Hooniverse Asks: Would you buy a Ute?

The vehicle above is a Ute. It was born in Australia. Our Aussie friends love them, but they never caught on as strongly here in the States. Yes, we have the El Camino and the Ranchero, but those are both long gone. Australian Ute production only ended two years ago. Holden closed up shop and Ford is shoving trucks and Mustangs down dealers throats. It’s a shame, because the Ute seems like a pretty sweet machine.

If they offered a Ute in the States, would you consider one?

The one above is a 2014 Holden VF SSV Redline. It’s based on the Commodore sedan. Under the hood sits a large V8 engine, and you can pair with with a six-speed manual gearbox. This version also gets Brembo brakes at all four corners. With nothing in the bed, you can see why burnouts and brake stands are the order of the day down under.

But all of that entertainment and utility potential wasn’t enough to save the Ute. Well, the car-based Ute. Pickup trucks are also called Utes there. But I only care about the type of modern Ute that we could never buy here. Maybe a trip to Left Hand Utes is in order someday soon?

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42 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: Would you buy a Ute?”

  1. GTXcellent Avatar

    Not a chance.

    They compromise everything – including looks. Can’t tow what a full-size pickup can, can’t seat 4 (legally). And most important to me – I don’t like how they look.

    (I do want to add, however, that I really, really wish a new El Camino/Ranchero/Rampage/Scamp would hit the scene. Just for something different in the sea of silver/gray/charcoal crossovers)

    1. Maymar Avatar


      Well, there was the Holden Crewman, although I don’t know how well it caught on (plus, compared to the single cab, they look weird).

    2. E34less Avatar

      You can tow a car on an open trailer with most utes (I know aussie rules are slightly different, but 5-7K lbs isn’t too big of an ask), which is more than enough for most people. I think a ute would be a good alternative to a Ranger or Tacoma, but more faster. Nothing can really take the place of a full size for people that do real truck stuff all the time though.

      1. outback_ute Avatar

        5k is the max. Also the rear seats of the Crewman mentioned by Maymar would be classed as cruel and unusual punishment after 5 minutes, the backrest is way too upright.

        I’m voting yes, given that I own one. Not sure what other vehicle is capable of doing track days, autocross & drag racing, hauling >2k of rock, a refrigerator upright or a complete lounge suite, towing cars, offroading in the mountains and desert including being a camper, etc.

        Modern pickups might be able to match the 25mpg economy, but not sub 200″ length, 37′ turning circle (wall to wall), or true passenger car driving feel.

  2. Zentropy Avatar

    No, but only for the same reason I don’t buy any 2-seater. I’m reluctant to even buy a 2+2 coupe. As cars go, I prefer sedans or wagons– they’re just far more versatile. And if I wanted a bed, I’d buy a truck.

      1. E34less Avatar

        My local indie Volvo shop has one of these painted like a group A race car.

      2. Sjalabais Avatar

        That one almost made BaT car of the year. Looks almost like a Swedish EPA tractor

  3. neight428 Avatar

    I could talk myself into it for sure if I had another vehicle in the fleet for family duty. Even a full sized crew cab truck is compromised as a people hauler, and Mrs. Neight hates large vehicles of any sort, so my daily is the weekend/road trip machine. Get that constraint out of the way and room for only two and a place to haul nasty stuff is net to the good, presuming it otherwise specs out like a muscle car.

  4. 0A5599 Avatar

    I saw a Chevy Tornado at the gas station not long ago.

    Probably not bad as a commuter vehicle, for someone who makes occasional errands on the way home involving messy stuff, but not wanting parking hassles or fuel economy of a larger truck.


    1. Fuhrman16 Avatar

      That’s actually kinda neat. Bit like a modern day Mopar Rampage/Scamp or VW Caddy.

    2. Sjalabais Avatar

      When you throw your shrink-o-cannon way too hard in your Silverado’s bed.

    3. Tiller188 Avatar

      Huh. Cute ute.

    4. Eduardo Rodrigues Avatar

      Don’t underestimate that little ute, it’s payload is higher than any new Ram 1500 payload

      1. 0A5599 Avatar

        Looks like the Chevy has a 1620 lb payload https://www.automobilemag.com/news/dorkiest-worst-car-trucks-utes-all-time/ and a 1500 Ram can handle 2100 lbs in 3.6-Liter V6 24V VVT eTorque Upgrade I QUAD140.5″AUTO4X2Premium configuration, with most other combinations of Ram still more capable than 1620. https://www.ramtrucks.com/towing-guide.html?sid=1037056&KWNM=ram+1500+payload&KWID=43700041663799960&TR=1

        That’s probably not an apples-to-apples comparison, though, since there is no US-spec Tornado, and US weight ratings tend to be a bit on the “don’t try this at home” end of the spectrum, compared to the standards of other countries that aren’t so filled with personal injury attorneys.

