To dive deeper, read our standalone reviews of the 2016 Ford Ranger Wildtrak and 2016 Toyota HiLux SR5.
New car sales are fast being dominated by SUVs and dual-cab utes, and the battle for the hearts and minds of work-and-play buyers doesn’t get any more fierce than the rivalry between Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger. Until late last year, Ford’s impressive Ranger had the measure of the HiLux in terms of its looks, ride, handling and all-round appeal. But, has that changed with the arrival in September (2015) of the new, eighth-generation Toyota HiLux?
Looking at the two dual-cab utes side-by-side, the Ranger definitely edges out the HiLux for looks and it’s got more storage spaces inside and is better equipped, but it’s also more expensive than the HiLux. But with more and more people using these vehicles for recreational purposes the off-roadability and even running costs become major considerations when looking to buy.
So which of our two front-running dual-cab 4x4s makes more sense. Read on to find out what we think.
HEAD TO HEAD
The refreshed Ford Ranger Wildtrak runs a 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel which makes 147kW at 3000rpm and 470Nm of torque from 1500-2750rpm. Under the bonnet of the HiLux SR5 is a 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel which offers more more torque, uses less fuel and is quieter inside the cabin thanks to greater insulation levels than the old 3.0L engine.
On offer is 130kW at 3400rpm and 450Nm of torque between 1600-2400rpm. Both of our test vehicles run a six-speed auto, although the HiLux also offers a six-speed manual gearbox.
The Ford Ranger Wildtrak is, as long as you like Orange and all of the tacked-on bits of contrasting colour plastic the best looker of the duo. With the refreshed model came some minor design tweaks, including a new trapozoidal grille, new front quarter panels, wheel designs, and headlights that were pushed up higher in the grille.
The Toyota HiLux, on the other hand, looks a lot different, and many of the changes are a case of function before form, for instance, the turned up edges of the snout and rear end are designed to provide greater clearance at the corners of the vehicle. It’s also longer and wider than the old model, and the underbody protection is now bigger and thicker. Ground clearance for both vehicles is unchanged, although rear wheel articulation for the HiLux is now 520mm on both sides; it was uneven before.
Both the Ranger and the HiLux are well supported by the aftermarket, so, tricking up your ute shouldn’t be a problem at all.
The Ford Ranger Wildtrak’s tray has a tub liner and a roller-style aluminium cover which can be key locked. The tray measures 1549mm long (at the floor) and 1485mm (at the top of the box), 1560mm wide and 1139mm between the wheel arches, although we measures 1120mm between the wheel arches and we measured that against the floor, the floor height to the ground is 840mm. And the tray sides measure 511mm high.
The tray is a little bigger (compared to its predecessor) in the new-generation HiLux, measuring 1569mm long (up 19mm), by 1645mm (up 79mm) at its widest point and 1100mm between the wheel arches. Side panel height is 481mm which is up 20mm. The loading height has been reduced by 4mm to 861mm.
FIRST PLACE: Ford Ranger Wildtrak
The Ford Ranger Wildtrak offers the best all-round performance of the duo in that it’s more car-like to drive on-road than the HiLux and with a more comfortable cabin that holds bigger and more hide holes, too. The engine offers more grunt than the HiLux, the new electric power steering is good, and the gearbox is smoother too, the ride is more composed on-road and not too bad off it, although my seat of the pants impression is that it doesn’t have quite the same articulation as the HiLux, but I can’t be 100% positive. The tweaks to the off-road traction systems (and the Brake Traction Control System is particularly good when driving off-road) and the fact the rear locker works when Hill Descent is active is a good thing indeed.
Second Place: Toyota HiLux SR5
The new Toyota HiLux is a massive improvement over the old model and, driven in isolation is a good thing indeed. But, it falls down against the Ranger in its on-road ride which is better than ever but not as good as the Ford. Yet, off-road the HiLux feels more at home and with less tacked-on bits and pieces, compared with the Ranger Wildtrak, is probably the better choice for those planning on spending a lot of time off-road. The interior is nicer than the old model with styling cues from the current Corolla, but despite the more than $50k price tag it doesn’t feel particularly premium with hard scratchy, but robust plastic. So, utlimately, depending on where you’re going to be using your dual-cab you could easily reverse this result, if you know what I mean.