Ford Ranger; Holden Colorado; Isuzu D-Max; Mazda BT-50; Mit­subishi Triton; Nis­san Navara; Toy­ota Hilux

Earthmovers & Excavators - - Contents -

Tow­ing is the lat­est buzz­word when it comes to work­horse utes. Three tonne? Three and a half? Man­u­fac­tur­ers would have you be­lieve these utes can do the job with­out rais­ing a sweat. But how do they ac­tu­ally drive with that much weight hang­ing off the back? We de­cided to put the man­u­fac­tur­ers’ claims to the test.

But first we had to tackle the un­sexy no­tion of gross com­bi­na­tion mass (GCM) and axle load rat­ings. With­out get­ting bogged down in too much de­tail, it ba­si­cally means that for ev­ery kilo put on the trailer hitch, the less you can put on the ac­tual ute. The ad cam­paigns don’t tell you that, for the ma­jor­ity of these ve­hi­cles, 3000 to 3500kg of braked trailer load on the back equals close to no pay­load in the tow ve­hi­cle.

So we’ve as­sem­bled seven of the most pop­u­lar dual-cab 4x4s on the mar­ket to see how they per­form at or near max­i­mum tow­ing ca­pac­ity. And, of course, we made sure they were fit­ted with elec­tric trailer brakes. We also tested them at max­i­mum GVM with­out a trailer.

You may ask why they’re all autos. Well, in

Oz, it’s by far the most pop­u­lar tranny choice. Volk­swa­gen de­clined to be a part of the test due to the need for elec­tric trailer brakes to be fit­ted.

A quick squiz at the Ken­nards Hire web­site found us some equip­ment pay­load, while the guys at KADS Hire hap­pened to have some heavy plant trail­ers for us. Throw in some bagged ce­ment from Bun­nings, and we were in busi­ness.

We loaded the larger trailer with the site fork­lift and a pal­let of bagged ce­ment, weigh­ing 3500kg in to­tal. For the lighter-rated Toy­ota Hilux (3200kg) and Mit­subishi Triton (3100kg), we had a sec­ond trailer car­ry­ing an ex­ca­va­tor to­talling 2800kg.

To test load car­ry­ing, we had a pal­let of bagged ce­ment weigh­ing 800kg, which, when added to the other pay­load el­e­ments (driver and pas­sen­ger, etc), brings the to­tal pay­load to 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 utes. Be­fore and af­ter load­ing, the ride­height (at the axle) was mea­sured to see how far the rear of each ute dropped.

For the sep­a­rate load and tow tests, the utes were driven over a wind­ing up­hill and down­hill course. The run was cov­ered at least twice for both load and tow tests.

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