It’s no secret that we kiwis love a good ute. And with so many offers on the market, it’s hard to pick just one favorite. But when it comes to the high riding lifestyle, the choice falls short.
While all grooves are offered in all-wheel drive, not all are offered with off-road packages. So today we’re discussing which one we would take home with us if we had a choice.
You have Ford’s famous Ranger Raptor at the top of the list, but Toyota, Isuzu, Jeep, and Nissan all have off-road variants too. Here are our tips and don’t forget to vote for your favorite at the end of the article!
Editor Dean Evans: Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain
I have to be moody because when I saw our white D-Max X-Terrain parked on black wheels for the first time in the DRIVEN parking lot, it hit a nerve. And with the updated design, the view of the D-Max had changed before it was even driven. Of all the double cabs, the D-Max has always been the workhorse of the series and the most “truck” -like. Less “lifestyle”, more weekday workers.
Maybe I also had to move more, starting from a lower base, to be impressed with the new model because it had such a good impact that I chose it for my lifestyle choices. It’s not an easy choice as the Ranger Raptor is certainly appealing and the new Hilux has all of its improvements and sharp prices, and the Mitsubishi Triton is a favorite in those areas too.
But it’s those white and black wheels that appeal to me and the drive that helps seal the deal. The fact that it’s not a Raptor means it gets a little bit of a noticeable impact, and at $ 75,490, it’s also $ 10,000 cheaper than Ranger Ratpor – see how a theme here develops with Raptor than Class standard by which everything else is measured!
The unique selling point of the D-Max is that, according to ANCAP, it is the safest product on the market. While it shares the platform with the Mazda BT-50, the Mazda range lacks the Halo hero model that this X-Terrain along with leather features electric seats, roof racks, Smart Key, Tray Loner, remote engine start, and front and rear parking sensors.
And with its powerful 140 kW / 450 Nm 3.0-liter turbodiesel 4, radar cruise control and Not-a-Raptor emblem, I am satisfied with the X-Terrain – as long as it is in white.
Click here to view all Isuzu D-Max offers on DRIVEN
Deputy Editor, David Linklater: Ford Ranger Raptor
I hate choosing the obvious when doing Expert Car Picks. But in this case it has to be the Ford Ranger Raptor: partly because it is still unique in the world of 1 ton utes, partly because it is just so well executed.
It is very much mimicked by other brands and owners of other Rangers. But the Raptor is the real deal: a double cabin designed for big jumps and great fun. It is a full member of the Ford Performance brand. That’s lifestyle, people.
Okay, not everyone who buys one does that. The nice thing about the Raptor, however, is that the OTT Fox chassis and chunky BF Goodrich All Terrain tires work great on the road: it’s comfortable and really nifty. The drivetrain is also fun: it has Ford’s energetic twin-turbo 2.0-liter and 10-speed automatic transmission.
It’s all wrapped up in one package that, unlike any other ranger, looks extremely aggressive. First of all, it’s 168mm wider.
I will acknowledge the downside of the raptor. There is no adaptive cruise control. The payload is only 758 kg (so it’s not a “one-ton truck” at all). It can only pull 2500 kg. When it comes to deal breakers, other grooves are available. There are even other Rangers available (like the FX4 Max, which has its own version of the Raptor landing gear).
For the rest of us, the Raptor is the ultimate lifestyle pickup. We all know how much people love to modify utes. Raptor is what happens when the factory goes into town with its own product.
Click here to view all Ford Ranger Raptor offers on DRIVEN
Digital Writer, Andrew Sluys: Jeep Gladiator Rubicon
As I said in Zooming this week, every double cabin looks the same. Sure, you’ve got fancy front ends and different sports bars, but the shapes are basically the same. That’s why I chose the Jeep Gladiator because it’s not necessarily the best looking option, but the most interesting.
The differences don’t stop with the Gladiator either, as it is only offered with a 3.6-liter V6 petrol engine. Since Jeep has been running this Pentastar engine for a number of years, it may feel a little gasping compared to other V6s, but it pumps out enough power and that’s the main thing. It also only comes with an automatic transmission, but we don’t need to go into that.
What we can celebrate is the sheer size of this American animal, which is 175mm longer than a ranger from tip to tail, so there is enough space for the kids, the dog, the bikes, the kayaks, the grill, the … offers the idea.
Thanks to its Wrangler properties, it is also one of the most competent off-roaders in the Ute segment. It doesn’t jump over sand dunes like the raptor, but thanks to the rock rails under the tray it likes to be hit by stones and other debris.
It’s also New Zealand’s only convertible ute! Yes, you read that right – the roof has removable panels that can be stored in the bin for maximum drivability (that’s a word now).
I went for the Rubicon model with the highest range thanks to the wide wheels and chunky off-road tires it gets. You can also equip your Rubicon with tubular doors, because if you miss a roof, who needs full doors?
The only downside to this American beast is the price, the Gladiator starts at $ 79,990 and I would pull $ 92,990 out of my pocket for the Rubicon.
Click here to view all Jeep Gladiator offers on DRIVEN