Such is the rising interest in utes (or pick-ups as everyone else calls them) that there’s now an international ute of the year gong, called the International Pick-Up Award, awarded as part of the annual International Van of the Year awards.
While IVOTY has been held annually every year since 1992, IPUA is in its comparative infancy. It was first held in 2011, and occurs bi-annually. Former winners include the Ford Ranger and Volkswagen Amarok (both two-time winners), and the Nissan Navara.
Despite the ‘international’ moniker, the judges are all based in Europe and the UK, with the 2022 IPUA held in Croatia.
This week the judgement panel named its final four utes for the 2022 prize. They are the Toyota Hilux, Isuzu D-Max, Jeep Gladiator, and SsangYong Musso (badged as the SsangYong Rhino in New Zealand).
“For the 2022 IPUA, there are four main contenders, three of which derive from Asia and the other from the United States, to demonstrate the truly international aspect to our award,” said awards chairman Jarlath Sweeney.
“The decision is based on the vehicle’s functionality, its efficiency and its performances.”
The four utes all have different backgrounds, with all inheriting an update of sorts this year. The D-Max is all-new, built on shared architecture with Mazda’s BT-50. The Hilux and Musso received mild updates for 2021. The Gladiator, meanwhile, is a different kind of beast entirely.
It’s not just about the utes, of course. In the 2022 IVOTY awards, the Renault Kangoo, Citroen e-Partner, Opel Combo-e, Toyota Proace City Electric, Fiat Ducato, Volkswagen Caddy, and Mercedes-Benz Citan II have been listed among the finalists.