Towing van with dual cab utes - ride quality?

Submitted: Sunday, May 21, 2023 at 18:50
ThreadID: 145669 Views:2726 Replies:9 FollowUps:6
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Looking for some feedback from those of you who are towing single axle, coil sprung vans with a dual cab ute. Here's why. I used to have a Triton dual cab and I found when towing my dual axle 8 x 5 trailer with torsion bar suspension, the chassis would flutter and flex on anything worse than near perfect surfaces. Made towing very uncomfortable. Tritons were (still are?) known for their light, bendy chassis.

I'm looking at changing shortly to a Mazda BT50 or Isuzu D-Max and I'll be towing our single axle, coil sprung Golf Savannah 499 pop top (tare about 1650, max weight 2150, towball weight I think around the 150 to 180 mark) So I'm wondering if any of you have a similar setup and can tell me how it rides in general?
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Reply By: Kazza055 - Sunday, May 21, 2023 at 19:49

Sunday, May 21, 2023 at 19:49
Have a 2014 D-Max and tow a 2500kg tandem and got home yesterday ending a 3 month trip.

The D-Max does it very well and at times I forget the van is behind us.
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Follow Up By: Rusty Iron - Sunday, May 21, 2023 at 20:02

Sunday, May 21, 2023 at 20:02
Thanks Kazza. The D-Max is a strong contender, that's for sure.
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Reply By: Member - nickb aka"boab" - Monday, May 22, 2023 at 04:26

Monday, May 22, 2023 at 04:26
Any of your more modern coil sprung front end utes are going to ride a hell of lot better than those old torsion bar "bone crunching" suspension.
Aswel like the more modern dual axle independent caravan suspension ride so much better than your single axle is my experience .
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Reply By: Member - John - Monday, May 22, 2023 at 07:34

Monday, May 22, 2023 at 07:34
Rusty, arrange with the car dealer to take whatever you are thinking of buying for a test drive with the van attached, then you can compare apples with apples, no guess work required.
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Reply By: Member - Greg Bro - Monday, May 22, 2023 at 17:02

Monday, May 22, 2023 at 17:02
I tow a 1500 kg hybrid behind a 2018 Mazda BT50 and it rides comfortably.

The problem with utes is that they really only ride well over a fairly narrow weight range. Most utes standard suspension is designed to impress when the salesperson and you are the only weight in the vehicle but load it up and the standard springs/shocks will give a poor ride. If the ute suspension has been upgraded to cope with the heavy weight of the van plus the load in the ute, then it will ride poorly when empty.

If you can keep the weight in the ute within about a 300 kg weight range between heaviest and lightest (and this includes towball weight), then it will be possible to select springs and shocks to give a good ride. Rear leaf springs will struggle to provide a quality ride if asked to perform over a greater weight range.
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Follow Up By: Rusty Iron - Monday, May 22, 2023 at 17:18

Monday, May 22, 2023 at 17:18
Thanks Greg. Yes, I had the same problem with the Triton. When loaded for a big 4wd bush trip it rode quite nicely. But empty around town was pretty jiggly. All the reviewers rave about the new Isuzu and Mazda utes suspension. And from the one short test drive of the D-Max I came away very impressed as well.
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Follow Up By: Member - McLaren3030 - Tuesday, May 23, 2023 at 07:16

Tuesday, May 23, 2023 at 07:16
The problem with a lot of 4WD’s, but particularly Utes, is the distance the tow ball is from the rear axle. There is quite a lot of “overhang”. This accentuates the “porposing ” described by the OP. Stiffening the suspension will help, but also comes with the side effect of a harsher ride, particularly when there is little weight in the tub of the ute. Exactly as Greg described.

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Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Tuesday, May 23, 2023 at 08:11

Tuesday, May 23, 2023 at 08:11
I have a 2009 Colorado towing a Goldstream Vacationer III and never had a problem with ride quality.
The Goldstream has Cruisemaster suspension on a single axle and the only "upgrade" I have on the Colorado's standard leaf springs, is a pair of Superspring brand helper springs. These have proven to be an advantage, both when towing the van, or traveling unloaded. No adjustments necessary.
Having an off-road van, I have never considered employing torsion bars. Just don't need it.
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Follow Up By: Member - McLaren3030 - Wednesday, May 24, 2023 at 07:04

Wednesday, May 24, 2023 at 07:04
Hi Bill,

What do you mean by “torsion bars”? Are you referring to a WDH, or torsion bar suspension? Whilst they employ a similar principle, they are different things.

