The Ranger (and the near-identical Mazda BT-50) was developed in Australia, but the utes are produced in Thailand. The Ranger is the closest thing Australians can get to the full-size F-Series.
The crew-cab version is available with two turbo-diesel engines (originally from the Ford Transit van). The entry-level unit is a 2.2-liter four-cylinder that makes 148 horsepower and 277 pounds-feet of torque, while the top-shelf power plant is a 3.2-liter five-cylinder that pumps out a hefty 197 hp and 347 pounds-feet of torque — one of the best torque numbers in the class. Transmission choices are a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic.
Tow ratings are near the top of the class at 7,385 pounds, while the payload for the crew cab is almost 2,300 pounds. Its cargo bed measures 61 inches long and 62 inches wide. The wading depth is set at a substantial 31 inches.
At first glance, this Colorado shows us GM is serious about this class of utes. Instead of sourcing a vehicle from Isuzu and making some minor changes to the existing Holden truck, GM did much more of the work this time around. Although the Colorado’s chassis is shared with the Isuzu D-Max, the body and engines are unique.
The Colorado is a diesel-only player, with two units from Italian company VM Motori. The entry-level 2.5-liter four-cylinder generates 148 hp and 258 pounds-feet of torque, while the 2.8-liter version (still a four-cylinder) makes a decent 177 hp and 347 pounds-feet. (We should note that the manual transmission, due to gearing, requires the engine to be de-rated to 325 pounds-feet of torque.) Transmission options include a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic.
The big Holden has the best tow rating in the class, with 7,700 pounds, and it also can handle a payload of just over 3,300 pounds. The crew cab’s cargo bed is small at 58 inches long and 60 inches wide. Its official wading depth is 23.6 inches, though Holden fitted our test ute with a snorkel for greater protection.
The Colorado is produced in Thailand at a different factory from the one that produces the D-Max.
The Hilux has a reputation for durability, and it is all you see (along with the aging 70 Series Land Cruiser) when you head to certain parts of the desolate Australian Outback. Resale values are traditionally the best in the class. The Hilux raised the bar back in 2005, doing a good job of mixing capability and comfort, but it now lags behind in some key areas.
The 3.0-liter four-cylinder turbo-diesel makes 169 horsepower and 254 pounds-feet of torque, which is fairly modest for an engine of that size. Toyota also offers a gas engine throughout the range, a rarity in this class. It’s a big 4.0-liter V-6 making 235 hp and 254 pounds-feet of torque.
Both engines are mated to five-speed manuals or five-speed automatics, while some rivals are using six-speed manuals and six-speed automatics. In fact, VW just introduced an eight-speed auto.
The tow rating for the top-spec SR5 crew cab is about 5,500 pounds, which is the lowest in the class, and the payload is just over 2,200 pounds. The bed is almost a perfect 5-foot square, and the wading depth is just over 27 inches. Australian Hiluxes are made in Thailand.
Volkswagen’s first proper ute was developed with South American, European, South African and Australian markets in mind. It is made in Argentina (and soon Germany).
The Amarok was all-new for the 2010 model year, and VW introduced a different engine concept for this class. The Amarok runs a smallish engine — a 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel (from its Transporter van lineup) — that gets one or two turbochargers depending on the model. The twin-turbo unit we tested makes 161 hp and 295 pounds-feet of torque; a new version making 177 hp and 310 pounds-feet of torque is available with an automatic, but it is only available with an all-wheel-drive system that runs full-time and does not have a low-range gear. The standard transmission is a six-speed manual.
Tow rating for the Amarok is over 6,600 pounds, and the payload for the crew-cab version is just over 2,200 pounds. The cargo bed is wider and longer than its rivals, at 61 inches long and 64 inches wide, because it wasn’t designed for Asia, where narrow bodies are preferred for tight laneways. The Amarok can wade to a depth of 20 inches.
For a full set of comparison specifications, click Spec Chart Global Pickups.
2012 Global Pickup Shootout