Top 5 Best 4×4 Dual-Cab Pickups for less than $50k

ByIsaac BoberOctober 14, 2019
Top 5 Best 4×4 Dual-Cab Pickups for less than $50k

With sales of 4×4 dual-cab pickups booming, we’ve looked at and listed the best 4×4 dual-cab pickups for less than $50k.

Four-wheel drive dual-cab pickups and SUVs are rocketing up the car sales chart. Sure, new car sales this year (2019) are tailing off compared with last year but not where dual-cabs and SUVs are concerned. Aussie car buyers simply can’t get enough of them. Last month saw the Ford Ranger continue its dominance of 4×4 sales with 2822 sales, beating out the Mitsubishi Triton (2755) and Toyota HiLux (2604). But, with prices of top-spec or almost-top-spec 4×4 pickups the way they are only the Triton makes it into our list. But, the Ranger and HiLux would dominate a list of the best 4×4 pickups over $50k. Stay tuned for that one.

4×4 Pickup Sales – September 2019 – Top 10

  1. Ford Ranger – 2822
  2. Mitsubishi Triton – 2755
  3. Toyota HiLux – 2604
  4. Holden Colorado – 1069
  5. Isuzu D-Max – 903
  6. Nissan Navara – 884
  7. Mazda BT-50 – 681
  8. Toyota LandCruiser – 651
  9. Volkswagen Amarok – 500
  10. LDV T60 – 382

Now, who’d have ever thought, just a few short years ago, that it would be so hard to compile a list of the best buy dual-cab 4×4 pickups for less than $50k. Not me, that’s for sure. With the exception of our wildcard, LDV T60, which lists for a lot less than $40k, the vehicles on this list aren’t even top-spec vehicles. Not even close. To get into a top-spec dual-cab 4X4 these days you’ve got to dig a lot deeper than $50k.

When compiling this list, we looked at picking the model that delivered the best bang for buck and that still managed to come in under the $50k mark. The other thing we did is go with the automatic transmission pricing for the vehicles we chose, some below are available with a manual transmission and some aren’t. So, we went with the common denominator being an automatic transmission.

  1. Mitsubishi Triton GLX+ ($43,490+ORCs)

If you read our recent magazine article of the same name, then you’ll notice we’ve switched up the Triton models. And that’s because in between that article and this one Mitsubishi announced details for the updated Triton which saw the GLX+ ($43,490+ORCs) get access to a rear differential lock and Super Select II 4WD system that allows terrain-based adjustment and all-wheel drive running on high-traction surfaces like bitumen.

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The Mitsubishi Triton was refreshed at the beginning of this year with the major changes being the look. Some very minor engine tweaking to improve fuel efficiency was the extent of the mechanical changes. Indeed, as different as the updated vehicle looks compared to the old one which, at the time of writing, was still available there’s a lot that’s the same. For instance, the tonneau from the old model will fit onto the new one. Moving on.

The 2.4-litre turbo-diesel is a carry over and offers 133kW and 430Nm of torque running through a new six-speed automatic, it tows 3000kg braked and when you do the sums it’s actually possible to tow at the maximum capacity and still load the vehicle with people and luggage, and you can’t say that about many of this vehicle’s competitors.

The turning circle on the refreshed Triton remains at 11.8m which is tighter than most competitors, although that’s largely because the Triton is physically smaller than them which means the thing is easy to manoeuvre when you’re off-road although the slower steering will see more twirling.

While Mitsubishi tweaked the rear suspension on the Triton it’s still a fairly rough riding thing away from the bitumen and while the Super Select II 4WD system is good, the Triton doesn’t have the same off-road ability as some in the segment.

In terms of standard equipment, the GLX+ is pretty good with things like Apple and Android connectivity carried over (although there’s no native sat-nav), climate control, and active safety features that only a few other pick-ups offer.

The Triton has its faults, but when looked at as a complete package, it’s probably the best-buy at this price in the segment.

  1. Mazda BT-50 XTR ($46,490+ORCs)

The Triton GLS is the value-winner because of its standard active safety which is missing from everything else at this price point. But if you’re looking for a larger dual-cab ute then the Mazda BT-50 XTR ($46,490+ORCs) makes a lot of sense.

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Based on the Ford Ranger platform (although while Ford has updated the Ranger several times the BT-50 has been left alone besides a new nose and an after-market infotainment system with Apple and Android connectivity), the BT-50 runs the same 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel engine making 147kW and 470Nm of torque which is mated to a six-speed automatic. It doesn’t have a sophisticated 4WD system like the Triton, which can run as a genuine four-wheel drive on high-traction surfaces, but the BT-50 gets a rear locker and an excellent hill-descent system.

The BT-50 is better to drive than the Triton both on- and off-road but the lack of active safety keep it from taking top honours in this list and that’s despite it offering things like dual-zone climate control and native sat-nav (with off-road functionality and live traffic, something the Triton doesn’t) as well as Apple and Android connectivity and a larger 8.0-inch infotainment screen.

The BT-50 XTR tows a maximum 3500kg with a towball download of 350kg, so, on paper it can tow more than the Triton but in reality when you do the math it works out that to get a similar payload you’d need to be towing 3000kg rather than the full 3500kg. That said, the BT-50’s tray, which measures 1549/1560/513mm is much bigger than either the Triton or the Holden Colorado.

Mazda’s standard warranty is better than that offered by Mitsubishi with five-years and unlimited kilometres rather than the five years and 150,000km offered with Triton.

In the end, the BT-50 misses out on key active safety features that the Triton gets, and it is getting on a bit … Wait for the next-generation BT-50 for active safety to be added. Even without AEB, the BT-50 is a good buy and a proven platform.