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Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Wednesday, May 24, 2023 at 07:13

Wednesday, May 24, 2023 at 07:13
Hi Macca,

Yep you're quite right there and I may have got the wrong drift.
I was of course referring to the Weight Distribution Hitch.
My bad!
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Reply By: Member - nickb aka"boab" - Tuesday, May 23, 2023 at 14:49

Tuesday, May 23, 2023 at 14:49
Rusty in what sense are you talking about the torsion bars was that on your dual axle trailer or on front of theTriton or other ..
another option might be for the rear to keep them standard spring but installing some airbag helpers ... I realise these can be a problem with bending chassis but used sensibly can be quite good ..the other thing to consider is having adjustable shock absorbers like a koni or Old Man Emu to give you that comfortable ride you are seeking . Stiff shock absorbers can be the difference between a comfortable ride and a harsh ride , we had a set of EFS shockers once and they were terrible for ride conditions .
I have just fitted to my ranger a set of King industry QLD 300kg constant load Springs 40ml lift rubber bushes not nylon and are very happy with them not overly stiff with Ome Nitro shocks the vehicle came with .
Cheers Nick b

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Follow Up By: Rusty Iron - Tuesday, May 23, 2023 at 16:21

Tuesday, May 23, 2023 at 16:21
Thanks Nick. No the Triton didn't have torsion bar suspension, the trailer did. And because that suspension was so stiff, it fed every little bump straight back through the towbar and into the ute. Made towing a misery. I ended up having to get a tow hitch with an airbag in it. And the Triton had a very light chassis compared to other makes, making things worse.

And yes I know there are many options re suspension (I have tried many of them over the fourteen 4wd's I've had over the years). What I was more interested in is the behaviour of certain utes when towing. All of them will flex chassis to a certain degree but before I drop a lot of moolah, I want to be reasonably sure I will be comfortable if I decide on a ute and not a wagon.

Believe it or not, I will be selling my 200 Series to buy the next vehicle. Why would I sell a perfectly good 200 if I'm concerned about towing ability? Because I'm rapidly approaching pension age and will soon be in no position to keep running one, sadly.
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Reply By: Member - nickb aka"boab" - Tuesday, May 23, 2023 at 19:07

Tuesday, May 23, 2023 at 19:07
Rusty I was wonder why you might be buying a ute when you have 200.. I do remember a quote from someone who says that you can't afford a 200 out of warranty ..very expensive repair bills ..
I have a ranger as mentioned and the ride quality of the newer ute's is quiet remarkable compared to our old 100 Series Landcruiser by far.
We recently updated the hundred series to a new Everest with the 2L motor fabulous car glad to see the back of the old LandCruiser .
I don't think you will regret getting either of the vehicles mentioned both come with very good reviews and as I mentioned in my other reply most of the new utes great vehicles
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Reply By: Happy Explorer - Wednesday, May 24, 2023 at 08:35

Wednesday, May 24, 2023 at 08:35
Hi Rusty
A bit different setup to yours, but you might find something helpful in my experience.
When I built my hybrid I made a decision that I would not be fitting any load leveling/sway bar devices.
My van is similar size and weight to yours however independent airbag suspension. I am towing it behind a Prado 150.
Initially I was very disappointed with the ride. The car hobby horsed to the point that driving was tiring and the whole thing borderline on dangerous in some conditions.
After playing around with a couple ideas I ended up with new standard height HD springs, new shocks and air bag assist on the rear coils. All this on the Prado of course. Cost me around $2500 all up and I am now very happy with the ride. Also, all weights including the tow ball weight are within limits which probably helps too. Still I was surprised how poorly it handled before the upgrades.
Clearly these vehicles are not designed for towing in their standard form.
Roy G.
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Reply By: Gbc.. - Wednesday, May 24, 2023 at 09:47

Wednesday, May 24, 2023 at 09:47
I've got the new mazda BT50 and tow a single axle independent camper of almost the same wheelbase and weight figures as your van (my mate has the same 499 as yours and we have compared - nice van!).
Mine is the XT twin cab auto which gets the heavier leaf springs. I have retained the factory leaves and added boss airbags for when I am heavy. I also have a ute back and 1800mm jack off canopy, so my load state varies from absolutely empty to absolutely heavy.
The work spec springs are absolutely up to the job but you will feel the difference from the flash models when it is empty for sure. The rear shocks are not great and will want something heavier. I changed my front over to aftermarket when I got a bullbar and winch.
I'm coming up on 2 years 50k kms on it and it has been 100% reliable which is great. The engine has a decent rev range and a change happy gearbox to match so I hope you don't expect it to sit in the one gear - aisin box so you'd be used to that with the 200. This ute tows better than my 3.2 ranger did, with torque everywhere and the ability to rev also.
To give you an idea of the load carrying, with the canopy on (300kg min, probably more) I only need nominal air in the bags (7 psi). Fully loaded and towing the camper with 300 kg ball weight I bump them up to 15 psi - I have never needed to go over that.
The new isuzu/mazda has a very sensitive front end alignment setup and the bags allow me to keep the car in the correct trim with all the different weights I carry - so far no problem. The factory 3 leaf parabolics are a very comfortable spring but in the comfort spec utes they are notoriously soft and bouncy with some load - hope this helps.
AnswerID: 643655

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