Just when we through the sports utility vehicle momentum was unstoppable, dual cab utes have taken centre stage with a swagger.
While SUVs are on target to outpace passenger cars for the first time, its the humble ute which is dominating the natiom's top 10 sellers.
Toyota's HiLux is on target to claim back-to-back Australian sales premierships this year, closely followed by the Ford Ranger.
Among those queuing for more love is the Nissan Navara. Not long ago it was trumpeted as the nation's most powerful tradie, but in recent times it's taken on a softer approach.
Good timing given the families flocking to dual cabs to combined work and play.
There are some good drive-away deals available at the moment, and ABN holders can get a $2500 trade-in bonus.
Equipment is about par for the course, including alloys, cruise control, rear power sliding window, rear spoiler and alloy sports bar.
and when it comes to servicing those who travel about 20,000km annually will find the servicing reasonable.
Maintenance is required every 12 months/20,000km, with the cost over six years $3688. That includes annual check, lubricants, filters, plugs and labour, with $32 every two years to cover brake fluid.
Roadside assist is also standard for three years, which matches the warranty (100,000km).
Sitting mid-way up the Navara tree, the ST has a car-like dash but is distinguished over the base model by the five-inch colour display infotainment system with smartphone streaming capabilities. Unfortunately, phone mirroring apps Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not available but built-in navigation is standard.
Given it's a ute, no surprise that operations as basic with one dial for the air con but has vents in the back (dual zone is on the top-spec variant), while there are ample spaces for keys, drink bottles and other gear through the console.
The interior is well presented, the unladen ride is reasonable but can jiggle and bounce over some surfaces...although get some weight in the back and it feels more planted. You could say the same about all dual cabs, you won't get car-like ride with a payload ability pushing one tonne.
Look at the figures and you might be underwhelmed. Replacing the old V6 us a twin-turbo 2.3-litre four-cylinder diesel.
Yet the little diesel has a big heart and it works tirelessly even under load. From first start on cool mornings it can be noisy and feel sluggish, although after a few minutes it feels robust and smooth.
When under-way it's especially responsive from low in the rev range and it possesses a nice surge when the power is required with 450Nm of twist on tap from 1500rpm.
There is a six-speed manual available, but we tested the seven-speed automatic which is becoming more popular with tradies - always good to have lunch in one hand and drive with the other.
Average fuel consumption is forecast to average seven litres for every 100km. Some around-town activities saw our figure climb to 8.5, which is still reasonable given we had about 200kg on board for most of the time.
Running alterations were made this year to the front and rear shock absorbers along with changes to the back rebound dampers delivers a more stable and confident performance when under load and while towing.
The steering can still be a handful in come environments, with a sizable turning circle of 12.8 metres meaning some three-point turns and careful parking in urban confines.
Seven airbags but no automatic emergency braking (not yet available on this or any other ute, so the five-star safety rating is based on earlier standards that did not require AEB).
A rear camera is standard while front and rear sensors are optional.
Four tie-down points inside the rear bed are great for covering loads, where you also find a handy 12-volt plug which is great for camping.
Side steps make entry and exit easier, but users need to remember this is a workhorse and the ground clearance of 226mm is not just for show.
Good looking truck which rides well and offers impressive comfort for the family.
Not the cheapest dual cab going around, but there are some impressive deals available at the moment.
Ford Ranger XL double cab $45,090 plus on-roads
Comfortable and smooth performer.
Isuzu Ute D-Max LS-M $46,400 plus on-roads
Tough as nails performer, excels under tough conditions.
Toyota HiLux SR Double $46, 490 plus on-roads
Excellent resale and the nation's most popular ute.
AT A GLANCE
NAVARA 4X4 2.3 DSL AUTO DC ST
2017 Nissan Navara
PRICE $47,490 drive-away.
SAFETY Five-star, seven airbags.
ENGINE 2.3-litre four cylinder twin turbo diesel 140kW/450Nm.
TRANSMISSION Seven-speed automatic.
THIRST 7.0 litres/100km (combined average).
TOWING 3500kg (tow ball 300kg)
SPARE Full-size steel
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