Besides serving as the basis for a number of overland and off-road builds, the Ford Ranger also makes an excellent mid-size working truck. It has one of the highest payload capacities of any mid-size truck and a host of standard features. However, overseas customers have several other options. One of the most popular and well-known is the Toyota Hilux, a more rugged version of the Tacoma. And there’s also the Volkswagen Amarok, which can carry even more than the Ranger. But which of these working trucks is the best off-road? Carwow attempted to find out.
Ford Ranger vs. the working truck competition
Here, the Ford Ranger is available exclusively with a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, although the next-gen truck may offer a V6. In Europe, though, it’s available with a diesel, a popular option for trucks and other utilitarian vehicles. The Toyota Hilux and VW Amarok Carwow tested were also equipped with diesels.
The Ranger’s engine is a 2.0-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder, which produces 213 hp and 369 lb-ft. The Hilux has a 2.4-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder, which makes 148 hp and 295 lb-ft. And the Amarok came equipped with a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6, making 204 hp and 369 lb-ft. All 3 were equipped with four-wheel drive and automatic transmissions.
Although the Hilux is down on power, it’s also the lightest of the 3 trucks. It weighs in at 4751 pounds, while the Ford Ranger and VW Amarok weigh 4952 pounds and 4982 pounds, respectively. The Hilux is also the cheapest of the 3, with the Amarok being the 2nd cheapest.
However, the VW has the most ground clearance, at 9.1”. The Ford Ranger has 8.9”, and the Hilux 8.3”. But both the Hilux and Ranger have locking rear differentials and low-range transfer cases. The Amarok only has an off-road driving mode and not even off-road tires.
The testing procedures
Carwow host Mat Watson subjected the trucks to 6 different challenges. In each challenge, whichever one came 1st would receive 3 points, 2nd 2 points, and 3rd 1 point. Whichever truck had the highest score at the end would be declared the winner.
The first test was an uphill run, testing the trucks’ engines’ power delivery, transmission programming, and 4WD systems. The second was a drive up a series of muddy ‘steps’ (aka dips and potholes), to evaluate ground clearance, chassis articulation, suspension design, and overall tire grip. The third challenge, braking over a rising bank, further tested those criteria, as well as the trucks’ traction control.
The fourth challenge was a timed run around a tight off-road course full of obstacles. Next, the trucks’ hill-descent controls were tested by seeing which truck got down a steep hill the slowest.
Finally, in the spirit of overlanding and #vanlife, the Ford Ranger, VW Amarok, and Toyota Hilux competed to see which could make the biggest splash.
How did the Ford Ranger do?
Splash contest aside, the Ford Ranger held its own against the other 2 trucks.
Although the VW took 1st in the uphill run, and the Toyota 2nd due to its weight advantage, the Ranger took 1st in the muddy steps challenge. The Hilux, though, placed 1st in the 3rd and 4th challenge. However, the Ford did beat out the VW in those challenges. Although, the VW took 1st in the hill-descent challenge, edging out the Ford Ranger.
At the end of the challenges, the 3 trucks were actually all tied up. So, although we can’t get the Amarok or Hilux, US customers aren’t losing out with the Ford Ranger.
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