2022 Dual-Cab Ute Comparison: The tow test (and those left behind)

We put the new Ford Ranger up against other popular dual-cabs to see who is the dual-cab tow king!

Ford Ranger XLT Towing A Brook 220727 8816

Mid-size 4x4 dual-cab utes are very popular choices with those who tow because most of them offer a 3500kg towing rating, their relatively long wheelbases are good for stability when towing, and they are more affordable than the big 4x4 wagons that also offer that 3500kg capacity like Land Cruisers, Patrols and Land Rovers.

ALERT! Get our full 2022 dual-cab ute comparison story

Towing is a huge piece of any ute test, particularly as a factor in helping buyers decide which model will prove safest and most capable for their needs.


No surprises, the towing component of our 2022 Dual-Cab Ute Comparison is a story in its own right – so to keep that main piece a little easier on the eyes and to save your fingers from scrolling fatigue, we've broken the tow test out into this big story you're reading right now.

To read the rest of our comparison, hit the link below.


2022 Dual-Cab Ute Comparison: Tow Test

Australians are spoiled for choice when it comes to dual-cabs utes to tow with. As some of the biggest-selling vehicles in Australia are in this category, manufacturers are falling over themselves to get product into the market and to eager buyers.

This gives potential owners plenty of choices no matter their budget, from lower-priced single-cabs in the $30,000 range right up to heavily-equipped sports utes like the Ranger Raptor or Volkswagen Amarok W580.

Ford's Ranger is the newest mid-size 4x4 ute to hit the Australian market and it is the first such vehicle to really take towing seriously.

Not only does it offer the choice of the V6 diesel engine and a four-wheel-drive system that gives users the versatility and safety of full-time four-wheel drive, but it’s loaded with clever tech features to make towing easier and safer for all users, be they beginners or seasoned towing experts

The 2022 Ford Ranger V6 4x4 will be hot property for those who tow heavy trailers, so as soon as the chance arose we hooked a Ranger Sport V6 and a Ranger XLT 4x4 (with the carried-over bi-turbo four-cylinder diesel engine) to see how they compare to other popular utes in the class.

Ford Ranger XLT Towing A Brook 220727 0738
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For this test, we borrowed a Jayco Journey Outback caravan from the team at Page Brothers Jayco RVs and Caravans in Moorabbin. This dual-axle off-road van is 6.1 metres long and weighs in at 2100kg, with approximately 140kg down on the tow ball. It’s a fairly typical example of the size and type of caravan you see being hauled behind utes all over Australia, so it suited our test perfectly.

All new Ford Rangers (except the Raptor) have a 3500kg rating for towing a trailer with brakes. The gross combined mass (GCM) – the maximum allowed weight of the Ranger, fuel, any cargo and accessories plus the weight of the trailer – varies depending on specification but for the Rangers tested here it is 6400kg for the Sport V6 and 6350kg for the Ranger XLT four-cylinder.

These important figures are at or near the top of the mid-size ute category and are sure to entice buyers who want to haul a boat, horse float, caravan or race car.

Engine outputs of the Rangers are also impressive. The 3.0L V6 diesel produces 184kW of power and 600Nm of torque, giving the V6  Ranger the most grunt in the class. Even the bi-turbo four-cylinder isn’t lacking in this regard with 154kW and 500Nm, making it one of the gruntiest four-cylinder 4x4 utes.

Both engines are backed by a 10-speed automatic transmission and only the V6 gets the 4x4 system that offers full-time 4x4 as well as rear-wheel drive, locked 4x4 high range and locked 4x4 low range modes.

Ford Ranger XLT Towing A Brook 220727 7976

Tech loaded

The new Ford Ranger brings a level of technology specifically designed for towing that you won’t find on any other ute in this segment.

From the starting point of hooking up the trailer, the Ranger has towing in mind. When reversing up to the trailer, the rear-view camera not only has directional lines showing you the steering angle but also a centre line you can follow to line up the tow ball directly under the tow hitch. This makes hooking up easier if you are solo and have no one to guide you back.

Both our Rangers were fitted with the optional Touring Pack, which includes the 360-degree camera and an integrated electronic brake controller.

You need a brake controller to operate the electric brakes on heavy trailers like the Jayco we have here, and in the past you had to buy an aftermarket unit. Ford has its own controller and it integrates neatly on the lower dash. The tow bar and associated wiring come standard on Rangers.

