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Toyota HiLux vs Ford Ranger

Ford and Toyota have been duking it out with two strong utes. But which is best?

Looking at monthly car sales figures, you’ll see that the Toyota HiLux perpetually ranks as the best-selling ute with Australia’s car-buying public. Behind the HiLux sits the Ford Ranger, but the gap is closing every month. Let’s compare the two popular trucks.

The background

The Toyota HiLux was launched in 1968 and came to Australia shortly afterwards. It’s the only ute to have ever travelled to both world poles. HiLux utes have also taken part in the Dakar Rally. Staggeringly, after 50 years in production, more than 17.7 million HiLux have been sold across the globe, and Oceania lays claim to 5.7% of those sales.

It has a reputation as an ultra-tough, rugged and stout ute. Toyota plays this up with outlandish adverts like this one shown in New Zealand.

Top Gear famously tried to destroy a 305,000km HiLux by leaving it in the sea, dropping things on it, hitting it with an industrial-sized wrecking ball and setting fire to it. Finally, they sat the pick-up atop a building marked for demolition. Even after the huge ensuing explosion and a 70m drop, it still worked. It’s fair to say the HiLux has a hard-fought reputation for being tough as nails.

Nowadays, Toyota’s ute is consistently the most popular vehicle overall for new car sales in Australia. It has held the crown as the commercial vehicle highest in demand for 20 consecutive years.

The Ranger isn’t as old as the HiLux, having lived a life as a badge-engineered Mazda for many years. The ute was known as the Ford Courier until 2006 when Ford dropped the Courier name in favour of the Ranger moniker. While the Ranger hasn’t shifted as many units as the HiLux, it is an award-winning vehicle. It’s taken a handful of international one-tonner trophies and even knocked its Japanese sparring partner from its perch as the top-selling 4x4 last year. Unlike the HiLux, since 2011, the Ranger platform has been developed in Australia.

Ford Ranger vs Toyota HiLux

Using our 4x4 comparison reviews, let’s see how the Ranger and HiLux differ and which is best.

Ford Ranger

  • Entry model Rangers are more expensive. Prices start from $31,449.
  • The Ranger engine line-up is more efficient and powerful. The Ford Ranger is available with a choice of a frugal 2.2-litre four pot Duratorq diesel or a larger, throaty 3.2-litre inline five Duratorq oil burner. RWD models with the smaller engine use just 6.6 litres of fuel per 100km. The larger 3.2 in 2WD guise burns 8.1 litres per 100km and up to 8.4 for 4x4 manual models.
  • One of the best handling utes on the market. Handling wise, motoring journalists said the Ranger was one of the best available. Testers said it feels solid and planted, even when lugging loads around.
  • A Ranger will hold its own off the pavement. Off-road, it’s a bit of a machine too. The HiLux will falter when water levels reach 700mm, while a Ranger can keep going in 800mm deep rivers. It is evident that the Australian development and engineering program has made this thing wholeheartedly able to go off the tarmac.
  • The Ranger is well-appointed. The interior of the Ranger varies depending on the spec you opt for. Base models are intended for use as workhorses and have harder wearing interiors. Even pick-up entry grade utes get reverse cameras, Bluetooth, cruise control and keyless entry. Higher end trimmings bring brighter headlamps, upgraded infotainment systems and speakers, built-in sat nav and a 230v inverter that lets you charge tools using a standard plug. Courtesy lighting in the load-bed is a thoughtful, yet useful, inclusion.
  • The Ranger’s styling is more appealing. We are partial to the styling of the Ranger. It’s square and chunky design portrays a robust and faithful work truck. The HiLux is a bit softer around the edges and just doesn’t have the same kerb appeal.
  • The Ranger is well-built. Toyota’s have a reputation for being unbreakable, but motoring writers discovered the Ranger is also exceptionally well put together.
  • Expensive. Reviewers were in general consensus that the Ranger is quite pricey both for servicing costs and the initial purchasing price.
  • Intuitive infotainment system. Unlike the Hilux with its unwieldy infotainment system, journos said the Ford SYNC 3 system in the Ranger is intuitive and a doddle to use. Ford’s ute also boasts smartphone connectivity for Android and iOS devices where the Hilux doesn’t.

Toyota HiLux

How does the Toyota HiLux shape-up next to the Ranger?

