THE LDV T60 Trailrider is a take on the T60 ute created by Walkinshaw Performance, better known for its expertise in vehicles a good deal faster. Walkinshaw Performance runs V8 Supercar race teams, owns HSV and produces high-performance kits including a diesel engine upgrade for the HSV SportsCat.
Walkinshaw Performance’s work with the T60 runs to a local suspension tune – wheel and tyre package included – and locally engineered accessories including side-steps, nudge bar, sports bar and roller tonneau cover. The suspension retune will also apparently be applied to the bread-and-butter T60s for future production, which is possibly the best part of this whole story.
The introduction of the Trailrider, which comes in both manual and automatic transmissions, brings the T60 model line-up to six vehicles, given the base-spec Pro and the up-spec Luxe are also both available in manual and automatic.
Based on the Luxe model, the Trailrider is a notably big ute and, among its mainstream dual-cab competitors, only the Ranger and BT-50 have a longer wheelbase and only the Amarok has a wider track.
What's in a name?
LDV stands for Leyland DAF Vans; although, it has little to do with either and is part of SAIC Motor, one of China’s ‘big four’ state-owned carmakers. SAIC owns the LDV name. LDV is imported into Australia by Ateco Automotive, and Ateco and Walkinshaw Performance are also behind the recent introduction to Australia of the Dodge Ram ‘mega’ ute, so the Trailrider is not the only product of their joint efforts.
Powertrain & Performance
THE Trailrider enhancements don’t extend to the engine, which is standard T60. That means the 2.8-litre four-cylinder diesel is built under licence from Italian engine specialist VM Motori. It’s from the same engine ‘family’ as the 2.8 diesel in Holden’s Colorado and Trailblazer and previously found in Jeep’s Wrangler, but in a lower state of tune.
It meets the latest Euro 5 emission regulations thanks to its diesel particulate filter and modern variable-geometry turbo and common-rail injection technology (among other things), but it’s far from cutting edge in terms of power and torque, claiming a modest 110kW and 360Nm.
Given the Colorado claims 147kW and up to 500Nm from its version of this 2.8, you would have to assume the T60’s engine could be tuned up to something closer to those numbers without too much concern about reliability. As a point of reference, Walkinshaw’s tune of the 2.8 in the HSV SportsCat yields something like 176kW and 600Nm.
As it is, the Trailrider’s 110kW provides adequate performance that’s generally fuss-free without having much left in reserve for hills or overtaking. While the Trailrider is not a notably heavy ute amongst other dual-cab 4x4s, its big size would work against it at highway speeds.
Our Trailrider test vehicle had the manual six-speed gearbox, which is notably tall-geared (55km/h/1000rpm in top gear) given the modest engine power output. Some current diesel dual-cabs with more powerful engines and automatic gearboxes aren’t geared any taller than this.
The upshot of this is that at highway speeds when there are hills about there’s also a bit of rowing of the gears to be done; although, the six-speed manual is nice enough to use thanks to its light and positive shift action.
The Trailrider might be better served by its automatic gearbox from Europe’s Punch Powertrain (that’s what’s left of the DAF connection), which shares the ratios of the GM six-speed auto also in the Colorado. LDV and GM have been in a joint-venture partnership for some 20 years now, which probably explains some of the GM connections.
The test average fuel consumption of 9.5L/100km isn’t far off the 8.8L/100km ADR claim, which is unusual. With a typical dual-cab fuel capacity of 75 litres that gives a touring range around 740km, with about 50km left in reserve.
On-road Ride & Handling
IT IS A GOOD thing Walkinshaw Performance has seen to the suspension of the T60, as the initial factory calibration was well wide of the mark for local road conditions. On bumpy country roads, especially on rutted corners and gravel, the T60 had a tendency to lose its directional composure, often prompting a sharp intervention from the electronic stability control, which would often only make things worse. Even on less-demanding roads and at moderate speeds, the T60 never felt particularly good.
Thanks to Walkinshaw, all that is gone. Starting with the Luxe model, which is more lightly sprung than the heavier-duty Pro, Walkinshaw has added new dampers and a 19-inch wheel and tyre package that has transformed the steering, handling and stability of the T60.
Despite the 19s being relatively low profile, the ride is surprisingly compliant despite the tighter and more-controlled handling. Having control and comfort together is the ideal suspension outcome.
