Top dual-cab utes muscle up to prove whether they can tow and carry what they claim.
Today’s popular 4x4 dual-cabs make big claims when it comes to tow ratings and payloads, but are they really up to serious yakka? We asked them to muscle up and prove it.
MOST of the utes you see here are rated to tow 3500kg. That’s astonishing, given that 3500kg is as much as a Landcruiser 79 is rated to tow – and the 79 is more truck than ute with its large V8 diesel, rather than a much smaller four or five-cylinder oil burner. What’s more, those lighter utes claim to do better – in the most part – than the LC79 dual-cab’s payload capacity! So what gives? Are these family-friendly dual cabs really up to do the work of a truck, towing 3500kg or carrying a metric ton?
To find out we lined up a tailer loaded with a site forklift and a pallet of bagged cement, weighing 3500kg in total. To cater for the lighter-rated Toyota Hilux (3200kg) and Mitsubishi Triton (3100kg) we had a second trailer on hand, this one carrying an excavator weighing in at 2800kg.
To test load-carrying capacity we used a pallet of bagged cement weighing 800kg, which, when added to the other payload elements (driver and passenger, etc.), brings the total close to 1000kg – effectively the maximum payload in the class, give or take a little. In each case the 800kg pallet was loaded up against the front of the tub, not an easy task given the tailgates don’t drop right down on any of these mid and up-spec utes. Before and after loading, the ride height (at the axle line) was measured to see how far the rear of each ute dropped.
The tow and load tests were conducted separately (see GCM, GVM and Payload). For the load and tow tests the vehicle was driven along a set course consisting of a winding uphill road and followed by a downhill section, again with lots of corners thrown in for good measure. The course was covered at least twice both for the load and the tow tests. That made four or more runs for each vehicle.
Unfortunately, the Volkswagen’s remarkable Amarok auto – a favourite here at 4X4 Australia – is not represented, as VW Australia didn’t wish to fit an electric trailer-brake controller to any of its press-fleet Amaroks.
Trailer weight becomes payload via the tow bar, so it pays to get it set up correctly. Before and after loading, the ride height was measured The ability to secure the load is vital.