IT’S fitting we’re in a ute, Mazda’s BT-50, as a workhorse has just become our top-selling “car” for the first time.
The Toyota HiLux has taken the crown after overcoming last year’s sales slump and overtaking its Corolla stablemate. Toyota punched out the discounts hard, so victory was always on the cards.
We’re in the Kuroi Edition ($53,590 drive-away), which is based on the mid-range XTR and adds black sports bar, nudge bar, side steps and 17inch alloy wheels, plus driving lights, tonneau and decals.
Having some decent time behind the wheel of one of the forgotten utes in the segment (the BT-50 ranks seventh on the sales ladder in the 4WD class) it’s easy to see the appeal of these vehicles.
You can throw kids’ bikes, beach gear or camping equipment in the back, it can tow up to 3.5 tonnes (although if you reach capacity, this limits what you can carry on board) and it’s comfortable inside the four-door, five-seat cabin.
Economy isn’t as good as the latest SUV diesels (most are powered by 2.2-litre engines; the BT-50 shares its 3.2-litre five-cylinder diesel with the Ford Ranger) because it’s shifting more weight, but it’s still respectable.
So far, we’re getting 10.0L11.0L/100km on mostly open road driving unloaded or without a trailer. That will change once we load up.
One thing worth noting for SUV owners considering a switch to a ute: the turning circles are not as tight, and this can make shopping centre car park ramps a bit of a handful. We’ve had to grab reverse a few times to get around a tight squeeze that would be a snack in a car or SUV.
We’re also still not used to the rear camera being in the rear view mirror rather than the central display screen. And a digital speed display would be appreciated. As would Apple Car Play and Android Auto. And more USB ports. But at least the Bluetooth works well.
Given the family appeal of the BT-50 and its ilk, no wonder one has become our top seller.