Australia has had a love affair with utes since 1934, when Ford Australia claimed to be the first company to mass produce a ute. Famously it was initiated by a 1932 letter from a farmers wife who asked Ford to build “a vehicle to go to church on Sunday, which can carry our pigs to market on Mondays”, and so Ford designer Lew Bandt was given the task to design a two-door body with a rear tray based on the American Ford Model A chassis. It was called the ‘coupe utility’ and in the US, Henry Ford nicknamed it the ‘kangaroo chaser’.
Since then utes have been an integral part of the Australian motoring landscape and in the last 30 years our fascination with them has grown to include the dual cab ute. I bought my first Dual Cab ute, a Nissan Navara more than 20 years ago and have had one in my garage ever since. In fact my daily drivers has been VW Amaroks for the last seven years and I love them.
Over this period of time, there has been a massive growth in ute sales here in Australia and since 2015 the Toyota HiLux and the Ford Ranger have been in the top 3 selling new cars in the country each year.
So I’ve always found it interesting when motoring journalists have argued, that although Dual Cabs are popular, they are not the perfect family car and facets of their safety have been in dispute for years now. They would and still do suggest that Dual cabs are not safe family cars, certainly not that comfortable to ride in (particularly in the back seat) and overall should be viewed as work horses and not
Having never sat in the back seat, I can’t verify the comfort claim and yes they don’t handle like sports cars, but I never really expected them to and re safety, I can’t argue against that the national road safety figures have shown in recent years that dual cab commercial vehicles have been over-represented in fatal crashes.
It’s interesting though that now all of the mainstream dual cab utes have 5 star ANCAP safety ratings and all of the manufacturers are paying more attention to this sector of the market and genuinely ramping up the safety features.
An indication of this is the new Isuzu D-Max which some are suggesting is the safest dual cab ute on the market to date. Rod Chapman from Carsales goes over the D- MAX and when you look at the number of genuine safety features on the car (listed at 28) it may very well be the bench mark for the sector.