The Toyota Hilux once again took the #1 position for vehicle sales in Australia in 2021. But the Ford Ranger wasn't far behind in the number two spot.
A few years ago, it would have been difficult to imagine any other pickup coming close to the Hilux's performance and appeal. Currently, the reality is that a number of high-grade pickups are now on the market, which gives the Hilux significant competition. Here we consider whether the Hilux still has what it takes to continue outselling the Ranger and other competition.
The Hilux is available in five different variants (the Workmate, SR, SR5, Rogue and Rugged X). It's also offered in single and double cab options, with the choice of a manual or automatic gearbox. Designed primarily as a workhorse, the Hilux is a tough pickup that's got excellent offroad capabilities.
It also benefits from an impressive 3,500kg towing capacity. The price for a basic single cab, 4x2 Workmate is around $24,255. At the other end of the price range, a 4x4 Rugged X comes in at about $70,500.
The Ford Ranger is in its final year of production in its current form, so it may be worth hanging on to see what the 2023 incarnation offers. In its current form, the Ranger is available in XL, XLS, XLT, Wildtrak and the Raptor.
The range includes single and double cab iterations, manual or automatic transmission choices and three different engine options. The single cab chassis XL basic Ranger costs around $29,190. The most expensive variant, the double cab Raptor X, costs around $79,390.
Ford has pulled all the stops out when it comes to the Ranger's interior. Well-laid out and spacious, depending on the spec drivers can benefit from leather upholstery, heated seats, ambient lighting, rear parking sensors and more. Of particular note are the second-row features in double cabs. A power outlet (ideal to power gadgets during longer drives), as well as ISOFIX points, and a central armrest with cup holders ensure second-row passengers are well-catered for.
The Hilux is equally spacious, but arguably lacks the polish and high-end feel of the Ranger. The Ranger is designed as a vehicle that's equally suitable as a workhorse or to carry a family. In comparison, the Hilux has always been primarily designed as a ute - practical, hardworking, but without the little touches that add comfort and luxury to the passenger experience.
Which vehicle you prefer the look of largely comes down to individual preferences. Both Ford and Toyota have opted for a fairly standard ute design, perhaps working on the principle that buyers will be more interested in performance, comfort and safety than outward appearance.
Ranger drivers can pick from one of three engines, ranging from a 2.2l turbo-diesel that delivers 118kW/385Nm to the top-spec 157kW/500Nm. These can be teamed with a six-speed automatic or manual transmission. A ten-speed automatic transmission paired with the top-spec engine. Reviewers praise the Ranger's suspension and handling.
The base-spec Hilux comes with a naturally aspirated 2.7l petrol engine (122kW/245Nm). Higher-spec options include a 2.4l turbo-diesel (110kW/400Nm) and a 2.8l turbo-diesel (105kW/500Nm). The petrol engine is paired with a five-speed manual or six-speed auto. The turbo-diesel options come with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.
Fuel efficiency varies between different specifications. It's broadly similar between the two vehicles.
Toyota Hilux Highlights
- Excellent towing and off-road capabilities.
- Turbo-diesel engines are well-regarded by reviewers for reliability and performance.
Ford Ranger Highlights
- Very comfortable driving experience.
- A plush interior that's designed with passengers in mind.
- A wide range of options to suit differing needs and budgets.
Why you should buy the Toyota Hilux
If you're predominantly looking for a workhorse that will go forever, it's hard to better the Hilux. Although Toyota has added refinements as time has gone on, the heavy-duty chassis and high-performance engines continue to give the same dependable performance they have for decades.
Why you should buy the Ford Ranger
Drivers who like a little more comfort in their ute, or want a vehicle that can double as a family vehicle as well as a competent workplace performer, would probably be better suited to the Ranger. Ford has invested not only in performance but also in comfort and tech.
This is a tough call! Ultimately the Ranger has the edge when it comes to comfort and passenger experience. In comparison, the Hilux's formidable reputation for reliability is a powerful incentive.
For use as a traditional ute, the Hilux probably comes in the winner. For drivers who want something a little different that can cope with a more varied remit, the Ranger is possibly the better choice.
Other Options to Consider
Depending on what your priorities are in a vehicle, the Isuzu D-max could be an option. It's characterised by a longer pick-up bed than many of its competitors, which can make some loads easier and safer to transport. The D'max has a good suite of safety tech and positive reviews of both handling and comfort. the Isuzu is well worth a look if you're primarily in the market for a heavy-duty work vehicle.
Although the Navara has never come close to matching the sales figures of the Ranger or the Hilux, when it comes to offering good value for money, it's a strong contender. Reviewers are quick to praise the comfortable driving experience and comprehensive suite of tech and safety features. The top-spec is cheaper than the comparative Ranger or Hilux, so possibly a good option if cost is a consideration.
With an entry price of just $23,740, this is a budget option! Not only does the Triton have a good range of tech, but it also benefits from plush interior options such as leather upholstery. Marketed as a ute that's great on-site and on the school run, the 5-star ANCAP safety rating, as well as a good selection of autonomous safety features, means this could be a great choice for an all-purpose family vehicle.