The Ford Ranger is a car that arrives in 2023, at a time where the previous model was still one of the leading vehicles in the mid-size 4×4 ute category.
Ford’s latest entry has been battling against the older Toyota Hilux for not only Australia’s favorite 4×4 vehicle but also the top-selling model in this country overall for some time; an ‘Next-Gen’ Ranger that Ford hopes will be their strongest salvo yet.
The new Ranger features a brand-new engine, and is nearly all-new. It also comes with a “trump card”–the introduction of a V6 diesel engine–which has been considered to be conventional in the 4×4 ute category.
The new Ranger Sport slips in between the XLT and the Wildtrak, giving pickup buyers another option for style and equipment levels. The new model boosts Ford’s armoury thanks to its more affordable price point and sleek styling.
This analysis pitted the Ranger Sport against the Hilux SR5 in terms of pricing, capabilities and features. The price for each vehicle differs, as does their offered packages.
When considering the fact that either the carried over I4 bi-turbo diesel engine or V6 diesel costs an extra $3000, comparing it to the new Ford, they are almost on par with everything else.
On both Hilux and Ranger, the respective manufacturers’ online configurators provide a $68,477 price in Melbourne, while the Rangers Sport is available for $73,261.
Let the battle begin!
Ford Ranger Sport V6
The 2020 Ranger is going to have a similar chassis, sheet metal and interior, but with a few tweaks such as new door openings and the glasshouse.
On top of this, there are brand new powertrains on the 2020 Ranger along with many other changes.
I4 is still available, but with the powerful engine found in the V6.
With additions that speak to the Ranger’s already successful design, Ford has improved their all-new model based on customer and user feedback.
Powertrain and performance
The Ford Ranger received an updated 3.0-litre V6 engine with lineage in the Land Rover Discovery and Ford Territory.
This engine has recently been used in many Land Rover and Range Rover products in a higher capacity of 3.0 liters, single- and dual-turbocharged systems.
This style of “twin turbos” first appeared in Ford’s 2015 F-150 Harley-Davidson Edition. The style of twin turbos appears now on the 2019 Ford Ranger.
This tune gives the Ranger 183kW and 619Nm of torque which is relatively light compared to its capacity. The 3.2-liter engine it replaces in the Ranger can only deliver 147kW and 470Nm but this pipey motor drives it past that.
With significant improvements over existing utes like the Ranger and 4×4, the V6 brings level of refinement only found in models like the soon to be superseded Volkswagen Amarok, and today’s departed Mercedes-Benz X350d.
The 4×4 ute pack offers a more relaxed and well-mannered way to transport goods, which means it can also make for a smoother drive.
The engines on this type of vehicle are rough running and noisy when compared to the four-cylinder diesel engine, but performs better than the four-pots in overall smoothness and refinement.
With a 500Nm torque, both the Ford R2.0-litre and Toyota Hilux petrol engines found in four-cylinder ute have raucous performance and are tough to work hard because of their hefty size.
The 3.0L V6 engine doesn’t have the same noise and vibration as inline fours.
The 6.7L naturally aspirated V-8 engine delivers its power smoothly through the revised 10-speed automatic transmission when it’s in use.
The transmission performs faultlessly on highways and secondary roads, a marked improvement over the PX series Rangers predecessor.
On-road ride and handling
The Ranger Explorer, which is the renamed Summit for the U.S., has been combined with a V6 engine up front and wider wheel tracks for improved handling.
This wider chassis will also have an effect by making it easier to fit electric drivetrains in the future.
For now, the added 50mm in the wheel track and an equal amount to the wheelbase result in better handling as well as increased stability on the vehicle.
Moving the suspension elements to outside of the frame enhances the ride and handling. This is great for the car’s performance on both ends.
Alastair Brook was a hybrid and 4 Cycle Engine-focused engineer at Ford
The angled front, added dimensions, and other changes improve the precision and stability of the Ranger. This helps add to a feeling of the truck being more powerful.
