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2023 VW Amarok Review: Best Dual-Cab Ute for the Road?


After spending plenty of time behind the Ford Ranger last year, in our comprehensive 2023 VW Amarok review, we delve deep to assess whether it stands out as the best dual-cab ute for the road. After extensively testing vehicles like the Ford Ranger last year, the new Amarok intrigued us. Thanks to the dedicated effort of 20 Australian engineers, Volkswagen has meticulously tailored the Amarok, distinguishing it from other platform-shared dual-cabs. Particularly, the team prioritized the road-friendly attributes of the elite Aventura model and then perfected the Panamericana, presenting a stellar touring choice. Join us as we uncover the nuances that make this VW a potential segment leader.

Under the skin, the Amarok gets the new Ford V6 turbo diesel, but also a 222kW four-cylinder turbo petrol that’s heralded as the most powerful in the segment. This comes alongside bespoke suspension tunes for the top models in the line-up, competitive pricing in the mid-range ‘Style’ models, and plenty of standard kit in the entry models.

I conducted my review on the Australian media launch of the Amarok where we had the chance to drive the Amarok ‘Style’ V6, PanAmericana V6, and Aventura in both V6 and four-cylinder turbo petrol variants. My tests were conducted on the road around Trawool, on fire trails, and on a mild offroad section off-road section in Tallarook State Forest. It was a great test of the three top models in the line-up.

Vw amarok full lineup and price list
VW Amarok starts from $52,990 AUD plus on-road costs. | Image: Volkswagen Australia

How Much Does the VW Amarok Cost?

The new VW Amarok is priced at $52,990 AUD plus on-road costs for the base ‘Core’ model. At the top end of the range sits the road-focused Aventura that costs from $79,990 AUD plus on-road costs in either V6 turbo-diesel or turbo-petrol. In my opinion, the sweet spot of the Amarok range lies in the Style V6, that’s priced from $70,990 AUD plus on-road costs but comes with a heap of standard tech.

2023 Volkswagen Amarok Model GradeEnginePrice excluding on-road costs
Amarok Core2.0 TDI405 4MOTION Selectable 6-Speed Auto$52,990
Amarok Life2.0 TDI405 4MOTION Selectable 6-Speed Auto$56,990
Amarok Style2.0 TDI500 4MOTION Selectable 10-Speed Auto$66,990
Amarok Style V63.0 TDI600 4MOTION Permanent 10-Speed Auto$70,990
Amarok PanAmericana3.0 TDI600 4MOTION Permanent 10-Speed Auto$75,990
Amarok Aventura Diesel3.0 TDI600 4MOTION Permanent 10-Speed Auto$79,990
Amarok Aventura Petrol2.3 TSI452 4MOTION Permanent 10-Speed Auto$79,990

As far as options go on the new VW Amarok, you only have a few to choose from. Starting with Savona Leather Interior (an upgrade over cloth for the Style) $3000, Metallic paint (Bright Beige, Dark Grey, Midnight Black, Deep red, Light Grey, Bright Blue, Mid-blue) $990, and Electronic brake controller $499.

What About Servicing and Warranty?

The all-new Volkswagen Amarok comes with the same five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty as all V-dubs.

One of the first surprises on the national launch of the new Amarok was the call to action on servicing. It’s competitive, and owners can choose from 5 individual services in 12-month or 15,000km intervals – or a 5 Year Care Plan paid for upfront. This is what it costs.

  • First service – $329
  • Second service – $329
  • Third service – $414
  • Fourth service – $329
  • Fifth service – $400

Alternatively, you can lock in all these services for an upfront cost of $1,800, which saves you $1?! However, it’s not subject to price changes if they were to happen due to stock or part shortages, etc.

How Does the VW Amarok Stand Out?

