2021 Ute guide
Here's a round-up of the 2021 ute market, with a revised HiLux, an updated Ranger, an all-new D-Max and a brand-new BT-50.
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Ford, Toyota, Isuzu and Mazda have all updated the specs and pricing on their utes recently to varying degrees. With the $150k instant tax asset write-off running right up to 31 December 2020, now's a great time to think about buying your business a new ute.
Here's a rundown of the most popular ute models.
Toyota HiLux 2021
Let's start with the legendary Toyota HiLux. On 13 August, Toyota confirmed the specs for the 2021 ute, and it is now reportedly more Australian than at any other point in its life. Changes are a response to feedback from customers.
What's new on the 2021 Toyota HiLux?
The HiLux has been turned up to 11 it seems. Max power now touches 150kW (an extra 20kW) on some models, while peak torque on automatics rises to 500Nm (from around 450Nm). Manuals are good for 420Nm, across a wider range of 1,400-3,400rpm. Fuel use has also dropped by as much as 11.1%, depending on the configuration. Braked towing jumps up to 3,500kg for every 4x4 HiLux and some 4x2 diesels will lug 2,800kg. There are 27 models capable of hauling a one-tonne payload.
The exterior has been retooled, with a "tougher" looking body. There are reshaped headlights and a very wide trapezoid-shaped grille, which is reminiscent of Toyota's North-American market pick-ups.
In the cab, all HiLux models now have a large eight-inch infotainment display, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There's also a 4.2-inch multi-information display between the instrument dials. SR5 models have sat-nav and DAB as standard.
4x4 models with downhill-assist control fitted get a fancy traction control mode when in 2WD, which improves grip on slick mud and wet grass.
|Toyota HiLux options|
Engineering and design group specialists at Toyota Australia were given the task of working alongside international teams to refine the engine, styling and handling.
A Toyota high-up, Rod Ferguson, stated that he thought if the HiLux somehow became sentient, it would speak with a "strong Aussie accent". For example, the final clay model was created in Australia before being transported to Japan for evaluation.
The Australian-arm of Toyota specifically worked on the following:
- Development and testing of a more gutsy 2.8-litre diesel engine, boosting the response for quicker accelerating and more confident towing as well as upping the torque figures
- Producing a clay model with a more chiselled appearance and meshes with the global Toyota branding
- Contributing to tweaks on the rear suspension, with particular focus on how the HiLux handles when unladen. This is thanks to new bushes and an altered leaf-spring design, plus shock absorber tuning
- Recalibrating the six-speed gearbox to gain momentum faster and manage the temps while towing
- Integrating a variable-flow steering pump, which in turn improves the steering sensation and makes low-speed parking less strenuous
- Testing in harsh environments
Toyota HiLux pricing for 2021
Toyota HiLux 2021 summary
It's more powerful, more chiselled and more Aussie than ever. The HiLux is in fine form.
Ford Ranger 2021
Ford updated the specs and pricing on the Ford Ranger in August 2020. Ford has made the Ranger tougher, with Heavy-Duty optional packs on offer as well as Special Editions that come fully off-road prepared.
As part of Ford's "Tougher Done Smarter" philosophy, the brand is working to give tradies and professionals the equipment they need to get to their work, wherever that may be.
Those wanting to spec out their Ranger for off-road and harsh environment use will want to go for XL 4x4 models as Ford's making a number of off-road equipment optionally available.
