4x4 Ute Me­gat­est

Class war­fare for nine dual-cab utes

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WEL­COME TO THE 2018 Ute Me­gat­est. Here we have 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 the 2016 Load and Tow test 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 work­spec steel-wheeled SR and the recre­ational-spec SR5. It only ap­peared in late 2017 as part of a shakeup of the HiLux range.

The on-road tests in­volved un­laded ride and han­dling eval­u­a­tion as well as per­for­mance and fuel-con­sump­tion tests. The pay­load test in­volved a to­tal pay­load of 900kg, made up of 650kg in the tub, driver, two pas­sen­gers (and tow­bars/bull­bars where fit­ted) – so, close to max 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.

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