Down the tow path
I’d like to buy a new twin-cab turbo diesel 4WD ute with a trayback, not a tub, and am happy to consider current or run-out models. I want to tow a dual-axle caravan around Australia and also use it for occasional light commercial use. I have a fairly open price range but I’m keen to know the best time of the month or year to purchase. Paul Gee
Fuel economy, reliability and access to service centres and parts will be important for the big trip. June is the best month to buy as tradies trade up to new models and there are always sharp deals that month. You’ll need to buy the ute as is and then replace the tub with a dropside tray at extra cost. Dealers are well versed in this process.
Toyota HiLux SR from $46,990 drive-away Toyota has the best dealer support in remote areas and the vehicles have the best reputation for reliability. The HiLux is among the most fuel efficient in the ute class and service costs for the first 60,000km/three years are the cheapest in the business. Genuine Toyota dropside trays are designed to match the stiffness of the chassis and the genuine tow bars are also designed to manufacturer standards. Downsides: the auto only tows 3200kg (the manual can tow 3500kg), and HiLuxes are not cheap. But the SR from $46,990 drive-away is a sound choice if you don’t need the fancy $55,000 SR5.
Mitsubishi Triton from $36,990 drive-away The Triton won’t win a beauty pageant but it has a good reputation for reliability, servicing costs are fair, there are dealerships in most big regional centres, and the five-year unlimited kilometre warranty will help. It’s also very economical. Downside: towing capacity is 3100kg. M Mazda BT-50 XT from $41,990 drive-away The twin under the skin to Ford Ranger but at a cheaper price. Strong towing (3500kg) and stable on the road. Service centres could be limited but you can always take it to a Ford dealer if you’re stuck. Downsides: the 3.2 five- cylinder diesell ihis thirsty compared with others, and a bit noisy.
Holden Colorado run-out model The Colorado is not the nicest to drive and nor is it the most refined or most reliable. But Holden is ripping up th the Colorado price ahead of a significant update due in August. This month it’s offering free servicing for three years on top of sharp driveaway deals. A vast dealer network and low service costs once the free maintenance ends are other pluses.
I’d go with the HiLux but haggle hard on price. Be patient and shop around a few dealers. Stick to genuine Toyota accessories wherever possible. It will help when comparing prices — and help get things fixed without argument should any problems occur down the track.