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Best weekend 4WD four-door utes

Different manufacturers call their four-door utes different names double-cab, crew-cab or dual-cab.

But whatever the name, in any of them you can carry whatever smelly, grubby, wet and bulky load you want – plus four or five people in the cabin. Aided by low-range gears, they are among the best in terms of 4WD ability off road and for towing.

Here we'll call them dual-cabs, a fitting moniker not only because they have dual rows of seats in a cab double the length of a normal utes, but also because they have the dual roles of load-carrying work vehicle as well as family carrying passenger space.

Many a young person who loves the surf holds a vision of living on the coast, being a self-employed tradie by day and surfing before or after work and on weekends – with the trusty dual-cab ute serving both worlds.

Dual-cab 4WD utes are ideal for campers and more-serious 4WD adventurers. They carry heaps of camping gear, they offer good payload helped by a full chassis and beefy suspension so spare water, fuel and recovery gear is weight easily accommodated. The same for fishing: you can put all the smelly stuff in the hose-out ute, keeping the passenger cabin clear of muck, which is not possible in an SUV wagon.

Here we look at dual-cab 4WD utes bought not so much for professional work purpose but more for private recreational use. They still have the toughness underneath but they are more the upmarket, semi-luxury models. You can get leather interior, dual-zone climate control air-con, premium sound systems and much of the `fruit' of a modern flashy sedan.

Safety

Safety-wise they have improved. Crash testing shows improved crumple zones albeit not yet to most sedan car standards. And they have airbags.

These vehicles have ABS anti-lock brakes, but as with any off-bitumen vehicle this can be a two-edged sword if the ABS is not calibrated well for Aussie gravel roads. And some models have stability control, but not all, so check for this valuable safety feature. And the ESP and/or traction control needs to be able to be switched out – for example when you are in sand – to allow for an amount of wheel spin to save you from getting bogged down.

Technology

While they’re great for weekending, they are still utes with a tough working life as the first criteria: they tend to have drum brakes on the rear and leaf-spring rear suspension. The good ol' leaf springs are simple and tough and designed to cope with heavy loads in the ute, but it can mean a bouncy ride if there's no load in the back.

But again, manufacturers are learning to adjust the springs and dampers for the personal-luxury models compared with the workers' models. Mitsubishi made good ground in this area when it released its current-shape Triton about four years ago, showing a reasonable ride could be given in a 4WD dual-cab.

Most dual-cab 4WD utes are available in a choice of petrol and diesel with automatic and manual transmissions, although some diesels come with only a manual gearbox. And some have lower engine torque if mated with an automatic transmission.

Utility

Payloads – the weight the thing can carry – are still pretty good, these utes are able to take around one tonne (including drivers and passengers). And they make good tow vehicles – three tonnes enough? Thanks to their being built on a strong ladder-frame chassis, not a monocoque shell as some 4WD SUVs are. Some 4WD utes are even turned into the ``prime mover'' for fifth-wheeler caravans.

The ute tub can be left uncovered or fitted with a soft tonneau with centre hoops to stop water pooling, or a hard tonneau colour-matched to the ute's bodywork. Or canopies are available for popular models, complete with sliding windows and interior light and lockable tailgate so gear in the back can be kept out of the weather and secure.

Design

Most ute trays on a dual-cab are about 1.5m long, plus the 40cm or so of the tailgate, so it can be used for sleeping at a pinch. The vehicles' length matches that of the Caprice or more, so tight parking spaces are an issue.

A downside is that the rear seat is not the best. Leg room can be tight and the seatback fairly upright, with the rear window quite close. This is OK for children (child seat anchorages are supplied, too) but if you are going to carry adults over much distance frequently, shop around carefully for the one with the best back seat comfort and space.

Offroading

Ground clearance typically is better than on a 4WD SUV wagon and off road abilities are very good. However, going for the very top luxury models sometimes means getting lower-profile tyres which are not the best off road.

They're great for bitumen driving but if you're doing the Birdsville Track and beach driving, try for a model with less wheel diameter and more tyre sidewall. Then get out there, take your family or friends, and enjoy our great land, carrying whatever you like in the ute.

