June 7, 2011

Open wide – thoughts on extended cab utes

Ford showed how to provide access to an extended cab ute with the Courier.

Contrast the above with the Mitsubishi Triton arrangement.
 I like extended cab utes, but like some more than others. These are the breed of ute that fits between the single cab and the dual cab, introduced to meet the often expressed need of single cab owners for a bit more space for gear. The extended cab provides this, at the expense of tray size. On the other hand, a typical extended cab offers about 20 per cent more tray size than a typical double cab. If you don't need to carry people in the back, the extended cabs are a good compromise, with their more useful tray and the ability to stash stuff securely behind the seats. All of the extended cabs have pretend seats in the back, but only your dog would ever thank you for them. Bolt upright and thin, they're uncomfortable even for children and legroom is scarce.

The other problem with extended cabs, or at least some of them, is access. You had to push the seats forward, tilt the backs, and wriggle the stuff on board. Some time ago, Ford and Mazda introduced to Japanese utes the American solution of clamshell-type doors, aka suicide doors, that forever solved the access problem. With the main doors open, the smaller rear-hinged doors swing out to provide the most magnificent access, as you can see from the top picture. Farmers could even push livestock in, and did. I wrongly predicted at the time that all extended cab utes would adopt this sort of door arrangement, but so far, of the Japanese, only Nissan has joined Ford and Mazda.

Mitsubishi has only recently added an extended cab to its 4WD ute range and a worthy unit it is, except it lacks the easy access of the small doors and you're left trying to shove the stuff over or around the front seats. For off-roaders, though, this price may be worth paying because, with its standard rear diff lock and hose-it-down interior, the Triton is hard to beat.

Apart from ease of access, the Triton GL's an admirable off roader.
Mitsi's extended cab, or Club Cab as they call it, is offered only in a basic GL manual specification, a muddy paddock apart from the car-like utes that have found favour in the suburbs. The wellside costs $45,990.
Squeezing the cab allows a wellside deck that’s 1805mm long compared to the double cab’s 1505mm. As with the other diesel Tritons, it’s powered by the 2.5 litre DID common-rail, motor that produces133kW and 407Nm of torque. It the ute world, that torque is second only to the 450Nm of Nissan’s Navara ST-X. A heavy load makes little dent on performance although you’ll notice some falloff in highway overtaking times. And, typically for a ute, a good load improves the ride.

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