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Should I Buy a Ute or SUV?

Choosing between a ute and an SUV depends on your specific needs, lifestyle, and preferences. Both types of vehicles have their advantages and disadvantages, so it’s essential to consider your priorities and how you plan to use the vehicle.

Here are some key factors to consider when deciding between a ute and an SUV.

Cargo and Towing Capacity:

Ute: generally designed for heavy-duty use, utes are a better choice if you need to transport large or heavy items regularly. They also tend to have higher towing capacities, making them suitable for hauling trailers, boats, or other equipment.

SUV: They typically have a closed cargo area, which is more secure and weather-resistant than a ute’s open bed. While some SUVs offer good cargo space, their towing capacities may be lower than utes, so consider your towing needs.

Passenger Capacity:

Ute: Usually have two rows of seats and can accommodate up to five passengers, but the rear seats may be less spacious and comfortable compared to SUVs.

SUV: Available in various sizes, from compact to full-size, and can often seat more passengers, including up to eight occupants. If you need to transport a larger family or group of people regularly, an SUV may be a better choice.

Off-Road Capability:

Ute: Many utes come with four-wheel drive (4WD) or all-wheel drive (AWD) options, making them suitable for off-road adventures or rugged terrain.

SUV: SUVs come with varying levels of off-road capability. Some are designed for mild off-roading, while others, like dedicated off-road SUVs, are built for more extreme conditions.

Fuel Efficiency:

Ute: utes may have larger, more powerful engines designed for heavy work, which can result in lower fuel efficiency compared to some SUVs.

SUV: Many SUVs offer better fuel efficiency, especially the smaller and more compact models. If fuel economy is a priority, an SUV might be a better choice.

City versus Rural Driving:

Ute: utes can be more challenging to maneuver in tight urban spaces due to their longer wheelbase. They are often preferred in rural or suburban settings where space is less of a concern.

SUV: Smaller SUVs are generally easier to drive in city environments because of their compact size and better visibility, but obviously this will be different for larger SUV models.


Both utes and SUVs come equipped with a range of safety features, but the availability and level of these features can vary between models and brands. Be sure to research and compare safety options when making your decision.


Consider your budget, as utes and SUVs come in a wide price range. Utes tend to have a lower starting price for basic models, but high-end models can be expensive. SUVs also vary in price, with luxury SUVs typically being more costly.

Ultimately, choosing between a ute and an SUV should be based on your specific needs and preferences. It’s advisable to test drive both types of vehicles and consider factors like cargo space, passenger capacity, towing needs, and how you plan to use the vehicle before making a final decision.

Additionally, research the available models and their features to find the one that best suits your lifestyle and requirements.

What The Person With The Caravan Wishes You Knew

Summer is the time of year when you’ll see a lot of people out on the road going to their favourite holiday destinations – or making the journey the holiday. Some of them have caravans behind them. Others have similar large trailer-type things behind them, such as horse trailers or even furniture trailers (which don’t have to contain furniture – they can carry all the camping equipment, the bikes, the kayaks and so forth). We won’t consider trucks in this article, as they’re a different story altogether.

It’s easy to get frustrated when you barrel along the road without anything attached to your towbar and see a caravan on the road ahead of you, getting gradually closer and closer (as you travel at the legal speed limit, of course). You may grit your teeth and start scanning the road ahead, looking for an opportunity to overtake. Why do they do it? Why do caravans go so slowly? Are they that heavy? And why don’t they just pull over and let people pass as soon as a line starts forming?

Well, I’m going to answer your questions. As you may have guessed, I have sometimes been that person with the caravan, and I can tell you exactly what’s going through the mind of a driver with a caravan. Believe me, we’re not going slow on purpose and holding everyone up just for the sadistic pleasure of annoying people.

Why Caravans Are Slow

There are several reasons why the person towing a caravan goes more slowly than you do. In other countries, the speed at which you can tow anything, including a caravan, is different from the maximum speed limit (usually lower, of course). However, that’s not the case in any of the states of Australia, where a caravan can be towed at the full legal limit, as long as the driver can do so safely.

And there’s the point of it: as long as they can do it safely. Because they’ve got that extra thing on the back, their car handles differently when it comes to corners and things like that. Strong winds can also affect how a caravan sits on the road, meaning that a driver towing a caravan may have to slow down when you don’t have to. What’s more, even a modern caravan has quite a bit of drag, which puts a lot of extra demand on the engine – even the most powerful engine. Nobody really wants to wring the guts out of the engine all the time, as this makes even the most frugal car into a thirsty beast. This means that the caravan has to go slower than you do, especially when going into a headwind and/or uphill.

