The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Carsguide Confidenti­al -

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.

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