Outback survival rating on four bigname dual-cabs.
A THREE-POINTED STAR IN THE NORTHERN FLINDERS RANGES MIGHT BE A RARE SIGHT, BUT THAT’S WHERE WE TOOK THE X-CLASS FOR ITS FIRST OUTBACK STOUSH AGAINST THREE TOP RIVALS.
IT’S A TOWN of 18 at the northern end of the Flinders Ranges, but that doesn’t stop the people of Blinman taking an interest in the latest newcomer to the 4x4 ute class. Parked outside the picturesque local pub on a crisp morning, the Mercedes-benz X-class has at least one keen admirer, eager to learn more about what is the undoubted darling of the dual-cab class, a category with its fair share of admirers these days.
Alongside the gleaming three-pointed star is the latest addition to the Hilux family, the Rugged X; but the stickers, snorkel and rock rails are simply not getting the attention of an all-new player. It’s indicative of the shift that’s carving through the ute segment: in its 50 years on Australian roads, the Toyota Hilux hasn’t been under the pressure it’s experiencing now. New players, rejuvenated favourites and beefed-up old timers alike are lining up to take a piece of the turf dominated by the car that first arrived here in 1968.
We’ve also enlisted two of our favourites – the Volkswagen Amarok and Ford Ranger – for the first outback back-to-back test of the latest Benz newcomer. We’ve put these utes through their paces on four-wheel drive test tracks and in the suburbs, and this is our first chance to see how they stand up to the punishment of the outback, from corrugations and washouts to rocks and creek crossings.
In each case we’ve opted for models with plenty of gear, reflective of the changing tastes within that 4x4 segment. Buyers, it seems, can’t get enough when it comes to dual-cab utes. But do they really want something as extravagant as a Mercedes-benz?