|Ford Ranger options|
|Ford Ranger Heavy Duty Pack|
|For the single cab-chassis Ford Ranger XL 4x4, Heavy-Duty Pack, Ford charges $1,600. The HD pack comes with the following:|
|On the Super Cab and Double Cab chassis XLs, in addition to the above, you also receive black side steps. Ford asks $2,000 for this iteration of the HD pack.|
|Double Cab pick-up buyers pay $1,600 for the Heavy-Duty pack. This model also has black side steps in addition to the single-cab specification.|
|Ford Ranger XLS Premium Pack|
|The XLS Premium Pack costs $1,500 and includes the following:|
Ford Ranger XLT Tech Pack
|For $800, the XLT Tech Pack adds the following:|
Another nice addition is the FordPass App modem. You can find the application on the App Store or on Google Play. With this standard feature, Ranger owners can do the following:
- Remotely lock and unlock the doors (useful if you've sent the apprentice to fetch something from your ute)
- It's also possible to remotely start the engine, letting you pre-warm or cool the interior (activates the last used climate control setting)
- Receive health updates from the vehicle, like upcoming servicing and low washer fluid levels
- Check the fuel level and remaining range
- Vehicle locator – view your Ranger's whereabouts
Ford Ranger special editions
Having a drive-away price of $49,990, the Ford Ranger XL 4x4 Special Edition has a heap of off-road equipment extras fitted from the factory. Ford bolts on the following:
- A Ford steel bull bar, with mounts for accessories like a radio antenna. Below the main frame of the additional protection, Ford has neatly installed an LED light bar. This high-output extra lamp will flood campsites at night or gloomy building sites with bright white light. The company also points out that this accessory has been crash tested to ensure it'll work correctly with the standard safety assists like autonomous emergency braking.
- A factory snorkel. A raised intake isn't just for deep-water wading, it also helps the engine draw in cleaner air, as it's away from the dust cloud kicked up by the wheels and surrounding vehicles.
Other Ford Ranger changes for 2021 models
Ford Ranger XLS
Buyers of the Ranger XLS now have further options to personalise their ute. Ford is now offering the following:
- Black-finish, 17-inch alloy wheels (one inch larger than standard)
Ford Ranger XLT Fully Loaded
The Fully Loaded XLT, as its name suggests, is generously equipped. It builds upon XLT spec by adding the following:
- 18-inch, gloss black alloy wheels
- Adaptive cruise control (ACC)
- Partial leather seat upholstery
- Semi-automatic parallel parking
Ford Ranger pricing for 2021
Ford Ranger business pricing
Ford is offering up to three years of free scheduled servicing on select Ranger models. Business buyers can also take advantage of ABN holder special drive-away prices.
Ford Ranger 2021 summary
In summary, the 2021 Ranger gets more tech, but the prices have risen accordingly. There are factory-assembled heavy-duty versions available for business users who need a tough and rugged ute. The XLT Fully Loaded should save buyers $1,500 compared to buying the options fitted separately.
Isuzu D-Max 2021
The D-Max is all new and word on the street is that it might have leapfrogged some of its rivals, maybe even taking the best overall ute crown outright. For 2021, the D-Max has been completely re-designed. It's now got a mature, more modern look, a re-tooled 3.0-litre turbo diesel heart, a remodelled cab interior and previously unheard-of levels of equipment. Isuzu reports they clocked four million testing kilometres over six years on this model.
What's new on the 2021 Isuzu D-Max?
For the D-Max, Isuzu has built in an intelligent driver assistance system (IDAS), Apple CarPlay (wireless) and Android Auto, a rear electro-magnetic diff locker, bumped the wading depth up to 800mm (from 600mm) and given it a revised terrain command system. The latest iteration of the Isuzu diesel engine now has 140kW and 450Nm, an improvement of 10kw and 20Nm over its predecessor. It runs quieter, with improved efficiency and better dampens sound and vibration. Plus, you can tap into the peak torque over a more useable rev range than before. Added to the refined engine is one of two new transmissions, a six-speed auto or manual, both tweaked for slicker shifting and higher efficiency.
Pretty much every metric is better than before. The D-Max now rides taller, with increased ground clearance and tighter off-roading angles.
Standard D-Max specs
The standard spec list for the all-new D-Max models is epic.
For a start, you get a diff locker on 4x4 models, which is not a standard inclusion on many rivals (or even available from some ute builders), tilt and reach adjustment for the steering wheel (again missing on some competitors), deluxe seat contouring on space and crew cabs, a 4.2-inch multi-information display housed in the instrument cluster, rear vents on crew cabs, Android Auto/wireless Apple CarPlay, DAB+ radio, voice recognition, auto headlamps, rain-sensing wipers and body colour bumpers on utes.