Once you have the trailer electrics hooked up, the centre screen will show you that it has detected a trailer and ask if you would like to configure it. You can configure your Ranger for multiple trailers of different sizes, for example, if you own a caravan, a box trailer and a boat.

Ford Ranger XLT Towing A Brook 220727 7945

By inputting the length of your trailer when configuring it, the system will then calibrate systems such as blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert to ensure they still work as they should with the added length of the rig. There’s also a default trailer setting, which is what we used for this test.

Once you are all hooked up and configured, the screen can then take you through a step-by-step towing checklist to make sure you’ve hooked up all the relative hardware and electrics needed. There’s even a trailer light check mode that once activated, cycles the rear lights so that you can check that all your trailer lights are working as they should without the assistance of a spotter.

This is all really clever but simple stuff that will make it safer and easier for any driver to tow any type of trailer

One last piece of tech available on most of the new Ranger models is the various drive modes, which include a ‘Tow-Haul’ setting that optimises the chassis and throttle calibrations for towing.

Ford Ranger XLT Towing A Brook 220727 8048

Ranger Sport V6

  • Braked towing rating: 3500kg
  • GCM: 6400kg
  • Payload: 934kg
  • Fuel consumption on test loop: 16.7L/100km

The previous Ranger already had one of the longest wheelbases in the class, providing a stable platform for towing, but Ford has taken this further with the new model by adding 50mm to the wheelbase for a total of 3270mm, plus 50mm to the wheel tracks to further improve stability.

It all provides the Ranger with a large ‘footprint’ on the road and this works with a very well-calibrated suspension set-up to deliver smooth travel over rough roads. 

There is very little, if any, of the pitching and porpoising that you get in many vehicles when towing on the factory-fitted standard suspension. The chassis remains smooth and balanced over the rougher terrain to give the driver control and a feeling of confidence in the Ranger’s abilities.

The roads were wet on the day of our test and pulling away from a standstill on a hill produced wheelspin with the Ranger in its rear-wheel-drive setting. Selecting 4A full-time four-wheel drive allows you to run in 4x4 on sealed roads and removed our problem of rear wheelspin in the wet.

Very few 4x4 utes offer this full-time 4x4 setting; only the Mitsubishi Triton and outgoing Volkswagen Amarok were among the popular models, so it's great to now have it on the new Ford.

Ford Ranger V 6 Sport A Brook 220727 7892
2023 Ford Ranger Sport V6 towing

Ford's V6 diesel engine pulls the 2100kg Jayco van with ease and has plenty in reserve for overtaking and climbing hills. It’s relatively quiet and refined in the way it gets on with its job, again making the job of the driver easier.

The 10-speed automatic transmission performs well when left to its own devices and manual shifting is done using buttons on the right-hand side of the gear selector knob. This is especially useful when you want to downshift to give a bit of trailer braking when slowing down.

We did find that the transmission was shifting through to higher ratios sooner than was ideal with the drive mode set to Normal but after switching it to the Tow-Haul mode, the transmission holds the gears longer and makes driving even easier. 

The Ranger’s chassis electronics include trailer sway control, which works with the vehicle’s electronic stability control (ESC) system to detect if and when a trailer might start to sway or fishtail on the road. It didn't happen on this drive with the Jayco but could occur with an incorrectly balanced or poorly set up trailer.

Interestingly, the Jayco Journey is equipped with its own ESC system but when plugged into the Ford, it is automatically disabled and didn’t present any issues on this drive.

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Ford Ranger V 6 Sport A Brook 220727 7923

Ford Ranger XLT four-cylinder

  • Braked towing rating: 3500kg
  • GCM: 6350kg
  • Payload: 959kg
  • Fuel consumption on test loop: 17.3L/100km

The Ford Ranger Wildtrak, Sport and XLT models are each available with the choice of the V6 or four-cylinder diesel engines and the V6 is a $3000 option over the purchase price of a four-cylinder.

Choosing the bi-turbo four-cylinder engine means you don’t just miss out on the performance and refinement of the V6 but a few significant features as well. The biggest omission is the full-time 4x4 capability, which is exclusive to the V6 models and brings benefits on wet and varied roads when towing. You also miss some of the driving modes but the Tow-Haul setting is still there.