The Trailrider’s new wheel and tyre package no doubt has much to do with vast improvement in the steering accuracy, which, like the general handling, was previously pretty poor. The tyres in question are Continental ContiSportContact 5s, high-speed SUV asymmetrical road tyres with prominent longitudinal grooving designed to foster directional stability. The steering is still a bit vague on centre – it’s still no Amarok or Ranger – but is way better than it was.
THOSE TYRES may be very impressive on-road, but they aren’t so good off-road for a few reasons, the least of which is the road-orientated tread pattern. The problem lies more in their low profile and ‘V’ (240km/h) speed rating, both of which conspire to bring about a vulnerability to off-road damage, which doesn’t sit well with the Trailrider name.
Perhaps a proper off-road tyre on 17-inch wheels should be offered as an alternative to the road-orientated 19s; although, this means you would lose some on-road steering precision brought by the 19s.
The Trailrider has a conventional dual-range part-time 4x4 system, but one difference to most current dual-cabs is that it has a mechanical self-activating Eaton rear locker. Other current dual-cabs with rear lockers employ driver-switched electro-mechanical units.
Thanks to reasonable wheel travel and the rear locker, the Trailrider is pretty effective off-road (tyre vulnerability aside); although, the Eaton tends to allow a fair bit of slip before engaging abruptly, so progress is not always as smooth as you would really want.
With the combination of the manual gearbox and relatively tall gearing, high-range 4x4 isn’t too useful; so the Trailrider often needs low range at times where other dual-cab 4x4s get away with high range in the same driving environment.
Cabin & Safety
SIGNIFICANTLY the Trailrider, like all T60s, is the only one of the ‘budget’ utes to come with a five-star ANCAP safety rating – amongst other safety features, it has front, side and curtain airbags.
The Trailrider, which shares the leather trim and other features of the Luxe, has a notably big and spacious cabin that’s reasonably well-finished; although, it’s not class best. The myriad warning chimes for everything and anything are annoying, and while there’s no reach adjustment for the steering wheel, the Trailrider’s driving position and seats still prove comfortable enough.
What you get
THE Trailrider is based on the T60 Luxe, the better-equipped of the two T60 models. It adds a local suspension tune, sports wheel and tyre package, and locally engineered accessories including side-steps, nudge bar, sports bar and roller tonneau cover.
Over and above the entry level Pro, the Luxe gets keyless entry and start, folding and heated side mirrors, climate control in place of standard air-con, leather seats with six-way electric adjustment and heating up front, a chrome sports bar instead of a painted head board, and a rear self-activating diff lock.
Standard equipment on all T60s includes six cabin airbags, disc brakes all around, alloy wheels, side-steps, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, LED daytime running lamps, tyre-pressure warning, blind-spot monitoring, a 10-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a tub liner.
THE Trailrider, like all T60s, is rated to tow 3000kg, but it’s hard to see how the engine would handle that with ease. Something like 2500kg, or even less, would be closer to the mark. The 850kg payload also means that 700kg in the tub would be about as much you can carry, even if you only have two people onboard.
However, thumbs up to the Mountain Top Roll tonneau, which works a treat. Many roller tonneaus we have experienced are problematic (won’t stay closed), but this one worked faultlessly … even if it still lets in dust.
THE $4211 the Trailrider asks over the Luxe T60 (bringing the price to around $40K drive-away) is money well spent, even if it’s just for the revised suspension and wheel/tyre package. It transforms the T60 from a dual-cab with compromised dynamics to one that’s more than acceptable and pleasant to drive.
The fact the new wheel and tyre package is not what you want off-road is the obvious negative, and if you do fit 17s with off-road tyres some of the steering improvement with the 19s will be lost. It’s also a shame Walkinshaw’s talents haven’t been used to crank-up the engine from its current 110kW and 360Nm – the way the chassis works now, it could handle a bit more zip.
2019 LDV T60 TRAILRIDER SPECS
Engine: 2.8-litre 4-cyl turbo diesel
Max Power: 110kW @ 3400rpm
Max Torque: 360Nm @ 1600-2800rpm
Gearbox: 6-speed manual
4x4 System: Dual-range part-time
Crawl Ratio: 43.4:1
Front Suspension: Independent/coil springs
Rear Suspension: Live axle/leaf springs
Kerb Weight: 2100kg (approx.)
Payload: 850kg (approx.)
Towing Capacity: 3000kg (braked)
Fuel tank capacity: 75L
ADR fuel consumption*: 8.8L/100km
On-test fuel consumption: 9.5L/100km
Price: $38,937 ($41,042 for the auto)
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