OzRoamer 2022 4WD Dual Cab Ute under $65,000 COTY Award

With 3 out of the top ten selling vehicles now Utes and more in the top twenty, the ubiquitous Ute has certainly grown in popularity over the years.

OzRoamer 2022 4wd ute under $65,000 Award

Along with the popularity has come the slow moving upmarket of some of the Ute offers. It’s possible to now buy a Ute for $29,990 through to $80,000 plus. Here we are focusing on the Dual Cab 4WD Ute portion of the market.

There is a wide selection, from many manufacturers including Mitsubishi TritonSsangYong MussoLDV T60 and Toyota HiLux

Both the Ford Ranger and VW Amarok are due for replacement very soon.

Like a few other categories, the final three came down to a point of difference only.

Our final three nominees are

  • Isuzu D-Max
  • Mazda BT-50
  • Nissan Navara

Isuzu-D-MAX-LSU-Plus-4WD-Crew-Cab-beach-track-scaledIsuzu D-MAX – Winner

The award goes to the whole D-MAX 4WD Dual Cab Ute range. The main reason is that the class leading safety features from IDAS, are across the whole range.

With class leading safety features across the range D-Max stands apart

Isuzu D-Max has been around for many years now but the most recent update was late last year. Full details HERE

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Isuzu D-MAX Model range

The Dual cab 4WD Ute range is made up of four models. Many features like safety (as mentioned), wireless Apple CarPlay connectivity, automatic headlights and high beam, auto wipers, keyless entry, reversing camera and more are standard across the range.

Pricing for Range

  • LS-M Crew Cab 4WD Ute $54,000 ML[*
  • LS-U Crew Cab 4WD Ute $59,400 MLP*
  • LS-U+ Crew Cab 4WD Ute $61,900 MLP*
  • X-Terrain Cab 4WD Ute $65,900 MLP*

All models come with the same 3.0L Turbo diesel engine and six speed AISIN automatic transmission. Some come with a six speed manual transmission as well.


D-Max General Thoughts

While styling is a subjective thing, I like the latest D-Max look. It balances the mix of big and bold along with subtle softening. It has a bold grill that seems to flow back to the bonnet with highlight lines. The LED auto headlights and LED DRL’s integrate seamlessly as do the lower LED foglights and air flow vents.

I also like the slightly sloping profile that definitely looks purposeful.

From the rear it has a different look with feature lines through the tailgate and stand out taillights

Inside the first thing you notice is that the D-Max is comfortable, right from the LS-M through to the X-Terrain. Obviously the more you move through the range the more comfort and bling is added.

However the drivers seating position is extremely comfortable. Seat squab comfort has improved from previous year models.

In front of the driver is a twin dial instrument binnacle, with a configurable MFD between. Steering wheel is thick rimmed, no matter which model, and is both height and reach adjustable.


The central stack area is well laid out and in the upper models has a myriad of control switches that are a welcome addition. The other thing to note is the clarity of the central screen in sunlight has improved dramatically.

Rear seats are comfortable, with good knee room (for a Ute) and head room.

I’m definitely not a fan of the roller tonneau covers, I know they provide security, but in most cases they restrict capacity and have to be opened fully to close, a problem in the recent deluges that have hit the east coast.

Having said that every tonneau cover has good and bad points.

Tub area has practical tie down points and a liner. One thing to note is that the sports bar on the X-Terrain looks good but severely restricts access to the front section of the tub. A case of form over function.


As the LS-U+ is our pick of the bunch its worthwhile mentioning a few things about this model.

Positioned to slot in between the flagship X-TERRAIN and the mid-spec LS-U, the new LS-U+ Crew Cab Ute, features similar equipment as the LS-U, but with the addition of premium black leather-accented upholstery and interior trims.

Adding a touch more comfort to the package, the front seats are heated, with the driver’s featuring 8-way electric adjustment with electric lumbar support.

Additional equipment adds dual vanity mirror lights, an auto-dimming rear view mirror, heated door mirrors, the Lane Support System Switch, a GCM of 6,000kg and a factory-fitted tow bar receiver and tub liner.


D-Max engine and drivetrain

One strong point about the Isuzu D-MAX was always the robust and long life engine. Famed for its reliability. The new engine is a derivative of the previous engine, only improved for Australian conditions.

We should be thankful they have retained this engine.

The new 4JJ3-TCX 3-litre, turbo-diesel engine, delivers power of 140kW at 3,600rpm and torque of 450Nm at 1,600-2,600rpm. This is a mild increase on the previous model.

More importantly, midrange torque has been improved, with a hearty 400Nm on tap from 1,400rpm through to 3,250rpm, resulting in improvements to both drivability and performance, particularly when towing or under load. Impressively, 300Nm is produced at just 1,000rpm—testament to how torque-efficient the 4JJ3-TCX is.

Power and torque is transferred to the wheels via an Aisin-built AWE6B45 II 6-Speed automatic transmission with dual-range Terrain Command 4×4. The combination works to extract the best from the engine as well as improvements in economy.

Towing at 3500kg is a breeze and economical.

D-MAX has always been an excellent robust and reliable 4WD Ute. I’ve taken D-MAX’s everywhere over the years and they’ve never once failed me or complained about where they go.

The new D-MAX models benefit from a revised 4×4 transfer case with a new electronic actuator, that speeds up the shift from 2-High to 4-High at speeds of up to 100km/h in less than a second. Switching from 4-High to 4-Low also takes just under a second, a huge improvement over the preceding system that took 2.5 seconds to engage.

