There's plenty of variety at the business end of the four-wheel-drive ute segment these days. We run through them from top to bottom.
We all know how the four-wheel-drive ute segment has grown and evolved in recent years. No longer a field of spartan utes – low on features but all sporting a big loadspace at the back.
While that big loadspace is still the crucial part of a ute’s definition, their form has been evolving over the years. And there’s plenty of variety to be had up the back.
During our four-wheel-drive ute mega test, we had the opportunity to sample the once-humble ute tub in all of its modern forms.
While GT specification is pinnacle BT-50, the HiLux has been usurped by the likes of the Rugged X and Rogue that have more features at the rear. However, both look a little bit nude in this company.
It might not matter to some buyers, however. If you’re looking to modify and personalise your tub with things like drawers and canopies, then these bare ends will look more like blank canvasses for your own build.
The Amarok’s business end also looks a little bare (in Highline 580 spec) without any tub liner or cover to mention. However, there is a 12V plug and light (switchable from the cabin) mounted on the black sports bar. There are also four tie-down points, which are a nice removable, fold-flat design.
While the T60 Trailrider is by far the cheapest ute on this test, LDV has added quite a few features to the tub. A Mountain-Top roller cover is there, along with a spray-in tub liner and four tie-down points. However, a 12V plug is absent.
A lift-up lid, like we have on this Triton GLS Premium, isn't a standard fitting, costing $3071 as a dealer-fitted accessory. A tub liner also comes at an additional cost, as getting one standard will require going up to the top specification called GSR.
Extra costs aside, the Triton as we have it here is a good representation of when four-wheel-drive utes gain a strong lifestyle bent. A hard lid like this makes the Triton’s tub secure and lockable, but less versatile in terms of loading up tall and bulky gear.
|Mazda BT-50||Toyota HiLux||Volkswagen Amarok||LDV T60||Nissan Navara||Mitsubishi Triton||IsuzuD-Max||Ford Ranger|
|Spec||GT||SR5||Highline 580||Trailrider||N-Trek||GLS Premium||X-Terrain||Wildtrak|
|Tub width (wheel arches)||1110mm||1110mm||1180mm||1050mm||1070mm||1040mm||1110mm||1110mm|
|Tub liner type||Drop-in||Optional||Optional||Spray-on||Drop-in||Optional||Drop-in||Drop-in|
|Ute tub lighting||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||No||Yes|
|Cover type||No||No||No||Manual roller||Soft tonneau||No||Manual roller||Electric roller|
Nissan’s Navara uses a more old-school take on weather-proofing: a soft tonneau cover that clips into the tub with sail track joins. It’s nowhere near as fast or easy to open up, but can be removed completely and left in the shed when you want an open tray.
One great element of the Navara is, on top of the four typical tie-down points, an additional load rail on each side with adjustable tie-down points. These sit higher up in the tub, but prove very useful when fitting large and awkwardly sized stuff into the back.
In top-spec X-Terrain guise, the Isuzu D-Max gets a loaded tub with plenty of accessories as standard fitment. There’s a sailplane-style sports bar, as well as a roller cover shutter. The drop-in liner will save the paint, but a knock-on effect of the roller cover is there are only two tie-down points at the back of the tub.
Ford's Ranger Wildtrak is well laden with features: electric roll cover, drop-in tub liner, light and 12V power outlet. There’s a drop-in tub liner, as well as four tie-down points.
In this spec, the Ranger’s tub is also sealed around the tailgate. It's no mean feat, and does a good job of stopping (or slowing) stuff like dust and water getting through. Most other utes have no shortage of daylight visible through the sizeable gaps in the tailgate, letting just about everything into the tub when driving on wet or dusty roads.