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High-grade cab chassis utes: the lowdown

Ford Australia has announced it will offer a cab-chassis variant of its Ranger XLT, due in December.

Increasing customer demand for vehicle personalisation has for the first time prompted market leaders Toyota and Ford to offer cab-chassis versions of their high-grade dual cab utes.

Toyota Australia recently announced that its freshly facelifted MY20 HiLux range would offer not only the usual base-grade Workmate variant of its 4x4 dual cab-chassis, but also mid-grade SR and high-grade SR5/SR5+ variants.

Arch rival Ford Australia has announced that it too would offer a cab-chassis variant of its richly equipped XLT dual cab ute, due in December. Ford says the primary reason for adding this new variant was to provide an easier and more affordable way for customers to personalise their Rangers after purchase.

The company claims that there’s an increasing number of buyers wanting the premium safety and equipment levels of a high-grade ute in a cab-chassis configuration, to which they can fit their own custom-made canopies and personalised tray set-ups without the need to firstly remove the standard load tub.

This initiative could have particular appeal as an alternative for numerous tradies and/or adventurers, who previously have gone to the considerable expense of converting high-grade heavy-duty wagons like Toyota Land Cruisers and Nissan Patrols into 4x4 dual cab-chassis vehicles.

The new HiLux and Ranger offerings also avoid customers having to pay for a ute’s load tub, which is included in a new vehicle’s purchase price yet for many owners is no longer required following its removal and replacement with their own canopy or tray.

The dual cab-chassis tray back SR5 starts at $58,240 for the manual. The dual cab-chassis tray back SR5 starts at $58,240 for the manual.

For example, in the latest HiLux 4x4 line-up, the list price for the SR dual cab-chassis with 2.8 litre turbo-diesel and six-speed manual is $48,510 compared to the ute version at $50,010 – a $1500 saving. The top-shelf SR5+ dual cab-chassis (available only with auto) is $60,920 compared to the  ute equivalent at $62,420, which represents the same $1500 bonus.

By comparison, the new XLT Ranger dual cab-chassis with 3.2-litre turbo-diesel and six-speed manual will list at $56,240 compared to the ute version at $57,240 – a saving of $1000. The same will apply to the 2.0 litre twin-turbo with 10-speed auto at $59,940 compared to $60,940 for the ute equivalent.

In addition to an extensive range of standard features, which includes a tow-bar assembly and wiring, options for Ranger 4x4 XLT dual cab-chassis will include leather-accented seating, adaptive cruise control with steering wheel buttons and black 18-inch alloy wheels.

Isuzu has no plans for high-grade dual cab-chassis variants of their new D-MAX. Isuzu has no plans for high-grade dual cab-chassis variants of their new D-MAX.

Drivetrain choices will comprise the 3.2 litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel with either six-speed manual or six-speed automatic, or premium 2.0 litre twin-turbo four-cylinder turbo-diesel available only with 10-speed auto.

The latest SR and SR5+ HiLux dual cab-chassis variants are all powered by the same 2.8 litre four- cylinder turbo-diesel (with recent power and torque upgrades to 150kW/500Nm) available with a choice of six-speed manual or six-speed auto transmissions. Options include premium paint, 17-inch alloy wheels and sat-nav (SR+) and power driver’s seat, heated front seats and leather-accented trim (SR5+).

Major rivals Isuzu Ute Australia and Mazda Australia currently have no plans for high-grade dual cab-chassis variants of their new D-MAX and BT-50 utes. However, Volkswagen Group Australia recently announced the availability of factory-endorsed Amarok chassis conversions under VGA’s Body Builder Program.

These conversions result in cab-chassis configurations with much longer wheelbases of either 3405mm (XL) or 3745mm (XXL), compared to the standard model’s 3095mm. These are designed to suit multiple work and recreational applications that require custom-made canopies, trays or other specialised bodies.

So, the Amarok Body Builder Program, like the latest high-grade HiLux and Ranger dual cab-chassis offerings, is catering to growing demand for personalisation of Aussie utes, which is a good development in more ways than one.

It not only increases the versatility of these popular vehicles, but will also reduce waste created by growing stockpiles of load tubs being discarded soon after purchase!

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