In the case of horse trailers, the driver has to make sure that he/she drives smoothly without anything sudden. Horses are sensitive creatures, and travelling in a trailer is something that they hate. Anything surprising or startling will freak them out, and there’s a risk that they could hurt themselves in that confined metal box. This is why the drivers of horse trailers often go a little bit slower. They definitely don’t want you to honk your horn. Seriously – don’t do it.

Why Don’t They Pull Over?

While you’re looking at the back of the caravan and wondering why the heck the driver won’t just darn well pull over and let you pass, said driver is probably scanning the side of the road. You see, a caravan driver can’t pull over just anywhere. They have to look for a place that allows enough space for their vehicle and their caravan without taking out any of the “road furniture” (signs, markers, barriers, etc.) or any vegetation. They also don’t want to drive onto anything that they can’t get out of again, such as ditches or boggy patches. What a vehicle (and the associated caravan) can get into and out of will depend on said vehicle and whether or not it’s got 4×4 capacity.

A good place to pull over has to be a good place not just for the caravan driver but also for you. It’s no good if the caravan driver pulls over just short of a blind corner where you can’t see what’s on the road ahead (we’re not talking about lay-bys, passing bays and slow vehicle lanes here; they’re another story).

In short, it can take a while for the driver of the caravan to find the right place to pull over that’s good for both of you. It won’t happen the instant that you appear. The driver won’t start looking for a good place until you appear in his/her rear vision mirror.

If you are the caravan driver, make sure that you do look out for a good spot to pull over and let others pass to avoid a long snake of traffic building up behind you.

When You Overtake A Caravan

OK, so the driver of the caravan has found a place to pull over and now you can overtake. This driver may or may not have come to a complete standstill. Sometimes, the driver of the caravan will stop completely, especially if the road is winding and a lot of traffic has gone past. However, sometimes, the caravan driver will crawl along half on and half off the road, especially in the case of a long straight. Now is your chance to pass. You can also get a chance to pass if the road has a passing lane.

When your chance comes, here are some things that the driver of the caravan would like you to know:

  • If the road ahead is clear for, say, 500 metres, then please go ahead and pass as soon as you can. Don’t leave it until the last 100 metres to make your manoeuvre. This doesn’t happen, you say? Well, it happened more times than I cared to count last time we were out with the caravan behind. I or whoever was driving edged over when the long empty straight came, but did that car that had been tailgating overtake straight away? Nope – he/she waited until the last possible moment to do it safely and then overtook. Nuts!
  • Use your indicators, from when you start your manoeuvre until you’re back on the proper side of the road and ready to roar away.
  • Make sure you actually do overtake, especially if you have been behind the caravan for ages.
  • Use all the usual safety precautions when overtaking, like checking you have a clear view of the road.
  • Don’t make rude hand gestures or angry honks at the caravan driver. He/she can’t help being slower thanks to the factors mentioned above.
  • Feel free to wave and/or give a “thank you” honk!


Let’s Go and Caravan

We’ve got the country, we’ve got the beauty, and it seems peoples’ love for caravanning and camping around Oz is growing steadily.  The latest figures from Tourism Research Australia show that the popularity of domestic caravanning and camping trips is one pastime that many Australians cherish.  It’s not hard to see why people enjoy it, when there is so much natural beauty in Australia’s landscapes and wildlife.

According to the latest domestic tourism record, it shows that Australians spent a total of 54.5 million nights caravanning and camping during the year ending March 2019.  This number is an increase of 6.5% from the previous year.  While on these trips, many caravanners and campers also opted to eat out at local cafes or restaurants, a bonus for the local businesses.  This growth was experienced across the board, in all States and Territories, with over 10% growth recorded for Northern Territory, South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland.  Interestingly, in terms of age demographics, those with a family in tow – i.e. parents with one or more children living at home – belonged to the demographic group that accounted for the largest number of caravan/camp trips in a year.  People who were part of the younger, mid-life demographic, and with no children, were those of the second largest group taking plenty of caravanning or camping trips (4.2 million).  When it comes to the most nights away in a year, the older non-working demographic (often called ‘grey nomads’) were leading the way with 32% of the total number of nights spent in Australia caravanning or camping.  In comparison, the family segment was only slightly less at 30%.

Sorry tenters, but I’m getting older and so will give my few cents worth for caravanning in the following!  I enjoy getting away in our caravan when we can.  Having a caravan in tow allows for a little more comfort on the trip, with less hassle on arrival at each new destination.  Everything you really need is with you, and the beds are ready made for the night, with no need to pitch tent!

