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New Zealand Company Vehicle - - 4WD UTE COMPARO - By Mark Baker

All-round ex­cel­lence: Toy­ota Hilux SR5 Cruiser

Step­ping up to the toplevel SR5 Cruiser spec just makes the Hilux ‘more Hilux’. It has long been a favourite on and off road and its pop­u­lar­ity with tradies, fam­i­lies, busi­ness own­ers and pub­lic util­i­ties is well known and well founded. On the road, the Hilux shone through as the most ca­pa­ble of the three, though the BT-50 gave it a close run. Hilux brakes con­sis­tently even when unset­tled – by mis­take – over a brow. It is the only one in the trio with four­pot front calipers, giv­ing it su­perb brake feel and even brak­ing per­for­mance in al­most ev­ery situation. Big rear drums are well matched, though of course in wa­ter cross­ings they do tend to re­tain wa­ter. For me, too, the six-speed trans­mis­sion is a high­light. I rate it best of the group – silky smooth, al­most pre­dic­tive in its na­ture. Rear drive, four-wheeldrive, lock­ing sys­tems are all eas­ily ac­cessed and ef­fec­tive. Fi­nally, the Hilux SR5 Cruiser’s start-point of un­der $56,000 makes it a very com­pet­i­tive pack­age, and a truck that is go­ing to meet the needs of a mas­sive range of users, both pri­vate and com­mer­cial.

Lux­ury Sports: Mazda BT-50 Spe­cial Edi­tion

The key ‘plus-point’ across Mazda’s BT-50 range is – in my opin­ion any­way – the en­gine. There’s some­thing about the five-cylin­der en­gine in the BT-50, which it cur­rently shares with the Ranger. Whether it’s the clas­sic five-cylin­der sound­track, or the grunt the sound­track im­plies it is cer­tainly easy to quan­tify, at the brochure (where the BT-50 trumps the Hilux with 20 more Nm of torque) or in ev­ery­day use where it makes a mea­sur­able dif­fer­ence on and off the road. The Spe­cial Edi­tion stands out with a unique Alu­minium Metal­lic colour and graphic pack­age and rolls on 17-inch black metal­lic al­loy wheels.

Loaded and ready: Mit­subishi Tri­ton VRX

Fea­ture for fea­ture, Mit­subishi’s Tri­ton reg­u­larly out­per­forms other diesel dou­ble-cab utes in value for money. It is as ca­pa­ble off-road as on-road, though the front end doesn’t seem to have quite as much sus­pen­sion travel as either of the other trucks, and con­se­quently we went bash­platesurf­ing half­way through a rut­ted bog. The 2.4-litre MIVEC tur­bod­iesel en­gine is a real ea­ger-beaver, though in this com­pany torque was slightly in the shade (at 437 Nm at 2,000 rpm) with an oc­ca­sional feel­ing like lag when pulling away from a stop. In­side the cab, door and dash ar­eas fea­ture re­silient hard plas­tics where needed for re­duc­ing wear and tear, with softer tex­tures else­where. With a shorter wheel­base than its ri­vals in this test, the Tri­ton has an al­most car-like 11.8 m turn­ing cir­cle, though the same short(er) wheel­base means ride and sus­pen­sion ac­tion lacks the ul­ti­mate com­po­sure both the BT-50 and Hilux dis­played.

The en­ve­lope, please

This time around it is Toy­ota’s new SR5 ‘Cruiser which is the win­ner (lit­er­al­lly by a nose) from Mazda’s Spe­cial Edi­tion BT-50 and Mit­subishi’s Tri­ton VRX.

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