The Toyota LandCruiser has been Australia's go-to workhorse for off-road work for decades. But it's no longer alone in handling the nation's rough driving needs.
The dual-cab ute market is absolutely booming in Australia these days and customers are demanding more and more from their vehicles. No longer is it good enough for a ute to be just a solid work vehicle, nowadays they need to be smooth and pretty enough to be used as family vehicles.
While the LandCruiser is undoubtedly a classic, does it fill all of the roles needed today? We think there are some genuine contenders for the Landcruiser’s title, so without further ado here are …
Driven by a 3-litre common-rail turbo-diesel V6, the VW Amarok represents class either off road or on. The V6 is used in other VW family products such as Audi and Porsche and can produce 165kW of power and a massive 550Nm of torque.
The Amarok is rated for 3,000kg (braked) towing and a GCM of 6,000kg, meaning the ute can tow 3 tonnes while still carrying 800kg in the back. The Amarok’s 4x4 system is actually an all-wheel-drive setup that gives a 60 percent bias to the rear wheels.
The VW also boasts climate control, a 6.33-inch touchscreen with rear-view camera and automated anti-crash tech. The Amarok is a ‘plush but punchy’ choice for work or leisure.
The recently updated Nissan Navara sports a 2.3-litre diesel donk capable of pushing out 140kW/450Nm of power/torque. The Navara is pretty easy on the fuel too, averaging 7.0L/100km.
After receiving an impressive suspension upgrade, the Nissan Navara now feels a lot more stable than the previous model, the NP300. The front and rear shocks have been stiffened and rebound dampening revised, resulting in a lot less movement on the road.
The Navara maintains a braked towing capacity of 3,000kg and a load carrying capacity of around 940kg.
The Isuzu D-Max recently received a Euro 5 update which has seen the workhorse given a 50Nm bump in torque to bring it up to 430Nm. The Australian model is actually the first Isuzu ute globally to make use of the 3-litre Euro 5 engine, with European versions using a twin-turbo 1.9-litre.
The D-Max is arguably the best off-roader on our list, with an upgraded drivetrain and 6-speed gearbox giving the ute stability in the dirt. The torque curve seems to spread the load across the gears easily, with the tacho rarely going above 2,000rpm.
Many people will scoff at the addition of the Mahindra Pik-Up to this list, but this ute is arguably the most ‘Landcruiser-like’ of all the models listed here. If you can get past your own prejudices, then the Pik-Up offers real bang for your buck.
The Pik-Up’s 2.2-litre 88kW common rail diesel engine produces 280Nm of torque, which is lower than some of the others on this list, but keep your foot planted when towing and the Mahindra can keep up with the big boys.