I would certainly recommend trying caravanning, particularly if you like the idea of enjoying the great outdoors, getting away from most of the electronic vices, and smelling the clean air.  You get to meet a whole bunch of friendly, like-minded people along the way.  You also get to discover the many new places you’ve never seen before or rediscover your old favourite spots that you love to get back to.  These sorts of experiences are a treat that I never grow tired of.

Caravan Types

Here are some of the varieties of caravans you can buy without looking into purchasing a fully-fledged motorhome:

Standard Caravan

Easy to tow. It really just depends on the tow rating of your car as to how large or heavy the standard caravan is.  The smaller the caravan, generally, the lighter and easier it is to tow than bigger ones.  Standard caravans come in a range of sizes, single and tandem axles, and so some of the standard caravans can even be pulled by smaller cars.

Because standard caravans aren’t as heavy as the more ruggedly designed off-road caravans, they demand less torque and horsepower to tow comfortably out on the open road; thus, they are more economical on the fuel/power bill.

Standard caravans are also a bit easier to store and manipulate by hand, particularly the smaller ones.


Pop Tops

Pop-tops are easy to tow. Small caravans like pop-ups are, generally, much lighter and easier to tow from A to B than larger types of caravans.  You get much better fuel economy towing a pop-top because of the lower drag co-efficiency.

Pop-tops a doddle to store and manipulate by hand, particularly the smaller ones.



The merits of an expander caravan are similar to any standard or off-road caravan; however, they have the added bonus of a variety of pop-out areas that can be designed into the ceiling and walls.  Essentially, pop these areas out at your destination, and you have a lot more interior space and utility at your disposal while being stationary.  Just before you tow away, these areas are fold back into place, and away you tow again.


Off Road Caravan or Camper

The merits of having an off-road capable caravan or camper speak for themselves.  They have been built tough and rugged so that you can tow them off-road.  Obviously, you are going to need a bigger, torquier vehicle to tow this type of caravan/camper as they are heavier built and weigh more.  Usually, these are towed by a decent 4×4 capable vehicle like a Land Rover, Toyota Land Cruiser, Ford Ranger, etc.


Camper Trailer

Similar to a pop-up caravan, except they fold out an array of attached tents.  These are light and easy to tow.  They can be designed for towing both on and off the road.  They are cheaper to buy, as are pop tops.

The Things We Do in Our Cars

I was thinking about the different demands that we all put our vehicle through on our daily drives throughout a year.  It got me thinking about all the changes that can happen to us inside 12 months – whether the weather seasons change dramatically, families get larger or smaller, job promotions happen, we can change jobs for whatever reason, building renovations happen, moving house occurs, we make new friends, we start a fitness schedule at the gym, we try out a new sport across town, go fishing, go for that caravan trip around Australia and what not…  Our lives are fun and full of regular tasks that we both love or put up with, have jobs that we stick with or change, are full of people that come and go and people that we just love to be around and who will always be a part of our life.  The cars we drive regularly, are often a reflection of our lifestyle and can tell us a story about who we are and where we are in life.

With this ticking through my thought processing, I started to think about the changes that may or may not happen to our cars as we drive them, and how the lifestyle changes and choices that we make can affect the cars we drive.  In essence, a car is a very adaptable machine (or at least should be), and it has to be fit for purpose to cater to our own individual needs.  Often, I find myself needing to hitch up the trailer to grab some more compost for the garden, take a load to the recycling centre or help out a mate who is shifting house.  I like to make use of my drive into town to charge my mobile phone up on the way and listen to my favourite music with the volume wound right up.  Some days the temperature outside can get so cold in wintertime that I need to wind up the heater in order to thaw my fingers out and demist the rear window.  But then in summer, when the temperatures soar, I’ll have the air-conditioning wound up to maximum to keep the family inside the car nice and cool, particularly when we have the tiny grandchild travelling with us.

We have different drives that we frequently make in a month, and they all take different roads and cover varying landscapes.  Some journeys require us to drive up steep streets to get us to our friend’s house on top of the cliffs overlooking the sea, other roads have us in the middle of congested city streets and then another drive may take us for an hour or two north into the wild blue yonder through flat and undulating scenery to visit family.

We’ve learned to trust our cars to get us from A-to-B whatever the weather, whoever we have onboard, whatever we have to tow or carry.  Can a new EV manage all the lifestyle changes and demands dependably?  I’d hate to be late for my daughter’s graduation because my EV ran out of power halfway there, or that I missed the ferry because the EV had to be topped up at a charging point that had a long queue, and what about the police who aborted a chase after a dangerous criminal because he spent too long with the heater on and the siren going at the same time.

We need a car fit for purpose, a car that is cheap to run, nice to the environment and above all dependable!