Review: 2019 LDV T60 ute

By: Fraser Stronach

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The LDV T60 offers five-star safety and lots of luxury for not much money, but is it the Chinese ute to finally have buyers reaching for their wallets? Fraser Stronach checks it out

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The 2019 LDV T60 ute

The ‘L’ and the ‘D’ in LDV nominally stand for Leyland and DAF respectively, although the LDV T60 ute you see here has little to do with either, which in the case of the former British manufacturer Leyland could be a good thing!

Currently the LDV T60 comes as a dual-cab 4x4 pick-up, as a standard model in two specification grades, ‘Pro’ or ‘Luxe’, or as the special ‘TrailRider’ model you see here, all with the choice of six-speed manual or automatic gearboxes.

The TrailRider has the distinction of being tweaked by Walkinshaw Performance, a company better known for running V8 Supercar race teams and Holden Special Vehicles (HSV). In the case of the TrailRider, Walkinshaw hasn’t however tweaked the engine but rather the chassis with new dampers calibrated for local conditions and a new 19-inch sports wheel and tyre package. The TrailRider also gets bespoke sidesteps, sportsbar, nudgebar roller tonneau cover and graphics.

The suspension recalibration comes off the back of the criticism of the suspension and handling of the initial T60 models that arrived here in late 2017 with factory-tuned suspension. For future production, the new dampers as fitted to the TrailRider, will also be fitted to the Pro and Luxe models although these cheaper models with retain the standard 17-inch wheel and tyre package.

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The cabin is busy with chrome highlights but well finished

CLIMB ABOARD

The TrailRider is based on the Luxe model, which means keyless entry and start, folding and heated side mirrors, climate control in place of standard air-con and leather seats with six-way electric adjustment. As with the entry-level Pro it also has front, side and full-length curtain airbags, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, LED daytime running lamps, tyre-pressure warning, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure waning, and a 10-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Significantly the T60 the first Chinese ute to come with a five-star ANCAP safety rating.

The TrailRider has a notably spacious cabin, bigger than the likes of Navara, Triton and even Hilux. In fact among its mainstream dual-cab competitors only the Ranger and BT-50 have a longer wheelbase and only the Amarok has a wider track, so the T60 is very much one of the bigger dual-cabs on the market.

There’s no reach adjustment for the steering wheel but the TrailRider’s driving position, which is much like that of a Colorado or D-Max, is comfortable enough while the generous height adjustment for the driver’s seat ensures good vision even for shorter drivers. The general cabin presentation is busy with lots of chrome highlights but is reasonably well finished.

The big cabin means plenty of space in the back with good legroom, even when the front seats are pushed back to accommodate a tall driver or front seat passenger. Air conditioning vents, a pull-down centre armrest with cupholders and a 12-volt power outlet are also provided for those in the rear.

No doubt that it’s an impressive ute for the money

ON THE ROAD

The T60’s 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel is built under licence from Italian diesel specialist VM Motori and comes from the same engine family as the 2.8-litre diesel in the Holden Colorado.

While it meets the latest (Euro 5) emission regulations (as required to be legally sold here) thanks to its diesel particulate filter amongst other things, and comes with a modern variable-geometry turbo and common-rail injection technology, it’s far from the cutting edge in terms of power and torque, claiming a modest 110kW and 360Nm. By comparison, the Colorado’s 2.8 claims 147kW and (up to) 500Nm.

On the road the T60 still gets along comfortably although doesn’t have much in reserve at highway speeds for overtaking or long steep hills. For its part, the six-speed automatic gearbox, which is a General Motors design similar to the six-speed automatic in the Colorado but built by the now Chinese-owned Punch Powertrain in Europe, works well to get the most out of the engine and provides smooth, well-timed and pro-active shifts. LDV and GM have been in a joint-venture partnership for some 20 years now, which probably explains some of the GM connections with the T60’s powertrain.

While the TrailRider’s engine performance isn’t much to get excited about the revision on the suspension has made for a far more composed and better handling ute. Sharper steering too thanks to the new 19-inch wheel package. The difference between the TrailRider’s general road manners and that of the original T60s imported here is quite remarkable.

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The LDV T60 is powered by a 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine

LOAD CARRYING AND TOWING

The TrailRider, like all T60s, is rated to tow 3,000kg but it’s hard to see now the engine would handle that with ease. Something like 2,500kg, or even less, would be closer to the mark although our test vehicle wasn’t fitted with towbar, so this is something we couldn’t test. Perhaps next time…

The 850kg payload is also at the lower end of typical dual-cab payloads and effectively means that 700kg in the tub would be about as much you can carry even if you just have two people on board. We put 500kg in the tub and while the engine felt the extra weight a little but the chassis wasn’t too worried.

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Steering is sharper thanks to the 19-inch wheel package

IN THE PADDOCK

The TrailRider has lots of things going for it for paddock use bar its special 19-inch wheels and sports-orientated 255/55R19 road tyres, which hardly marry up to the TrailRider name. The cheaper Pro and Luxe models come with far more paddock friendly 245/65R17s, which open up the tyre choice to all-terrain or even mud tyres.

Otherwise the T60 offers decent ground clearance, a solid bash plate and reasonable front and rear wheel travel, which helps to keep the wheels on the ground on rough and uneven ground.

Luxe and TrailRider models also get an Eaton self-locking rear differential in addition to the electronic traction control fitted to all models. For paddock work the automatic is also definitely better.

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General Motors designed six-speed automatic gearbox

OWNERSHIP

All LDV models (vans and people movers as well as the T60 ute) are imported into Australia by Ateco Automotive, a long-standing private vehicle importer. Ateco previously imported Great Wall utes and SUVs before Great Wall set up their own local distributor. The T60 comes with a five-year, 130,00km warranty and is sold and serviced through 40 dealers (soon to be to 50) nationally.

THE BOTTOM LINE

There’s no doubt that the T60 is an impressive ute for the money. Even the TrailRider automatic, the most expensive and best-equipped model in the range, is only just over $40K drive-away and around $2K less for ABN holders. For around $30K you get into a entry-level Pro, which is still very well equipped and probably even better value than the TrailRider models, especially once it and the Luxe model get the locally developed suspension.

LDV T60 PRICES*

Pro dual-cab pick-up manual: $30,516

Pro dual-cab pick-up automatic: $32,621

Luxe dual-cab pick-up manual: $34,726

Luxe dual-cab pick-up automatic: $36,831

TrailRider dual-cab pick-up manual: $38,937

TrailRider dual-cab pick-up automatic: $41,042

*Prices are recommended driveway. ABN Holders are eligible for discounts up to $2052.

LDV T60 SPECS

LDV T60 TrailRider

Engine: 2.8-litre 4cyl turbo diesel

Max power: 110kW @ 3,400rpm

Max torque: 360Nm @ 1,600-2,800rpm

Gearbox: six-speed automatic

Drive: dual-range part-time 4WD

Front suspension: independent/coil springs

Rear suspension: live axle/leaf springs

Brakes: discs front and rear

Wheel type: alloy

Tyre specification: 255/55R19 111V

Kerb weight: 2,100kg (approx)

GVM: 2,950kg

Payload: 850kg (approx)

Towing capacity: 3,000kg (braked)

Overall length: 5,365mm

Width: 2,145mm

Height: 1,887mm

Wheelbase: 3,155mm

Ground Clearance: 215mm

Fuel tank capacity: 75 litres

ADR fuel claim: 8.8 litres/100km

Test fuel use: 9.8 litres/100km

Range: 715km*

*Based on test fuel use, claimed fuel capacity and a 50km ‘safety’ margin.

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