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What is the cheapest Ute to run? – Five Best Ute deals below

cheapest tradie Utes to run

Opting for a vehicle that chews less go-juice also means you’re responsible for lower CO2 emissions, so, congratulations, you’re saving the world.

But there’s a problem; unless you drive every one of your potential vehicle purchases for a few hundred kilometres each, over different surfaces, and in a variety of conditions – which, let’s face it will never happen – you are unable to record an accurate fuel-consumption figure. So you’re obligated to put your faith in every car manufacturer’s claimed fuel-consumption figures.

They do their testing on a dynamometer, not in the real world, and a vehicle’s claimed fuel-consumption figures are usually at the very least a litre or two-litre lower than real-world figures – generally more than that, sometimes much more.

Like all vehicles, dual-cab 4WD utes require regular servicing and maintenance to stay in top condition. But as trusty workhorses, utes often cover a lot more kilometres and are worked much harder than private passenger vehicles. So it’s important that operators understand what attention is needed and when — and that owners know how much their ute will cost to own over time.

The ‘Ute’ is an Aussie icon!

Created here, it has been a mainstay of the Australian motoring market since the 1950s and is as popular as ever.

There are more and more Utes on the road used by both tradesmen and sports lovers alike.

Models like the Toyota Hi-Lux, Ford Ranger and Nissan Navara are all used as support vehicles on work-sites and farms around Australia, and for a good reason.

Utes are handy for moving heavy loads, throwing tools and equipment in the back to move between job-sites, as well as towing the boat or motorbikes on the weekend.

This also means that maintenance costs are more expensive, due to more complex driveline systems such as 4-wheel drive and complex diesel engines.

Over and above the purchase price of your ute, just how much money are you committing to servicing and fuel every year?

The table below shows the average servicing cost per annum based on a 10-year logbook service schedule, and the annual fuel cost, based on the average distance Australians drive per year.

Here are our picks for the top five most fuel-efficient* utes 

Ridgeback Truck &  Service Bodies in Australia is a premier ute & truck service body manufacturer for trades vehicles. Based in Melbourne, Ridgeback provides Australia’s largest range of tough, quality ute & truck service bodies.

1. Nissan Navara 

Single cab, cab chassis 4×2 utes are no-nonsense vehicles built specifically for work. They have next to no-frills, and their trays (usually an extra cost) are long. They’re lighter than 4×4 models because there’s no 4WD transmission, or extra diff or axle stuff. And the lighter a vehicle is, generally speaking, the less fuel it should use.

This Navara D23 Series 2 cab chassis ($25,990 excluding on-road and tray costs) has a claimed fuel consumption of 6.4L/100km and an 80-litre tank.

It has a 2.3-litre four-cylinder single turbo-diesel engine (120kW/403Nm), mated with a six-speed manual gearbox.

It has a curb weight of 1551kg, a payload of 1359kg and a maximum towing capacity of 3500kg (braked).

The Navara is Nissan’s entry into the hotly contested Australian ute market. With Toyota’s HiLux and Ford’s Ranger arm-wrestling for the leadership position.

The Nissan Navara SL double cab 4×4 is available to ABN holders for $37,990 drive-away with manual transmission and $40,490 drive-away with auto, but be sure to haggle as dealers are having a red-hot go in the lead up to March, the end of the Japanese financial year.

Because single cabs are so light, compared to extra and dual cabs, they are not renowned for their ride comfort; suspension tends towards the firm and bumpier side of things, especially when unladen. Still, if you’re used to utes, it shouldn’t bother you.

But what you sacrifice in ride and handling, you make up for in load space. The tray (approx $2400 with fitment) is one of the biggest in this mob at 2570mm long, 1840mm wide and 255mm deep.

The interior is a hose-out style – cloth trim, vinyl floor – but the standard equipment list is extensive and includes aircon, MP3/iPod/CD audio system (four speakers) and Bluetooth, three 12 volt sockets, USB port and much more.

It has a three-year/100,000km warranty with service intervals scheduled at 12 months/20,000km. A three-year/24-hour roadside assistance program is available.

Getting anywhere near those claimed fuel figures in the real world may be a Mission Impossible, but this Navara is still a great truck.


2. Ford Ranger 

The Ford Ranger line-up has expanded to include a new limited-run Wildtrak X version, which adds a bit of extra kit over the standard Wildtrak. It looks the part, but how does it handle hard work?

The sharpest deal we could find on a Ford Ranger double cab was a 4×2 2.2-litre XL automatic from $36,490 drive-away.

This Ranger ($27,690 excluding on-road and tray costs) has a claimed fuel consumption of 6.5L/100km and an 80-litre fuel tank.

It has a 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine (118kW/385Nm), matched to a six-speed manual gearbox.

It has a kerb weight of 1659kg, a payload of 1265kg and a max braked towing capacity of 2500kg.

Official dimensions and fitment costs of the alloy tray (a supplier branded accessory) were unavailable but expected the load space to be more than 2500mm long, 1800mm wide and about 255mm deep.

Inside this Ranger is basic and work-ready, with hard-wearing plastic surfaces and vinyl floor coverings, but there are some nice features including a 4.2-inch colour multi-function display, AUX/USB/iPod integration, cruise control with steering wheel-mounted buttons, two 12 volt sockets and more.

