Words and photos by James Stanford
Midsize pickups are big in Australia. Without full-size trucks like the Ford F-Series available, Australia’s “utes” — like the Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger — are used for everything from carting the odd hay bale to lugging heavy equipment.
They are known as “one-tonners” in Australia, a reference to their ability to carry at or close to a metric ton (2,205 pounds), or 1,000 kilograms.
These used to be no-fuss machines and were as rough as guts. But over the past decade, manufacturers have upped the ante, and utes got better and better, with more refined engines and cabins. And in some ways, they started to gain features previously found only on cars.
Australian buyers started to snap up crew cabs, which could lug their work gear and then transport their children and all kinds of toys on the weekends.
Diesels have always been the engine of choice here, and these have dramatically improved in recent years, with common rail injection and variable geometry turbos for a much more progressive torque-delivery feel.
One-tonners have become so popular that the Hilux often pops up as the best-selling vehicle in Australia, beating small hatchbacks and big locally made sedans, as well as other car-based utes.
The Hilux, which has a reputation for toughness, has been the top-selling workhorse ute in Australia for as long as anyone can remember, and it remains a popular choice even though it hasn’t changed much since the current generation was introduced in 2005.
More recently, Toyota was forced to slash prices, add equipment and offer a cosmetic face-lift to the Hilux because the company recognized its ute was facing its toughest competition to date, with new players from Volkswagen, Ford, Mazda, Holden and Isuzu.
For this Shootout, we brought together the Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger, Volkswagen Amarok and Holden Colorado. Three of the four (VW, Ford and GM) have been redesigned since the last-gen Hilux debuted, and one (GM) will soon be sold in the U.S.
Our Australian affiliates tested these trucks in and around the Victorian city of Melbourne as well as at a nearby 4x4 park, which offered a mix of winding dirt and tarmac roads that run down toward the Surf Coast.
They scored this Shootout in four equal parts: on-road, off-road, design and value, totalling their assessments in each category with simple values (10 points for first place, 9 for second, 8 for third, and 7 for fourth), adding them up to determine a winner. This method will let you value and weigh your scoring system to determine your own winner if you choose.
Due to a few logistical constraints and timing issues, we weren’t able to be as exhaustive in this test and data collection exercise as PUTC would have liked, but we think there is still plenty of valuable info here. Enjoy.
2012 Global Pickup Shootout