American utes – or pickup trucks – are growing in popularity Down Under. In fact, when it comes to utes, Aussies just can’t seem to get enough.
The top-selling cars in Australia last year were the Toyota HiLux and the Ford Ranger. The Mitsubishi Triton, Holden Colorado, Isuzu D-MAX also featured in the top 20 list.
But it’s the influx of American ‘trucks’ that seems to be taking a lot of the market by surprise. Local conversion houses are already offering Chevrolet, Ford, and RAM models here, which despite their price, are proving extremely popular with Australian buyers.
Walkinshaw Automotive Group in Clayton, Victoria offer Silverado 1500 and 2500 models which sell via its Chevrolet Special Vehicles arm. Featuring 5.7 and 6.2-litre V8 petrol engines the models produced 265kW/519Nm and 313kW/623Nm respectively. The larger Silverado 2500 is available with a 6.6-litre turbo-diesel making a whopping 332kW/1234Nm. Towing capacity runs to 5,890kg.
Ford F Series
Ford’s F-series trucks are the best-selling vehicles in the USA and Canada. But the range is also available locally, primarily via Melton-based Harrison F-Trucks. They sell Ford F-150, F-250, F-350 and the king-size F-450, as well as some of Ford’s sportier F-Truck variants. Ford’s largest F-450 is equipped with a 6.7-litre V8 turbo-diesel engine making 335kW/1355Nm and boasts a hauling capacity of 16,700kg.
Performax Australia offer the GMC Sierra in 1500HD, 2500HD and 3500HD guises. The largest four-wheel drive version of the Sierra 3500HD is equipped with a 6.6-litre turbo-diesel engine which develops 332kW/1233Nm and can tow up to 16,100kg. Performax also import Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge (RAM), and Toyota heavy-duty pickups, just in case you need something a little more heavy-duty than a HiLux.
The Wrangler-based Gladiator might seem a little small in this company but it’s still American, and still available here. Powered by a 3.6-litre V6 petrol engine it makes 209kW/347Nm and offers a braked towing capacity of 2,721kg – which is well under that offered by its strong-selling rivals the Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux at 3,500kg. That said, it does have one of the longest trays in its class at 1,531mm.
Nissan’s biggest American pickup isn’t available locally yet, unless you import and convert one yourself. But Nissan says the model is on its radar and that it is in talks with conversion house Premcar about remanufacturing the next Titan for right-hand drive. It’s understood that model will feature the same 5.6-litre petrol V8 found in the Patrol. It develops 290kW/534Nm. Nissan US quotes a braked towing figure of 4,190kg.
RAM 1500 and 2500
RAM 1500 and 2500 models are now also available in the land Down Under, the former available in up to five variants and in two different body styles. The larger RAM 2500 is available for order now. RAM offers diesel and V8 petrol engines, the largest capacity 6.7-litre Cummins six-cylinder turbo-diesel producing an effortless 275kW/1152Nm. Braked towing capacity is 9,100kg.
The Tundra has been a stalwart of the US market for over a decade now, but like the Nissan Titan, is not available here unless you import and convert one privately. It sells over 120,000 units annually in the States making it the seventh most popular pickup on the market. The Tundra is powered by a 280kW/544Nm 5.7-litre V8 petrol engine and can tow up to 4,264kg.