel and shifter, bespoke front seats with orange contrast stitching, and an 8.0-inch multimedia system with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, digital radio and satellite navigation.
Unique to the Ranger is a windscreen mounted USB outlet for use with forward-facing dash cams, while 2021 models are also fitted with FordPass Connect technology that allows certain vehicle functions to be controlled from your smartphone.
In terms of safety systems, the Ranger Wildtrak comes with adaptive cruise control, AEB, automatic high beams, front and rear parking sensors, traffic sign recognition, and reversing camera.
Adopting the new HiLux range’s 2.8-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine means 150kW/500Nm for the 2021 Rogue pick-up, outpunching every other model on the list, but with a big caveat for now.
Pricing for the new HiLux Rogue is yet to be revealed, and with incremental increases across the Toyota ute range, expect a pricetag around $65,000, which could also make it the most expensive on this list too.
Outside the Rogue sports contrasting fender flares and a redesigned front grille, but it’s the two-tone 18-inch wheels, sports bar and hard tonneau cover that stand it out from the standard HiLux range.
Inside is an 8.0-inch multimedia system with Apple Car Play/Android Auto, as well as a 4.2-inch driver display, leather-accented interior and heated front seats.
Toyota has also been keen to push its safety credentials, and the new HiLux is no exception with the standard inclusion of AEB, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning, and front and rear parking sensors.
Though the Navara N-Trek is Nissan’s tougher looking pick-up, its flagship Warrior is closer in price to the competitors listed here, so why not get a top-spec ute for less than top dollar?
Though the N-Trek Warrior’s engine is carried over from the standard Navara range, meaning a 140kW/450Nm 2.3-litre twin-turbo-diesel, it is the equipment bolted on by Premcar that make it more appealing.
Lifted suspension, all-terrain tyres wrapped around 17-inch wheels, beefed-up underbody protection, light bar and a stealthy bumper-integrated bulbar mean the Warrior is ready to do battle against the great outdoors.
Also wearing the N-Trek’s goodies, such as fender flares, sports bar, side steps, decals, heated front seats and orange-accented interior, means the top-spec Navara also looks the part.
However, it’s the safety and equipment where the Navara N-Trek Warrior might be let down in comparison to its rivals.
An 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto sits on the centre stack, but don’t expect AEB, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring or rear cross-traffic alert due to the N-Trek Warrior’s ageing Navara underpinnings.
On the plus side, it does come with a surround-view monitor – one of the few cars in this class to do so.