2021 LDV T60 TrailRider 2 review

LDV gives the T60 dual-cab ute a fresh engine and a tickle-up. Does it pass muster?

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What is the LDV T60 TrailRider 2?

If you’ve even casually browsed the price lists of modern dual-cab ute contenders lately, you’ll have a grasp of just how much money one needs to get aboard even an entry-level rig from one of the big three or four players.

And it wasn’t all that long ago those big brands like Toyota, Mitsubishi and Ford were the only players on the field.

But now, in the midst of a global shift in the way we’re all living our lives and spending our money, the field is widening, and there is more choice.

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One of those choices comes in the form of LDV’s updated T60 dual-cab.

The once-British moniker now comes down under via one of China’s largest carmakers, SAIC, and it’s safe to say it’s had to do its homework on what Aussie buyers want, need…and will buy.

The Trailrider 2 is the first T60 to feature an updated 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine which, along with decently sharp looks and locally sorted suspension, is enough to have tongues wagging.

Price and features

In my smallish hometown, local council workers knew exactly what the T60 was and how much it cost, while neighbours asked whether it cost as much as a Ford Ranger Raptor.

The answer to the second question is a resounding ‘no’. At $42,095 in auto guise, it’s not far off half the price of Ford’s finest.

Given its robust content list, though, you’re still looking at spending another twenty grand to find its equivalent in the Blue Oval stable.

The cost to build a car is like a piece of string; there are ways and means to make that string shorter but it does show in the final product.

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The Trailrider adds items over and above the base T60 like black leather upholstery, a 10-inch multimedia screen, a decently-sized steering wheel with ample controls, blacked-out 19-inch alloys, a nudge bar and a tub equipped with a bolt-on sports bar and spray-on bedliner.

How practical is the LDV T60 Trailrider?

It wouldn’t be quite fair to call the LDV unrefined, but it does have usability and ergonomic moments that do show why it’s not quite up to the same quality and spec of its more fancy rivals in a couple of small areas.

The seat and seating position to the driver, for example; the leather seats are nicely made and cope with large Australian male figures quite well, but the final shape of the seat isn’t quite there.

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It’s a little bulbous under the thighs, for example, and the lumbar support is a little too thick.

And while the dashboard has vital elements like a digital speedometer, the execution looks more 1990s than 2020.

The feel of the buttons, too, also tells you where some money has been saved, while the poor resolution of the rear-view camera image and the layout of some of those switches is also, let’s say, interesting.

On the plus side, there are many nice points about what is fundamentally a commercial vehicle cabin.

Touchpoints under the elbows are padded, while the steering wheel - while lacking reach adjustment - is small and leather-bound.

The basic architecture up front, too, is quite contemporary, and of course, the large multimedia screen in the centre brings the cabin bang up to date.

The screen, however, kept defaulting to dark mode during my time with the car, which made it quite difficult to see, and there was no demonstrable way to change any settings to prevent that from happening.

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It would also mute itself permanently after taking or making phone calls via Apple CarPlay, and there are also very few of the car’s settings that can be changed within the multimedia system.

In terms of cabin space, though, it’s a big tick for the T60. Rear seat room, in particular, is excellent, with plenty of headroom for even the tallest of passengers, loads of knee room and plenty of shoulder room.

There are two ISOFIX baby seat mounts on the outside seats, and a pull-down armrest with two cupholders.

There is also a 12-volt charging point for rear-seat passengers as well as vents.

The seatbacks themselves are not too vertical, either, which makes for a comfortable ride in the rear of the T60.

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Front seat passengers are well catered for as well, though the criticism about perceived quality can be levelled at the electric seat adjuster, which does feel a bit flimsy.

We tested the standard tray version of the T60, which suffers the same downfalls as the rest of its competitive set.

It comes in at 1485mm long, 1510mm wide and 1131mm between the arches. Its payload is rated at 865kg for the auto and 895kg for the manual, while the T60’s towing is rated at 3000kg (braked).

