Fuel efficiency could be an important consideration for you, especially if you plan to use your vehicle for work purposes.
Say you have to drive 50 kilometres each way to a job site, for example - that’s 100km, or say roughly 10 litres of fuel, which could be as much as $22-$25 that you have to pay just to do your job.
In that case, aiming for a fuel-efficient ute could be a priority for you. And while there are no petrol-electric hybrid or plug-in hybrid pick-ups in Australia at the time of writing, the space is ripe for a new-generation take on transport for tradies.
There is one electric ute available for retail sale - the LDV eT60. It’ll literally never need to visit a servo except for a smoko run, with a full EV powertrain featuring a CATL battery that’s good for 330km of range, AC and DC charging capability and a 1000kg payload, it offers an intriguing alternative to the petrol and diesel ute crowd. It is prohibitively expensive, though.
As for the mainstream utes, there are some very efficient vehicles available. The figures you see below are the official combined cycle fuel consumption numbers - so, what you could theoretically expect to see across a mix of driving, but not driving while towing, or while loaded up to payload capacity.
Now, if you’ve ever looked at a specs sheet for a new ute you may well have noticed that there are columns with numbers all over the place, and the fuel use section is typically baffling. But in this story, we’re just looking at the most fuel-efficient ute derivatives - so, specific variants, not an entire ute range, because we figure that’s what you want to find out about.
Here is a rundown of the 10 most fuel-efficient ute derivatives on the market in Australia, as at the end of February 2023:
- Mazda BT-50 XS 4x2 dual-cab 1.9-litre single-turbo diesel, six-speed automatic, 4x2 - 6.7L/100km
- Isuzu D-Max SX 4x2 dual-cab 1.9-litre single-turbo diesel, six-speed automatic, 4x2 6.7L/100km
- Mazda BT-50 XS 4x4 dual-cab 1.9-litre single-turbo diesel, six-speed automatic, 4x4 6.9L/100km
- Ford Ranger XLS 4x2 dual-cab 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel, 10-speed automatic, 4x2 6.9L/100km
- Ford Ranger XLT 4x2 dual-cab 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel, 10-speed automatic, 4x2 6.9L/100km
- Toyota HiLux Workmate 4x2 dual-cab 2.4-litre turbo-diesel, six-speed manual, 4x2 6.9L/100km
- Isuzu D-Max SX 4x4 dual-cab 1.9-litre single-turbo diesel, six-speed automatic, 4x4 6.9L/100km
- Isuzu D-Max SX 4x2 single cab-chassis 1.9-litre single-turbo diesel, six-speed automatic, 4x2 7.0L/100km
- Isuzu D-Max SX 4x2 single cab-chassis 1.9-litre single-turbo diesel, six-speed manual, 4x2 7.0L/100km
- Mazda BT-50 XS 4x2 single cab-chassis 1.9-litre single-turbo diesel, six-speed automatic, 4x2 7.0L/100km
The combined cycle figure is based on the testing conducted under the Australian Design Rules (ADR 81/02).
Brands are forthright in stating that these aren’t to be taken as gospel. Mazda, for example, states: “They are useful in comparing the fuel consumption of different vehicles. They may not be the fuel consumption achieved in practice. This will depend on traffic, road conditions and how the vehicle is driven.”
Here’s how the fuel consumption figures are calculated:
- Combined fuel consumption, as quoted above: this is an average of the consumption recorded from the urban and extra urban conditions, which are:
- Urban: consumption measured at low average speed (~19km/h), in an attempt to replicate stop-start driving.
- Extra: consumption measured over a high average speed test (~63km/h), replicating more constant speed driving.
It cannot be reiterated enough that these figures are not what you will typically see across a mix of driving, particularly if you buy a ute and keep it loaded up at all times.
Interesting to note that all of the models listed in the above table are the “small engine” versions of those respective utes; all of those utes listed are available with a bigger engine, which may, in fact, prove to be more efficient if you plan to run a laden ute a lot of the time.
For instance, the D-Max and BT-50 both have larger 3.0-litre engines available, the HiLux has a bigger 2.8L to choose, and the Ranger is available with a V6 diesel in some specs. And in some instances, those vehicles may prove to be more fuel-efficient as they each have more power and torque than their respective small-engine counterparts. More grunt means the engine won’t work as hard to get the job done. Just like Big Jim at the worksite - he makes lifting bricks look easy because he’s built like the proverbial s###house.