The electronic towing aids and on-screen guides are also there when you have the optional Touring Pack fitted as our blue Ranger did.

Head out of town in the four-cylinder Ranger XLT with the Jayco on the back and you still get all the chassis benefits of the V6 Ranger. It’s stable and controlled and again really gives the driver confidence in the car’s abilities.

Ford Ranger XLT A Brook 220727 0773
2023 Ford Ranger XLT 4-cylinder towing

You need to put your foot down a bit harder to get the most out of the smaller engine but with 500Nm available, the XLT wasn’t left lacking on our drive. It was only on a longer hill climb that it was holding a lower gear and we could hear and feel the engine working harder – but not as if it was being flogged.

An indicator of how much harder the four-cylinder XLT Ranger worked than the V6 Ranger Sport was in the fuel consumption. The smaller engine used 17.3L/100km of diesel over the same road loop on which the V6 used 16.7L/100km. We’ve found similar results in the past when asking a smaller engine to do the same work in the same cars over the same route.

The new Rangers proved not only to be competent and relaxed towing vehicles but with the new technologies and features included, they made towing easier and safer.

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Mitsubishi Triton GSR A Brook 220727 8176

Mitsubishi Triton GSR

  • Braked towing rating: 3100kg
  • GCM: 5885kg
  • Payload: 901kg
  • Fuel consumption on test loop: 17.8L/100km

The GSR is the top model in the Triton range and its cabin brings a feel of luxury to this rugged little ute.

I say little because it is physically smaller than many of its competitors here and for many buyers, this is a positive. But its size and relatively short wheelbase of 3000mm means that Mitsubishi conservatively rates the Triton's towing limit to 3100kg.

However, it does make up for this shortcoming somewhat with a generous GCM that still allows you to carry a bit in the vehicle if you are towing at the maximum weight.

That short wheelbase combines with a long overhang at the rear to give the Triton a bouncy feel when towing the 2100kg Jayco caravan. There’s a lot of leverage between the tow bar and the rear axle, resulting in a porpoising when travelling over uneven road surfaces.

As the upper-spec model of the Triton line-up, the GSR is fitted with Mitsubishi’s Super Select four-wheel drive system, which gives you the option of driving in full-time four-wheel drive on sealed roads.

The Ranger Sport V6 was the only other vehicle in the group to offer this and as we found with the Ford, having full-time 4x4 proved beneficial to reducing wheelspin on wet roads during our test. Having an unlocked 4x4 system can also be very beneficial when manoeuvring a trailer on some surfaces.

Mitsubishi Triton GSR A Brook 220727 0635
2023 Mitsubishi Triton GSR towing

Also beneficial on the Mitsubishi are the transmission paddleshifters mounted behind the steering wheel. Affixed to the steering column so that they don’t move with the steering wheel, the shifters make it easy for tipping back a gear or two when you want a bit of engine braking. As the only vehicle in this group to have them, the Triton was the easiest to operate in this regard.

Mitsubishi’s single-turbo 2.4L engine makes just 133kW of power and 430Nm of torque, so is at the lower end of the outputs list but it did an admirable job. 

We could feel it working harder than the other engines over the same loop and the transmission kicked right back to second gear, keeping the engine near redline on the long hill climb. The effort required by the powertrain resulted in high fuel use, with 17.8L/100km being the thirstiest on test.

As with most of the utes that needed to have an aftermarket brake controller fitted for this test, the Triton was fitted with a unit from Australian manufacturer Redarc. Mitsubishi and most other brands fit the Redarc unit as a dealer option.

The lower-spec Triton didn’t have the brake controller fitted so it didn’t get tested with the Jayco. Given it has the same powertrain, chassis and wheelbase, we’d have to expect that its performance would replicate that of the GSR.

A couple of things the GXL+ misses out on are two of the positives of the GSR; the Super Select 4x4 system and paddleshifters. Both are only fitted to the top two Triton grades, GLS and GSR.

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Mazda BT 50 GT A Brook 220727 0680
2023 Mazda BT-50 GT towing

Mazda BT-50 GT

  • Braked towing rating: 3500kg
  • GCM: 6000kg
  • Payload: 1065kg
  • Fuel consumption on test loop: 15.5L/100km

The BT-50 GT is another high-spec model and as such has a feel of class and luxury to its interior.

