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It's already been a boom year for new utes, with fresh metal set to come thick and fast between now and the end of the year.
We've already seen the new Isuzu D-Max and Mazda BT-50, not to mention the incoming Great Wall Cannon and the updated Toyota (HiLux), and a facelifted Nissan Navara has been teased, too. But the really exciting part is that those are just the beginning, with even more new dual-cab offerings sitting just over the horizon.
So should you buy now or save your pennies until the new utes get here? Let's take a look.
Toyota might have just pulled the covers off its facelifted HiLux range, but the work is really just beginning for the Japanese giant, with the team now beavering away on a performance-focused GR HiLux.
Make no mistake, a performance HiLux is coming. Toyota has registered the nameplate “GR HiLux” in Australia, which suggest the ute is a walk-up start for our market, too.
"We’re always taking a keen interest in the high-performance ute market, but at this stage we have nothing announce. But like we’ve said in the past, we are not ruling truly out any model from GR modification,” a spokesperson told CarsGuide.
"We race the HiLux in Dakar, so it’s definitely not out of the question that we could see a vehicle like that some time in the future.”
Even Toyota Gazoo Racing president Shigeki Tomoyama told media attending the 24 Hours of Le Mans that he wants a road-going performance HiLux bred off the brand's Dakar winner.
So yes, it’s coming. And we also have a fair idea of just what will power it. Way back in 2018, Toyota said it would be looking for a "big diesel" to power a GR HiLux. Which caused a conundrum, because the brand didn’t really have an engine that would suit.
Enter, then, the LandCruiser 300, with news reports suggesting the updated off-road icon would be gifted a new V6 diesel for the Australian market, and engine that would also be right at home in a go-fast HiLux.
While Toyota is yet to officially confirm, CarsGuide understands the V6 engine will be all-new, and its power will meet or exceed the 200kW and 650Nm on offer from the current V8 diesel in the LandCruiser 200 Series.
While Toyota is yet to officially confirm a GR HiLux, let alone its timing, CarsGuideunderstands we’ll likely need to wait until an all-new model is revealed, which will most likely occur in 2023.
LDV has now emerged as a mainstay ute in Australia - and one of the few brands consistently putting on sales in our market - with the T60 ute family finding a foothold Down Under.
Part of that success is down to LDV’s willingness to understand our market. The T60 range wears suspension tuned in Australia for Australia, and will soon share the top-spec Trailrider 2’s clever turbo-diesel engine across the entire range.
And that’s just the beginning, with LDV parent company SAIC having now teased an all-new model that will up the power and torque yet again.
The new ute, pictured above, is officially branded a Maxus, and the details are a little thin on the ground for now. But we do expect it to be unveiled in full towards the end of the year, and we know that it will welcome a new twin-turbo-diesel engine.
International reports point to the new engine, again a 2.0-litre, producing a considerable 162kW and 480Nm, and that will be paired with an eight-speed ZF automatic. The brand has also pointed to a plug-in hybrid and full-electric future, but we'll have to wait and see what powertrains make it to Australia.
The ute also debuts a new look for the Chinese dual-cab, with a bigger grille, LED headlights and a revised front bumper.
We expect the new ute to be revealed towards the end of 2020, so watch this space
Those who complained the Ford Ranger Raptor was underpowered are in for some good news, with the current top-spec, bi-turbo engine expected to become the entry-level power plant when the new model arrives.
Yep, the 157kW and 500Nm power plant currently at work in the Raptor is tipped to be used as an entry point to the range, and things will only get better from there.
Next up is expected to be the punchy 3.0-litre Power Stroke V6 Turbo Diesel currently at work in America's Ford F-150, where it produces 186kW and 596Nm, and which should be paired with the brand's 10-speed automatic gearbox.
And so, to the Raptor. We do know that Ford Performance program manager Justin Capicchiano has promised big things from the flagship ute product, suggesting tyres, suspension and powertrains could be under review.
"There is a Raptor that we are working on. We do not comment on future product, but I would never want a product to be worse, or the same, as the last one.
"If you're not moving the vehicle forwards, then you're gong backwards. There are a lot of people who care intimately about this car, and they want it to be better, and it will be better.
"When I compare what we did with other programs, everything moves forward, with different technologies with tyres, suspension, powertrains.”
Watch this space.
A new Amarok will arrive in 2022, with the German brand making no secret that approval for the new ute hinged on the brand’s ability to split build costs with Ford.
Yes, in much the same way that the new Mazda BT-50 is a Isuzu D-Max under the skin, the new Amarok will be "engineered and built by Ford”. But when your build partner is one of the world’s best-regarded and best-selling utes, that’s no bad thing for VW.
VW says that while Ford is the "lead partner" in the ute project - and that the Amarok will borrow both a platform and a manufacturing facility from the Ranger - the Amarok will benefit from a unique design, as well as interior tech, that will "clearly differentiate" the two vehicles.
"What is important for both partners is the utilisation of the same platform. At the same time we will both be able to fully deploy our strengths. Through custom designs and interfaces we will clearly differentiate the two models," said Thomas Sedran, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.
"For us as Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, our sights with the Amarok successor are on our main markets, above all in the EMEA economic area (Europe, the Middle East and Africa). Ultimately it is our customers who will benefit, as without the cooperation we would not have developed a new Amarok.”
It’s at this point unclear if VW's impressive V6 diesel will live on, or if the new Amarok will adopt Ford's engines, but if its the latter, then see above for the punchy powerplants the Volkswagen could offer.
For now, though, we'll have to wait and see.