A new job means a new car, and I’m limited to getting some sort of utility. Instead of a dual cab ute, though, I’m wondering if there is an alternative?
When I was young, I remember my uncle had a ute that had extra jump seats behind the driver. I have two young kids and I want to carry sea kayaks in the back, and the length of a dual cab ute’s tray doesn’t seem to be big enough.
Does that style of ute still exist? Does it have a longer tray? And how suitable is it for kids?
Paul, Callala Bay, NSW
They do indeed exist! They’re called a variety of names from king cabs to extra cabs, but crew cab seems to be the consensus. In fact, the only way to get a proper single-cab ute these days is if you opt for a cab-chassis version.
A crew cab ute has a standard length tray with a slightly longer main cab that does indeed accommodate two small seats behind the driver/passenger pair.
However, there are a number of compromises that work against a crew cab as a viable full-time four-seater.
The first one is accessing the rear seats themselves. While the Mitsubishi Triton crew cab (pictured above), the Toyota HiLux Extra cab, Ford’s Ranger Super cab and the Nissan Navara King cab all have ‘suicide’ doors for the rear (so named because they open forwards and out into the flow of traffic), it’s still no easy feat to climb aboard, especially if there is someone already belted into the front seat.
The seats themselves, too, are jump seats in the truest sense of the word. The seat bases are tiny, and the seat backs themselves are vertical, which makes it very uncomfortable for journeys longer than even a few minutes for anyone except very excited small children.
An unhappy teenager in a Triton crew cab, yesterday
Having said that, they are all fitted with at least two top-tether points for baby seats, though they aren’t fitted with the more modern, easier-to-use ISOFIX points.
If the ute isn't the family's main means of transport, then the jump seats can be a useful addition to the weekend car pool, as long as you're aware of their limitations.
The advantage of the crew cab comes when you want to carry longer items in the tray. On average, a crew cab’s tray (Triton pictured below) is about 300mm longer than that of a dual cab. The single exception to the rule is SsangYong’s new long-tray Musso.
I know that extra length helps when it comes to lugging mountain bikes around, and hopefully, it’ll stow a kayak or two for you as well.