I’m going to do my absolute best to draw as few comparisons as possible to the platform-shared Ford Ranger in this department because you can do so with your own eyes. It’s visually very similar in size, but it has more than just a new face. Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Head of Design Studio Australia Gu-Han Kim was based in Melbourne, Victoria, to oversee the design with clear VW DNA worked into the front and rear of the vehicle. I think it looks smart, well presented, and in the Pan Americana spec, quite tough.

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Vw amarok panamericana off road from rear end
VW Amarok PanAmericana looks very tough from the rear end. | Image: Volkswagen Australia

On the Exterior of the New VW Amarok

Yes, it’s hard to look past the fact the Ranger and Amarok are within 1mm of overall length (5351mm vs. 5350mm) and the story continues with the width and ground clearance (235mm vs. 234mm).

What’s easy to point out is the tech at the front end, with the new IQ.LIGHT matrix LED headlights with adaptive high-beam. These are a must-have feature for any new car right now and they’re available from the middle of the range ‘Style’ model and up. On the other side of the fence, you have to get Wildtrak or Raptor to get them standard.

Other features around the exterior of the new VW Amarok include tyre pressure monitoring, an electric roll cover, electrically foldable door mirrors with courtesy lamps, roof rails, 6 tie-down points in the ute tub, sidesteps on every model, wheels up to 21-inches, 2 front towing hooks, a power tailgate lock, 3.5-tonne rate towbar with optional brake controller and cargo-box LED lighting.

Inside the vw amarok panamericana 1
Inside the Amarok PanAmericana | Image: Volkswagen Australia

On the Interior of the New VW Amarok

I’ve spent a good amount of time with the Ford Ranger over the last 12 months, so I know a new cabin when I see one. Even in the mid-range Style trim you get 10-way power-adjustable seats that are particularly comfortable and supportive, more so than any ute I’ve tested in recent memory. For the Amarok, it’s just the first in a long line of features that make the cabin feel more and more car-like.

The same goes for the steering wheel, which looks to be lifted out of the latest VW Golf but makes use of real buttons that feel particularly premium for a dual-cab ute. Right behind that sits a 12-inch digital cockpit with Amarok-specific graphics, it’s also standard on the ‘Style’.

In the middle of the cabin, a large 12-inch infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto running Ford’s Sync 4 infotainment on the back end (with over-the-air updates). If I had to point my finger at anything, I’m still not the biggest fan of having no physical ‘home button’ on the console to reset the screen back to square one. There’s a touch button at the top of the screen to bring you home, but a physical button makes life so much easier for the driver.

Off-road, the cameras showing the front and rear overhangs of the vehicle were a godsend when navigating steep inclines and descents. However, unlike the Ranger, the cameras in the Amarok turn off after you start moving, something I’d expect VW to fix in a software update.

From there, it’s the small things start to add up, including keyless start, wireless charging, stitched leather-look dashboard, rear centre armrest, dual-zone climate control with rear air vents, Wireless App-Connect, USB-A and USB-C ports and premium Harman/Kardon audio in top-spec models.

Vw panamericana spray in bed liner
Like most dual-cab utes in this category, the Amarok can tow up to 3500kg | Image: Volkswagen Australia

What Can the VW Amarok Carry?

Of course, carrying stuff is all a part of ute ownership. In the case of the Amarok, it has the following features.

  • Towing capacity – 3500kg
  • GCM – 6400kg
  • GVM – 3350kg
  • Payload – 1065kg (V6 models)
  • Down-ball weight – 350kg
  • Roof load – 350kg

Most importantly, you can still fit a full-size palate in the tray. Not that you’re ever going to find that out on your local coffee run.

How does the vw amarok style drive
The Style is the softest of the Amaroks, but it’s not the most compliant. | Image: Volkswagen Australia

How Does the New VW Amarok Drive?

I had the chance to try out four variants of the new Amarok on the Australia media launch, this includes the Style V6, PanAmericana, and Aventura with both the turbo-diesel V6 and turbo-petrol 4-cylinder.

