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The cost of American pick up trucks in Australia

Pickup trucks are growing in popularity in Australia but at what cost?

In this article

  • Vehicle cost: pricing for utes and pickup trucks in Australia
  • Servicing: the average cost of a service on these vehicles
  • Fuel: the cost of fuelling pickup trucks
  • Insurance: the cost on insuring a pickup truck
  • Taxes: how government schemes can impact vehicle choice
  • Registration fees: rego for different vehicles
  • The environmental cost: a look at Australia's vehicle emissions
  • Safety: accidents involving pickup trucks
  • No country is immune to the cultural hegemony of America, least of all Australia, it seems. The pickup truck is the latest item that we want and are buying, in droves.

    Aussies purchased a record number of pickup trucks in the first half of 2023, up 36% on the same period last year, according to Finder analysis of 12 popular SUVs. Of the top 10 most popular new vehicles in Australia, 5 are big utes, compared to just 2 in the UK's top 10. Overall, SUV sales rose 19% compared to the previous year. They already outnumber passenger cars by more than 3 to 1.

    One major reason for the pickup truck's popularity in America is that it's cheap, at least in comparison to regular cars. They're exempt from the 1978 gas guzzler tax which ranges from $1,000 to $7,700 USD depending on the vehicle's fuel efficiency. The tax is paid by the manufacturer or importer.

    The average cost of owning pickup trucks

    Vehicle cost

    So does that value still translate in the Australian market?

    Take the RAM 1500 for example. According to All-Trans Ram, it ranges from $98,950 to nearly $176,000. By comparison, the Toyota Hilux (yes, the most popular vehicle in Australia also happens to be a pickup truck) is 56% cheaper, costing between $52,400 and $76,600, according to Toyota.

    Brand / ModelLowMidHigh
    Ford Ranger$53,033$71,221$94,911
    Toyota Hilux$52,423$62,728$76,603
    Isuzu D-Max$32,200$46,428$67,500
    Mazda BT-50$58,202$68,432$80,209
    Mitsubishi Triton$44,240$51,490$65,740
    GWM Ute$33,990$43,490$52,990
    LDV T60$36,990$48,490$60,990
    Ram 1500$98,950$144,000$175,990
    Nissan Navara$45,183$53,423$63,905
    Volkswagen Amarok$50,990$66,990$79,990
    Ssangyong Musso$36,790$38,885$43,090
    Chevrolet Silverado$110,000$133,000$163,000


    With most SUVs, it's recommended that you get it serviced in the first 12 months or after 15,000km – whichever comes first.

    Depending on where you live, the average car service cost ranges from $200 to around $400.

    For many pickups including the Chevrolet Silverado and Ram 1500, service pricing is comparatively high compared to a regular car.

    Brand / ModelServicing ItemServicing Cost
    Ford RangerFirst 15,000 km check$410
    Toyota HiluxFirst 6 months or 10,000 km$290
    Isuzu D-MaxFirst 12 months or 15,000 km$435
    Mazda BT-50Every 12 months or 15,000 km$463
    Mitsubishi TritonFirst 12 months or 15,000 km$449
    GWM UteFirst 6 months or 5,000 km$260
    Ram 1500Average yearly service cost (First 3 years)$653
    Nissan NavaraEvery 12 months or 20,000 km$572
    Volkswagen AmarokAverage yearly cost based on $1800 servicing rate for 5 years or 75,000 kms$360
    Ssangyong MussoFirst 12 months or 15,000 km$375
    Chevrolet SilveradoAverage yearly cost based on $2161.50 servicing rate for 3 years or 100,000 kms on the Silverado HD$721


    Fuel isn't getting any cheaper in Australia. 29% of 1,000+ people surveyed in October 2023 said they were stressed about their petrol bills, up from 20% in August.

    According to the final ABS Survey of Motor Vehicle Use (SMVU) in 2020, the average rate of fuel consumption of passenger vehicles was 11.1L per 100km.

    Many vehicles do better than this now. For example, many hatchbacks and small cars can get 5L per 100km. Hybrid vehicles such as a Toyota Corolla can get anywhere from 3.5 to 6.5L per 100km.

    American pickups don't get anywhere near that. The Chevrolet Silverado and RAM 1500 get approximately 12.2L per 100km.

    Based on these figures, that means you could be paying $601 more per year compared to a Toyota Corolla, or $116 more compared to the average vehicle.

    A study by the Australia Institute found that Australia's road vehicles are 24% less efficient than in the UK. Getting to UK levels could save us $13 billion in fuel costs.


    Finder research shows that comprehensive car insurance for a RAM costs $1,705 per year more to insure than a standard car. On average, car insurance for a RAM cost $2,925 per year. It was $1,220 for a Toyota Corolla and $1,811 for a Toyota HiLux.

    In one instance, the insurer would not cover the pickup truck.

    Provider Annual cost (RAM)Annual cost (Corolla)Annual cost (HiLux)
    Budget Direct N/A$1,084.10$1,338.66

    Keep in mind, these costs are based on a fictional driver profile. The best car insurance for you will depend on your own circumstances and if you were to get quotes for yourself, they'd likely be different to the figures reflected above. Therefore, this should be used as guide only.


    Changes to the asset write-off rules this year will also impact businesses and tradies who buy a pickup for work.

    From July 1 2023, the small business immediate asset write-off amount was reduced to $20,000 for businesses with turnover less than $10 million.

    Assets worth $20,000 or more can continue to be placed into the small business simplified depreciation pool and depreciated at 15% in the first income year and 30% each income year after that.

    Between July 2020 and June 2023, the government had allowed businesses with turnovers up to $500 million to instantly write off assets valued up to $150,000.

    You could still buy a vehicle worth more than $20,000 for work but the tax deduction must spread over 3 financial years.

    Instead, the government is actively encouraging Australians to move towards EVs.

    This includes schemes such as a $3,000 rebate for new battery electric vehicles (BEVs) sold in NSW and VIC (this was closed in June 2023), stamp duty exemptions for new and used EV purchases under $78,000, and 2 years free registration for new and used zero emissions vehicles.

    Registration fees

    The heavier the vehicle, the more expensive it typically is to register in Australia.

    For example, in NSW, it will cost you $833 to register a RAM 1500 for personal use. Business use will set you back $1,388.

    To put that into context, it would cost you $330 to register a Toyota Corolla for personal use and $522 for business use. Depending on the car specification, a Toyota HiLux costs $505 (personaL) or $786 (private) to register in NSW.

    The environmental cost

    In 2022, transport was responsible for 19% of Australia's emissions – passenger cars and light commercial vehicles accounted for 60% of those emissions. Without intervention, transport is expected to be the country's largest source of emissions by 2030.

    While EVs represented less than 4% of new car sales in Australia, SUVs accounted for more than 50% of vehicles sold.


    According to the US's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), accidents involving pickup trucks have a fatality rate that is 23% higher than crashes involving other regular passenger vehicles.

    Studies have found that children involved in a fatal crash are 8 times more likely to have been hit by an SUV than a regular car.

    Pickup trucks are also around 3 times more likely to be involved in rollover accidents – the deadliest type of vehicle incident.

    Australia's roads are more deadly than they were 5 years ago. In 2022, there were 1,181 road deaths in Australia – 46 more than 2018.

    This rise in fatalities coincides with the continued uptake in large SUVs in Australia. In the last 12 months, 64,052 SUVs were sold, a 55% increase compared to 2018.

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