  • Cheaper entry point. Prices start from $26,400.
  • Option of a petrol engine. Unlike the Ranger, you can still buy a petrol-powered HiLux. By modern standards, journalists felt this engine was underpowered and lacked performance, but it does come at a heavily discounted price.
  • Torquey, refined diesels. Toyota also manufactures a 2.4-litre diesel that outputs waves of torque and power, but reviewers preferred the 2.8-litre diesel. One thing critics picked up on was that the engine doesn’t output as much power compared to rivals like the Ranger. Per litre, the larger oiler generates 14Nm of torque per litre more than the biggest Ranger diesel. Also, the HiLux engines spew forth peak force across a slightly wider rev range. However, this slightly improved mechanical grip comes at the cost of a lower kW output of 130 versus the Ranger’s 147kW.
  • Poor fuel economy. The best of Toyota’s 2.8-equipped models only manages 8.1L/100km on paper, making it less efficient than the Ranger on the whole.
  • Mixed bag comfort. Testers found the HiLux less comfortable on longer journeys, with a firm ride that translates juddering into the cabin.
  • HiLux impressive off-road. Off-road, the HiLux is good, with superior ground clearance and approach angles. However, the Ranger can wade 100mm deeper into wet stuff and has a slightly steeper departure angle. Both utes with a 4x4 transmission have similar electronic systems with conventional RWD high, 4WD high and 4WD low. Also, the HiLux trumps the 4x4 Rangers with a locking rear diff as standard, whereas blue oval ute buyers must choose this as an option. Hill descent control is standard on the Ranger, where you have to purchase a slightly more expensive HiLux to get that included.
  • HiLux is cheaper to service and run. The HiLux also edges out the Ranger on servicing intervals, which are double the Ranger’s one-year period. A HiLux service is fixed at $240 for the first 36 months or 60,000km of ownership. A basic Ranger service will set you back $400 for the first year.
  • HiLux doesn’t look as good. The styling of the HiLux is more polarising than the conventionally styled, tough-looking Ranger.
  • Well built. You cannot deny the HiLux is well constructed. In fact, some reviewers likened the interior plastics to having the quality of a fine oak.
  • Adjustable steering column. The Ranger doesn’t benefit from steering column reach adjustment, which the HiLux has. As a driver, you may find you are more able to tailor the driving position to suit you in the Toyota ute.

Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux comparison

Ford RangerFinder Score: 81.25%
ProsCons
Best off-roader in its classOne of the more expensive dual-cabs
Australian designed and developedLacks steering wheel column adjustment
Handling both laden and unladenActive safety features are optional extras
Infotainment and equipmentPlasticky cabin
Purposeful stylingRunning and servicing costs
Toyota HiLuxFinder Score: 73.33%
ProsCons
Built toughHarsh ride
Very good off-roadNo Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
Huge model rangeLess fuel efficient than rivals
Refined diesel engineLess powerful engine line-up
Strong drive trainsPaying a premium for the HiLux badge?
Handles loads reasonably wellClunky infotainment system

Verdict: Which is best, the Ford Ranger or the Toyota HiLux?

Comparing the specs and reviews for both the Ford Ranger ute and Toyota HiLux pick-up, the Ranger just manages to edge it out. Which is surprising because it seems Australian buyers still prefer the HiLux given the choice.

The HiLux has a tough as old boots image associated with it, plus generally favourable reports on reliability. It is arguably slightly more sure-footed off-road. But it isn’t as fuel efficient, it isn’t as powerful and Rangers come with somewhat better interior features and gadgets.

A HiLux is a bit like the Great White Shark, legendary at what it does and pretty much the de facto king of the marine food chain (or ute sales charts). But the Ranger is like a Killer Whale, known to hunt Great Whites, and it is now closing in on a slightly floundering rival.