Sure, that number dips below the 3100kg figure of the Mitsubishi Triton and 3500kg figures of other brands, but it’s a worthy compromise, all things considered.

In all honesty, a dual cab ute tray is just not that practical. It can’t, for example, accept a full-sized mountain bike in the tray, while the T60 Trailrider’s tub is compromised by the addition of a lockable roller shutter.

While this is a great item when it comes to securing your personal goods, it takes up a fair bit of space at the front end of the tray.

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The factory-applied spray on bedliner does help add a few vital millimetres of width and length over a plastic tub, though.

Driving the LDV T60 Trailrider

The first thing you notice when you climb aboard and start up the T60 with a push-start button is the racket from the revised 2.0-litre diesel engine.

It sounds very much like a product from the 1990s rather than something of the more modern age, with a high-pitched tappet sound that can be quite intrusive.

Once you get over that, however, the turbocharged engine is tractable and responsive, if a little bit laggy thanks to a combination of turbo size and throttle calibration.

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The six-speed auto gearbox is well matched to the 120kW/375Nm engine, but like most commercial vehicles, it can feel a little bit shunty when slowing or from taking off at low speeds.

Its ride and handling, though, is very good, verging on excellent. Its unladen ride quality around town in particular, is a real highlight.

It lacks any of that taut and bouncy feeling that can plague some of its competitors, and while the steering may not be the last word in accuracy, it is decently responsive and still light underhand.

The brake pedal can feel quite soft belying the fact that it works efficiently, and in general the T60 drives remarkably well for a dual-cab 4x4 ute.

It can get a little noisy thanks to that engine and a little bit of tyre roar coming back into the cabin, but fundamentally it’s no worse than any of its competitors.

No off-roading for us this time around, but there’s a brace of dirt tech ready to go. Both low- and high-range 4x4 are present, along with a locking rear diff that automatically engages under 30km/h if required.

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An approach angle of 27 degrees is fair, as is a departure angle of 24.2 degrees, but the 19-inch wheel/tyre package will limit your adventuring to a degree.

Safety

A blind-spot monitor combines with systems like hill climb assist, a 360-degree camera and adaptive LED headlights.

The five-star ANCAP-rated T60 also sports six airbags including full-length curtain bags. 

How much does it cost to own an LDV T60?

LDV offers a five-year/130,000km warranty, which includes roadside services for the same period.

It falls behind some emerging competitors like GWM in this regard, while a lack of fixed-price servicing puts it at a bit of a disadvantage to its more mainstream rivals.

Service intervals are suggested at every 12 months or 15,000km.

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Over 350km, we posted a combined fuel economy figure of 9.9L/100km, against a claim of 8.5L/100km.

This is a bit higher than utes like the HiLux (7.0L/100km), but a 75-litre tank still ensures a decent enough touring range of more than 800km.

Verdict

I’m actually like to do an experiment with the LDV where we tape up the badge and ask people to identify what kind of ute it really is.

I met a range of people in my time in the T60 that couldn’t give two hoots about its brand, but were looking at it hard for its value equation.

Would you take it to a mine site and put it through the same abuse that a Toyota HiLux was originally engineered for? Possibly not.

But considering this car is every bit $20,000 cheaper than an equivalent HiLux, then you start to see where the attraction lies.

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Rating 3.5/5

Plus Great value, sharp looks

Minus Still a noisy engine, few little foibles like sketchy multimedia screens

Specifications – LDV T60 Trailrider

Price: From $42,095 (6AT)

Engine/Transmission: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo diesel, 6AT, 4x4 w/ low range

Fuel consumption/CO2/Tank size: 8.5/100km, 223g/km, 75L

Safety: 5 stars

Seats: 5

Warranty / Service Interval: five years/130,000km, 15,000km/12 months

Spare Wheel (type): full size

Weight: 2035kg

 

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