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The dawn of the $100k dual-cab is upon us! Australia's ute pricing is bonkers, and it's only going to get worse | Opinion

Australia's ute are only getting more expensive

Here’s a fun fact for you: Back in 2017, you could nab a V8-powered Holden SS Ute — complete with Holden’s screaming LS3 V8, a 6.2-litre beastie that will generate 304kW at 6000rpm and 570Nm at 4400rpm — for $43,990 before on-road costs.

Today, it will cost you about another $10k to climb into China’s GWM Cannon-XSR, which arrived this week wearing a $52,990 (though admittedly that’s drive-away) price tag. And it comes with a 2.0 litre turbo-diesel producing 120kW and 400Nm.

I know, I know, it’s a different time and we’re talking very different utes, with the car-based vehicles of yesteryear replaced by dual-cab monsters that can carry more people to far harder-to-reach places, and the GWM is fitted with sorts of bonus off-road kit, but still, it’s hard not to think the prices have started to get a little crazy.

And the truth is, the GWM is just that start of a long climb towards $100k for some of our most sought-after utes.

The locally-fettled Nissan Navara PRO-4X Warrior will set you back a sizeable $70,015 for the automatic version. Not to be outdone, the Walkinshaw-worked Mitsubishi Triton Xtreme listed this week at $71,990 before on-road costs. The Aussie-designed Toyota HiLux Rogue? That will be $70,200.

And still we climb. The new Volkswagen Amarok range tops out with the Aventura, yours for $79,990. Its platform partner, the Ford Ranger, climbs higher still, with the (admittedly very impressive) Raptor listing at $86,790 — or close to $95k drive-away in Sydney.

The Nissan Navara PRO-4X Warrior wears a price tag of $70,015 for the automatic version. (Image: Glen Sullivan) The Nissan Navara PRO-4X Warrior wears a price tag of $70,015 for the automatic version. (Image: Glen Sullivan)

Now, we’re asking our some of our utes to do a very different job in 2023 than we were back in 2017, I get that. They’re bigger, tougher and fitted with more expensive, and often aftermarket, equipment than they were back then, too. But even an almost like-for-like comparison shows how crazy pricing has become.

We’ll use Toyota as the case study here. When the Rogue launched in 2018, it was priced at $61,690. As mentioned above, the new Rogue is yours for $70,200. You'll note that a new HiLux hasn't arrived during that period either, and it's still rocking the same engine, although it’s now been tuned to produce a little more torque.

The point is, we’re still trying to find the ceiling that will dictate just how much ute-mad Aussies are willing to pay for the traditional dual-cab, and we haven’t found it yet. And given the new Ranger Raptor is pushing towards $100k on the road, it seems even triple figures won’t be a barrier.

The Mitsubishi Triton Xtreme listed this week at $71,990 before on-road costs. The Mitsubishi Triton Xtreme listed this week at $71,990 before on-road costs.

It's little wonder that Mercedes-Benz was so keen to cut itself a lucrative slice of that pie with the ill-fated X-Class. Even Audi is now apparently hinting at a potential pickup product.

Make no mistake, we haven't reach the peak yet. There's still Toyota HiLux GR Sport to come yet, which will likely be followed by a proper GR HiLux when the next-generation model finally drops. Toyota has already trademarked the nameplate, and is no doubt already counting its money, too.

Who knows, in five years time I might very well be writing another one of these opinion pieces, looking back wistfully on that golden era when a Ford Ranger Raptor was only $95k on the road.