Two of the top three sell­ers in July were utes. How do these af­ford­able ver­sions rate?

Joshua Dowl­ing ad­ju­di­cates.

Herald Sun - Motoring - - HEAD TO HEAD -

TOY­OTA HILUX WORK­MATE VALUE

The HiLux Work­mate dou­ble cab 4WD is $43,990 plus on-road costs but it has lim­boed to $41,990 drive-away in re­cent months, about $4000 off full price. It comes with a 2.4-litre turbo diesel (rather than the 2.8 in the higher grades) but still gets rear cam­era, cruise con­trol, air­con, power win­dows and re­mote cen­tral lock­ing.

DE­SIGN

It’s de­signed for func­tion­al­ity, which is why the bumpers are grey and the floor cov­er­ing is vinyl. Am­ple un­der­body pro­tec­tion is stan­dard. The ute tub with ex­ter­nal tie-down hooks means you can’t have a gen­uine tub liner and a hard lid — it’s one or the other. Not ev­ery­one is a fan of the black rims but they won’t be this

shiny for long.

EN­GINE

The 2.4-litre turbo diesel is a gem. It has a lit­tle more in­duc­tion noise than the 2.8 in the HiLux SR and SR5. But it has more torque (400Nm) than the pre­vi­ous HiLux 3.0-litre (343Nm), and not much less than the new 2.8 (450Nm). It’s su­per ef­fi­cient, too. We logged 8.0L/100km un­laden cruis­ing at about 80km/h or more. Works well with six-speed man­ual or auto.

SAFETY

Seven airbags (in­clud­ing one for the driver’s knee) are stan­dard, as is a rear view cam­era (its guid­ing lines don’t turn with the steer­ing). Rear sen­sors are op­tional. The low and high-beams are strong (good for coun­try roads), and the in­stru­ments are clearer to read in the HiLux than they are in the HiLux-based For­tuner SUV.

DRIV­ING

The wheels might not be pretty but the tyres they come with are more cush­ioned on bumpy roads than the top-of-the-range HiLux SR5. This means the blokes in the Work­mate are in fact trav­el­ling in more com­fort than the fore­man in the SR5. It feels sta­ble (for a ute) though the Ford Ranger and VW Amarok are still the bench­marks for on-road com­po­sure. The HiLux is hardier off-road.

MIT­SUBISHI TRITON GLX+ VALUE

The GLX+ has been at a per­ma­nent price of $36,990 drive-away since launch. The sav­ings vary de­pend­ing on whether Mit­subishi in­cludes auto in the price (as it did in June). For now, this is the price of a man­ual, so about $2000 off full price and still much cheaper than most ri­vals. Stan­dard fare matches the HiLux — rear cam­era, cruise con­trol, air­con, power win­dows and re­mote cen­tral lock­ing.

DE­SIGN

The base model gets a tougher-look­ing matt black grille and adds a rear bumper and al­loy wheels to broaden its ap­peal. Cov­ered in dust, the new Triton looks like an off-road racer but de­trac­tors say its un­usual de­sign re­sem­bles a prey­ing man­tis. It has a shorter wheel­base than ri­vals, as much of the chas­sis is car­ried over. As a plus, it has a tighter turn­ing cir­cle.

EN­GINE

The 2.4-litre turbo diesel (133kW/430Nm) is a high­light. It is quiet and re­fined and we re­ally hope Nis­san doesn’t rob the Triton of this as­set once it starts to fig­ure out what to do with Mit­subishi af­ter its re­cent takeover. It is su­per-ef­fi­cient and works su­perbly with the six-speed man­ual. Thanks to the lighter body, it is quicker and slightly more frugal.

SAFETY

As with the Work­mate, the GLX+ comes with seven airbags (in­clud­ing one for the driver’s knee) and rear-view cam­era (with guid­ing lines that also don’t turn with the steer­ing). The low-beam is OK but it could do with bet­ter high-beam cov­er­age, ex­tremely im­por­tant on dark coun­try roads.

DRIV­ING

Another base model that’s more pleas­ant to drive than the flag­ship. You feel that the Triton has a nar­rower and smaller foot­print on the road but in most con­di­tions it’s sub­lime (for a ute) over bumps and this im­proves with 200kg or so in the back. Only in tight turns or slip­pery in­ter­sec­tions does the Triton start to get a bit un­wieldy.

Ver­dict The HiLux has the big­ger cabin, bet­ter road­hold­ing and tougher off-road abil­ity. Bud­get buy­ers will find the Triton suits most needs, is cheaper to run and has a five-year warranty.

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