2023 Best Value 4X4 Ute: Isuzu D-Max SX

What are the most affordable dual-cab utes to own and run? We’ve crunched the numbers to help you save some serious cash

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Living costs are soaring, so it’s more important than ever to make every dollar count when buying a dual-cab ute.

Happily, Australia’s most popular segment is bursting with fresh, budget-focused contenders that promise to save you money.

Utes like the Mahindra Pik-Up, Ssangyong Musso, GWM Cannon and LDV T60 Max don’t only offer attractive drive-away deals that undercut the established players (sometimes by as much as $15K!), but they’re also decently equipped, have roomy cabins, and are powered by gutsy diesel engines.

But do they actually represent good value? Or is their low purchase price undermined by expensive ownership costs that actually make them just as costly as a Toyota HiLux or Ford Ranger?

Best Utes: Read the full series

Wheels Best Utes 2023 is your ultimate guide to the top picks in this vast and varied segment.

To measure their value, we dusted off our trusty calculator and generated a ‘three-year ownership figure’ for each of the segment’s key players.

Our goal was to look beyond purchase price and to provide a better indication of how much each ute will actually cost you once it’s sitting in your driveway. Insurance premiums, servicing costs, fuel bills and resale were all taken into account. And as you can see, the results are eyeopening…

For example, the $38,500 Mahindra Pik-Up – one of the cheapest 4X4 dual-cabs you can buy – is actually one of the most expensive to own and replace.

Why? Heavy depreciation (you’ll lose a whopping $18,749 over three years), high servicing costs, and heavy fuel use (the latter stinging you around $600 more per-year compared to rivals).

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A Nissan Navara SL takes the wooden spoon, however, as the priciest dual-cab ute to own over a three-year period – owing to poor resale and high servicing bills.

The GWM Cannon and LDV T60 are surprisingly expensive to insure, which takes some of the shine off their sharp drive-away pricing.

After three years you’ll pay $1300 more to insure an LDV T60 Max Pro compared to an Isuzu D-Max, which is basically a premium for an entire extra year.

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Breaking it down

Our full results are in the table below, and we’ve highlighted the three best-value utes.

But first, an explanation about how we calculated our ownership figures.

We focused on the cheapest 4X4 dual-cab variant for each contender, and used drive-away pricing for utes delivered in Sydney, with no options fitted.

Resale percentages, which are the single largest cost of ute ownership and calculate how much of the original purchase price remains after three years, were gathered from Redbook, while insurance premiums were quoted for a 35-year-old male living in inner Sydney with a clean driving record.

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Fuel bills were calculated based on each contender’s combined economy figure and the assumption that owners will drive 12,100km per year – the Aussie average, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Diesel was $2.00 per litre in our calculations.

These figures are a guide only, of course. While they’re based on historical data and official manufacturer figures, they will change depending on where you live, how far you drive, and other market forces, like the swings in used-car values we saw during COVID.

But if value is a high priority, here are three top picks to consider...


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🥇 Isuzu D-Max SX

If you’re looking for the 4X4 dual-cab that will cost you the least over a three-year period, the D-Max is the one.

Excellent resale, frugal fuel bills, and the lowest insurance premiums of all our contenders are the secret to the D-Max’s inherent value, with these low ownership costs helping to offset a higher-than-average purchase price.

For maximum bang for your buck, it’s the entry-level SX crew cab 1.9L that’s kindest to your hip pocket, but opting for the more powerful 3.0L turbo diesel doesn’t actually bring a huge financial penalty.

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The SX 3.0-litre will cost you only $430 more to run over three years (higher fuel bills account for most of that), which further underscores the D-Max’s inherent value.

As you can see from our table below, the 3.0L D-Max actually slots into second place for overall.

The D-Max has long carried a hard-won reputation for reliability and dependability – but as our figures show, you can now add value to that list, too.

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🥈 Ssangyong Musso ELX

Proof that outright value can also translate into low ownerships costs.

The sharply priced Ssangyong Musso isn’t only the pick of the budget-focused utes (it’s $2200 and $3200 less expensive than the LDV T60 and GWM Cannon over three years) but it’s only $600 behind our overall winner, the Isuzu D-MAX.

You could even argue that makes the Musso ELX the better-value pick thanks to its lower purchase price – and it’s not only outright value that sits in the Musso’s favour.

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The Musso offers a generous 7-year / unlimited warranty (the D-Max gets six) and it’s also decent to drive thanks to impressive cabin refinement, a gutsy 2.2L turbo diesel and surprisingly engaging steering.

