In terms of day-to-day use it's by far the most comfortable bakkie I've driven, and it's damn impressive when the going starts getting rough.
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With manual you don't as you can apply too much clutch/power, causing the wheels to spin leaving you stuck.
Ok hold on a second, some are saying the Amarok is no good, some say its decent. . . .Seriously would VW have risked designing a 4x4 that can't even tow a small boat up a hill? My gut says no.
A few more votes for the Ranger. Personally I am going to try punt this to him over the Hilux. It looks better IMO and hopefully isn't as popular with the taxi drivers that need new engines.
I haven't heard anyone mention any mitsubishis? I know way back the Colt was a beast, are they still decent?
All the above are good options.... but this is generally how it goes:
Fortuner > Amarok
Hilux ~ Fortuner (since same engine, etc)
Ranger > Fortuner
Navara = good, but really pricey (3litre diesel). The 2.5d is decent and fairs well with the Toyota/Ford.
The Isuzu is still solid, but it's fugly.
Colt.... no idea. Rarely see one. Apart from the fugly bit. It wins in that category.
Also, bear in mind that the D-4D engine in the tuna/Hilux tends to eat injectors - big $$$ when that happens.
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Few years ago VW had problems with Turbo chargers exactly because of them overheating (IIRC), thereafter many manufacturers updated their car ECUs.
I remember exactly that my Mom's Mercedes C220CDI had to get a software update that was specifically aimed at when the car tows (and essentially decreases power as soon as the tow bar is fitted).
Auto is actually the box of choice with the 4x4 guys.
Far better to handle really difficult stuff in auto rather than manual. I proved this on a really heavy off road course that we did and the autos left the manuals for dead, as well as burnt clutches.
Subaru would be nice, but no auto diesel is available.
Amarok is brilliant, and anyone who thinks that a 2.0 litre diesel is too small doesn't know what he's talking about.
Also worth looking at an Isuzu - not bad at all.
Final Edit to OP - You don't buy a 4x4 because it looks nice....