Competing in the cutthroat dual-cab ute market is tough going these days, especially for purveyors of lesser known models such as the Foton Tunland.
All Tunland utes are powered by a Chinese-made 2.8-litre Cummins diesel engine. If you’re not a trucker, Cummins might not mean much to you – but the US company has a heritage for making strong engines that are commonly found in larger buses and haulers. There’s only a five-speed manual gearbox – no auto is available.
The cabin features decent levels of fit and finish, with tight and consistent panel and plastic gaps that are better than some of the dearer utes we’ve driven. There are some cheap buttons and oddly placed controls – like the electric mirror switch that is somewhat hidden from view down beside the steering wheel – but it has niceties such as “leather” trim on the seats and steering wheel, and auto-down power windows.
Foton has fitted the Tunland with a simple CD/radio stereo system that offers Bluetooth phone connectivity, but at a very basic level – you still need to use your phone to dial – and the sound quality during calls is among the worst available on the market. There is no standard USB port for charging phones – instead, there’s a mini-USB port and auxiliary jack.
Steering wheel-mounted audio, phone and cruise controls are a nice touch, though they don’t illuminate at night, but the cabin offers commendable levels of storage, with reasonable cup holders, twin seatback pockets for maps, sizeable door pockets and some smaller loose-item caddies up front.
The Foton is one of the largest utes on the market, measuring 5.31 metres long, 1.88m wide and 1.87m tall, and it has a longer-than-average 3.10m wheelbase.
As such, occupant space is impressive, too, with enough room for a six-foot-tall (1.82m) driver and rear passenger. Back seat head-space is excellent, and while the bench seat means those in the rear will have their knees up, there’s enough room to do so.
Published: Thursday, September 25, 2014