UTES’ BIG CLAIMS, LESSER LOADS
LAST week’s cover story on utes caused a bit of stir — and not just among the hordes of Toyota HiLux fans who queried our call in favour of the Ford Ranger.
Many readers called to highlight just how little you can carry on most utes when towing the maximum weight nominated by the manufacturer.
As we said in the original story, towing claims are merely that: claims. There is no government standard, only what the manufacturer is prepared to back — testing earlier this year found the towing capacity claims of certain models to be rather ambitious.
There are other figures than can help buyers better understand the capability of each vehicle.
After tow capacity and the weight of the vehicle, the other critical number is the gross combination mass (GCM). To work out what can be carried in the ute, take the GCM, subtract the vehicle mass and the towing capacity — and the balance is what you can load.
The HiLux GCM is 5650kg, so subtract its 2075kg kerb weight and 3200kg tow capacity. This leaves a payload — including occupants — of just 375kg.
That’s a couple of big blokes and an Esky. The same calculation on a Ford Ranger (3500kg tow capacity) leaves you with just 253kg. That’s two big blokes and their toothbrushes.
Here’s where it gets tricky, though. Reduce the tow capacity to 3000kg and you can carry 575kg in the HiLux and 753kg in the Ranger.
A study by Mitsubishi earlier this year found “most customers tow between 1 and 1.5 tonnes, the majority never tow more than 2.5 tonnes, and only 5 per cent only ever tow 3.5 tonnes”.
Such findings happen to suit Mitsubishi. The Triton can tow 3100kg but its high GCM enables it to take a payload of 820kg.
But there’s another twist making it difficult for buyers — these are all still claims. In our experience, the Triton struggles with a big load, despite what the brochure says.
The lesson in this? Buy a smaller caravan or boat if you want to load up your ute.
Big numbers are good but how the vehicle physically handles a load when on the move is also critical.