Ute (vehicle)

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2016 Toyota HiLux Invincible D-4D 4WD 2.4 Front.jpg
2016 Toyota Hilux Ute
2014 Holden Ute (VF MY14) SV6 utility (2018-10-01) 01.jpg
2014 Holden VF Commodore Ute

A ute ( /juːt/ YOOT), originally an abbreviation for "utility" or "coupé utility", is a term used in Australia and New Zealand to describe vehicles with a tonneau behind the passenger compartment, that can be driven with a regular driver's license.


Traditionally, the term referred to vehicles built on passenger car chassis and with the cargo tray integrated with the passenger body. However, present-day usage of the term "ute" in Australia and New Zealand has expanded to include any vehicle with an open cargo area at the rear, [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] which would be called a pickup truck in other countries.


Historically, the term "ute" (short for 'utility vehicle') has been used to describe a 2-door vehicle based on a passenger car chassis, such as the Holden Commodore, Australian Ford Falcon, Chevrolet El Camino and Subaru BRAT. Australian-produced utes were traditionally rear-wheel drive and with the cargo tray integrated with the passenger body (as opposed to a pickup truck, where the cargo tray is separated from the passenger body).

In the 21st century, the term has become more broadly used, for any vehicle with a cargo tray at the rear (which would be called a pickup truck in other countries). [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11]


1934 Ford Coupe Utility.jpg
The first Australian ute: a 1934 Ford Australia Coupe Utility
1927 Chevrolet National roadster utility (7138113503).jpg
Roadster Utility: a 1927 Chevrolet National

The concept of a two-door vehicle based on a passenger car chassis with a tray at the rear began in the United States in the 1920s with the roadster utility (also called "roadster pickup" or "light delivery") models. [12] These vehicles were soft-top convertibles, compared with the fixed steel roof used by most utes.

Ford Australia was the first company to produce an Australian Coupe ute, which was released in 1934. [13] This was the result of a 1932 letter from the unnamed wife of a farmer in Australia asking for "a vehicle to go to church in on a Sunday and which can carry our pigs to market on Mondays". [13] In response, Ford designer Lew Bandt designed a two-door body with a tray at the rear for the American Ford Model A chassis, and the model was named "coupe utility". [13] When the Australian version was displayed in the US, Henry Ford nicknamed it the "Kangaroo Chaser". A convertible version, known as the roadster utility was produced in limited numbers by Ford in the 1930s. [14] [15]

In 1951, Holden released a "utility" model, which was based on the 48–215 sedan. With both Ford and Holden now producing utes, this started the long-standing tradition of Australian-designed 2 door vehicles with a tray at the back, based on a passenger-car sedan chassis. [16]

Cultural impact

2010 HSV Maloo R8 2010 HSV Maloo (E Series 2 MY10) R8 utility 01.jpg
2010 HSV Maloo R8

Australia has developed a culture around utes, particularly in rural areas with events known as ute musters. It is common, particularly in rural areas, to customise utes in the "B&S style" with bullbars, spotlights, oversized mudflaps, exhaust pipe flaps and UHF aerials. [17] Since 1998, the "Deni Ute Muster" has been held in the town of Deniliquin, which has become a major attraction for the area. [18] [19]

High performance utes were also sold in Australia, including the FPV F6 and the HSV Maloo. [20] The 2017 HSV GTSR Maloo is powered by a 6.2 L (378 cu in) supercharged V8 engine producing 425 kW (570 hp). [21] [22]

The Australian V8 Utes is a racing series based on lightly modified production Holden and Ford utes.

Australian models


1936 Ford Model 48 Roadster Utility.jpg
1936 Ford Model 48 coupé utility, with a roadster top
2018 Ford Ranger (PX) XLT 4WD 4-door utility (2018-10-22) 01.jpg
2018 Ford Ranger dual cab ute

The ute variant of the Ford Falcon was produced from 1961-2016. [12] For the first 38 years of production, the design used a coupe ute style, but with the introduction of the 1999 AU Falcon, the Falcon ute switched to a cargo bed that is separate from the cabin, while still retaining the Falcon sedan front-end and cabin. [23] The cargo bed was separated so that both "utility" and "cab chassis" body styles could be produced together.

Utes produced by Ford in Australia:

Other vehicles produced by Ford:

In addition, the Ford Ranger (T6) was designed by Ford Australia, but built elsewhere. It was the second best selling new car in Australia in 2019 [25] and 2020. [26]


Holden FJ Utility (2).jpg
1953-1957 FJ Holden Ute
HQ Holden Belmont.jpg
1971-1974 HQ Holden Ute

From 1951–1968, the "utility" was sold as part of the 48–215 to HR model ranges. [27] From 1968–1984 the "utility" was included in the Holden Belmont/Kingswood range. In 1984, Holden discontinued the ute variant and it was not part of the VB to VL Commodore ranges. The model returned in 1990 based on the VN Commodore chassis and remained part of the model range until Australian production ended in 2017. In 2000, the Holden Commodore was the first Australian ute to feature independent rear suspension, [28] the Ford Falcon ute retained a live axle rear suspension design until production ended in 2016. [29]