Since 2020, Mazda’s ute has come from a collaboration with Isuzu so what you get is basically a reskinned D-Max with a bit of Mazda personality and style.

As such, the BT gets Isuzu’s trusted 4JJ diesel engine and Aisin six-speed automatic transmission backed by a part-time four-wheel-drive system, just like in the D-Max. It makes a modest 140kw of power and 450Nm of torque so it’s feeling the pinch against some of the newer and more sophisticated engines.

Mazda BT 50 GT A Brook 220727 0707
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The BT-50’s chassis has a 3125mm wheelbase and Mazda has differentiated it from the D-Max with its own suspension tune, which is softer in the way it rides and controls a load. As a result, it pulled the Jayco caravan with composure but was a bit bouncy over the undulations. The BT-50 felt like it would really benefit from an aftermarket suspension upgrade to make it a better towing ute and many owners would be going down this route anyway.

Its Isuzu engine does an admirable job of pulling the 2100kg trailer considering its outputs but it does work hard on the hills. It also proved to be the most economical of all the utes we towed with, in both the Mazda and the Isuzu.

The transmission likes to shift through to the higher gears quickly, which helps with fuel economy but is not ideal when you want some engine braking. Thankfully the transmission shifter easily taps across toward the driver for manual gear selection and to hold the ratios you want.

The only time the transmission did kick back a few ratios was on the long hill climb where the engine was working its hardest.

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Isuzu D Max LS U A Brook 220727 9199
2023 Isuzu D-Max LS-U towing

Isuzu D-Max LS-U

  • Braked towing rating: 3500kg
  • GCM: 6000kg
  • Payload: 995kg
  • Fuel consumption on test loop: 15.3L/100km

With its underpinnings and powertrain shared with the Mazda BT-50, the D-Max has very similar specifications regarding its towing capacities but it’s interesting that Isuzu cites a lower payload of 995kg while matching the Mazda's 6000kg GCM.

The real mechanical difference between the two shared platforms is in the suspension tune.

Isuzu D Max LS U A Brook 220727 0846

The D-Max is firmer in its suspension, which offers a more controlled composure when towing but is less comfortable when there is no load on the vehicle.

Its powertrain was the same as the BT-50, so modest performance, noisy on the hill climb and the transmission shifting through to higher gears rapidly. 

The D-Max has the same gear selector as the Mazda, so holding gears manually was simple (and needed). The D-Max marginally bettered the BT in fuel consumption, recording the lowest figure of all the utes tested.

UPDATE, October: MY23 D-Max pricing announced

The updated 2023 D-Max has been detailed, with tweaks to styling, equipment and engine options. Get the full story at the link below. We'll be driving the updated models as soon as they reach Australia, but mechanically they're largely unchanged.

Story continues

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2022 Ssang Yong Musso XLV Ultimate Black Towing A Brook 220728 9423
2023 SsangYong Musso towing

SsangYong Musso XLV Ultimate

  • Braked towing rating: 3500kg
  • GCM: 6130kg
  • Payload: 880kg
  • Fuel consumption on test loop: 16.8L/100km

The Musso XLV Ultimate was the only one of the more affordable utes to be delivered to us with a towing kit on it. The Musso might fall into the cheaper bracket but in this trim level it doesn’t miss out on anything. It’s the only ute in this test that has front seats that are both heated and ventilated and it even has a sunroof!

What you most appreciate when you get inside the Musso is the space it offers, with the widest cabin in the class and it is loaded with features.

Towing-wise, the XLV benefits from a long 3210mm wheelbase, which is only outdone by the Ranger’s 3270mm between the axles. A bigger point of difference is that the Musso Ultimate XLV has coil spring rear suspension that offers better ride and handling than most of the leaf-sprung utes.

This particular Musso was equipped with the optional heavy-duty suspension package that was locally developed in Australia in association with Ironman 4x4, so this kit should have improved the chassis for towing duties.

As we’ve found when driving the Musso with this optional suspension in the past, it does deliver a firm ride when unladen although it’s never harsh or uncomfortable. It carries the 140kg download on the tow ball with barely any noticeable sag and that composure continues out on the road and over the undulations. This is a very stable platform that proved well-suited to towing this caravan.

