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WHY THIS IS PRIME TIME FOR UTE DISCOUNTS
This may come as a surprise but March is the second biggest month of the year for new-car sales after June. As Australia’s financial year ends, accountants across the country tell a lot of businesses -- big and small — to minimise their tax and buy a new vehicle. Dealers are also keen to close their books on a high note before June 30.
March is big because it’s the end of the Japanese financial year. Most cars sold in Australia wear Japanese badges — and when those brands start discounting so too must everyone else if they want to compete.
The biggest savings are on utes, which are growing in popularity, becoming family cars on weekends after being used as a workhorse during the week. Here are the best deals.
It’s rare to find a discount on Australia’s top selling car but that’s the case with the HiLux, our favourite vehicle for the past two years in a row.
It’s no small gesture: to clear 2017-built stock (as with most brands, the 2018-built vehicles haven’t landed yet) the flagship HiLux SR5 has limboed to $52,990 drive-away with auto, at least $11,000 off the full price when this model was launched in 2015.
This price is also $2000 less than the cheapest deal the new generation HiLux SR5 has ever been previously. A dead set bargain.
Don’t want one with all the chrome? The HiLux Workmate double cab 4WD is a low $42,990 drive-away with auto.
It gets the smaller but still gutsy 2.4 diesel instead of the SR and SR5’s 2.8 and has a vinyl floor so you won’t ruin the carpet with muddy boots. Need something basic? The petrol manual two-wheel drive HiLux with a Toyota drop-side aluminium tray is from $22,990 drive-away.
Toyota has also sharpened the price by a couple of grand on the diesel manual twowheel drive with drop-side aluminium tray, matching the price of Isuzu’s cheapest D-Max workhorse: $26,990 drive-away.
The Ranger was the second-biggest selling vehicle outright in Australia last year.
However, it gave the HiLux a black eye in the double-cab 4WD stakes, outselling the Toyota in that particular category. Discounts are not as generous but Ranger prices are better than they used to be given there is an updated model due mid-year.
The Ranger XLT double cab 4WD is available from $53,990 drive-away as a manual, about $6500 off full price.
The “offers” section of the website does not list the price of the auto but we’re assured it can be had for $2000 more: $55,990 drive-away.
These drive-away prices also include a fiveyear/200,000km warranty on Ranger while stocks last.
The Colorado LTZ double cab 4WD deal isn’t quite as sharp as it was in the final months of last year.
At the end of 2017 it was $49,990 drive-away with auto and seven year warranty. The price is the same this month, but the deal has switched to three years warranty and three years free scheduled servicing.
It’s taken a few years but Nissan has finally sharpened the pencil on the Navara. It was trying to charge a premium when the Navara didn’t really stack up — even though it looked the business, it wasn’t as good to drive as its rivals, even by ute standards.
Nissan has slashed prices because it’s sitting on a heap of stock and an updated model — which promises to drive better — goes on sale next week. Runout versions of the flagship ST-X are $47,490 drive-away with auto, a solid $11,500 off the full retail price.
Mazda, too, is struggling to move some metal even though the BT-50 is largely the same as a Ford Ranger underneath. They are made on the same production line and were jointly developed, although to be fair Ford has made significantly more changes with each update.
Mechanically, nothing has changed on the BT-50 since launch seven years ago.
Which is why the price has been slashed to $47,990 drive-away for the absolute top of the range model. That’s for a manual but we’re told you’ll be able to get at auto at this price — if not a little better — given the cryptic “2017 plate bonus” online, which hints at a further discount.
The Triton might not be the best looking ute in the class, with its preying mantis stance, but it’s the best value below $40,000.
The discounts are almost non-existent because the Triton has been in discount mode for the better part of three years.
However, it’s still good buying if you’re looking for a bargain: $32,990 drive-away for the base model GLX double cab 4WD manual, and $33,990 for the GLX+ manual, which gains alloy wheels and side steps.
Ask nicely or find a dealer who is sitting on too many “pre-reported” cars — declared as sold to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries but not yet registered let alone in customer hands — and we’re assured you may be able to get an auto for the same price, saving a further $2000.
The D-Max’s trusty 3.0-litre turbo diesel may lack the power output of most rivals but it has cubic capacity on its side and has been borrowed from one of Isuzu’s trucks.
The D-Max does the basics well at a fair price. Our pick is either of the mid-range models: the $40,990 drive-away LS-M model on 16-inch alloys or the $44,990 drive-away LS-U which comes with a bit more fruit.
These prices are for manual variants but we’re reliably informed by dealer sources that you can get an auto for these prices without much arm twisting.
The pick-up with the most power in the segment — for now — is the Amarok, thanks to a V6 diesel previously found under the bonnet of Audi and Porsche SUVs. It is not an outright sales challenger to the Toyota and Ford utes but the German brand is taking its share of buyers in the top end of the market.
The V6 has limboed to $54,990 drive-away with eight-speed auto and constant all-wheel drive, about $5000 less than its previous starting point. Until the end of March, there’s a five-year warranty on the Amarok V6 if financed with VW.
The T60 is the first Chinese ute to earn a fivestar safety rating, is well equipped and is one of the cheapest brand-new pick-ups on sale, priced from $28,990 to $34,990 drive-away. So it has three out of four key elements right. It’s worth taking for a test drive — but be sure to pay close attention to the engine’s power delivery. The diesel engine is underdone even by ute standards.
Also take it on a decent drive to test it in corners and over bumps. It’s not supposed to be a luxury car but there’s ample room for improvement by ute standards. It’s been a long time since utes felt like this to drive.
FORD RANGER, HOLDEN COLORADO, TOYOTA HILUX