They’re more likely to carry dirty nappies and road bikes than a bale of hay, but all eight of the cars on our 2018 dual-cab mega test are, you know, dual-cab utes. That means they still need to be fit for hard work.
Has the transition to a life of luxury undermined the inherent practicality of these one-time work vehicles?
Here’s a look at how the tray on each stacks up.
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Volkswagen Amarok V6 Ultimate
As a big, burly beast, it stands to reason the Volkswagen Amarok V6 Ultimate would have one of the biggest trays here – and it does!
It measures 1555mm long and 1620mm wide, or 1222mm between the arches. As the VW advertising team is keen to highlight, that’s wide enough to house a Euro Pallet – something none of its rivals can manage.
The tray is 508mm deep, and the car has a 1000kg payload to match its 3500kg braked-towing capacity.
Volkswagen has finished the bed with a grippy spray-in bed liner, the only one of its kind on test. There are four chrome, hinged tie-down points mounted on the floor, but there are no tie-downs on the rear of the cab, nor high up on the walls of the tray.
You do, however, get a 12V socket on the left-hand wall.
Unlike most of the utes on test, the Amarok wasn’t fitted with a tonneau cover of any kind. That frees up space for taller items, but makes it near impossible to carry valuables without putting them in the cabin, or taking a trip to your local ARB with a wad of cash in hand.
There are chrome sports bars running the length of the tray-edge that, although stylish, eat (ever so slightly) into your load space around the top edge of the bed.
Nissan Navara ST-X
Measuring up at 1503mm long, 1560mm wide and 1130mm between the arches, the Navara is firmly middle-of-the-road when it comes to size. The bed is 474mm deep, and can carry 931kg or tow 3500kg of braked cargo.
As plenty of CarAdvice staffers would tell you, size isn’t everything, and the Nissan claws back points in a few key areas.
For one, it’s fitted with an excellent hard tonneau cover, complete with interior lighting and a ducktail spoiler that, if you really squint, harks back to classic Porsche 911s. Relevant, when the car is a high-riding brick.
The cover doesn’t open particularly high, making it tough to access the deeper, darker corners of the bed. It also limits the car’s effectiveness if you’re keen on carrying anything taller than 474mm tall. Gnome salesmen, this might be the ute for you.
When it comes to security, this is by far the smartest ute here. The tonneau cover locks and unlocks with the cab’s keyless entry system, and is perfectly suited to carting valuables around town.
The bed itself is finished with a plastic liner, and there’s a 12V power socket on board. You also get a clever ‘IntelliTrack’ system for tying things down. There are four hooks mounted on a sliding rail, making it easier to secure odd-shaped objects.
There are no ‘conventional’ tie-down points on board.
Mazda BT-50 GT
There’s no bed liner – plastic or otherwise – in the BT-50, but our tester came with a loose foam mat on the tray floor.
The tray measures 1549mm long and 1560mm wide, or 1139mm between the arches. At 513mm from top to bottom, the BT-50 has one of the deepest trays on test.
Mazda promises a 1095kg payload, and offers the requisite 3500kg braked towing capacity.
Note: Tray pictured with tonneau and foam floor mat removed.
Sitting somewhere between the Nissan and Volkswagen in approach, there’s a clip-on soft tonneau cover protecting the tray.
The tailgate can be opened with the cover in place, which is a real positive, and it’s easy to fully remove if you need to carry tall, bulky objects.
There are six tie-down points in the bed, with one on each side of the rear, middle and front of the tray. They’re mounted at staggered heights, for more options when it comes time to secure something awkward.
Although it shares those tie-downs with its Ranger sibling, the BT-50 doesn’t have a power outlet in the bed. Its sports bars are a nice touch, but don’t look as impressive as some of the other offerings here.
Ford Ranger Wildtrak
It shares its architecture with the Mazda, but the Ranger has a smaller tray and less impressive payload. It measures the same 1549mm long, but it’s narrower at 1485mm – albeit with the same 1139mm between the wheel arches.
