In 2011, the Ford Ranger raised the bar in terms of refinement and comfort in the pickup sector which left utilitarian workhorses like the legendary Toyota Hilux looking long in the tooth. Now though, Toyota has launched the seventh incarnation of its renowned pickup but how does it compare with the mighty Ranger?
Looks and appearance
We’ve found comparing the appearance of the Ranger and Hilux to be a very subjective issue, with the vote split 50-50 on everyone we asked. While we like the tough and rugged look of the Ranger, we thought there was too much chrome and we preferred sleek, yet subtle, design of the Hilux. With the exception of the Wildtrak’s titanium grille and inserts, 18-inch machined alloys and ‘Wildtrak’ branding, the wheel options and styling on the Hilux trims are a lot more attractive.
Cab and specifications
The designers from Ford and Toyota have taken a ‘smart and functional’ approach with the cabin, but the Hilux wins on presentation thanks to its stylish dashboard layout. The seats are also more comfortable and the multifunctional instrument panel is more classy and easy-to-use.
Apart from that, they’re evenly matched with both models providing plenty of storage compartments and falling short on all-round vision. The Hilux loses points on the multifunctional display, which isn’t Hilux isn’t built into the dashboard like on the Ranger, and means it’s more prone to being knocked and scraped. Being traditionalists, we also preferred the fact that the Ranger has buttons to flick between radio stations and a volume knob, rather than having to press small buttons on the touchscreen display.
There are four trim levels on both the Toyota Hilux (Active, Icon, Invincible and Invincible X) and Ford Ranger (XL, XLT, Limited and Wildtrak).
Direct Comparison: Toyota Hilux Invincible v Ford Ranger Limited
Both the Invincible and Limited come with a DAB radio with Bluetooth, auxiliary and USB connectivity, cruise control and air-conditioning although the Hilux Invincible also gets a rear parking camera, lane departure warning, road sign assist, keyless entry and push-button start, while the Ranger benefits from heated and electronically-adjustable leather seats and a larger 8-inch display with Ford SYNC 2 which features voice recognition and satellite navigation.
Direct Comparison: Toyota Hilux Invincible X v Ford Ranger Wildtrak
Moving up to the flagship models, the Ranger Wildtrak’s main appeal is its styling, with a plush Wildtrak orange upholstery, a choice of seven ambient interior lighting with dimming control and a rear-view camera. On the Hilux, the Invincible X gets more formal leather seats, which are heated at the front (although still manually adjustable), front and rear parking sensors and Toyota’s Touch 2 infotainment system with satellite navigation, 3D mapping and voice recognition.
Weights and dimensions
In terms of weights, the two are fairly evenly matched with the Ranger weighing in at between 1,931kg and 2,193kg and the Hilux at between 1,975kg and 2,165kg – which tips both the top of the range double cabs over into the standard light commercial vehicle speed limits, which are 10mph slower on single and double carriageways (see pickup truck speed limits).
The Ford Ranger has the upper hand on the payloads with 1,192kg on the single-cabs (1,030kg on the Hilux), up to 1,155kg on the extended cab (1,025kg for the Hilux) although the Ranger double-cabs vary between 1,007kg and 1,199kg, whereas it’s a standard 1,045kg on the Hilux. From 2017, both the Hilux will match the Ranger’s best-in-class towing capacity of 3.5 tonnes, but it currently stands at 3.2 tonnes (the Ranger will also be able to carry around 150-200kg more in the load area when towing 3.5 tonnes).
Both vehicles are very similar when it comes to the load bed, too. The Toyota Hilux has a wider bed at 1,575mm (1,560mm on the Ranger), although the Ranger’s is deeper (511mm to the Hilux’s 480mm) and slightly longer at 2,317mm on the single-cab (2,315mm), 1,847mm (1,810mm) on the extended-cab and 1,549mm (1,525mm) on the double-cab. The Ranger’s bed is also more accessible thanks to a 835mm loading height (870mm).