Compare financing options

Rates last updated December 13th, 2018
$
Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comparison Rate (p.a.) Min Loan Amount Loan Term Monthly Service Fee Application Fee Product Description Monthly Repayment
Latitude New and Used Car Loan
From 6.99% (fixed)
8.1%
$5,000
1 to 7 years
$10
$295
You'll receive a fixed rate between 6.99% p.a. and 14.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
Apply for a loan from $5,000 to finance a new or used car. Flexible repayments and options to finance a classic car.
IMB New Car Loan
5.89% (fixed)
6.24%
$2,000
1 to 7 years
$0
$250
You'll receive a fixed rate of 5.89% p.a.
A low minimum borrowing amount of $2,000 that you can use to purchase a new car or one up to two years old.
Beyond Bank Low Rate Car Loan
From 5.69% (fixed)
5.97%
$25,000
1 to 7 years
$0
$175
You'll receive a fixed rate of 5.69% p.a.
Take advantage of a competitive rate, pre-approval and no early repayment fees when you finance a car under two years old.
RACV New Car Loans
From 5.99% (fixed)
6.55%
$15,000
1 to 7 years
$0
$399
You'll receive a fixed rate of 5.99% p.a.
A larger loan of $15,000 or more to help you buy a new or used car. 5-hour pre approval available and no ongoing fees. Note: Product only available to residents of Victoria.
Australian Military Bank Car Loan
From 5.71% (fixed)
6.57%
$1,000
1 to 7 years
$10
from $100 to $500
You'll receive a fixed rate between 5.71% p.a. and 8.66% p.a. based on your personal credit history
A flexible loan to help you finance a car, motorbike or boat up to five years old.
Broli Finance Consumer Car Loan
From 4.8% (fixed)
5.7%
$5,000
1 to 7 years
$5
$375
Get a fixed rate from 4.8% p.a.
You can choose a secured or unsecured loan to finance a new or used vehicle with flexible loan amounts.
Westpac Car Loan
From 8.49% (fixed)
9.67%
$10,000
1 to 7 years
$12
$250
You'll receive a fixed rate of 8.49% p.a.
Finance a new or used car and benefit from convenient features for car buyers including a car search tool and the option to borrow extra for on-road costs.
Stratton Finance New Car Loan
From 5.14% (fixed)
5.8%
$18,000
1 to 7 years
$8.90
$457 (for private seller vehicles this fee is $608)
You'll receive a fixed or variable rate depending on the lender you are approved with
Apply for up to $100,000 and use cash or trade in a vehicle to use as a deposit. Optional balloon payment available.
Loans.com.au - New Car Loan
5.44% (fixed)
5.99%
$5,000
3 to 5 years
$0
$400
You'll receive a fixed rate of 5.44% p.a.
Finance a new car and benefit from features such as fast approval, no ongoing fees and an optional balloon payment.
St.George Secured Personal Loan - Fixed Rate
From 8.49% (fixed)
9.6%
$3,000
1 to 5 years
$12
$195
You'll receive a fixed rate from 8.49% p.a. based on the value of your car
Get a competitive rate and apply for a larger loan up to $80,000 when you attach a new or used car as security to the loan.
People's Choice CU Car Loan
From 5.64% (fixed)
5.99%
$20,000
1 to 10 years
$0
$250
You'll receive a fixed rate of 5.64% p.a.
A lower interest rate when you're borrowing over $20,000. Benefit from pre-approval and no monthly fees.
IMB Secured Personal Loan
6.89% (fixed)
7.24%
$2,000
1 to 5 years
$0
$250
You'll receive a fixed rate of 6.89% p.a.
Benefit from this competitive rate by securing the loan with a vehicle up to 6 years old. Use this flexible loan for any purpose.
NRMA New Car Loan
From 5.99% (fixed)
6.55%
$5,000
1 to 7 years
$0
$399
You'll receive a fixed rate of 5.99% p.a.
Purchase a new car with this loan and benefit from a fixed rate and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.
MyState Bank Secured Personal Loan
From 7.99% (variable)
8.96%
$10,000
1 to 10 years
$10
$200
You'll receive a variable rate of 7.99% p.a.
Apply for up to $75,000 and benefit from features such as fast approval, free online redraws and no penalties for early repayment.

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Important Information*
Latitude New and Used Car Loan

You'll receive a fixed rate between 6.99% p.a. and 14.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
Apply for a loan from $5,000 to finance a new or used car. Flexible repayments and options to finance a classic car.

Loans.com.au - New Car Loan

You'll receive a fixed rate of 5.44% p.a.
Finance a new car and benefit from features such as fast approval, no ongoing fees and an optional balloon payment.

Stratton Finance New Car Loan

You'll receive a fixed or variable rate depending on the lender you are approved with
Apply for up to $100,000 and use cash or trade in a vehicle to use as a deposit. Optional balloon payment available.

Beyond Bank Low Rate Car Loan "Special Offer"

You'll receive a fixed rate of 5.69% p.a.
Take advantage of a competitive rate, pre-approval and no early repayment fees when you finance a car under two years old.

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