On rough roads, the coil suspension feels firm, yet never jittery or uncomfortable. This is the price you pay for a vehicle designed to carry a tonne or tow 3.5-tonnes.
With the 4×4 full-time transmission, life becomes easy when driving on rough roads or in the rain. The full-time 4×4 system is an added benefit for anyone who lives on muddy roads and has to commute through them everyday on their commute.
The fresh sense of design gives the latest Ranger an even more attractive look. On top of that, the chassis has been modified so that it can better accommodate the changing terrain as well.
The independent front end still has difficulty navigating obstacles, but it is better than in the previous model.
If you decide to put the differential lock in, the Ranger uses an effective electronic traction control system. The Hilux always had the best performing traction control system, but this one still has a long way to go.
The Ranger would have been more likely to slip earlier before the ETC would have caught it, sending the drive effectivley.
he Ranger would have been more likely to slip before the ETC could catch it, sending the drive where it would be most effective.
The ETC had a better response in the dirt, but it wasn’t as quick as the Toyota.
Perhaps the ECU is designed to automatically bring a vehicle to its best peak performance when a driver selects low range. But why wouldn’t it always use this setting?
The Ranger Sport’s cameras had a very useful use; off-road driving, when manoeuvring the car in tight spaces.
Cabin and accommodation
With an interior featuring a simpler, more modern design and added technology, the new Ranger is ready for its close up. The added features will take some time to adapt to.
The 10-inch screen takes the center of the dashboard and is fronted by a portrait style screen. The Wildtrak gets two inches bigger with a taller version of this screen.
The usual things like maps, entertainment control, and HVAC settings are present, as well as temperature controls and exterior lighting.
It’s great to see Ford not just rely on buttons for these everyday functions, but take the time to include dials.
There is a wireless charging pad on the underside of the device, with connection capabilities to the Ford’s SYNC 4 system for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The dashboard reflects the new Ranger’s upright look. It now includes a shelf forward of the front passenger seat and below the glove compartment, which is convenient for phone, keys and wallet storage.
The driver sits behind an adjustable steering column with a full screen of configurations in front. With the touch of a button, the driver can enter ‘off-road mode,’ which displays the setting for when off-roading.
The Ranger Sport has new seats that differ in comfort, size, and many other aspects. The leather seat covers offer a more comfortable sitting experience and the power adjustability in the front row ensures your spine remains healthy while driving.
The new cabin on the 2019 Toyota Ranger is wider, increasing the room available to passengers, who are now able to dine with one person sitting on each side of a two person bench in the middle.
An online survey was conducted to investigate the concerns of Ranger owners, such as what passengers disliked about their cars and how they used them.
The responses led to improvements in safety. Improvements were made to the cargo bed, rear steps and lighting.
With the Sport model tested, those who order the integrated brake controller with the “Touring Pack” also get a 360° camera and four-zone exterior lighting. These features are standard on the Wildtrak.
The company was able to maintain a 3500kg towing capacity, 6400kg GCM, close to a tonne payload (934kg in the Sport V6), 800mm wading depth, and overhang clearance.
That wading depth is class leading, but we question the forward-facing air intake for the engine that all Rangers now have with the snorkel necessary.
Better news in the engine bay is the additional space to fit in a second battery and the availability of a factory-backed kit from ARB.
We think the new, redesigned front wheels and wider rubber track will allow for a larger cargo space that can accommodate a European pallet.
And the LED lighting, four tie-down points, 12-volt power outlet and easy-lift tailgate are features that seem pretty novel to us. Someone out there might find a use for them.
By teaming up with ARB, Ford offers a range of kit and accessories that are unrivaled among its competition. The company offers the front Air Locker, bullbars, suspension kits, air compressors and canopies at the time of vehicle purchase.
As a result, leading accessory manufacturers will also design durable and practical accessories for the Ranger. Future models of cars will be equipped with built-in parts that can handle the needs of all vehicle types and their makers.
