Reviewing the Top five most fuel-efficient utes compared

After safety, a vehicle’s fuel-efficiency is one of the major factors in a car buyer’s decision-making process.

Opting for a vehicle that chews less go juice also means you’re responsible for lower CO2 emissions, so, congratulations, you’re saving the world.

But there’s a problem; unless you drive every one of your potential vehicle purchases for a few hundred kilometres each, over different surfaces, and in a variety of conditions – which, let’s face it will never happen – you are simply unable to record an accurate fuel-consumption figure and so you’re obligated to put your faith in every car manufacturer’s claimed fuel-consumption figures.

They do their testing on dynamometer, not in the real world, and a vehicle’s claimed fuel-consumption figures are usually at the very least a litre or two litre lower than real-world figures – usually more than that, sometimes much more.

We’re focussing on straight-out-of-the-showroom utes.

Fuel consumption depends on many factors – including individual driving style, the conditions, the load – so there’s no real catch-all answer to calculating accurate fuel-consumption figures for everything without driving everything.

For the purpose of this yarn, we’re not looking at things such as SUV hybrids (the Outlander PHEV gets 1.7L/100km!), 2WD Falcon utes on gas and the like; we’re focussing on straight-out-of-the-showroom utes, specifically single cab, cab chassis diesels.

Here are our picks for the top five most fuel-efficient* utes (*Technically, we’re not listing only those vehicles with the absolute lowest claimed fuel-consumption figures; we’ve just explained how you can’t put too much faith in those numbers. Instead, we’re looking for great all-round – and fuel-efficient – packages).

1. Nissan Navara single cab RX cab chassis 4×2Reaching the claimed fuel figures in a Navara can be a challenge.

Single cab, cab chassis 4×2 utes are no-nonsense vehicles built specifically for work. They have next to no frills and their trays (usually an extra cost) are long. They’re lighter than 4×4 models because there’s no 4WD transmission, or extra diff or axle stuff. And the lighter a vehicle is, generally speaking, the less fuel it should use.

This Navara D23 Series 2 cab chassis ($25,990 excluding on-road and tray costs) has a claimed fuel consumption of 6.4L/100km and an 80-litre tank.

It has a 2.3-litre four-cylinder single turbo-diesel engine (120kW/403Nm), mated with a six-speed manual gearbox.

It has a kerb weight of 1551kg, a payload of 1359kg and a maximum towing capacity of 3500kg (braked).

This Navara is still a great truck.

Because single cabs are so light, compared to extra and dual cabs, they are not renowned for their ride comfort; suspension tends towards the firm and bumpier side of things, especially when unladen. Still, if you’re used to utes, it shouldn’t bother you.

But what you sacrifice in ride and handling, you make up for in load space. The tray (approx $2400 with fitment) is one of the biggest in this mob at 2570mm long, 1840mm wide and 255mm deep.

The interior is a hose-out style – cloth trim, vinyl floor – but the standard equipment list is extensive and includes air con, MP3/iPod/CD audio system (four speakers) and Bluetooth, three 12 volt sockets, USB port and much more.

It has a three-year/100,000km warranty with service intervals scheduled at 12 months/20,000km. A three-year/24-hour roadside assistance program is available.

Getting anywhere near those claimed fuel figures in the real world may be a Mission Impossible, but this Navara is still a great truck.

2. Ford Ranger XL single cab chassis 4×2

The most expensive but comes with 24/7 roadside assistance.

This Ranger ($27,690 excluding on-road and tray costs) has a claimed fuel consumption of 6.5L/100km and an 80-litre fuel tank.

It has a 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine (118kW/385Nm), matched to a six-speed manual gearbox.

It has a kerb weight of 1659kg, a payload of 1265kg and a max braked towing capacity of 2500kg.

This Ranger is a solid presence and a hard worker.

Official dimensions and fitment costs of the alloy tray (a supplier branded accessory) were unavailable but expect the load space to be more than 2500mm long, 1800mm wide and about 255mm deep.

Inside this Ranger is basic and work-ready, with hard wearing plastic surfaces and vinyl floor coverings, but there are some nice features including 4.2-inch colour multi-function display, AUX/USB/iPod integration, cruise control with steering wheel mounted buttons, two 12 volt sockets and more.

