De­tails, de­tails…

New Zealand Company Vehicle - - 4WD UTE COMPARO -

By Ash­ley Lu­cas. All three utes in this year’s sam­ple were very sim­i­lar in size and ba­sic set-up. All three now use elec­tron­ics to se­lect 4WD, with a ro­tary knob either near the gear lever or on the dash (Hilux) where it is hid­den by steer­ing wheel. As one per­son found out (that would be me! Ed) un­less you use the cor­rect pro­ce­dure to en­gage 4WD the elec­tron­ics will not al­low en­gage­ment. All au­tos re­quire you to be in neu­tral be­fore se­lect­ing low range 4WD. Apart from a long nose that re­duced ap­proach an­gle, the Hilux seemed the most ca­pa­ble of the three off-road. It had re­ally good low down gear­ing in the trans­fer case pro­vid­ing good en­gine brak­ing down­hill, al­most negat­ing the need of its Hill De­scent Con­trol which worked in other gears be­sides first low. When Hill De­scent came into play it was no­tice­ably qui­eter in op­er­a­tion than the Mazda which was very noisy in op­er­a­tion. The Tri­ton was the only ve­hi­cle with­out an elec­tronic Hill De­scent as­sist func­tion, but gear­ing was good and it had more than ad­e­quate en­gine brak­ing on our lit­tle test. All three had lock­ing rear dif­fer­en­tials which show that these man­u­fac­tur­ers are at last re­al­is­ing the added ben­e­fit of fully lock­ing the rear diff. The locked rear diff eases the load on trac­tion con­trol and thus re­duc­ing re­liance on the elec­tron­ics and over­heat­ing the sys­tem as they fight to stop the spin­ning wheels. Also the lock­ing rear diff is proac­tive in off-road sit­u­a­tions where the trac­tion con­trol is re­ac­tive and of­ten ‘kicks in’ too late. You also have to drive the ve­hi­cle ‘harder’ with­out the rear diff lock.

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