15 Best Cars for Tradies: Tools, Toughness and Reliability

By Alexi Falson on 15 Jan 2024
image for 15 Best Cars for Tradies: Tools, Toughness and Reliability Australians love a work-ready vehicle, with their tough nature and almost unparalleled versatility making them a great all-rounder vehicle for work and family duties alike.

Take a look at Australia’s sale charts and you’ll see light commercial vehicles dominating outright sales, speaking to the love affair that tradies have with primarily utes, but also super practical cargo vans.

With that in mind, let’s take a quick look what what tradies should be looking for in their next vehicle to ensure it ticks all the boxes and then break down ten of our favourite work-ready tradie machines. 

What Should Tradies Be Looking for in a New Vehicle?

There are many key considerations that tradespeople are looking for in their new vehicle - the most important things while shopping around are things like:

  • Power: work vehicles are exactly that - they’re made specifically to get to work, meaning buyers put power and torque figures atop their priorities list so their work car can handle heavy loads of cargo.

  • Cargo Space: whether it’s a big tray in a ute or inside a cargo van, having enough space for building supplies and tools is a necessity for Australian tradespeople.

  • Towing & Payload Figures: depending on your line of work, you might be looking to lug around more than a tonne in the back of your workhorse, with some body shapes lending themselves to superior payload and towing figures.

  • Versatility: if you’re throwing down a huge chunk of change, you want to know it can be versatile enough to be a workhorse during the week but comfortable enough to handle family duties on weekends.

  • Fuel Efficiency: tradespeople are often looking to balance pulling power and fuel efficiency to help keep running costs down over the vehicle's lifetime.

  • Safety Features: active safety tech like autonomous braking, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and rear cross-traffic alerts are a must these days.

  • Off-Road Abilities: the best work-ready utes also offer great off-road abilities that are a testament to their sturdy platform and tough suspension hardware.

  • Comfort: the perfect workhorse has a suspension package that can confidently lug around heavy cargo while riding smoothly enough on a daily commute or weekend drive.

  • Reliability: a huge part of keeping ownership costs low is opting for a reliable vehicle from a reputable manufacturer.

  • Warranty: long warranty coverage gives owners peace of mind, with the best warranty programs offering more than five years of coverage.

15 Best Cars for Tradies in 2023

Ford Ranger

2023 ford ranger raptor

One of Australia’s favourite tradie chariots is without doubt the Ford Ranger, and there’s good reason for it.

With a huge number of trim levels for everything from single to dual cab utes, the Ranger offers great payload figures from a choice of four different engines and almighty off-road performance in the range-topping Ranger Raptor.

Volkswagen Transporter

2023 volkswagen transporter

Volkswagen’s Transporter range has become a favourite for Aussie tradies looking to move people and huge loads of cargo inside the cabin and out of the elements.

The Transporter is available in short and long-wheelbase variants, the largest of which offers cargo capacities up to 9.3m3, offering acres of storage for fragile, raw materials and valuable tools and power provided by some lovely turbo-diesel units that offer a healthy amount of torque.

Toyota HiLux

2023 toyota hilux gr sport

The Toyota HiLux has long been renowned for its versatility and impressive abilities as a workhorse, making for one of the leading ute options for Australian tradies.

In base form, the HiLux offers a no-frills package that wants to get straight to work, while higher-spec variants pick up a range of premium touches that make them great for working Aussies with a growing family.

Ford Transit

2023 ford transit custom

Arguably the world’s favourite cargo van, the Ford Transit range offers a tonne of practicality for working Aussies.

With the range, there’s a tonne of different wheelbase options and enough seating for your full crew, while the rear load tray can swallow up to 11.2m3 in the Transit high roof variant while Ford’s range of torquey turbo-diesel engines do the hard work.

Nissan Navara

2023 nissan navara

The latest generation Nissan Navara remains one of the leading ute options for tradies here in Australia, offering the toughness and reliability that working Aussies demand from their workhorse.

The base model offers a tonne of value for money and some impressive payload figures, with 3500kg of braked towing capacity on offer across the range for those looking to tow massive loads.

Renault Master

2023 renault master

While Renault’s Master van is often overshadowed by its main rivals, it remains one of the leading options for buyers looking for maximum load volumes, which stretches from 8m3 to a massive 17m3 in the largest variant.

Isuzu D-Max

2023 isuzu d-max

The D-Max has fast become one of Australia’s utes, with its work-ready platform offering a heap of pulling power, an impressive features list for the money and some serious off-road performance when sealed roads make way for the dirt.

