Utes are among the most popular vehicles in New Zealand. It has long been the vehicle of choice for farmers and tradies due to its reliability, and has since crossed over to the family car segment. Indeed, utes make regular appearances in annual lists of best-selling vehicles in the country. Versatile and capable, utes are the perfect balance between style and performance.

This popularity is what makes choosing your first ute a little difficult. Whether you're buying for personal or business use, you should consider a few factors to find the perfect match for your driving preferences and requirements. What are these factors? Read on below.

Payload and Towing Capacity

Why do you need a ute? Are you going to use it in a farm as a daily workhorse? Are you often hauling heavy cargo for your business? Then you definitely have to get a ute with a high payload capacity. You should also consider the towing capacity, which is the amount of weight that your vehicle can pull, for work-focused utes. If you're going to use the vehicle for daily driving and family trips, the payload and towing capacity won't matter as much. However, it's still best to get something a little more capable just in case you need to haul heavy items.

Accessibility of Parts and Accessories

Accessibility of parts is particularly important, since you don't want to scramble for replacements if something goes wrong. Thankfully, as mentioned earlier, utes are popular vehicles in New Zealand so it's rather easy to find high-quality replacement auto parts. This is true for a variety of brands.

Another factor that you should consider is the availability of accessories. Utes are often customised with roof racks, side steps (especially lifted ones), hard covers, and tray liners. If you're getting a used vehicle, some of these accessories may already come with your purchase. However, you might also end up deciding to replace the existing ones. Check if the ute you want has compatible after-market accessories.

Seating Options

There are three types of utes when it comes to seating capacity: single-, super-, and double-cab. The single-cab ute is a two-seater, which allows you to carry or pull more cargo. The double-cab is a two-door ute that can seat a maximum of four people, while the double-cab has five seats. If you're going to use the ute as a family vehicle, then it's better to get a double-cab model; otherwise, single- or super-cab options are the way to go.


If you're mostly going to drive your ute in the city, then a two-wheel drive drivetrain is more than enough. For those who need a ute for heavy-duty work or perhaps weekend off-roading adventures, then you'll be better served by a four-wheel drive.


Obviously, purchasing a vehicle will cost you a lot of money. You have to figure out early on how much you're able and willing to spend. If you're working with a tight budget, buying used and older models is a good option. You just need to be a little more discerning, since some utes get put through a lot of driving and hauling abuse. If you must, bring an inspection checklist or have a friend who is knowledgeable about cars to come with you to inspect the ute you want to buy.

If you need a fleet of vehicles, get in touch with dealerships and ask if they can offer discounts. If budget is not an issue, then feel free to splurge. There are plenty of extras you can avail, including state-of-the-art safety features. You should also factor in insurance costs in your budget.

The Type of Ute You Want

You'll find three basic types of utes plying the streets of New Zealand. The most common is the wellside ute, with non-removable sides on the tray and rear tailgate that you can open for access. This is what many Westerners might call a pickup. The next type is called a flat deck, which features a long tray for carrying large items. It's a popular working vehicle, especially because some models allow you to remove or open the sides. This allows you to carry even bigger items.

Lastly, there's what is called the cab and chassis ute. It's sold as a front cab (usually a single) with a naked rear chassis. Even the tray is not included. This is the best option for those who prefer a customised vehicle. You can fit the naked rear chassis with almost any kind of "extension," such as a camper or perhaps a customised flat deck.


It's good sense to do your research and consider every angle when buying something, especially big-ticket items like a vehicle. This is especially true if it's your first time buying a ute. It's a big decision so you really have to be sure you're getting the best value for money. Keep these tips in mind and good luck on your hunt for the perfect ute for your needs!

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