TRADIES have never had it better in Australia. Property is booming, contracts are plentiful and now the car market is dominated by the most powerful and well-equipped dual-cab utes we’ve seen.
So, how is a cashed-up tradie to choose which of these up-market workhorses is right for them?
Let us break down the top three, along with the just announced Mercedes-Benz X-Class.
The current leaders in the segment are the Ford Ranger Wildtrak and Toyota Hilux SR5, which are having a gung-ho fight in the sales charts to claim the title of Australia’s best selling car this year. Meanwhile, the Volkswagen Amarok TDi550 Ultimate has the title of Australia’s most powerful and expensive dual-cab… for now at least.
Pricing for the VW is $67,990, whereas the Ranger and Hilux cost $61,790 and $56,390 respectively.
The Amarok is powered by a 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel, making 165kW and 550Nm.
The Ranger has a 3.2-litre inline five-cylinder turbo diesel making 147kW/470Nm, while the Hilux has 130kW/450Nm from a 2.8-litre inline four-cylinder turbo diesel.
The flagship of the X-Class range will be the X350d, powered by a 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel, making 190kW and 550Nm.
The Ranger and Hilux both have six-speed automatic gearboxes, with dual-range selectable 4WD, while the Amarok has a seven-speed auto with constant 4WD. The X-Class adds an extra ratio over the Amarok.
The Ranger is the longest of the bunch, at 5.4 metres, while the Hilux and X-Class both measure 5.3 metres, and the Amarok 5.2.
The VW and Mercedes are both 1.9 metres wide, while the Ranger and Hilux are 1.8 metres.
Mercedes is set to be the most capable hauler as well. Payload figures for the V6 X350d are yet to be published, but based on the entry-level X220d's 1042kg maximum payload expect around 990kg because of the heavier V6 engine, and a 3500kg towing capacity. This compares to the Ranger (950kg/3500kg), Hilux (925kg/3200kg) and Amarok (864kg/3000kg).
If off-roading is what gets you going, the Hilux has the greatest ground clearance at 279mm, ahead of the Hilux (237), X-Class (202mm), and relatively surface-skimming Amarok (192mm).
We’ll have a full review of the X-Class later this year when we have our first taste of the all-new vehicle.