Toyota HiLux SR5 dual-cab

Price: from $51,190
Engine: 3956cc V6 petrol
Transmission: five-speed manual or four-speed automatic, four-wheel drive, rear LSD
Power: 175kW @ 5200rpm
Torque: 343Nm @ 2400rpm
Fuel consumption: 13.1 litres/100km; tank 76 litres
Emissions: 308g/km
Brakes: Ventilated discs (front), drums (rear); ABS.
Dimensions: length 5255mm, width 1835mm, height 1810mm, wheelbase 3085mm
Weight: 1780kg
Tows: 750kg unbraked/2250kg braked
Ground clearance: 292mm
Wheels: 15x7in alloy; 255/70 tyres

Nissan Navara ST-X dual-cab

Price: from $47,990
Engine: 3954cc V6 petrol.
Transmission: Six-speed manual or five-speed automatic; four-wheel-drive
Power: 198kW @5600rpm
Torque: 385Nm @ 4000rpm
Fuel consumption: 13.6 litres/100km, tank 80 litres.
Emissions: 329g/km
Brakes: Discs (front), drum (rear). ABS
Dimensions: length 5296mm, width 1848mm, height 1795mm, wheelbase 3200mm, track 1750mm front and rear
Weight: 1977kg
Tows: 750kg unbraked/ 3000kg braked
Ground clearance: 228mm
Wheels: 17x7in alloy; 255/65 tyres

Ford Ranger Wildtrak dual-cab

Price: from $49,390
Engine: 2953cc, four-cylinder, turbocharged diesel
Transmission: Five-speed manual or automatic; four-wheel-drive
Power: 115kW @ 3200rpm
Torque: 380Nm @ 1800rpm
Fuel consumption: 9.5 litres/100km; tank 70 litres
Emissions: 251g/km.
Brakes: ABS
Dimensions: length 5179mm, width 1788mm, height 1762mm, wheelbase 3000mm, track fr/rr 1585/1480mm
Weight: 1995kg
Tows: 750kg unbraked/3000kg braked
Ground clearance: 214mm.
Wheels: 18x7.5in alloy; 255/60 tyres

Mitsubishi Triton GLX-R dual-cab

Price: from $47,990
Engine: 2.5-litre. four-cylinder, turbocharged diesel
Transmission: Five-speed manual or automatic. Four-wheel-drive.
Power: 131kW @ 4000rpm
Torque: 400Nm @ 2000rpm manual, 350nm @ 2000rpm auto Fuel consumption: 8.3 litres/100km, tank 75 litres.
Emissions: 217g/km
Brakes: Ventilated discs (front), drums (rear); ABS
Dimensions: length 5389mm, width 1800mm, height 1780mm, wheelbase 3000mm, track fr/rr 1520/1515mm
Weight: 1977kg manual
Tows: 750kg unbraked/3000kg braked
Ground clearance: 205mm
Wheels: 17x7.5in alloy; 245/65 tyres

Holden Colorado LT-R dual-cab

Price: from $48,690
Engine: 2999cc, four-cylinder, turbocharged diesel
Transmission: Five-speed manual or four-speed automatic. Four-wheel-drive
Power: 120kW @ 3600rpm
Torque: 360Nm @ 1800rpm manual, 333nm @ 1600 rpm auto
Fuel consumption: 8.4 litres/100km, tank 76 litres
Emissions: 222g/km
Brakes: Ventilated discs (front), drums (rear); ABS.
Dimensions: length 4995mm, width 1800mm, height 1750mm
Weight: 1920kg
Tows: 750kg unbraked/3000kg braked
Ground clearance: 225mm

Pricing guides

$23,999
Based on 284 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$7,750
Highest Price
$37,000

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
SR 4.0L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO $6,500 – 10,120 2010 Toyota HiLux 2010 SR Pricing and Specs
SR (4X4) 3.0L, Diesel, 4 SP AUTO $15,100 – 21,340 2010 Toyota HiLux 2010 SR (4X4) Pricing and Specs
SR5 4.0L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO $11,500 – 16,830 2010 Toyota HiLux 2010 SR5 Pricing and Specs
SR5 (4X4) 4.0L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $14,300 – 20,130 2010 Toyota HiLux 2010 SR5 (4X4) Pricing and Specs
Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.