Do US pick-up truck make good family cars?

I have been considering a ute as a family car particularly for road trips and some light off-road destinations. My family consists of me, my wife and my 11-year-old old son. Given that all current utes have upright rear seats, I am keen to find out if the rear seats can be fitted with sliders and if yes are there any aftermarket specialists who do that here in Australia.

The big US truck makers have that as a feature in their large sized pick-ups but not our one-tonne utes. US-market pick-ups are usually much larger, longer vehicles than the popular dual-cab utes sold here. That’s how they can afford to have an adjustable rear seat that slides and tilts; there’s simply more real estate to work with.

Our dual-cabs, meanwhile, already have a relatively small tub or tray, so making the cabin longer to allow for a sliding rear seat would make those load areas even smaller. It’s worth noting that some of the utes sold here have much better rear-seat accommodation than others, but we take your point that the majority of them are pretty uncomfortable in the rear. It’s also worth noting that your 11-year-old will be a 12-year-old next year, and so on.

And in our experience, teenagers don’t shrink as they get older. A specialist seat maker might be able to create a sliding rear seat for you, but since it involves altering the passengers’ position relative to air-bags, side-intrusion bars and seat-belt mounting points, it would need to be fully engineered by the authorities before it could be used legally. Your insurance company may have concerns, also.

The bottom line is one we’ve been pushing for a long time, now: Dual-cab utes, although popular, are not necessarily the best solution for every family.

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