no FIxED AD­DrEss tow rat­ing truths



Cur­rently there are six one-tonne utes on the mar­ket sup­pos­edly ca­pa­ble of tow­ing 3500kg, if you be­lieve the fig­ures sprouted by the car man­u­fac­tur­ers – the Mazda BT-50, the great sell­ing Ford Ranger, the Isuzu D-MAX, the Holden Colorado, Nis­san Navara and, of course, the lat­est Toy­ota HiLux. The Mit­subishi Tri­ton is rated at 3100kg while the VW Amarok comes in at a still healthy and maybe only slightly-ex­ag­ger­ated, 3000kg. It’s all a bit of mar­ket­ing hype, I reckon. In the small print of the man­u­fac­tur­ers’ hand­books you’ll find less pub­li­cised fig­ures for gross ve­hi­cle mass (GVM), which is the max­i­mum al­low­able weight of the ve­hi­cle fully loaded, and gross com­bined mass (GCM), which is the com­bined to­tal weight of the ve­hi­cle and any trailer it is tow­ing.

For ex­am­ple, the Ford Ranger dual-cab weighs in at 2200kg with an im­pres­sive stated 1000kg pay­load ca­pac­ity. Even that fig­ure is over­rated I reckon, ’cause with­out do­ing some­thing to the sus­pen­sion, you’ll be re­ally drag­ging the bum if you have the ve­hi­cle at its max­i­mum GVM of 3200kg... but plenty of peo­ple do!

The rated tow fig­ure of the Ranger is 3500kg while the GCM is 6000kg – much the same as many of the dual cabs – which means the max­i­mum car weight has now dropped to 2500kg. A pay­load de­crease of 700kg! That means the max­i­mum weight you can carry in a Ford tow­ing a 3500kg caravan is just 300kg in the ve­hi­cle it­self – not much more than two healthy adults, a pet dog and a full tank of fuel!

Some other com­mon dual-cab utes are even worse. So you can bet your last dol­lar that there are very few rigs tow­ing a heavy van that would be le­gal, given those fig­ures. And while le­gal­ity may be an is­sue, it is the safety is­sues that are para­mount for your­self and for other road users, I reckon.

Now you can go and get a sus­pen­sion up­grade from a num­ber of 4WD af­ter­mar­ket com­pa­nies for many of the pop­u­lar dual-cab utes and even go for a GVM up­grade (not avail­able for all utes);

I’d strongly sug­gest this is the ab­so­lute min­i­mum you should do – even when just load­ing the fam­ily on board and tow­ing a camper trailer!

Some of the vans we saw go­ing up the high­way on our last trip were loaded badly, with more than the rec­om­mended 10 per cent of the weight of the trailer on the tow ball. That ac­cen­tu­ates the prob­lems with the tow ve­hi­cle be­ing down at the bum with the front of the tow tug point­ing sky­wards.

Such a weight dis­crep­ancy means you can also eas­ily get into a sit­u­a­tion where the tail ‘wags the dog’ up­set­ting the bal­ance of the ute and badly in­flu­enc­ing steer­ing and brak­ing.

Dual-cab utes are pop­u­lar be­cause they can be so many things to so many dif­fer­ent peo­ple. Tow­ing big heavy vans more than 2500kg (loaded), though, is not one of them, as far as this writer is con­cerned. Stick­ing to a camper trailer or a small van weigh­ing in at less than 2000kg and get­ting a sus­pen­sion up­grade would be a great start to a hol­i­day.

If you need to tow one of the big­ger, heav­ier vans, get a 200 Se­ries Cruiser at the bare min­i­mum; bet­ter still, get it be­hind a Dodge Ram, or a Ford F250. You’ll not only ap­pre­ci­ate the ef­fort­less­ness of such a tow ve­hi­cle, you’ll be le­gal and you and ev­ery road user near you will be a lot safer!

Above: Dual cab utes are pop­u­lar and can eas­ily tow a camper trailer, a big, heavy van is a dif­fer­ent propo­si­tion, though.

Be­low: Tow­ing re­quires a well set up ve­hi­cle.

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