Ute Tow Test

To­day’s pop­u­lar dual-cab 4x4 utes make big claims when it comes to tow rat­ings and pay­loads but are they re­ally up to se­ri­ous yakka? We ask them to mus­cle up to prove it in our Ute Tow Test

Farms & Farm Machinery - - Front Page -

Tow­ing is the lat­est mar­ket­ing buzz­word when it comes to work­horse utes. Three tonne? Three and a half? Au­to­mo­tive 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 all-singing, all-danc­ing ad cam­paigns don’t tell you that, for the over­whelm­ing 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 that suited our pur­pose for 3500kg tow­ing. 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. To cater 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 mid- and up-spec utes. Be­fore and af­ter load­ing, the ride-height (at the axle) 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 side­bar).

For the sep­a­rate load and tow tests, the ve­hi­cle was driven over a set course en­com­pass­ing an up­hill wind­ing road fol­lowed by a down­hill de­scent, again with lots of cor­ners. The course was cov­ered at least twice for both load and the tow tests, so four or more runs for each ve­hi­cle.

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