Moving between vehicles and the most notable change across the range comes from the different suspension tunes in the PanAmericana, Aventura, and Style. I started my journey in the V6 Style before swapping to an Aventura model and the difference was immediately noticeable. The Style model is the ‘softest’ of the three, however, not soft in the sense of a luxury vehicle. Soft in the sense that it doesn’t quite feel as compliant and connected to the road as the premium PanAmericana and Aventura models.

It’s comfortable and you’d be totally happy driving this to the job site everything day, however, moving up the ranks finds one of the best dual-cab ute suspension setups we’ve experienced. Let’s talk about the PanAmericana and Aventura.

How does the vw amarok panamericana drive
The PanAmaericana model is the best for touring around the country. | Image: Volkswagen Australia

Firstly, the PanAmaericana model splits the difference between the road-focused Aventura and Style on the comfort scale. Smaller 18-inch wheels and larger tires mean the ute absorbs bumps on rough country roads better, and you’re never worried about them either.

If you’re looking to tour the country, this is the model we’d choose. This model is only available with the V6 turbo-diesel, but it’s a gem of an engine with plenty of torque from low in the powerband and a 10-speed transmission that shifts smoothly without complaint.

How does the vw amarok adventura drive
The Aventura reminds us of the outgoing Amarok, comfortable, and compliant on the tarmac. | Image: Volkswagen Australia

On the flip side, the Aventura reminds us of the outgoing Amarok, comfortable, and compliant on the tarmac, but happy to be driven down a dirt fire trail at any moment. You’ll worry about scratching the diamond-cut alloy wheels on the rough stuff, but the faster steering rack helps this ute feel more SUV-like than ute-like. It’s remarkable that we’ve reached a point where utes are actually as comfortable, and in some cases MORE comfortable, than some SUVs that cost around the same price. And then there’s the new 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine sourced from the Mustang Ecoboost.

With 222kW of power and 452Nm of torque, we’re surprised VW didn’t go ahead and call this the Amarok GTI right out of the gate. After VFACTS reclassified American pickup trucks, this is now the most powerful dual-cab ute in this segment, overtaking the Gladiator.

We can’t help but think that change to ‘GTI’ is coming down the line, a set of flappy paddles (the shift buttons just don’t cut it), more aggressive throttle mapping, stiffer suspension tune, even faster steering rack, and you have a bit of a road weapon of a dual-cab ute. In its current state, it’s the Amarok we’d buy if we were looking to spend less than 10 per cent of your time off-road because it’s the most SUV-like of any new dual-cab ute.

How safe is the new vw amarok
In the case of the new Amarok, it received a full 5-star ANCAP safety rating. | Image: Volkswagen Australia

Is the New VW Amarok Safe?

I still remember the days when your average dual-cab ute was lucky enough to get a couple of airbags for safety. Today, utes like the new VW Amarok are some of the safest on the road. In the case of the new Amarok, it received a full 5-star ANCAP safety rating before it started to hit the dealerships.

This is, in part, thanks to more than 30 new safety and driver assistance features that have been added to the vehicle. With everything from Lane Assist: lane keeping & departure warning; Front Assist: pedestrian & cyclist monitoring; Swerve steer assist; Dynamic road sign display & speed sign recognition; Intelligent speed limiter; Rear park distance control with manoeuvre braking; Side Assist (blind spot monitoring); Rear traffic alert; Area View 360 degree camera; Adaptive cruise control (ACC) with stop & go function; Predictive speed limiter through dynamic road sign display; and Park assist plus with park distance control in front & rear.

However, there are still a few standard features that we’ve come to expect, these include.

  • Nine airbags
  • Autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist monitoring
  • Driver fatigue warning
  • Adaptive load control
  • Roll over mitigation
  • Emergency calls via smartphone in-range connection.

Yes, the new VW Amarok is a very safe dual-cab ute.