2022 Ssang Yong Musso XLV Ultimate Black Towing A Brook 220728 9605
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Where the Musso does fall behind is in the performance of its engine. The 2.2-litre single-turbo mill makes just 133kW of power and 420Nm of torque, and really felt the load of the van behind it. It was particularly slow heading up the steep incline and its workload was reflected in a 16.8L/100km fuel consumption result.

The Musso can’t get the 144kW/441Nm engine tune and eight-speed transmission from the Rexton wagon soon enough – we believe that SsangYong Australia is working to make that happen.

For its part, the Musso’s current six-speed transmission gave nothing to complain about on this drive. Manually selecting gears is done using a toggle switch on the side of the gear shifter, operated by the driver’s thumb. It’s relatively simple in operation and easier to use than the Ford’s buttons in the same location.

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What about the cars we couldn't tow test?

Toyota Hilux SR 5 E Dewar 220727 2022 Ute Mega Test 4403

Toyota HiLux SR5

  • Braked towing rating: 3500kg
  • GCM: 5850kg
  • Payload: 995kg

As a result of the 2020 upgrades to the HiLux powertrain, all 4x4 models now have a class-standard 3500kg braked towing rating and the dual-cab has a 5850kg GCM.

While our test car was fitted with a tow bar it did not have a brake controller for the electric brakes on the trailer, so we were unable to sample its towing ability on this occasion.

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Nissan Navara Pro 4 X E Dewar 220725 2022 Ute Mega Test 3162

Navara Pro-4X

  • Braked Towing rating: 3500kg
  • GCM: 5910kg
  • Payload: 1004kg

The top-spec Navara Pro-4X is the muscle truck of the range.

Nissan’s 2.3-litre diesel engine makes 140kW of power and 450Nm of torque but those numbers don’t tell the full story. The engine’s twin-turbo arrangement delivers the torque in a linear manner, with no peaks in the way the Navara accelerates.

Considering its capacity and clever forced induction set-up, the output figures are very modest when you consider that smaller bi-turbo engines in the LDV and Ford are producing 500Nm of grunt.

The Navara has a seven-speed automatic transmission and part-time, dual-range four-wheel-drive system.

Kudos to Nissan for giving this high-spec model a 5910kg GCM and more than one tonne of payload. Unfortunately, the vehicle supplied for this test didn’t have a brake controller fitted so it couldn’t be used to tow the caravan.

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LDV T 60 Max Luxe E Dewar 220725 2022 Ute Mega Test 3077
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LDV T60 Max

  1. Braked towing rating: 3000kg
  2. GCM: 5900kg
  3. Payload: 750kg

With a touted 160kW of power and 500Nm of torque on tap, the LDV T60 Max is the most powerful four-cylinder ute in the mid-size category. Even so, it is only rated to tow 3000kg but with a respectable 5900kg GCM.

Judging from its very firm suspension, we’d hazard to guess that the sharp-looking LDV should tow reasonably well but the test car wasn’t fitted with a tow bar or any other towing accessories so it couldn’t be used on the towing loop.

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GWM Cannon Ute X C Brunelli 220810 Ute Mega Test 05

GWM Cannon-X

  • Braked towing rating: 3000kg
  • GCM: 5555kg
  • Payload: 1050kg

The Great Wall Cannon has been attracting plenty of interest for its big burly looks and relatively affordable pricing. But its 120kW/400Nm 2.0-litre engine is low on power and refinement. A shining light is the ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission, while a 3230mm wheelbase has the potential to give a solid stable towing platform.

Its 3000kg tow rating is low for the class, as is the 5555kg GCM, indicative of the engine outputs, but we didn’t get to hook the van up to it on this test as it wasn’t fitted with a brake controller.

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To read the rest of our comparison, hit the link below.

Special thanks

A big thank you to the team from Page Brothers RV – Jayco in Moorabbin, Victoria for the loan of the Jayco Journey Outback Caravan.

Get in touch with them for all your RV and Jayco caravan needs at pagebrosrv.com.au.

Ford Ranger XLT Towing A Brook 220727 8027

4 X 4 Australia Editor
Siteassets Authors Matt Raudonikis

Matt is a 30-year veteran of the auto industry spending the last five as 4x4 Australia editor.

Ellen Dewar
Alastair Brook
Cristian Brunelli


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