The Ranger Sport rides on 18-inch alloys and can get tougher tires to use in the bush. There’s no reason you couldn’t either fit 17-inch Wiggins wheels from the XLT or aftermarket with the 17-inch option.
Toyota HiLux SR5 – Premium
While it’s hard to trace the Ranger’s lineage, the body of evidence is a lot less complex. Toyota’s first mid-size ute debuted in 1966 and has been improved on for over fifty years.
The vehicle has grown in to one of the most recognisable brands worldwide, who have noted this trend through their collaborations with Mazda and other changes in design over time.
The eighth-gen Hilux as been introduced in 2015 and it was first updated in 2020. One of the most important updates was to the 1GD-FTV engine.
Powertrain and performance
Hilux has improved their engine’s power, outputting 500Nm with their 2.8-litre diesel engine, so they are now as powerful as a 2.0-litre diesel in the PX2 Ranger.
The engine has undergone performance upgrades, overcoming the issues that were previously experienced.
Presently, these low point engine specs were not best suited with a new 6-speed automatic transmission that is more adept at finding the sweet spot in the engine.
The engine is punchy and it delivers plenty of grunt. It’s powerful enough to place the power train at the pointy end with four-cylinder utes in terms of performance, where the many gears are better adapted to the vehicles maneuverability and speed.
When it comes to speed, the four-cylinder engine’s pure horsepower doesn’t match up to a six-cylinder engine. At low speeds, you can notice it quite clearly, and the clunky transmission transfers the vibrations through the cabin.
Hilux’s and other 4-pot powered trucks feel like the light trucks that they are. V6 powered engines in vehicles like the Ranger and Amarok feel more car-like when compared to Hilux, which sounds more similar to a truck.
On-road ride and handling
While the physics aren’t exactly the same in that the Hilux is unladen, Toyota engineers have redesigned it so that it feels similar.
The suspension is firm, providing a firmer and more responsive ride, but still soft enough to be comfortable.
The Hilux doesn’t seem as stable while parked on the road compared to other cars, as if it has a higher center of mass. This is likely because the wider wheel track of the Ranger makes it more stable when in motion.
This year, Toyota will be release a wide-track Hilux model that has 316mm of extra width. Because the standard Hilux has only 277.5mm total width, this should significantly change how the truck feels and drives on road.
Nowadays cars in this segment have evolved and it’s time for the Hilux to change too. As for now, there is nothing wrong with how their ride and drive.
Like any Toyota 4×4, the Hilux has started out with impressive performance in gravel road and off-road conditions. Toyota has also given it exceptional articulation and ETC calibration.
These features make getting past even the roughest terrain a breeze.
In this case, the Hilux was able to climb the steep, rutted slope without having to turn on any extra drive modes or buttons. Thanks to its superior traction, the Hilux didn’t kick up a bit of dust during the ascent.
The tables turn when the terrain is rough and you need a diff lock. With the Lux’s diff lock engaged, the ETC across the front axle will be killed, leaving only a three-wheel drive instead of four wheel drive.
And whereas a rear end with an electric differential may not have problems off-roading, the Toyota Hilux will often overcome tougher obstacles by relying on its excellent electric torque converter and not engaging the rear differential.
Cabin and accommodation
The cabin’s eight-inch screen has been updated and made easier to use. However, many people don’t like the screen’s placement on the dashboard vs being more integrated into the design. Personally, I don’t mind it.
The gauge binnacle is a simpler model than the ranger’s, but it still provides everything the driver needs to know. In some ways I find this simple dash easier to read than the Ford’s busy gauge screen.
The SR5’s Premium package makes it feel like the ute is more special. The leather-trimmed seats, piano-finish black trims and heated front seats create comfort and an overall feeling of luxury.
The rear seat in the Hilux is a tighter squeeze than that in the Ranger, with less headroom, leg room and shoulder space.