As for downsides? At this price, the ELX is a six-speed manual (the auto is $2000 more), whereas the Isuzu SX comes with an automatic as standard.

The Musso’s 800kg payload is also lower than the segment average and unlike most dual-cabs, it doesn’t carry an official safety rating from ANCAP. The ELX model grade also loses some of the active safety gear on higher-spec models, like blind-spot monitoring and rear-cross traffic alert.

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🥉 Ford Ranger XL

Like the D-Max, the Ranger’s high-ish purchase price means it immediately screams value for buyers on a budget.

At $56,174 once you factor in on-road costs, the entry-level Ranger 2.0 XL sits at the upper end for buying it outright – but its value credentials are bolstered by superb resale, cheap servicing costs and respectably low fuel consumption and insurance premiums.

Even better news is that the Ranger is the segment leader for cabin quality, refinement and driving dynamics. It’s a regular comparison-test winner and it trounced its rivals in our recent dual-cab ute megatest, so it’s nice to know you’ll be buying a quality product. Value and quality? That’s an ideal combo.

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Visit our Best Utes page to find the right ute for you.


RANKVehiclePurchase priceInc on-road costsRedbook 3yr resaleDepreciation cost after 3yrsServicing intervals 3yr servicing costs Combined fuel consumptionFuel bills 1yr/3yr Insurance premium 1yr/3yrTotal 3yr ownership cost
1Isuzu D-Max SX Crew Cab 1.9L$50,200$54,81171.50%$15,621.112 months/15,000km$13796.9L$1670/$5010$1394/$4182$26,192.1
2Isuzu D-Max SX Crew Cab 3.0L$52,200$56,91173.50%$15,081.412 months/15,000km$15458.0L$1936/$5808$1396/$4188$26,622.4
3Ssangyong Musso ELX$36,790 (diveaway)57.80%$15,525.312 months/15,000km$1125 7.9L$1911/$5733$1475/$4425$26,808.3
4Ford Ranger 2.0 XL $50,380$56,174 71.80%$15,84112 months/15,000km$10728.0L$1936/$5808$1578/$4734$27,455
5LDV T60 Max Pro$41,042 (driveway)62.80%$15,267.712 months/15,000km$1504 9.3L$2250/$6750$1832/$5496$29,017.7
6VW Amarok Core$52,990$58,46969.00%$18,125.3012 months/15,000km$10728.0L$1936/$5808$1604/$4812$29,817.30
7GWM Cannon 2.0L L $42,490 (driveaway)60.50%$16,783.512 months/12,000km$9809.4L$2275/$6825$1827/$5481$30,069.5
8Hilux Workmate Doube 2.4$48,235$53,40465%$18,691.36 months/10,000km$1740 8.6L$2082/$6246$1495/$4485$31,162.3
9Mahindra Pik-Up 2.2 Dual cab S11$38,500 (driveaway) 51.30%$18,74912 months/15,000km$1797 9.3L$2250/$6750$1424/$4272$31,568
10Mazda BT-50 XS dual cab$52,930$57,22664%$20,601.312 months/15,000km$13266.9L$1670/$5010$1552/$4656$31,593.3
11Mitsubishi Triton GLX$44,690 $48,240 59%$19,633.612 months/15,000km$15478.6L $2082/$6246$1421/$4263$31,689.6
12Nissan Navara SL$48,350$52,39458.80%$21,586.312 months/20,000km$19947.3L $1766/$5298$1535/$4605$33,483.3

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Isuzu D-Max SXFord Ranger XLSSsangyong Musso ELX
Price$42,200 (before ORC)$59,653 (estimated driveaway price)$40,290 (before ORC)
Engine1.9L 4cyl turbo-diesel2.0L four-cylinder twin-turbo diesel2.2L 4cyl turbo-diesel
Max power110kW @ 3600rpm154kW @ 3750rpm133kW @ 4000rpm
Max torque350Nm @1800-2600rpm500Nm between 1750-2000rpm420Nm @ 2600rpm
Transmission6-speed automatic10-Speed automatic6-speed automatic
Body4-door, 5-seat dual-cab utefour-door ute on ladder framefour-door ute on ladder frame
Suspensiondouble wishbonIndependent via wishbones and coil springsCoil springs
Rear suspensionLeafSolid axle with leaf springsLeaf springs
TyresDunlop Grandtrek AT25 255/65 R17255x70R16235/70R17
Towing capacity3000kg3500kg3500kg
Fuel / tankDiesel / 70L80L75L
Fuel use (ADR)6.9L/100km7.6L/100km9L/100km
Fuel use (tested)8.8L/100km9.1L/100kmNA

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