Welcome to the Battle of the Utes!
Today, we're looking closely at two of the biggest names when it comes to tough utility vehicles. On one side, we have the Japanese-made Toyota HiLux (also spelt as Hilux or Hi-Lux). On the other, the Ford Ranger. Both are great vehicles that have been around for quite some time and are top sellers all over the world.
When it comes to Australian buyers, it does seem like the Toyota HiLux is the more popular of the two. Catching up close behind is the Ford Ranger in second place, though many predict that it won't be long until it's number one.
There's no question that both the Toyota HiLux and the Ford Ranger are amazing vehicles. Sadly, not everyone can have both. Most of us will have to pick one over the other, and that's not an easy decision to make. When you put these trucks next to each other, it's easy to end up in an intense debate about which one is better.
In this article, we're going to take a closer look at each one to help you make a decision for yourself.
The Toyota HiLux has been around for a long time. Toyota first launched it back in 1968, which means that this truck has been in production for literally over 50 years! Soon after its launching in the late '60s, the HiLux made its way to Australia. Combining Aussie sales with the rest of the world, almost 18 million HiLuxes have been sold to date.
No. 1 in sales for years
Toyota HiLux is currently Australia’s top-selling vehicle (a status it has kept for four years now) and is the country’s most in-demand commercial vehicle for the past two decades.
Seeing as how the HiLux is famous all around the world, it's no surprise that its manufacturing is spread worldwide as well. Toyota's got plants in Thailand, Pakistan, Argentina, and even South Africa building HiLuxes to be sold to the world.
Currently in its 8th generation
Right now, the HiLux is in its eighth generation. The truck comes in options ranging from the 2.0-litre engine (with a max output of 104 kW of power and 185 Nm of torque) all the way to the 4.0-litre V6 (max output of 175 kW power and 376 Nm torque).
In this battle, the HiLux has a lot going for it. Firstly, there's no question that it is well-built and handles itself well off-road. Lower cost seems to be a frequent theme here. For one, the Toyota HiLux has a lower entry point at just under $28,000.
On top of that, it's also known for having lower servicing costs when compared to the Ford Ranger. Despite being primarily diesel-powered, buyers do have the choice of going for the petrol option instead.
With that said, the HiLux does lose out to the Ranger in a few key areas. Firstly, the Toyota HiLux's fuel economy isn't as good as the Ford Ranger's. Worse yet, the diesel versions are also said to have less power and torque compared to its Ranger counterparts.
Some critics also feel that the HiLux pales beside the Ranger in terms of aesthetics and comfort. Some buyers may not take these ‘weaknesses’ against the HiLux, but many still feel that the comforts and looks are important considerations.
So, it totally depends on the buyer; as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. After all, it might be safe to assume that buyers looking for a reliable workhorse might not be too concerned with its looks.
Interesting fact: The Ford Ranger's platform was actually designed in Australia!
Australian-designed challenger to the HiLux
Now, this mid-size pickup truck isn't as old as the HiLux. Despite that, it's probably been its leading contender for quite a while, even beating it as the top-selling truck back in 2017! Even though the Ranger is much younger, it's been winning its fair share of international awards, thus posing a real threat to the Toyota HiLux.
For the current generation of Ford Rangers, buyers can choose from a range of 2.0 to 3.2-litre diesel engine options. If they prefer petrol engines, the Ranger comes in 2.3-litre and 2.5-litre versions as well. Depending on the exact model chosen, the Ford Ranger's maximum power can be anywhere from 88 kW to 200 kW. At the same time, this truck's torque can range from 226 Nm to 500 Nm.
More powerful and a looker, too
Now, let's look at the good and bad of the Ranger. Firstly, just like the HiLux, this is a well-built vehicle that can handle itself darn well on- and off-road. It's got more powerful engine options, it looks great, and even the entertainment system inside is kilometres ahead of the one in the HiLux.
The catch? You guessed it. The Ford Ranger tends to be pricier, both in its price tag (the entry-level starts at just under $35,000) and in regular maintenance costs.
So, which one wins between the HiLux & the Ranger?
Well, as the title of this article suggested from the start, this is a tough race to judge. As with anything else, buying a car or truck boils down to your personal preference and budget. Still, I'll tell you what I think.
If you're looking for a workhorse with fewer frills but still gets the job done, the Toyota HiLux might be for you. Heck, it's a fair bit cheaper, too, so you could use the savings to customise the truck a little bit after you've bought it!
However, if you've got a higher budget and you're looking for something more powerful, more comfortable, and better-looking, spoil yourself a little and get the Ford Ranger. After all, you can feel a bit patriotic knowing you're driving a vehicle that's got some Aussie engineering in it!
No matter what you decide, you're still going to get yourself a fantastic vehicle either way. When it comes to trucks, you can't go wrong with the Toyota HiLux or the Ford Ranger.
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By Ray Hasbollah