The tray is 511mm deep, and you get a 950kg payload to match the 3500kg braked towing capacity.
Inside, there’s a plastic bed liner and the same six tie-down hooks as the BT-50, backed by a 12V socket mounted on the back-left wall of the tray.
Where the Wildtrak sets itself apart is the sliding, roll-top Mountain Top tonneau cover. It eats into bed space when it’s open or closed, especially at the rear, but offers the best blend of security and usability of all the utes on test.
Rounding out the package is a neat spoiler-cum-sports bar complete with a built-in light.
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Holden Colorado Z71
The tray in the Colorado Z71 is just 1484mm long and 1560mm wide, dropping to 1122mm between the wheel arches.
It’s 466mm deep and offers an 1007kg payload to back the 3500kg braked towing capacity.
Our tester didn’t come with a bed liner, and offers just four tie-down points at staggered heights. There are two near the tailgate, and two near the ‘back’ of the tray – unfortunately, there’s no 12V power socket on board.
You'll notice the tray colour doesn't match our tester. It's the same model, but a different car.
Our tester was fitted with a locking, sliding soft tonneau – and the tailgate opens with the tonneau in place. The soft cover is easy to remove, which is a big positive, but doesn't offer quite the same degree of security as a hard, locking top.
Although the fancy mechanism and accompanying sail panel eats slightly into load space, it offers a neat blend of load-carrying practicality and security.
Isuzu D-Max LS-T
The tray in the Isuzu matches the rest of its persona: a bit agricultural, but practical and tough.
It measures 1484mm long and 1534mm wide, or 1125mm between the arches. At 465mm deep, the bed is essentially bang-on with the Colorado – not surprising given they’re distant relatives. It’ll tow 3500kg braked, and has a 1080kg payload.
Our tester came with a rubber mat on the floor of the tray, along with a locking hard tonneau cover. It isn’t as smart as the electrically locking pop-top on the Nissan, but it opens higher and is easier to operate with one hand.
Pictured without tonneau cover, but with the correct rubber mat.
Both of those are potential deal-breakers if you’re constantly loading or unloading larger items. Once again, the hard cover limits your carrying capacity and, as you’d expect, can’t be easily removed.
You get two tie-down points at each end of the bed for a total of four, staggered in height at each end. There’s no power outlet on board.
Toyota HiLux SR5
Toyota hasn’t stressed itself with mod-cons in the tray of the HiLux, but it’s a large and usable space.
It’s 1569mm long and a whopping 1645mm wide, although 1109mm between the arches isn’t class-leading. At 481mm deep, the 'unbreakable' Toyota also trails some of its rivals on that account.
With a 925kg payload and 3200kg braked towing capacity, it even trails the benchmarks for outright load-lugging ability.
As for the fancy stuff? There’s none. Literally none. Our tester had an unlined, dented tray with rust spots showing, and there are only four tie-down points.
There’s no power outlet down back, although you get chunky chrome sports bars. A trip to ARB, or even a dealer-fit aftermarket locking cover, is likely to be order of the day for HiLux buyers.
Mitsubishi Triton Exceed
Measuring 1520mm long, 1470mm wide and 1085mm between the wheel arches, the Triton is middle-of-the-road for space in the bed.
The tray is 475mm deep, with a 935kg payload capacity and a 3100kg braked towing capacity.
Although you get a tidy plastic bed liner and six tie-down points, the liner impedes on the load-securing hooks. It looks a bit rushed, and increases the risk of frayed straps (or tempers) when you’re trying to hook up a bike.
A soft tonneau cover is included, offering a neat look and reasonable protection for anything in the back… Provided thieves don’t just take it off. You also need to unhook the cover to open the tailgate.
There’s no power outlet in the bed, either, perhaps because of the car’s age. Cash-strapped Mitsubishi hasn’t had the reserves to significantly update the Triton in a long time, and it shows.
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