Dear Drive…. which ute is best for me?

We’re spoilt for choice in terms of double-cab utes, but which one is best for specific use?

Dear Drive… Where we answer reader, viewer and listener questions. Something on your mind? Call in to the radio show or email us at

Drive reader Ivan asks:

I’m choosing between a Mazda BT-50 XTR and Nissan Navara STX . I will be towing a tradie trailer everyday also towing cattle once a year up to 2500kg. I also need it to work as a family car on weekends with kids in the back.

Ivan raises a really excellent point here. While both these utes are great, it’s what you need them for which makes the difference.

The Mazda BT-50 was our 2022 Drive Car of the Year Best Dual-Cab Ute, and the Nissan Navara was a finalist in the same category, making both these cars an excellent choice.

In terms of towing, a small trailer, unbraked, tops out at 750kg which is something both these utes will handle with ease.

Both also offer a 3500kg rating, but the Mazda uses the Isuzu 4JJ 3.0-litre turbo-diesel engine, which is a known and proven performer for dealing with heavy loads and towing. But as Ivan notes, he’s only dealing with a heavy load once a year.

To add another layer of complexity, Ivan also notes…

I drove the Mazda yesterday it seemed like it felt all the bumps and the Nissan seemed smoother on the road…

The rear suspension on the Navara uses coil springs like an SUV, rather than leaf springs. The leaf setup on the Mazda (and the majority of other utes) affords better control and compliance with a load, but the coils of the Nissan provide a more comfortable ride when the ute has nothing in the tub.

As we find when reviewing double-cabs, with no load in the tray, the stiffer rear suspension can be a bit more jittery. Something that would be mitigated with even the small trailer on the back, but certainly something worth considering.

In terms of space and comfort for the kids, the Navara has a nice interior with a very handy sliding rear window, but the Mazda has more room. Both offer USB ports and air vents though,

As an all-rounder, the Mazda gets our tick, but if your primary use is as a family runner with occasional heavy work, the Navara will see you well.

You can read a recent comparison between the Nissan Navara and the Isuzu D-Max (the sister car to the BT-50 and the dual-winner of our 2022 Drive Car of the Year Best Dual Cab ute award) here.

Have a question about your next set of wheels or just need some car advice? No query is too big, small or obscure! Call in to the radio show (Trent on 2GB Sydney 1:30pm Monday and 9pm Wednesday, 5AA South Australia 1:30pm Tuesday, and James on 3AW Melbourne 9pm each Thursday), or contact us by email here:

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