The Ute’s of today are better known as the Dual-cab’s of yesteryear, but with the demise of the Commodore and Falcon ute, I think we can safely rebrand the Dual-Cab high-riding light truck category as a Ute ok?

But – as with our Family Car award yesterday, this isn’t a category we’ve personally spent a lot of time behind the wheel of in 2023. However, we have driven them all over time, and in consulting with esteemed colleagues in the industry found a consensus that fits with the EFTM Values. In this case, the real-world test, or the pub test.

Sure, there’s justifiable hype over the new Ford Ranger and the special editions of the Toyota HiLux (Rogue and GR Sport) – there’s an unsung hero among them. 

As with our family car winner, we’ve elected to consider everything in the ute market, not just what’s the newest out there. After all, customers consider everything on the market in a search based on budget and capabilities – so why wouldn’t we?

This is why we have awarded the Isuzu D-Max. Specially the flagship X-Terrain model which has been on driveaway discount since launch in 2020. 

Indeed, its price is so sharp that the next model down in the Isuzu D-Max line-up in fact costs more, when you price and built it on the Isuzu Ute Australia website. 

So while we acknowledge and praise the advancements, comfort and technology in the new Ford Ranger – and the even broader capability of the new flagship editions of the trusty Toyota HiLux – we reckon the Isuzu D-Max hits the sweet spot for the money.

For starters, at $64,990 drive-away, you can have an Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain with the works, or a mid level Ford Ranger or Toyota HiLux. 

We know the Isuzu’s 3.0-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder doesn’t have impressive power or torque numbers (and the engine itself sounds a bit agricultural) but this thing barely raises a sweat and is a very under-stressed engine. 

Isuzu also has a six-year warranty versus five years for Ford and Toyota. And even simple things, such as a slightly tighter turning circle than the other two, make the D-Max a cinch to drive around town and to the shops, as well as having worthy off-road capability. 

These features – and the price – combine to make the Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain a winner in our books and that’s why it wins the EFTM BEST award for 2023’s Best Ute/Dual Cab.