  1. Holden Colorado LS-X ($49,190+ORCs)

The Holden Colorado was updated earlier this year and copped a new grille and a broader model range, but it still misses out on active safety features, like autonomous emergency braking. It does, however, get a forward collision warning system but all that does is alert you to a potential impact … so the current five-star ANCAP rating wouldn’t apply if it was tested today.

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The change to the line-up sees us select the Colorado LS-X 4X4 automatic ($49,190+ORCs) to keep under the $50k price tag … it’s not as well-equipped as the LTZ but that model is more than $50k. Standard features for the LS-X 4X4 include a 7.0-inch infotainment screen with Apple and Android connectivity, power adjustable mirrors, remote window activation (which is handy on hot days), a rear ventilation duct (rather than directional air vents), Holden’s DuraGrip system but it misses out on a locking rear diff. It’s worth noting that once you add in on-road costs you’ll be over the $50k limit but we know that Holden is offering some great drive-away pricing, at the time of writing, on the MY19 Colorado for around $47k.

Like most of the rest of the Colorado, the engine is the same as before and that means a 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel making 147kW and 500Nm of torque from 2000rpm to pip the BT-50. It’s a fairly agricultural thing on the road and lacks the driving verve of the BT-50 and feels heavier in its movements than the Triton.

When it comes to going off-road, the Colorado isn’t as capable as either the BT-50 or the Triton, especially when the terrain becomes lumpy and bumpy and wheels start lifting off the ground.

The base-spec Colorado LS offers the best payload at 1085kg and a braked towing capacity of 3500kg, like most other pick-ups offering this sort of capacity, the devil is in the detail and towing at that limit will mean you’ll only have a couple of hundred kilograms of payload.

Unlike some in this list, servicing is required every nine months or 12,000km with capped price servicing costing between $299 and $599 depending on the service.

In the end, the refreshed Colorado only copped a light touch up and misses out on key active safety features that are starting to creep in. It’s more expensive than the Triton and the BT-50 and it isn’t as good to drive either on- or off-road.

  1. Isuzu D-Max LS-M ($49,000+ORCs)

The D-Max, even in this near-top-spec trim (LS-M – $49,000+ORCs for the automatic) only just manages to slide under our $50k cut-off and with on-roads would jump that mark easily. Despite the price it’s basic and fairly average to drive. But if you’re looking for something reliable and relatively cheap to service than this is the dual-cab 4X4 for you.

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Ahead of the LS-M are the LS-U and LS-T variants. Sure, the Colorado and D-Max are very closely related, the fact the Colorado has leap-frogged the Isuzu is the fact it’s the “newer” model and gets a much better infotainment system.

Under the bonnet is a proven 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel making 130kW and 430Nm of torque from 2000-2200rpm (a super short torque peak spread). The D-Max’s ride and handling is okay with enough comfort that you won’t have your fillings shaken loose driving around town. And while the transmission is again, okay, it can hunt a bit in undulating terrain where it’s being called on to swap cogs regularly.

Off-road the D-Max is, yet again, just okay. It doesn’t have a locking rear differential, like the Colorado, so isn’t as good in the rough as either the BT-50 or the Triton and is about on-par with the Colorado. That said, it’s got good underbody protection which is better than many others in the segment.

Like the Colorado, the D-Max doesn’t have any active safety features and while it carries a five-star rating, that rating is from a crash test in 2013. If it was tested today it most certainly wouldn’t achieve a five-star rating. As is the norm in the segment, the D-Max will tow a braked 3500kg and gets trailer sway control.

In the end, it’s a good honest dual-cab 4X4 but the price is high considering the features and the lack of active safety. This however is being addressed with the reveal of the 2020 Isuzu D-Max which will go on-sale in Thailand this month but is unlikely to get to Australia for another 12 months.

  1. LDV T60 Luxe

When it comes to a price-based list, the LDV T60 Luxe should be right at the top of this list but there are just too many variables with the vehicle, like inconsistencies with its reliability. That said, those that buy them, love them. And the price, at just $33,490 drive-away, is ridiculous, undercutting everything else on this list by a long way.

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The T60 Luxe looks pretty good although the 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel is the weediest on this list, making just 110kW and 360Nm of torque from 1600-2800rpm (a long way behind the Holden Colorado’s 500Nm). This is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with low-range gearing and a part-time 4WD system. Although, unlike the Colorado and D-Max, the T60 offers a locking rear diff which will help it get along a rutted track a little easier, although ground clearance isn’t amazing at a claimed 215mm.

Despite being a lot cheaper than all the other dual-cabs on this list, the LDV T60 offers an impressive fit and finish, indeed, fold down the back seat, which folds flat, and the back isn’t just painted metal or even felt stuck onto metal as you get with most other dual-cabs, but hard-wearing plastic.

The LDV won’t challenge the likes of the Ford Ranger or VW Amarok where ride and handling is concerned but the body movements are well controlled in most situations and it copes with a load in the back too. Speaking of load, the braked towing capacity of 3000kg might seem less than the 3500kg marketing number of this vehicle’s competitors but we’d argue that’s a more realistic figure when it comes to towing and still being able to carry people and gear in your pick-up.

In terms of safety, the LDV T60 gets a five-star rating from 2017 but misses out on autonomous emergency braking, but it’s by no means alone on that front in this segment. Beyond that it’s better equipped than many with a 360-degree parking camera, rear parking sensors, reversing camera, tyre pressure monitoring system and more.

We’ve included the LDV T60 on this list simply because at the price, and with the features, it’s incredibly hard to pass up. We’ve got a comparison planned to see just what the LDV T60 is like off-road against a segment favourite. Stay tuned.