In 2008, the VE Commodore Ute was proposed to be exported to North America as the Pontiac G8 ST. At least one prototype was built, but GM decided not to proceed with production due to the Global Financial Crisis. [30] [31]

Utes produced by Holden or its parent company General Motors in Australia:

Holden also sells rebadged utes produced elsewhere. They include:


1970-1971 Chrysler Valiant VG Ute Chrysler Valiant VG Ute (15984365366).jpg
1970-1971 Chrysler Valiant VG Ute


British Leyland




Asian models


Isuzu sells the Isuzu D-Max in Australia. Previously, this vehicle was sold rebadged as the Holden Rodeo.


Mazda has sold the Mazda BT-50 in Australia since 2006.


2017 Mitsubishi Triton cab chassis 2012 Mitsubishi Triton (MN MY12) GL cab chassis (2015-07-03).jpg
2017 Mitsubishi Triton cab chassis

Mitsubishi has sold the Mitsubishi Triton in Australia since 1978. In 2019, it was the fifth best selling new car in Australia. [25]


Between 1971-2008 Nissan sold the Nissan Sunny Truck as a ute in Australia. Since 1985, Nissan has sold the Nissan Navara pickup style ute in Australia.


Between 2002-2010, the Proton Jumbuck was sold in Australia as a ute.


1989 Subaru Brumby 1989 Subaru Brumby utility (2010-05-19) 02.jpg
1989 Subaru Brumby

Subaru produced the Subaru Brumby, a small AWD model derived from the second generation Leone. It was sold between 1978–1993 and known as the BRAT, Shifter, MV, and Targa in countries other than Australia. It is relatively well known due to its long production life and use in popular culture. It was built in Japan, but never sold there.


From 1983 to 1988, Suzuki built a ute version of their Alto kei car called the Mighty Boy. It was sold in Japan, Australia, and Cyprus.


Toyopet Crown Pickup 40 001.JPG
1962-1967 Toyota Crown utility
1962 Toyopet CoronaLine 01.jpg
1962 Toyota Corona pickup
1990-1997 Toyota Hilux (LN106R) DX 4-door utility (2007-09-28).jpg
1996 Toyota Hilux

Between 1960 and 1970, Toyota sold a ute variant of the second- and third-generation Corona with an integral bed. It was sold alongside its eventual replacement, the Toyota Hilux, for a couple of years before it was discontinued. Toyota also sold a locally produced CKD ute based on the second- and third-generation Crown (also known as S40 and S50), assembled by Australian Motor Industries.

Toyota currently sells a ute variant of the Toyota Land Cruiser (J70). In 2011, the Toyota Hilux was Australia's highest selling ute. [34]

European models


Between 2017 and 2020, the Mercedes-Benz X-Class was sold in Australia. It used the chassis of the Nissan Navara.


Volkswagen has sold the Volkswagen Amarok, a pickup style ute since 2010.

See also

Related Research Articles

Pickup truck Light-duty truck with an enclosed cab and an open cargo area

A pickup truck or pickup is a light-duty truck that has an enclosed cabin and an open cargo area with low sides and tailgate. In Australia and New Zealand, both pickups and coupé utilities are called utes, short for utility vehicle. In South Africa, people of all language groups use the term bakkie, a diminutive of bak, Afrikaans for "bowl" or "container".

Holden Commodore Car model

The Holden Commodore is a large family car that was sold by Holden from 1978 to 2020. It was manufactured from 1978 to 2017 in Australia and from 1979 to 1990 in New Zealand, with production of the locally manufactured versions in Australia ending on 20 October 2017. Sales of the Commodore ended in 2020, coinciding with the discontinuation of the Holden brand and nameplate entirely.

Ford Ranchero Coupe utility (motor vehicle)

The Ford Ranchero is a coupe utility that was produced by Ford between 1957 and 1979. Unlike a standard pickup truck, the Ranchero was adapted from a two-door station wagon platform that integrated the cab and cargo bed into the body. A total of 508,355 units were produced during the model's production run. Over its lifespan it was variously derived from full-sized, compact, and intermediate automobiles sold by Ford for the North American market.

Holden Special Vehicles Division of Holden

Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) was the officially designated performance vehicle division of Holden. Established in 1987 and based in Clayton, Victoria, the company modified Holden models such as the standard wheelbase Commodore, long wheelbase Caprice and Statesman, and commercial Ute for domestic and export sale. HSV also modified other non-Holden cars within the General Motors lineup in low volumes.

There are many types of car body styles. They vary depending on intended use, market position, location and the era they were made in.

Chevrolet El Camino Motor vehicle

The Chevrolet El Camino is a coupé utility vehicle that was produced by Chevrolet between 1959–60 and 1964–1987. Unlike a standard pickup truck, the El Camino was adapted from the standard two-door Chevrolet station wagon platform and integrated the cab and cargo bed into the body.