Engine and driveline
The Ford Ranger certainly comes out on top in terms of engines, with the choice of a fuel-efficient 2.2-litre (160hp/385Nm) or the gutsy 3.2-litre five-cylinder (200hp/470Nm). The Toyota Hilux just has one engine option (2.4-litre D-4D with 150hp/400Nm) as the 2.8-litre, which is available everywhere outside of Europe, doesn’t comply with the Euro-6 emission standard.
Both the 2.2-litre and 3.2-litre Ford Rangers are quicker off the mark than the 2.4-litre Toyota Hilux, reaching 62mph from standstill in 11.8 and 10.9 seconds respectively, as opposed to the Hilux’s 12.8 seconds. This is mainly due to the heavier Hilux chassis, which weighs in at around 180kg more than the Ranger.
However, the Toyota Hilux proved to be the superior of the two when it came to road manners. The engine is smoother and quieter than both of the Ford engines and the suspension seem to deal with the bumps and divots of rural road better than the Ranger.
Off the road
It’s the Toyota Hilux that feels more composed off the road too, thanks to a chassis with 20 percent greater torsional rigidity than the outgoing model. The Hilux also has a better ground clearance of 293mm (229mm) and larger approach angle of 31-degrees (28-degrees on the Ranger), although the departure angle of 26-degrees and wading depth of 700mm fall short (28-degrees and 800mm respectively on the Ranger).
The Hilux felt more sure-footed off-road despite both vehicles coming with a similar electronically-selectable 4WD system with three settings; 2-Hi, 4-Hi and 4-Low. However, the Hilux also comes with an additional switch to lock the rear differential, whereas this is only an option on the Ranger.
As you’d expect with the latest generation of pickups, the Ranger and Hilux are well-specced when it comes to the latest off-road technology and standard features include hill start assist (HSA), traction control, electronic stability control (ESC) although descent control is only available from the Icon trim on the Hilux (standard across the Ranger trims).
Total cost of ownership
It’s no surprise that Ford’s 2.2-litre Duratorq is the most fuel-efficient, achieving up to 43.5mpg on the combined cycle, then Toyota’s 2.4-litre D-4D at 40.4mpg combined and, lastly, Ford’s fuel-guzzling 3.2-litre five-pot at 34.0mpg.
Prices start at £17,095 plus VAT for the Ranger single cab and £19,129 plus VAT for the Hilux single cab and extend up to £26,145 plus VAT for the Ranger Wildtrak and £28,137 plus VAT for the Hilux Invincible X, although residual values are fairly evenly matched which serves as an indication to how similarly perceived these vehicles are by the industry.
Service intervals are set at 18,000 miles or every year for the Ford Ranger and 20,000 miles or two years on the Toyota Hilux. The Hilux also comes out on top with the warranties to with a five-year or 100,000 mile guarantee, compared with the Ranger’s meagre three-year or 60,000 miles.
The Toyota Hilux has a better track record with reliability historically but these vehicles have been upgraded recently and, despite hundreds of thousands of simulated miles during the development stages, it remains to be seen how they endure real-world conditions.
Ford and Toyota have over 200 dealerships in the UK but Ford, through its 100-strong ‘Transit Centres’, provides better aftersales care for commercial customers with more courtesy vehicles and out-of-hours servicing.
The Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux are very much alike in so many respects; they both sits towards the top of the pricing bracket, they drive similar and have almost identical levels of safety kit and equipment.
There is a lot to like about the Hilux; it’s world-renowned for its reliability, the cab is very stylish and comfortable, there is a long five-year warranty, and its slightly more capable off-road, but a lot of power-hungry owner-operators will turn their noses up at the sole 150hp engine option.
For us though, it’s the Ranger that comes out on top. The Ford pickup excels in many key areas for commercial operators, like towing capacity, affordability, aftersales support and, crucially, there is a higher power option for the more extreme operations.
Also read: Mitsubishi L200 v Nissan Navara