Toyota HiAce

2023 toyota hiace

The Toyota HiAce is a wonderful medium-sized van platform that makes for a great companion for working Aussies living around the city who still need to move a heap of cargo.

Cargo volume starts at 6.3m2 in the HiAce LWB and expands to a very substantial 9.3m3 in the range-topping HiAce SLWB, while a comprehensive safety equipment list only sweetens the deal for buyers.

Mazda BT-50

2023 mazda bt-50

Twin-under-the-skin to the Isuzu D-Max, Mazda’s BT-50 range has a lot to offer Aussie tradies, particularly price-conscious buyers thanks to the addition of a smaller 1.9-litre turbo-diesel engine at the base of the range that makes its versatility even more accessible to buyers.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

2023 mercedes-benz sprinter

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is a fantastic panel van for Aussies looking for a more premium take on the platform without sacrificing anything in terms of practicality.

With immense payload figures of up to 2632kg and 17m3 of load capacity, you’ll struggle to find any cargo the Sprinter can’t accommodate, making it a heavy-hitter for commercial buyers and tradies alike.

Mitsubishi Triton

2023 mitsubishi triton

There’s a brand new Mitsubishi Triton in town, and it comes sprinting out of the gate with a new turbo-diesel beating heart and even more off-road performance, all while offering a price-accessible base model and towing figures of 3500kg - that’s 400kg than the previous Triton.

LDV Deliver 9

2023 ldv deliver 9

For buyers looking for one of the best-value cargo vans on the market, you might want to take a closer look at the LDV Deliver 9.

Available in three different sizes, the LDV Deliver 9 offers payload figures between 1500 - 1640kg and enough space in the rear load bay to swallow up 9.6m3 - 12.33m3 of cargo, making it a super practical and affordable work van.

Toyota LandCruiser 70 Series

2023 toyota landcruiser 70 series

The LandCruiser 70 Series has cemented its spot atop the list of toughest and most reliable workhorses here in Australia, and the introduction of a brand new model makes the deal even more compelling for those looking for a variety of shapes and sizes of the almighty ‘Cruiser.

Volkswagen Caddy Cargo

2023 volkswagen caddy 5

While it lacks the outright size of many competitors here on our list, the Volkswagen Caddy Cargo isn’t about to let its limited footprint get in the way of serving Aussie tradies and commercial buyers.

Perfect for city buyers, the Caddy Cargo is remarkably user-friendly to drive and still offers some decent work-ready specs like up to 754kg worth of payload-pulling and a load bay with up to 3.7m3 of space on offer.

RAM 1500

2023 ram 1500

When it comes to sheer size, power and exceptional interior practicality, it’s hard to ignore what’s on offer in the RAM 1500 range.

Even with the loungeroom-like interior layout, the RAM 1500 offers a tray measuring between 1712 - 1937mm and blows rivals out of the water thanks to its 4500kg braked towing capacities, meaning there’s almost nothing it can’t move on its own steam.

FAQ: What Cars Do Tradies Use?

Tradies typically use a vehicle that offers a large amount of space, either inside the cabin of a cargo or panel van, or in the rear tray of a single or dual-cab ute. This makes vans and utes the preferred type of vehicle for tradies.

FAQ: What is the Best Car for a Builder?

Single and dual-cab utes are some of the best options for builders looking to move between building sites with materials and tools at their disposal, as well as vans that offer far more interior space and the benefit of a safe, weather-proof load area for materials and valuable tools.

FAQ: What Cars do Mechanics Recommend in Australia?

Typically, mechanics around Australia recommend any type of vehicle from a major manufacturer that has a long, established reputation for high-quality materials, manufacturing and reliability. A general list of recommended manufacturers from mechanics includes Toyota, Ford, Mazda, Honda, Lexus and Mitsubishi.

FAQ: What Car Should I Get for Work?

The perfect type of car for your work duties depends on several things that we’ve covered in this article; some will be more important than others, depending on your individual circumstances. If you need a hand trying to find the perfect type of car or specific make and model, reach out to one of our car-buying experts.

Request a Quote

If you’re looking to get your hands on a brand-new vehicle for work, be sure to get in touch with one of our car-buying specialists who can help find you the best possible price.


Alexi Falson

Alexi is an automotive journalist and road tester hailing from Byron Bay. He has an affection for both cars and motorbikes, a great admiration for the simplicity of old-school engineering, and a fascination of new technology making its way to modern cars. When he's not road testing, you'll find him surfing, hiking or helping people find their dream cars.

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