Welcome to Farms & Farm Machinery’s 2018 Ute Megatest. Here we have gathered all of the popular 4x4 dual-cabs to put through their paces on road – with and without a 900kg total payload – and off road.
The last time we gathered all the utes together was in late 2016 for our Max Load and Tow Test. Since then, four of the nine utes have undergone significant mechanical revision, or are new.
Only the HiLux, Ranger, Colorado, BT-50 and Triton are effectively unchanged mechanically, although all have undergone equipment or styling changes in that time.
The Mercedes-Benz X-Class is all new to this class, although, at the same time, a little familiar as it uses the Nissan Navara as a starting point in its design. Then there’s the Amarok, which sports a new and much more powerful engine in the form of a three-litre V6 diesel in place of the two-litre four-cylinder diesel.
The Isuzu D-Max has been revised twice since the last test.
For the 2017 model year, the changes were led by an engine upgrade and the addition of a six-speed automatic replacing the previous five-speeder. For the 2018 model year, the D-Max has undergone a minor but not insignificant chassis revision.
The Nissan Navara has also been updated twice since 2016 with changes to the suspension – especially at the rear – on both occasions.
The HiLux variant tested here didn’t actually exist last time we gathered all the utes together as it’s an SR+ model, which adds alloy wheels and sat-nav and slots in between the work-spec steel-wheeled SR and the recreational-spec SR5.
The on-road tests involved unladed ride and handling evaluation as well as performance and fuel-consumption tests. The payload test involved a payload of 900kg, made up of 650kg in the tub, driver, two passengers (and towbars/bullbars where fitted) – so, close to maximum payload for the utes, especially those with the lower payload ratings with all the utes driven over a bumpy road course with plenty of corners and hills.
The off-road tests involved set-piece hill climbs, obstacle negotiation and water fording.