Despite Toyota jumping onto the 4×4 bandwagon, it doesn’t have many of the latest safety technologies available to other competitors – such as lane departure alerts and steering correction.
The lack of safety tech on the Hilux is a result of the model being less than 3 years old when compared to the newer Ranger, Triton, BT-50 and DH-Max
For a better tire choice, the SR5’s 265/60R18 size could be swapped to the smaller, more sensible 17-inch wheels on lower trim levels
The truck bed of the Tacoma does not have tie-down points like the new RANGER, has a smaller surface area because it is narrower, and lacks the tub light and 12-volt power that the RANGER has.
The latter felt heavy when compared to closing its lightweight tailgate.
The Hilux’s engine bay has space for a second battery, and the air intake is well-placed where it draws from the inner ’guard.
The Hilux is a very popular vehicle and has a huge selection of aftermarket parts that you can choose from. Regardless of the size of your project, or what type of modification you’re trying to take on, someone somewhere is building it for you.
When taking two vehicles, their age and performance cannot be hidden. You can instantly tell the difference between them based on how they drive and features.
The V6 Toyota engine feels faster and more agressive than the I4 engine, even though its official numbers indicate otherwise.
More than just the performance, the refinement that the V6 engine and 10-speed auto sets a new standard in the 4×4 ute category. Other competitors can’t be compared to it.
The 4×4 system in the Ranger drives better on varying roads and comes with more power. The option to go full-time four-wheel-drive gives the vehicle a significant advantage over other ute models.
The Ford Ranger ute’s dynamics, comfort, and safety features put it at the top of a crowded field of competitors. There is no other truck on the market like it in terms of value for customer spend.
The Hilux may not be the perfect choice, but it can provide plenty of performance. It only took two years to win our 4×4 Of The Year award because of its wide range of capabilities.
The Toyota N80 is an old model that does everything you need it to do. It’s showing its age now, but the company promises upgrades before selling an all-new Hilux in a few years.
It’s likely that it will not be enough for Hilux to combat the new model – the new Ranger, unless Hilux has an engine package refined and more powerful than conventional.
The Ford Ranger and Holden Colorado will most likely be the best selling 4×4 cars in Australia in 2022. Factors like customer demand and supply determine which vehicle will win.
HiLux SR5: 8/10
What we like
- Excellent ETC calibration
- Solid construction
- Value for money
Not so much…
- Narrow chassis and cabin
- Noisey engine
- Lacking latest safety equipment
Ranger Sport V6: 9/10
What we like
- Refinement of powertrain and chassis
- Chassis dynamics
- Levels of standard equipment
Not so much…
- No manual transmission offered
- So much fiddly tech
- Electric parking brake
|Toyota Hilux SR5 – Premium||Toyota Hilux SR5 – Premium||Ford Ranger Sport V6|
|Engine||I4 diesel||V6 diesel|
|Max Power||150kW at 3400rpm||184kW at 3250rpm|
|Max Torque||500Nm from 1600 to 2800rpm||600Nm from 1750 to 2250rpm|
|Transmission||6-speed automatic||10-speed automatic|
|4X4 System||Part-time w/ high and low range 4×4||Full-time 4×4 offering 2WD, 4×4 auto, 4×4 high range, 4×4 low range|
|Crawl Ratio||36.11:1||(Awaiting details)|
|Construction||4-door ute body on ladder chassis||4-door ute on ladder chassis|
|Front Suspension||IFS w/ dual control arms and coil springs||Independent via wishbones and coils|
|Rear Suspension||Live axle riding on leaf springs||Live axle on leaf springs|
|Tyres||265/60R18 on alloy wheels||255/65R18 on alloy wheels|
|ADR Fuel Claim*||8.1L/100km||8.4L/100km|
|On-Test Fuel Use||11.6L100km||11.4L/100km|
|Off-road specs||Toyota Hilux SR5 – Premium||Ford Ranger Sport V6|