The joint development effort with Ford has enabled Volkswagen to deliver a new leading contender in the super popular dual-cab ute market.
The all-new 2024 Ford Ranger will offer a side box step capable of holding up to 300 pounds.
In this case, it’s a ute with bravado, precision and brawn.
The Volkswagen Amarok was co-developed with Ford, and playing a pivotal role were the blue oval’s Australian engineers.
While all the automotive attention is seemingly on the battery electric fraternity, dual-cab utes still dominate the market Down Under.
Toyota’s HiLux continues to reign supreme as Australia’s most popular vehicle, closely followed by the Ford Ranger. That’s been the national pattern for the past six years.
WHAT WERE YOUR FIRST IMPRESSIONS?
KEL: Imposing but classy, the new Amarok looks far more stylish.
GRANT: Volkswagen needed to take a big step forward with the latest model and the partnership with Ford was perfect. The Ranger has long been regarded as the most comfortable on-road dual-cab, while the HiLux has built an unbreakable reputation with outstanding resale.
KEL: Most of the utes these days look macho and beefy. Both inside and out the Amarok has more of an SUV feel.
GRANT: Comfort has been front of mind and the trademark VW technology is at the forefront as soon as you step inside. The massive iPad like display in the centre console with smartphone mirroring apps, 12.3-inch digital driver display and leather-look finishes across the dash and doors ensures it’s no tradie runabout.
KEL: With features like wireless phone charging, electric driver seat adjustment and all the safety kit, it felt expensive.
GRANT: Depending on how many option boxes you tick, and our test car had leather trim ($3000) along with metallic paint ($990), you’d be looking at about $80,000 once on-roads are settled.
KEL: That’s probably about what I would have expected and highlights how far utes have come.
GRANT: For similar money you’d be looking at a Ranger Wildtrack, which has a lengthy wait list. Other contenders are the Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain which is $64,990 drive-away, while the Toyota HiLux GR Sport also starts from just below $80k.
WHAT DID YOU LOVE?
KEL: Comfort is always top priority for me and I found the Amarok to be the best dual-cab I’ve experienced.
GRANT: Plush seats are among the best you’ll find and brilliant for long travels. One cool inclusion is the squeeze door handle hidden in the armrests rather than the lever style.
KEL: There were heated front seats, which ticked another of my favourite boxes. The stainless steel roll bar in the back was slick and I liked how the exterior design wasn’t too blokey.
GRANT: The bed liner is standard, and it was great to see three tie-down points on each side of the tray. That’s brilliant for carrying loads. A 12-volt outlet is also featured.
WHAT DID YOU LOATHE?
KEL: Using the gear shifter was finicky. The manual buttons on the side seemed to be in the wrong position and the wireless charging tray wasn’t big enough if you had your phone plugged in … it jutted out and got in the way of the shifter.
GRANT: I suppose that’s why it’s a wireless space, but agreed. I like to plug in because it’s faster charging. New Volkswagens have adopted the system where the aircon controls are accessed via the main screen. You have to click once to access the temperature or fan speeds. It’s a frustrating extra step which we saw first on the Golf.
KEL: Undertaking the weekly grocery shopping is always a chore in a ute. This one didn’t have a canopy either so you have to fill up the back seat and footwells.
GRANT: It’s the perennial issue for ute drivers. Tubs in the tray and a roller cover are musts for families to avoid sprawling groceries.
HOW WAS THE DRIVE?
KEL: Powerful off the mark, it was surprisingly lithe around town. During my first drive it rained and the back end felt like it was going to step out, so I switched to 4H via the console dial which fixed the issue.
GRANT: Most utes are similar when the rear is unladen. Four-wheel drive in that situation is the best option. The ride in our Style derivative was bouncy on occasions, it had the standard suspension as opposed to the “dynamic” found on Pan America and Adventura models.
KEL: For a ute I found the steering easy. Parking was improved courtesy of the 360-degree camera view.
GRANT: The V6 performance is effortless. Off-roading prowess is also up there with the best, but it’s particularly good as a highway cruiser with a 10-speed auto transmission. Our average fuel consumption was just below 10L/100km, which was slightly higher than the official figure from VW.
KEL: I could see the caravan crowd loving the Amarok.
GRANT: For sure, with 3500kg towing capacity and a gross combination mass of 6400kg, it’s certainly a great option for the grey nomad clan.
WOULD YOU BUY ONE?
KEL: Having a dual-cab has been on our wishlist for some time due to the convenience with surfboards, bikes and dump runs. It’s become my favourite ute due to the comfort levels.
GRANT: Various aspects of the design make it a better pick than the Ford, although beauty is always in the eye of the beholder. Creamy turbo diesel V6 performance and an SUV-like interior finish make it tough to beat for those willing to spend $80k.