Ford Australia

The Ford Motor Company of Australia Limited, known by its trading name Ford Australia, is the Australian subsidiary of United States-based automaker Ford Motor Company. It was founded in Geelong, Victoria, in 1925 as an outpost of Ford Motor Company of Canada, Limited. At that time, Ford Canada was a separate company from Ford USA. Henry Ford had granted the manufacturing rights of Ford motor vehicles in the British Empire, to Canadian investors.

The Button car plan, also known as the Button plan, was the informal name given to the Motor Industry Development Plan, an Australian federal (Labor) government initiative intended to rationalise the Australian motor vehicle industry and transition it to lower levels of protection. It took its name from Senator John Button, the then federal Minister for Commerce, Trade and Industry.

Panel van Cargo vehicle based on passenger car chassis

A panel van, also known as a blind van, car-derived van or sedan delivery, is a small cargo vehicle utilizing a passenger car chassis, typically with a single front bench seat and no side windows behind the B-pillar. Panel vans are smaller than panel trucks or cargo vans, both of which utilize body-on-frame truck chassis.

Holden Ute Australian car model

The Holden Ute is a coupe utility built by Holden, the Australian subsidiary of General Motors, since 2000. Before then, Holden had marketed their Commodore-based utility models under the Holden Utility (VG) and Holden Commodore utility names, although the term “Holden Ute” was also used in their official marketing literature. The Holden Ute name is often used for earlier Holden Utility models as the word "ute" is a colloquial term used commonly in Australia for a utility vehicle or pickup truck. Holden's performance division, an independent company called HSV assembles a high-performance version called the Maloo. Between 2003 and 2007, Holden built a stretched, crew cab version of the Ute with four doors and seating for five, called the Holden Crewman and between 2003 and 2005 a cab-chassis version known as the Holden One Tonner.

Holden Commodore (VY) Motor vehicle

The Holden Commodore (VY) is an executive car that was produced by the Australian manufacturer Holden from 2002 to 2004. It was the third iteration of the third generation of this Australian made model. Its range included the luxury variants, Holden Berlina (VY) and Holden Calais (VY); commercial versions were called the Holden One Tonner (VY), Holden Ute (VY), and Holden Crewman (VY). In 2003, the range also saw the introduction of the first Commodore-based all-wheel drive variants, including the Holden Adventra (VY) wagon.

Holden Commodore (VP) Motor vehicle

The Holden Commodore (VP) is a full-size car that was produced by the Australian manufacturer Holden from 1991 to 1993. It was the second iteration of the second generation of this Australian made model. Its range included the luxury variants, Holden Berlina (VP) and Holden Calais (VP).

Ford Falcon (AU) Motor vehicle

The Ford Falcon (AU) is a full-size car that was produced by Ford Australia from 1998 to 2002. It was the sixth generation Ford Falcon and also included the Ford Fairmont (AU)—the luxury-oriented model range. The AU series replaced the EL Falcon constructed on the new at the time EA169 platform, and was replaced by the updated BA series.

Holden Commodore (VR) Motor vehicle

The Holden Commodore (VR) is an executive car which was produced by the Australian manufacturer Holden from 1993 to 1995. It was the third iteration of the second generation of the Australian built Holden Commodore. The VR range included the luxury variants, Holden Commodore Berlina (VR) and Holden Calais (VR) and a commercial model, the Holden Ute (VR).

Holden Commodore (VS) Motor vehicle

The Holden Commodore (VS) is an executive car which was produced by the Australian manufacturer Holden from 1995 to 1997 and 2000 for utility versions. It was the fourth and final iteration of the second generation of this Australian made model. The range included the luxury variants, Holden Berlina (VS) and Holden Calais (VS).

Holden Commodore (VX) Motor vehicle

The Holden Commodore (VX) is an executive car that was produced by the Australian manufacturer Holden from 2000 to 2002. It was the second iteration of the third generation of this Australian made model. Its range included the luxury variants, Holden Berlina (VX) and Holden Calais (VX), and it formed the basis for a new generation Holden Ute (VU) coupé utility and Holden Monaro (V2) coupé.

Holden HZ Motor vehicle

Holden HZ is a full-sized automobile which was produced in Australia between October 1977 and April 1980 by Holden in a variety of equipment levels and in several different body styles. It was also assembled in New Zealand.

Roadster utility

A roadster utility — also known as a "roadster pickup" or "light delivery" — is an automobile with an open-topped roadster body and a rear cargo bed. The concept is similar to that of the coupe utility, however with a convertible roof instead of a fixed steel roof.

Coupé utility Automotive body style

A coupé utility is a vehicle with a passenger compartment at the front and an integrated cargo tray at the rear, with the front of the cargo bed doubling as the rear of the passenger compartment.

Holden Utility (VG) Motor vehicle

The Holden Utility (VG) is a full-size utility that was produced by the Australian manufacturer Holden from 1990 to 1991. It was based upon the Holden Commodore VN) released in 1988, and was the first utility in Holden's Commodore range. It was not badged as part of the Commodore range.


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