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Should you buy an extended cab ute or a dual cab one?


One of OTA’s trusted contributors and truck tragic, Matt W has just bought an extended cab ute, rather than the far more popular dual cab type. His reasoning makes interesting reading, we think.


My common sense when it comes to vehicles is often called into question. I told a mate recently that I’d just bought a car and he responded with mix of resignation and despair in his voice: “Oh dear, what is it?” 

I’m probably one of the only people on this continent who thinks the International Scout II (with travel top) is the coolest 4×4 to have ever graced Australian roads. ( We don’t think ‘probably’ is necessary! – Ed).

The (lack of) common sense case is evidenced in my garage, populated by a very-modified 1988 Land Rover Perentie 110 and a nearly bog-stock 1976 Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser. The Perentie was purchased as a compromise between a love of Land Rovers and a dislike of breaking down: hence an Australian-built Isuzu-powered Landy. 

The Cruiser? All about the vibe baby. Even to the point where I was a little miffed at actually having to use the high-lift jack I’d proudly installed on the sidestep to rescue a stranded (heavily overloaded) Ford Ranger from the incoming tide on Moreton Island a while back. I mean really, I got it sandy.



However, recently I succumbed to a rare episode of pragmatism. I bought a Ford Ranger. 

However, as uncharacteristic as this move has been, I did do something that the bulk of the Ranger buying public hasn’t done. I didn’t buy a dual cab. 

The compact dual cab utes available in this market are pretty much in all aspects compromised vehicles. The stock ones don’t ride, they don’t carry and they certainly don’t tow properly.

Compact dual cab utes are the archetypal ‘jack of all trades, master of none’. The only owners that will dispute this are those that only ever occupy the driver’s seat. And even then, said driver will most likely use ear plugs to drown out the plaintive cries of anyone unfortunate enough to be a rear seat passenger in one of these vehicles. 

As passenger vehicles they are flawed from a comfort perspective and, as load carrying vehicles, they are also flawed. I could bore you with GVM facts and figures (which do not take into account any towing stats), but simply put, the entire load area, regardless of stats is either directly above or behind the rear axle of every dual cab on the Aussie market. 

That tray/tub is an outdoor parcel shelf and no amount of faux leather upholstery or spiffy infotainment is going to mitigate this. The arse end of your chassis is lugging the bulk of any load you intend to haul. This is amplified by any tow ball down force you add to the equation.

As dedicated 4x4s compact dual cab utes are also flawed, hindered by an independent front end which limits ground clearance and off-road performance. 

Compact dual cab utes pretty much only exist as devices to ensure that the current generation of kiddies grows up under a mushroom cloud of ergonomic resentment at parents acting out Russel Coight fantasies in the second family car.  



Which is why I bought a super cab, because I can’t afford the right kind of dual cab that has a longer wheelbase. This means Tundra, F150, Ram 1500, Chev\GMC Denali/Silverado.

I could moan that Ford does not offer a super cab in top spec trim. Given the choice I’d opt for a turbo petrol V6 variant for the mid-range XLT Ranger. Big power, no DEF, no EGR; fuel in/power out no emissions regen dramas. 

So yeah. I’ve got a boring white two-litre 150kW/500Nm bi-turbo 10-speed auto, part time 4×4 Ford Ranger.



And, so far, I love it. It’s a world where mountain bike riders and dirt bike riders can secure their two- wheeled toys in a tray that doesn’t require the tailgate to be lashed down, or a padded blanket over a tailgate. It’s a world where your grocery shop slides out of reach under harsh braking…

If I do decide to load it up for long distance travel, which is still on the cards, I can rest assured that the load on the truck can be distributed between both axles.



I can strap my fridge to the rear seat to ensure it’s enclosed. I have storage options under said seats. 

I’m sure there’s a lot of the ownership journey to document along the way. However, this isn’t a press vehicle that is returned after a week or two. I’ve put my own hard earned down on this one. If its garbage I’ll let you know. 

You should also check out some of Big Al’s yarns in this section on weight distribution, manufacturers’ claims about ute payloads and have a play with the on-line weight calculator.

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