How does the vw amarok style safety
If I had to throw money down on any Amarok right now, my pick would be the ‘Style’ in red. | Image: Volkswagen Australia

Man of Many’s Verdict on the Volkswagen Amarok

ProsConsVerdict
Bespoke suspension tunes on the top models mean the Amarok stands out dynamically, particularly the Aventura on the road. Inside, the seats are best in class, the touch points are premium, and the overall experience is entirely SUV, not ute.The price gap between the top-of-the-range models and the Style variant is close to $10,000 AUD out the door. Hard to make a case that it’s worth the money unless you’re spending most of your time on the road. Aventura petrol is the exception.Our pick of the bunch is the Amarok ‘Style’ with pricing around that of the Ford Ranger Wildtrak. It’s comfortable, full of tech both inside and out, safe, and available in a great range of colours.

In Aventura trim, the new Amarok has cemented itself as the segment leader for those who spend most of their time on the road. However, if I  had to throw money down on any Amarok right now, my pick would be the ‘Style’ because of its standard tech and colour options.

It’s priced around the Ford Ranger Wildtrack (est. $78,000 drive away), and it offers similar tech inside and out. Ultimately, it comes down to your preference in style, badge, colours, and seats. You’re really splitting hairs when comparing the Ranger Wildtrack and Amarok Style by the numbers, so I highly recommend test-driving both before making any decisions. I struggle to go past the Amarok for its seats alone, but the Ranger has the step in the rear bumper and is generally more pragmatic.

If you’re looking for a ute that does it all, the PanAmericana is a step above the Style in on-road comfort. It’s my pick if you’re looking to tow a caravan and tour Australia. With some choice aftermarket options, bull-bar, lift, tires, snorkel, etc. it would look very tough in the beige colour.

Configure your own VW Amarok

Vw amarok adventura side profile
VW Amarok Adventura | Image: Volkswagen Australia

Volkswagen Amarok Aventura Full Specs

Interior Features of the Amarok Aventura

  • Seat cover Leather (Savona)
  • Stitched leather-look dashboard
  • Stitched leather-look door inserts
  • 10 ways electric seats driver and passenger (heated)
  • Headliner in black
  • 12-inch Radio, navigation, 8 speakers premium Harman Kardon sound system
  • 12.3-inch Digital cockpit
  • Rear centre armrest
  • Rear privacy glazing
  • Leather gearshift knob
  • Leather multifunction steering wheel
  • Wireless charging
  • Front and rear floor mats
  • Carpet floor covering
  • Insulating windshield
  • Dual-zone automatic AC
  • Rear air vents
  • Ambient lighting

Exterior Features of the Amarok Aventura

  • 21-inch alloy wheels
  • Front bumper in X Design (chrome)
  • Exterior mirror, door handles & rear bumper chrome
  • Sailplane and side steps with chrome highlights
  • Roof rails
  • Electronic roll cover
  • IQ. Light LED Matrix headlamp
  • LED fog lamp
  • LED taillights
  • Bed liner
  • Elec. foldable, heated mirror & courtesy lamps
  • Tie-down rings on the cargo box
  • Mudflap front/rear
  • Towbar (brake controller optional)
  • Locking wheel nuts
  • Power tailgate lock

Functional/ Safety Features of the Amarok Aventura

  • Keyless Entry + Start
  • Thatcham alarm system
  • Area view
  • Park assist
  • 10-speed shift by wire
  • Tyre pressure monitoring
  • Mech. differential lock
  • Cargo box lighting
  • Intelligent speed limiter
  • Speed sign recognition
  • E call (emergency call)
  • ACC and lane-keeping assist
  • Multi collision break
  • Electronic parking brake
  • Rain/light sensor
  • Front & rear park distance control, rear camera
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Knee, centre, front, rear, side/curtain airbag
  • Auto-dimming inside mirror
  • 2 Front towing hooks
Vw amarok panamericana side profile
VW Amarok PanAmericana | Image: Volkswagen Australia

