by Dom Wiseman

In the battle for dual cab ute supremacy things are hotting up as buyers continue to flock to these surprisingly popular vehicles. I even saw a guy sitting in one in a suit using an electric razor next to me in the perennially slow Sydney traffic yesterday.

As a result of the demand or perhaps adding to it, Toyota recently added three lifestyle models to the line-up, the Rogue, Rugged and Rugged X. If you’re into off-roading, then the Rugged and Rugged X are aimed at you. If you’re the typical buyer, who rarely leaves the black top, the Rogue is designed with you in mind. It is pitched at someone looking for a little more luxury, and is aiming for a step towards an SUV, but I can’t say it gets there completely. Until recently the SR5 was their top spec model.

What these cars are also doing more and more is towing and that can include everything from a camper trailer to a caravan and a boat. To truly test its capabilities, we added a 2 tonne boat. But let’s take a look at what you get for the money.

The Rogue is priced at a little over 60 thousand dollars plus on roads, so it isn’t going to be the cheapest dual cab ute on the market. It adds a new front end design, 18 inch rims, heated leather seats, new interior highlights, distinctive instrument cluster, tow bar and wiring harness, hard tonneau cover, sports bar and what they call a marine grade tub liner. Appropriate considering the boat we were towing but hardly more than marine carpet held in place with Velcro. That was disappointing. It is however perfect for jerry cans and the like.

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Like the SR5, it has electric adjustable seats, climate control and a 7 inch screen with sat-nav.

Underneath the bonnet it runs the same 2.8litre four cylinder turbo diesel engine used in other models. It produces 130kw of power and 450Nm on torque and is mated to a six speed automatic gearbox. Not quite class leading but better than average you could say. There are also no mechanical modifications to speak of in the Rogue model.

The boat we added weighed 1950 kilograms with a 190 kilogram down ball weight. This is nowhere near the 3,500 kilogram towing capacity the car comes with. It is close to the average weight of a quality 19 foot fibreglass boat or 18 foot caravan.

Towing from your home to the boat ramp is never going to present any problems. The engine is efficient and maintains a steady pace within its limits at all times. It gets the rig moving with a minimum of fuss too. The steering is firm and while the turning circle isn’t the best, the quick transition from lock to lock really helps. It actually felt better with the load on the back which is counter intuitive I know.

On the freeway though, and much like the Toyota Prado, the little four cylinder is hardly what you’d call quiet. Up large hills it really sounds uncomfortable as it tries to keep pace with the traffic. Understandably towing a load will have an impact on any car, but at only 56% of the total quoted capacity and struggling the way it does, I’d have serious concerns putting anywhere close to the maximum on the back.

If you’re looking to tow to and from the ramp with the odd longer trip, the Toyota Hilux Rogue will suit, but at this price, the five cylinder Ford Ranger and Six cylinder VW Amarock should also be considered.