      2. 0A5599 Avatar

        OK, here are advertised numbers from the Mexican websites of the respective manufacturers.

        Ram 1500: 999 kg https://www.ram.com.mx/modelos/ram-st-2019/capacidades-y-dimensiones
        Chevy Tornado: 734 kg https://www.chevrolet.com.mx/pickups/tornado-camioneta-de-carga

        The Ram spec is for a regular cab, a configuration not sold in the US, but realistically, anybody needing to haul that much weight is going to step up to a 2500 anyway.

        1. Eduardo Rodrigues Avatar

          I compared with the us-spec new generation Ram, forgot the old one still on sale and have a high payload suspension on the base model

    5. kogashiwa Avatar

      What’s with the side vents? Is this on the Corvair platform?

      1. caltemus Avatar

        That’s a step for bed access I believe

  5. P161911 Avatar

    I briefly owned a 1979 Ranchero about 10 years ago. NO! Not a good car and a bad truck. The Ranchero had the footprint of a truck, but the bed couldn’t haul my lawnmower.

    1. outback_ute Avatar

      Not sure you could choose a worse example of a ute?

      1. P161911 Avatar

        I traded a 1988 BMW 750iL for it.

  6. Batshitbox Avatar

    No, it’s too much like a sedan for me. (Or a coupe, or saloon, or whatever you call those things on the highway are that aren’t iron blocked 8 cylinder body on frame haulers like I drive.)

    With only 2 doors, I don’t think US buyers will want it either. They seem to like 4-doors even when it’s wrong.

  7. crank_case Avatar

    RWD and no weight in the back makes em good for skids so maybe, but I’d lean towards the Saloon they’re based on.

    A sandman type thing would be way more useful..


    1. Rover 1 Avatar
      Rover 1

      Holden did an updated Sandman on the previous platform VU model ute. The fibreglass kit is available. With the last generation, the weight distribution when empty is 50/50, which is why they are so quick around the Nurburgring.


      1. Rover 1 Avatar
        Rover 1

        The video of a Holden ute at Nurburgring.

  8. E34less Avatar

    I’d have an XR6 Falcon ute in a heartbeat

  9. Jeff Glucker Avatar
    Jeff Glucker

    I want one as a MTB hauler

  10. nanoop Avatar

    As a kid, I had a die-cast VW Caddy (Golf 1/Rabbit base). I made a deployable camping rig for it from cardboard, with sleeping nook above the road “cab”. When you are only four feet tall, which I was, the base car was probably wide enough…

    I’d take one (or a BRAT) as a project car, but I would not buy a modern equivalent in my current or foreseeable life phases. Ask me again when I have become a frivolous retiree though.


  11. Manic_King Avatar

    I would. I was thinking these would be everywhere in Sydney but no, during 1 week I was there I saw only 10 probably. But damn they’re badass:


    1. Zentropy Avatar

      I dunno… that looks like a squashed minivan.

  12. Manxman Avatar

    Yes, if it were possible I would buy back my youth in a New York minute…oh…never mind.

  13. Smaglik Avatar

    I like them, but they serve no purpose for me. My haul vehicle needs at least a little clearance.

      1. Smaglik Avatar

        So, a pickup truck with a low seating position….

        1. outback_ute Avatar

          But drives like a car, not a truck

        2. outback_ute Avatar

          But drives like a car, not a truck

          1. Smaglik Avatar

            I see your point, but I’m not in total agreement. If you raise the vehicle, the handling characteristics change, ala the SUV vs touring debate, regardless of appearance. Certainly the characteristics of the original design matter, but if you raise a car 8“, it’s car like handling will be shifted towards the truck end of the spectrum.

          2. outback_ute Avatar

            I understand what you are saying too, but they are only raised about 3″ compared to stock. I’m more familiar with the Falcon, and they widen the track to compensate. My ute is similar, and with the heavy spring rate it sits pretty flat when cornering, definitely more so than the standard sedan. When running it on the race track or autocross I did swap to larger diameter wheels & 50-profile tyres instead of the standard 75! As you can see I was generating enough g-force to un-hook one of the tonneau loops lol…


  14. kogashiwa Avatar

    If they were available here, all common sense would go out the window and there’s no chance I’d get anything else.

    It’s to the point I really want to import a Holden Ute in four or five years. It’ll be about time then for a bit of a vehicular treat and I want either a ridiculous tuner that would be totally inappropriate for a gentleman of a certain age such as myself (i.e. the current Civic Type R, or an EVO X), or a ute.

  15. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

    I’d consider a ute as long it can tow 5-6000 lbs and can haul my 7′ long motorcycle with the tailgate down.