It has a three-year/100,000km warranty with service intervals scheduled at 12 months/20,000km. A three-year/24-hour roadside assistance program is available.

This Ranger is a solid presence and a hard worker.

Best Ute deals

3. Mitsubishi Triton 

This Triton, at $25,990 (excluding on-road and tray costs), has a claimed fuel consumption of 7.0L/100km and a 75-litre fuel tank.

It has a 2.4-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine (133kW/430Nm) and a six-speed manual gearbox.

Its kerb weight is 1555kg, a payload of 1165kg and a maximum towing capacity of 2500kg (braked).

The tray (no extra cost, fitted) is one of the shorter and narrower ones in this mob at 2430mm long, 1770mm wide, and 255 deep – but even it will take two standard pallets.

We recently spent a working week in Mitsubishi’s stylish premium-grade Triton to see how it measures up in the premium ute market.

The Mitsubishi Triton remains the value king in the sub-$40,000 price bracket, however, with several options from $34,990 drive-away to $39,990 drive-away, depending on whether you want the GLX tradie pack double cab 4×4 with steel wheels (pictured below), the same model with the optional safety pack, or the GLX+ which gains alloys, side steps, Apple Car Play, and comes standard with advanced safety.

The interior is very basic – cloth trim, vinyl floor – but standard gear includes a 6.1-inch touchscreen, tilt and telescopic steering, steering wheel-mounted controls (audio, phone, voice, cruise), electric windows, aircon, one 12 volt socket, a USB port, and more.

Beyond fuel-cost savings, 4×2 utes are generally cheaper to own and operate compared to their heavier counterparts.

The Triton has a five-year/100,000km warranty with four-year roadside assist available. Capped price servicing is scheduled for every 12 months/15,000km over three years.

Basic, workmanlike and very appealing.

And if ongoing running costs are your main consideration, then it appears the Mitsubishi Triton is the ute for you.

The Mitsubishi Triton has just been named the most inexpensive ute to own and run in the Queensland motoring clubs annual Driving Your Dollars survey.

The Mitsubishi entrant is topping both the 2WD and 4WD category (as seen below) and finishing well ahead of rivals from Isuzu, Nissan, Ford, Holden and Toyota.


4. Isuzu D-Max

Isuzu has given its base model D-Max SX tradie pack the limited edition treatment, creating the D-Max X-Rider.

The Isuzu D-Max X-Rider (pictured below) still has vinyl flooring but gets a sports bar, charcoal 16-inch alloys off the D-Max LS-M instead of steel wheels, side moulds and blacked-out window frames.

It costs from $39,990 drive-away for the six-speed manual; six-speed auto adds $2000, although we are told by Isuzu dealers that customers won’t need to twist an arm to get the auto at the manual price if they ask nicely.

In its new 2017 guise, the D-Max remains old-school tough but with a new 3.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine (130kW/430Nm) – a donk that’s positively truck-like – and with a six-speed manual gearbox, it’s virtually unstoppable.

The entry-level SX single cab, cab chassis D-Max ($28,500 excluding on-road costs), has claimed fuel consumption of 7.2L/100km (combined). It has a 76-litre fuel tank.

This D-Max has a kerb weight of 1601kg, a payload of 1249kg and a maximum towing capacity of 2500kg (braked).

Its tray (approx $2118, fitted) is one of the biggest on this list at 2570mm long, 1840mm wide and 255mm deep.

The interior is very much single cab territory – tough plastic surfaces, easy-clean vinyl flooring etc. – but standard features include some nice touches, including a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a 7.0-inch touchscreen (with USB and Bluetooth audio streaming).

This D-Max has a five-year/130,000km warranty with five-year roadside assistance. Capped price servicing covers the first five scheduled services.

Proudly old school, but with a new lease on life, the D-Max is a damn good ute.


5. Toyota HiLux 

Meanwhile, the best price we could find on the Toyota HiLux double cab 4×4 was $43,990 drive-away for a Workmate (pictured below) powered by a 2.4-litre diesel (not the 2.8) with auto, black steel wheels and a vinyl floor. That’s the equal cheapest price this model grade of the current generation HiLux has been since launch in mid-2015.

This no-fuss HiLux (from $26,832 with tray, excluding on-road costs) has a claimed fuel consumption of 7.7L/100km (combined); few single cab chassis models are lurking around this fuel figure, but we’ve included the Toyota because of its rock-hard heritage. Fair? Who cares.

It has a 2.4-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine (110kW/343Nm), which never feels stressed, loaded or unloaded, and it has a five-speed manual gearbox and an 80-litre fuel tank.

This HiLux has a kerb weight of 1570kg, a payload of 1240kg and a maximum towing capacity of 2500kg (braked).

Its ‘Toyota Genuine’ general-purpose design alloy tray (approx $1842, fitted) is 2400mm long, 1762mm wide and 255mm deep; there are slightly wider and longer trays available.

Inside is all job-site business with plastic touchpoints, fabric seats and vinyl floor coverings, but you do get Bluetooth, an audio system, air con, cruise control, USB port, and a stack more gear.

It has a three-year/100,000km warranty.

This HiLux is not magnificent, and it’s not the best here, but it is popular, and it’s always a laugh to watch fleet buyers get all sweaty around a Toyota.

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