The default safety inclusions are extensive in the ute segment. You'll get the following:
- Eight airbags (including a centre airbag)
- Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
- Forward collision warning
- Lane departure prevention and warning
- Lane keep assist (on automatic models)
- Emergency lane keeping
- Turn assist with AEB
- Emergency stop signals
- Post-collision brake assist
- Misacceleration mitigation (automatic models)
- Adaptive cruise control (autos only)
- Traffic sign recognition
- Intelligent speed limiter
- Blind spot monitor
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Driver attention assist
- Automatic high beam
- Coming home light
- Intelligent seat belt reminder for all seats
- Utes and cab chassis models get a reversing camera
- 2 x ISOFIX points for crew cabs
This is a level of safety tech that is effectively unmatched right now, especially as a base level of equipment.
Isuzu D-Max options
There are a number of genuine accessories for the D-Max.
|Isuzu D-Max accessories|
Isuzu D-Max pricing for 2021
Isuzu D-Max 2021 summary
The D-Max, with its dashing new looks, gutsier engine, incredible specs and safety assists might just have hurtled passed the competition to become the most rounded and best value ute on sale in Australia.
Mazda BT-50 2021
Mazda is putting a brand-new, third-generation BT-50 on sale here in October. It's the first major overhaul for the ute in nine years. The previous model was built upon the Ford T6 platform, the same as the Ranger. Mazda based the third-generation BT-50 around some of the Isuzu D-Max's underlying components. For example, they share engines.
What's new on the Mazda BT-50 2021?
First, its burly turbocharged, 3.0-litre diesel power plant, with a stout 140kW and 450Nm. Towing capacity jumps up to 3.5 tonnes, and it has a combined fuel economy best of 7.7L/100km. Payload capacity on some models reaches as high as 1,210kg! Wading depth also rises to 800mm, like the D-Max. 4x4 BT-50s get a diff locker, again, matching the D-Max.
The exterior design has been tweaked so the ute sits more in line with the rest of the Mazda range. Safety is described as "uncompromising", with a huge heap of safety assists, including the following:
- LED headlights
- 4.2-inch multi-information display for the driver
- Auto headlights
- Rain-sensing wipers
- Auto high beam
- Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
- Curtain (front and rear), driver and front passenger, front side, far side driver and driver's knee airbags
- Attention assist
- Blind spot monitor (BSM)
- Dynamic stability control (DSC)
- Electronic brake-force distribution (EBD)
- Brake assist (BA)
- Emergency lane keeping (ELK) – overtaking
- Emergency stop signal (ESS)
- Forward collision warning (FCW)
- Hill descent control (HDC)
- Hill launch assist (HLA)
- Intelligent speed limiter (ISL)
- Lane departure prevention (LDP)
- Lane departure warning (LDW)
- Manual speed limiter (MSL)
- Rear cross-traffic alert (RCTA)
- Reversing camera
- Secondary collision reduction
- Traction control system (TCS)
- Traffic sign recognition (TSR)
- Trailer sway control (TSC)
- Turn assist
- Spare wheel
- Daytime running lights
- Underbody impact protection
Essentially, the BT-50 is setting a new baseline for safety equipment, along with its cousin, the D-Max.
Internally, as standard, the load out is impressive. From the factory, the BT-50 has the following:
- Power windows (with one-touch for the driver)
- Cruise control
- Black cloth seating
- Seven-inch colour infotainment touchscreen
- AM/FM radio, plus DAB+
- Android Auto (USB) and Apple CarPlay (wireless or USB)
- Auxiliary input
- Bluetooth connectivity
- At least four-speakers
- Steering wheel mounted controls
- USB input for iPods
Mazda BT-50 2021 ute specs
Mazda BT-50 2021 pricing
Mazda BT-50 2021 accessories
We expect the factory accessories pricing list to be made public anytime soon, but Mazda has stated that each accessory falls within the scope of the five-year factory warranty.
Mazda BT-50 2021 verdict
The Mazda BT-50 is now perhaps the classiest looking ute (certainly the most car-like), with a very elegant and high-end exterior design combined with an elevated standard specification and oodles of safety aids.
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