That tends to party or starve in the utes – they are mostly models with a long life cycle, but their popularity and intense competition also means we sometimes see angry new-model activities. There are three important trios of a new ton launched in New Zealand for 2020: an entirely new incarnation of one of the most controversial utes on the market, a closely related reboot for grassroots favorites and a greatly enhanced version of the icon.
With the previous BT-50, Mazda made the most of the fact that it uses passenger car styling cues.
That is a controversial view to say the least, with a very smiling grille and horizontal tail lights that cross into the tailgate – unique in the ute segment.
Mazda has done the same thing again with the BT-50 which is all new, but this time around the cue the passenger car seems to sit rather gracefully on the double cabin platform (and more traditional tail lights). This is clearly part of the same family as the CX-8 and CX-9 SUVs, but it also looks classy in its own way.
The interior is definitely one of the most luxurious in the ute segment, with a nine-inch touch screen and glossy trim inserts.
Power will come from 3.0-liter turbo-diesel which produces 140kW / 450Nm. It’s up to the best segment for towing (3.5 tons) and one ton load.
Sophisticated driver assistance features quickly reach a ton of roads. Like Hilux, the BT-50 will have features such as adaptive cruise control, autonomous braking, and lane-keep assistance.
BT-50 is scheduled to launch later this year.
The biggest change for the BT-50 is that it is no longer built on the Ford Ranger platform – now “supplied by Isuzu Motor Limited on an OEM basis”, in Mazda’s own words.
That means there is also The all-new Isuzu D-Max is on its way. This is the model we know the least today; but the formidable new look of the model was revealed late last year, with top models looking ready to wear stylish bash plates and large wheel arch extensions.
The interior is different from the BT-50 – but has taken similar steps in quality and technology, also with a nine-inch infotainment screen. While D-Max will be looking to maintain its status as a workhorse, there are a number of trim and car-like interior proof colors.
Ford Ranger has been NZ’s number one ute for six years now. But does the Blue Oval truck achieve the same status icons as the green Toyota Hilux? Don’t hesitate to argue among yourself.
That big news for Hilux at the end of the year will be a power bump to 150kW / 500Nm for the 2.8 liter turbo-diesel engine, up 15 and 11 percent respectively. There are more interesting capabilities as well: the 4WD automatic transmission model can now match the 3.5 tons rating of the manual gearbox version.
There are styling changes inside and out. Toyota NZ is slowly launching mobile projections on the updated model, so Hilux will join the Corolla and C-HR (not to mention Lexus RX) in offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
On the exterior, Hilux moves a little closer to the RAV4 and Land Cruiser models that look new with a much larger grille and new design lights that increasingly emphasize the width of the vehicle.
We also know that there will be a launch edition developed in New Zealand with a number of enhancements, including an improved suspension. There are no exact details yet, but this will be the closest thing to Hilux’s rival Ranger Raptor.
Furthermore, it is likely that there will be a genuine Hilux GR – but that will be a different matter and certainly not this year.