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Nicholson Auto’s complete ute-buying guide

Five out of ten of New Zealand’s best selling cars were utes in 2018. It’s clear that us Kiwis still love a big grunty ute, but with so many options on the market, it can be difficult to choose the right one.

To help make your decision easier, we’ve put together a quick ute-buying guide.

What are you using it for?

It’s easy to get carried away by a discounted price or a powerful engine and not consider everything you need to get the most out of your ute.

That’s why, before you buy anything, you need to think about what you want to use it for: will it be a family car, a workhorse or a toy for the weekends?

Family car

If you’re buying a family car, safety features, spaciousness and entertainment should be your top priorities.

Look for utes with features such as:

  • Full set of driver and passenger airbags.
  • 5-star ANCAP safety rating.
  • Smart safety features like forward collision warning.
  • Rear parking assist.
  • Bluetooth connectivity, Apple Carplay and Android Auto.
  • Double cab design with spacious seating.

When it comes to picking a family ute, it’s hard to beat the new Holden Colorado. It’s tough enough to handle both work and play, but it’s also comfortable and super-safe, perfect for getting the family from A to B.


If you’re buying a ute as a work vehicle, whether you’re a farmer or a tradie, you’ll want something affordable, efficient and powerful.

That means the following should be top priority:

  • Horsepower and torque. Look for something with between 400 and 500 Nm of torque and at least 150 hp. This will make towing and getting around on rough terrain easy.
  • Fuel efficiency. Diesel engines may be the better option as they offer great fuel efficiency and grunty torque.
  • Single cab. If you’re not transporting a large team around, consider a single cab ute. They’re often more affordable and practical.

If we had to pick a general work-wagon, a single-cab Nissan Navara would be near the top of the list for most people. They’re powerful, affordable and they look great.

Toy for the weekend

If you’re looking for a ute mainly for fun on the weekend, you’re going to need something comfortable yet capable. It’ll probably need to be powerful enough to tow the boat or handle rough terrain.

Look for:

  • Torque. If you’re towing a trailer or launching a boat, it’s great to have 450 Nm to 550 Nm of torque.
  • Trailer sway control to make towing easier.
  • Premium, comfortable interior.
  • Satellite navigation.
  • Cruise control for long trips.

The awesome Mazda BT-50 is our pick for the weekend warriors out there. It’s got heaps of power and plenty of useful features, as well as a comfortable interior with just a touch of luxury.

Whatever you’re looking for, it’s important to do your research and speak to an expert before buying. If you need a hand deciding which ute is right for you, get in touch or drop into your nearest Nicholson dealership for a chat.

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