Drivers can engage the rear diff-lock at a push of a button, distributing torque evenly across both rear wheels.

Whilst in 4-Low, the Rear Diff-Lock can be engaged on the fly at speeds up to 8kph and will automatically disengage at speeds above 30kph.

When driving with Rear Diff-Lock engaged, systems such as Traction Control System and Electronic Stability Control will automatically be disengaged. All ADAS features, however, including AEB & LDP will remain engaged, but can be turned off via the Driver’s 4.2” Multi-Information Display.


D-Max Final Thoughts

D-Max is robust, reliable and ready for any 4WD adventure you want.

Isuzu D-Max continues its tradition of building robust, reliable 4WD Utes. Now they have class leading safety features as well as many comfort features standard across the range. Big tick for that.

D-Max is currently the best 4WD Ute on the market.


D-Max Model Pick

While there are subtle differences between each model, such as the LS-M with heavy duty suspension and traditional Ute controls, for us there is a sweet spot model which has as many goodies as needed for the best price.

The LS-U+ is the sweet spot in the range.

That is what we have provided details on.

What is good?

What is not so good?

  • Class leading Safety
  • Improved centre screen resolution
  • 4WD and towing capability
  • Haphazard DTE readings
  • Walk away locking good and bad
  • Would love 150kW/500Nm



Isuzu D-MAX LS-U+ 4WD Dual Cab Ute

Model Price$61,900 MLP*
Engine3.0L 4 Cyl Turbo Diesel
Drivetrain4WD 6 Sp Aisin AT
Power140kW @ 3600rpm
Torque450Nm @ 1600-2600rpm
Safety5 Star ANCAP (Tested Sept 2020)
CO2 Emissions207 g/km Euro 5
Economy ADR/ Capacity8.0L/100km / 8.7L/100K on test / 76L
0-100kmh/Top SpeedN/A
Servicing12 Mths / 15,000km $3,223 for 105,000km (7 years)
Warranty6yr/ 150,000 km with 7 Yr. conditional roadside assist


Overall Rating    


Behind the Wheel9
Ride and Handling9
Fit for Purpose9
Towing/4WD Capability10
Technology / connectivity9
Value for Money10



Overall Length5270mm
Width / Height1870mm / 1790mm
Unladen ground clearance / wading depthUp to 240 mm / 800mm
Approach / RO / Departure30.5 / TBC / 19 degrees
Fuel Tank  / Turning Circle76 Litres / 12.5mts KTK
Kerb Weight /  GVM / GCM / Payload2112kg / 3100kg / 6000kg / 988kg
Towing Capacity / Tow Ball rating3500kg / 350kg

MAZ14884_Surf_SP_RGB2(002)Mazda BT-50 – Finalist

Mazda BT-50 is basically a twin to the Isuzu D-Max with a number of Mazda changes.

Major differences are in styling where the Mazda has a more car like appearance. It has a softer grill area. The look is almost a direct lift from Mazda’s CX-8 and 9 SUVs and is a vast improvement on the crazy face of the previous BT-50.

Both the newly introduced SP model and the Thunder are aimed specifically at the upmarket recreational buyer.

BT-50 uses the same 3.0L four cylinder turbo diesel from the Isuzu and same transmissions. It also uses the same 4WD system. That is a good thing as that is probably the most robust Ute engine on the market.

Pricing for the BT-50 4WD Dual Cab range is from XT at $50,990 MLP* through to the Thunder at $68,990 MLP*.

BT-50 comes with a five star safety rating and a comprehensive five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty, with complimentary roadside assist for the warranty’s duration.

Servicing intervals are set at 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first.

What is good?

What is not so good?

  • Car like appearance
  • Interior comfort
  • 4WD and towing capability
  • Some safety intrusive
  • Smart phone connectivity glitches
  • Would love 150kW/500Nm

Nissan-Navara-2022-ST-X-4WD-Ute-front-qtr-scaledNissan Navara ST-X – Finalist

Nissans Navara has been mainstay Ute for many years sometimes lost in a wide and often confusing choice of manufacturers.

Priced from the entry level single cab chassis from $32,300 through to the recently released Pro4X Warrior at $69,990 plus the usual costs. There is a Nissan Ute for everyone.

I’ve just spent a couple of weeks in the latest ST-X 4WD Dual Cab with the premium leather pack and it’s probably my pick for the sweet spot in the range.

The interior is well laid out with leather heated seats, new central screen and driver ergonomics. The exterior is actually pretty stylish.

I like the sliding tie rails in the tub along with tie down point, very practical. The rear tailgate is light to operate which is another bonus

On road the Navara has excellent ride for a Ute and the 140Kw/450Nm combined with a 7 speed sports AT is enough for most people. Its excellent off road has a rear diff lock as standard and will tow 3500kg if needed.

Navara is now fitted with trailer-sway control as standard across all models, and a towbar is fitted as standard equipment on all ST-X and PRO-4X models.

Nissan’s Navara definitely should be on the consideration list for Ute buyers.


What is good?

What is not so good?

  • 4WD and Towing performance
  • Nice styling
  • Interior comfort
  • No wireless Apple Car Play
  • Would love 150kW/500Nm
  • Pocket on central tunnel pushes into knee

*MLP Includes GST and LCT but excluding statutory charges, dealer costs and dealer delivery. See your dealer for RDAP. Does not include price of options. Some features mentioned in the article are options. RDAP means Recommended Drive Away Price (without options but including all other charges)