It has a three-year/100,000km warranty with service intervals scheduled at 12 months/20,000km. A three-year/24-hour roadside assistance program is available.

This Ranger is a solid presence and a hard worker.

3. Mitsubishi Triton GLX cab chassis 4×2

The cheapest to own and operated of the group.

This Triton, at $25,990 (excluding on-road and tray costs) has a claimed fuel consumption of 7.0L/100km and a 75-litre fuel tank.

It has a 2.4-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine (133kW/430Nm) and a six-speed manual gearbox.

Its kerb weight is 1555kg, a payload of 1165kg and a maximum towing capacity of 2500kg (braked).

The tray (no extra cost, fitted) is one of the shorter and narrower ones in this mob at 2430mm long, 1770mm wide and 255 deep – but even it will take two standard pallets.

Basic, workmanlike and very appealing.

The interior is very basic – cloth trim, vinyl floor – but standard gear includes 6.1-inch touchscreen, tilt and telescopic steering, steering wheel mounted controls (audio, phone, voice, cruise), electric windows, air con, one 12 volt socket, a USB port, and more.

Beyond fuel-cost savings, 4×2 utes are generally cheaper to own and operate compared to their heavier counterparts.

The Triton has a five-year/100,000km warranty with four-year roadside assist available.

Capped price servicing is scheduled for every 12 months/15,000km over three years.

Basic, workmanlike and very appealing.

4. Isuzu D-Max SX single cab chassis low-ride 4×2

Simple and old school, the D-max is as strong as they come.

In its new 2017 guise, the D-Max remains old-school tough but with a new 3.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine (130kW/430Nm) – a donk that’s positively truck like – and with a six-speed manual gearbox, it’s virtually unstoppable.

The entry-level SX single cab, cab chassis D-Max ($28,500 excluding on-road costs) has claimed fuel consumption of 7.2L/100km (combined). It has a 76-litre fuel tank.

This D-Max has a kerb weight of 1601kg, a payload of 1249kg and a maximum towing capacity of 2500kg (braked).

The D-Max remains old-school tough but with a new 3.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine.

Its tray (approx $2118, fitted) is one of the biggest on this list at 2570mm long, 1840mm wide and 255mm deep.

The interior is very much single cab territory – tough plastic surfaces, easy-clean vinyl flooring etc – but standard features include some nice touches, including a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a 7.0-inch touchscreen (with USB and Bluetooth audio streaming).

This D-Max has a five-year/130,000km warranty with five-year roadside assistance. Capped price servicing covers the first five scheduled services.

Proudly old school but with a new lease on life, the D-Max is a damn good ute.

5. Toyota HiLux WorkMate 4×2 single cab chassis

The HiLux by far the people’s choice on this list.

This no-fuss HiLux (from $26,832 with tray, excluding on-road costs) has a claimed fuel consumption of 7.7L/100km (combined); there are few single cab cab chassis models lurking around this fuel figure but we’ve included the Toyota because of its rock-hard heritage. Fair? Who cares.

It has a 2.4-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine (110kW/343Nm), which never feels stressed, loaded or unloaded, and it has a five-speed manual gearbox and an 80-litre fuel tank.

This HiLux has a kerb weight of 1570kg, a payload of 1240kg and a maximum towing capacity of 2500kg (braked).

Inside is all job-site business with plastic touch points, fabric seats and vinyl floor coverings.

Its ‘Toyota Genuine’ general purpose design alloy tray (approx $1842, fitted) is 2400mm long, 1762mm wide and 255mm deep; there are slightly wider and longer trays available.

Inside is all job-site business with plastic touch points, fabric seats and vinyl floor coverings, but you do get Bluetooth, an audio system, air con, cruise control, USB port, and a stack more gear.

It has a three-year/100,000km warranty.

This HiLux is not magnificent and it’s not the best here, but it is popular and it’s always a laugh to watch fleet buyers get all sweaty around a Toyota.

Is fuel economy a key factor in your choice of work truck?

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Henry Sapiecha

 

 

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