Volkswagen Amarok PanAmericana Full Specs

Interior Features of the Amarok PanAmericana

  • Seat cover Leather (Cricket)
  • Stitched leather-look dashboard
  • Stitched leather-look door inserts
  • 10 ways electric seats driver and passenger (heated)
  • Headliner in black
  • 12-inch Radio, navigation, 8 speakers premium Harman Kardon sound system
  • 12.3-inch Digital cockpit
  • Rear centre armrest
  • Rear privacy glazing
  • Leather gearshift knob
  • Leather multifunction steering wheel
  • Wireless charging
  • Front and rear floor mats
  • Carpet floor covering
  • Insulating windshield
  • Dual-zone automatic AC
  • Rear air vents
  • Ambient lighting

Exterior Features of the Amarok PanAmericana

  • 18-inch black alloy wheels with All Terrain Tyres
  • Front bumper in X Design (black)
  • Exterior mirror, bumper & door handles in black
  • Sports bar & steps in black
  • Roof rails
  • PanAmericana decal
  • IQ. Light LED Matrix headlamp
  • LED fog lamp
  • LED taillights
  • Spray in bed liner
  • Elec. foldable, heated mirror & courtesy lamps
  • Tie-down rings on the cargo box
  • Mudflap front/rear
  • Towbar (brake controller optional)
  • Locking wheel nuts
  • Power tailgate lock

Functional/ Safety Features of the Amarok PanAmericana

  • Keyless Entry + Start
  • Thatcham alarm system
  • Area view
  • Park assist
  • 10-speed shift by wire
  • Tyre pressure monitoring
  • Mech. differential lock
  • Cargo box lighting
  • Intelligent speed limiter
  • Speed sign recognition
  • E call (emergency call)
  • ACC and lane-keeping assist
  • Multi collision break
  • Electronic parking brake
  • Rain/light sensor
  • Front & rear park distance control, rear camera
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Knee, centre, front, rear, side/curtain airbag
  • Auto-dimming inside mirror
  • 2 Front towing hooks
Vw amarok style side profile
VW Amarok Style | Image: Volkswagen Australia

Volkswagen Amarok Style Full Specs

Interior Features of the Amarok Style

  • Seat cover ArtVelour
  • 12-inch Radio, navigation, 6 radio speakers
  • 12.3-inch Digital cockpit
  • 10 ways electric driver, 8 ways passenger seats manual (heated)
  • Rear centre armrest
  • Rear privacy glazing
  • Leather gearshift knob
  • Leather multifunction steering wheel
  • Stitched leather-look dashboard
  • Stitched leather-look door inserts
  • Wireless charging
  • Front and rear floor mats
  • Carpet floor covering
  • Insulating windshield
  • Dual-zone automatic AC
  • Rear air vents
  • Ambient lighting

Exterior Features of the Amarok Style

  • 18-inch alloy wheels
  • Rear bumper & step w/ Chrome
  • Elec. foldable, heated mirror & courtesy lamps
  • IQ. Light LED Matrix headlamp
  • LED taillights fog lamp
  • Tie-down rings on the cargo box
  • Mudflap front/rear
  • Towbar (brake controller optional)
  • Locking wheel nuts
  • Power tailgate lock
  • Bed liner
  • Sports bar stainless steel

Functional/ Safety Features of the Amarok Style

  • Keyless Entry + Start
  • Thatcham alarm system
  • Area view*
  • Park assist*
  • 10 speed shift by wire
  • Tyre pressure monitoring
  • Mech. differential lock
  • Cargo box lighting
  • Intelligent speed limiter*
  • Speed sign recognition*
  • E call (emergency call)
  • ACC and lane-keeping assist*
  • Multi-collision break
  • Electronic parking brake
  • Rain/light sensor
  • Front & rear park distance control, rear camera
  • Blind spot monitoring*
  • Knee, centre, front, rear, side/curtain airbag
  • Auto-dimming inside mirror
  • 2 Front towing hooks

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