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Is a new dual-cab ute worth it? The three reasons you'll want to splurge on the new Toyota HiLux, Mazda BT-50, Isuzu D-Max and Great Wall Cannon

The competition has never been stiffer for your dual-cab dollars.

The thing about a new ute arriving in Australia is that the existing model spends the last month-or-so of its shelf life being run-out, with lower prices, more equipment and better deals designed to clear stock for the new arrival. 

And with Australia standing on the edge of a new-ute boom - what with the Toyota HiLux, Great Wall Cannon, Mazda BT-50 and Isuzu D-Max set to find themselves competing for your hard-earned dual-cab dollars in the coming months - it means there will bargains galore on existing model, not to mention regular favourites, like the Ford Ranger, Nissan Navara and Mitsubishi Triton.

So the question, is it worth nabbing a deal or waiting on a new model? To help you that very choice, we've broken down the new utes' selling points so you know what to expect. 

New Toyota HiLux - Q3 2020

Toyota is yet to confirm exact pricing or specification for the new HiLux. (image credit: Milele Motors) Toyota is yet to confirm exact pricing or specification for the new HiLux. (image credit: Milele Motors)

What's new?

  • More power
  • More technology
  • Tougher design

Toyota's perennial favourite - and regular atop Australia's best-seller list - will be updated within months, with more power and more tech arriving in the Japanese giant's workhorse. 

In fact, images of the 2021 Toyota HiLux appear to have begun leaking online, showing a bold new front end, new grille and new LED headlights for top-spec models. The images also capture new 17- 18-inch alloys, a blacked-out treatment for the grille, new DRLs and a new rear light cluster, all of which lend a new sense of toughness to the HiLux. 

But what will really get ute buyer's hearts beating faster is a confirmed power boost coming to the HiLux's 2.8-litre diesel engine, designed to elevate the Toyota to the same power pedestal as the Ford Ranger. 

We've got word that you can expect the power bump to boost outputs to around 150kW and 470Nm (the Ranger's outputs), meaning a 20kW and 20Nm jump from current figures. 

Just as important for anyone who spends plenty of time on the road, the cabin will also welcome a tech upgrade that will see Apple CarPlay and Android Auto fitted for the first time, meaning you can use your phone's playlists, podcasts and maps while driving.

Toyota is yet to confirm exact pricing or specification - including engine outputs - for the new model. But watch this space.

Great Wall Cannon - Q3 2020

The Cannon measures 5410mm in length, 1934mm in width and 1886mm in height. The Cannon measures 5410mm in length, 1934mm in width and 1886mm in height.

What's new?

  • Punchy 2.0-litre engine
  • "Australian-focused ride and handling"
  • All-new design 

What's new about the Great Wall Cannon? Everything. This is all-new from the ground up, so there's plenty to unpack here. 

What is no doubt the most exciting Chinese ute to date is expected to touch down in Australia around Q3 of this year, with the Great Wall Cannon expected to mix it with the big boys of the dual cab world. 

We don't know yet just how much it will cost, but we do know the brand is targeting a sharp price point, with the one representative telling us "It will make a lot of people think 'why am I paying this amount of money for a ute, when someone like Great Wall can build something to this level of comfort and capability?'."

With the ute now weeks away from its launch date, we've managed to dig up just about every other critical aspect, including its punchy 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine. In international markets, it makes some 120kW and 400Nm, though we understand the Australian operation is targeting a higher 450Nm torquer figure. That engine pairs with a eight-speed ZF automatic or a six-seed manual, with power sent to two or four tyres. 

The Cannon measures 5410mm in length, 1934mm in width and 1886mm in height, and with a tray that stretches 1520mm/1520mm. Great Wall says to expect a 1000kg payload and a “minimum” 3000kg braked towing capacity, which is precisely what the local arm has asked its Chinese HQ to deliver.

While the Cannon won’t have an Australian-specific suspension tune, we’re told that feedback from our market was instrumental to the global suspension tune the Cannon will ultimately get, so we'll have to wait and see.

Mazda BT-50 - 2020

One thing we do know is that the BT-50 will look substantially different. (image credit: Kleber Silva) One thing we do know is that the BT-50 will look substantially different. (image credit: Kleber Silva)

What's new?

  • Isuzu twin under the skin
  • All-new Mazda design
  • Punchy 3.0-litre turbo-diesel

This is an all-new BT-50, of course, so there would be little carryover from the old model anyway. But given this car is twinned with the Isuzu D-Max, where the last one was a deal with the Ford Ranger, it will be entirely different to the ute you know today. 

And while Mazda has so far kept mum on the details, we actually know plenty about, with Isuzu having told CarsGuide that the BT-50 - at least under the skin - will be almost entirely D-Max. 

"This was developed solely by Isuzu, and we have decided to supply or provide this vehicle to Mazda as an OEM. But it was developed purely by us," The brand's International spokesperson told us last year. 

That means Mazda will share the Isuzu's architecture, and it likely also get brand's tried and tested the 3.0-litre diesel engine, now tweaked to produce a commendable 140kW at 3600rpm and 450Nm at 1600rpm.

One thing we do know is that the BT-50 will look substantially different, with the brand's chief designer promising it would be more "masculine and tough" than the current model.

"The rear area of the truck itself is very difficult to use this (Kodo) design language, but I could try," the company's design boss, Ikuo Maeda, told us in 2018.

"I myself think the truck should look masculine and strong, and really like a truck. It might be difficult to try this kind of design, with all the light reflections, to a truck. It's tough."

Isuzu D-Max - Q3 2020

Isuzu has promised the new D-Max will be "close to (Ford Ranger) Raptor in terms of toughness or off-road capability." Isuzu has promised the new D-Max will be "close to (Ford Ranger) Raptor in terms of toughness or off-road capability."

What's new?

  • More powerful diesel donk
  • Better cabin tech 
  • Plenty of capability 

It's been a long (eight years, or there-abouts) time between drinks, but a new Isuzu D-Max is at last ready to rumble, and there's plenty of new stuff on offer.

For a start, there's more grunt. While Australians specifics haven't yet been confirmed, internationally, the D-Max's 3.0-litre diesel ( now coded 4JJ3) produces more power and torque, with the outputs now listed at 140kW at 3600rpm and 450Nm at 1600rpm. That's up from 130kW and 430Nm, which isn't to be sneezed at, and the engine is paired with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.

There's also updated suspension, faster steering, bigger brake rotors and a wading depth increase to 800mm complete a fairly comprehensive mechanical update. Preliminary specs have the crew cab models measuring in at 5265mm in length, 1870mm in width and 1790mm in height, and tipping the scales at 1890kg, and Isuzu is promising an increased wading depth of 800mm.

A change to the four-wheel-drive architecture sees a new aluminium propeller shaft to lower overall weight, and all 4WD models are fitted with a rear differential lock. The changes, says Isuzu, means a shorter transfer time between two- and four-wheel drive, as well as between low and high range.

In fact, Isuzu has promised the new D-Max will be "close to (Ford Ranger) Raptor in terms of toughness or off-road capability."

The 2020 model also gets a tough new appearance that adds front and rear LED DRLs, LED headlights and a new-look front-end. Inside, expect a 7.0 or 9.0-inch touchscreen that gets Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and more premium-feeling cabin materials across the board.