Shock new threat to Toyota HiLux
LDV gives customers a chance to buy a new ute for a second-hand price.
Pitched as a budget alternative to tough-looking models like the Nissan Navara N-Trek and Holden Colorado Z71 - think blacked-out design elements and generous standard equipment - the Trailrider is on sale to ABN holders from $36,990 drive-away in manual form, or $38,990 as an auto. Private buyers can add about $2000 to that, which represents nearly $20,000 in savings compared to a high-end Holden.
Based on the LDV (Leyland Daf Vans) T60 ute, the range-topping Trailrider is a limited-edition model which is easy to spot thanks to dark details such as its 19-inch alloys, nudge bar, sports bar and side steps. Other additions include stickers, a hard roller cover for the tray and a 360-degree camera.
Standard equipment is impressive for this price point. LDV backs the T60 with a five-year, 130,000 kilometre warranty, but there is no capped price servicing scheme.
Front occupants are looked after with a large 10-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, smart keys and leather-trimmed seats with electric adjustment. Impressive on paper, those features aren't as good as they could be. The seats are firm, flat and are a long way removed from the soft leather trim you'll find in a Lexus.
The steering wheel lacks reach adjustment (which isn't common in utes) and the centre console on our test example sounded creaky and felt a little wobbly.
That huge touchscreen impresses at a glance, but can be difficult to comprehend - streaming Bluetooth audio starts with a prod of the contacts button - and the CarPlay link harks back to the days of bootleg DVDs with noticeable white noise.
The LDV T60 became the first Chinese ute to win a five-star ANCAP rating back in 2017, before driver aids such as pedestrian detection and autonomous emergency braking effectively became mandatory to score maximum points.
Hardware includes six airbags augmented by a 360-degree camera, blind spot monitoring, tyre pressure monitors, stability control and more.
We drove the LDV T60 at its original Australian launch in 2017, reporting back then the car felt like a waterbed or jumping castle on country roads, heaving to and fro with little discipline.
So the brand's Australian importer, ATECO, had the Walkinshaw Group sort out the T60 with a set of taut new shock absorbers and road-biased Continental tyres. It feels better - planted, with a closer connection to the road. We didn't have a chance to put a load in the back, so it wasn't surprising to find the rear end feeling a little oversprung without approaching the auto model's 765kg payload.
Those changes help make the T60 a more compelling choice than before. But there's still work to be done. The steering lacks feel and the T60's 2.8-litre unit is a little coarse. Its 110kW/360Nm outputs are below par for the class, and the optional six-speed auto could be more intuitive.
The Trailrider rights some of the wrongs brought by the original LDV ute. It's a reasonable machine, but you can probably do better for the dough in a tough market.
Mitsubishi Triton GLX+ from $37,990 drive-away
On balance, the Triton is our favourite ute at the moment - it's safe, well-equipped and decent to drive. But you won't match the LDV's leather and 360-degree camera at this price.
Great Wall Stampede, from $19,990 drive-away
As the first Chinese ute to make a splash on the market, Great Wall quickly earned a reputation for cut-price motoring. But the latest model can't match rivals' power, safety or tech.
2015 Toyota HiLux SR5 auto, about $40,000
Want the most popular ute in Australia? You'll be buying second-hand at this price, with a sought-after badge but no manufacturer warranty.
LDV T60 Trailrider vitals
Price: From $36,990 drive-away
Engine: 2.8-litre 4-cyl turbo diesel, 110kW/360Nm
Thirst: 9.6L/100km (auto)
Warranty/Service: 5 year, 130,000km / no capped price servicing
Safety: 5 stars, 6 airbags, blind spot monitor, 360-degree camera, stability control