Ute Me­gat­est

The dual-cab 4x4 mar­ket has just be­come more com­pet­i­tive with the in­tro­duc­tion of Mercedes-Benz’s new X-Class, but how does it shape up in this nine-way fight?

Australian Transport News - - CONTENTS -

The nine most pop­u­lar 4x4 dual-cabs are put through their paces on-road – with and with­out a 900kg to­tal pay­load – and off-road

WORDS FRASER STRONACH

“SINCE THE LATE TEST, FIVE OF THE NINE UTES ARE NEW OR HAVE UN­DER­GONE SIG­NIF­I­CANT ME­CHAN­I­CAL RE­VI­SION.”

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 work-spec 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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