Global Pickup Shootout: The Players

Global Pickup Shootout: The Players

Ford Ranger

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.

Global Pickup Shootout: The Players

Holden Colorado

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.

Global Pickup Shootout: The Players

Toyota Hilux

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.

Global Pickup Shootout: The Players

Volkswagen Amarok

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

Overview | The Players | On-Road Performance | Off-Road Performance | Design, Inside & Out |
Overall Value  | Results


Anyone else notice how similar the Ranger and Colorado look to one another. Swap the noses and you have almost the exact same truck down to the kink in the back window. The Amarok and the Hilux are similar in design as well, with both having almost the same rear door design.

I think it's interesting how they all have similar traits at this size level while the American Trucks each take on their own designs.

Does anyone think that these trucks will ever submit to the new SAE tow standard? I will be curious to see how they actually compare to the half tons in the US (after the American companies start using the standard).

Also what is the deal with payload ratings? Why do all of the smaller trucks overseas have double the payload rating of a big truck in the US? Is it strictly a legal/liability issue, or do they actually engineer the frame/suspension components differently overseas?

Gettings these things over here in the US would be fantastic! The little diesels would be hugely popular. Are the manufacturers afraid that these would dent full size sales? Is that why we can't have em'?

After reading the above, there should be no reason why the 1500 class trucks in America cannot have at least a 2500 pound payload or more.

@phillyguy- No matter how good the torque bands are, I'm not convinced these HP ratings would pull the claimed tow capacities up the Davis Dam grade at the required speeds, except perhaps the much lower rated Hilux.
Muliple factors- liability is one. in much of the world, if the truck is rated to carry 2200#, that's the most it will be loaded with. In 'Murica, if we have a Crew-cab half-ton truck, we'll have 300# in add-ons, load up 1800# of stuff and 800# of people. sure, thats over loaded, but it happens. Some components under these trucks are beefier than our mid-sizers, but many are not. I'm surprised by the 3300# in the Colorado. That is F150 HD territory.

I could be wrong here, but I beleive one of the Main reasons for the difference in payload capacity is that over the past 10-15 years, they have begun putting incredibly soft springs on the backs of US half ton trucks. On the lightestduty versions of GM and Ford trucks, the rear axles (Gm 10 bolt and Ford 8.8) are only rated for 3800 lbs total (including the weight of the rear of the truck. The higher level half tones do use stronger axles that can hold 5-6000 lbs.

For tow ratings, I would be interested to see if a different standard determines these ratings in AUS and the US. Although 177 hp and 347 ft lbs of Tq is plenty to move 12-14K GCWR. I've driven a Class 7 Medium duty FL 70 with a 5.9 cummins that had 190 hp and 410 ft/lbs of TQ. The truck's GVWR was 34,000 lbs, and we frequently loaded it to that. Now, it wouldn't keep up with traffic on hills and it sure wasn't fast, especially with a worn out old 4 speed Allison Automatic. But it got stuff done....

@mhowarth . Good question to what these can actually tow. A 3 litre Diesel Nissan Navara with a 6000lb tow rating, pulled a lightweight 8,300lb 5th Wheeler up a 1 in 6 hill at 50mph.

This is the previous Isuzu ute with a paltry 347lbs ft of torque towing a 8000lb 5ver!

@mhowarth. Isuzu seems to have some draught horses in their HP and Torque ratings.

@Mr Knowitall
Horse power isn't what moves a vehicle. 20 years ago prime movers had 350-500 hp, It's the torque that pulls. My BT50 pulls up steep hills in 6th in cruise control and it doesn't strain.

They are engineered to move and tow the weights listed. Even empty they are reasonably heavy, my ute comes in at 4 700lbs and tows and carries the same as the Ranger.

@ phillyguy
"do they actually engineer the frame/suspension components differently overseas?"

Basically summed it up. Most 1/2 tons in the US are more like a SUV. The F150HD comes close to capability with the small diesel Pickups.

"Does anyone think that these trucks will ever submit to the new SAE tow standard?"
No. As they rate vehicles differently overseas. A US Pickup will have its GCVWR rated down.

@Big Al I believe you. But most half tons in the US come in around 5500 lbs curb weight. Unless the American trucks are making huge suspension compromises for what I would assume would be road comfort I would think that they should be able to at least match the smaller trucks payload/towing numbers. Unless of course they are just counted differently from country to country.

@ Robert Ryan From what you are writing I am inferring that half ton truck suspensions in the US are purposefully softened in order to accommodate more comfortable road driving. Would you say that is an accurate description?

I really appreciate the comparison chart - gives an idea of how they stack up with each other. It would be even better if the North American full- and mid-size players were included for comparison.

Of course our suspensions in the USA are set up for a
softer ride.
It is clear from the test drivers though that they too are
getting a little "limp wristed" when they are driving the
most dated truck, the Hi-Lux. The horror of actually
moving a lever to engage the 4 wheel dr? People like
that need to either turn in their penises, or stick to
driving cars.

@Big Al- ultimately, to meet J2807 requirements, you need horsepower to to move a load up the big hill at speed. I'm well aware that you CAN tow with a diesel with very little HP and plenty of torque (torque is what we do where I work) but that alone wont satisfy the acceleratioin and climbing requirements of J2807.

@phillyguy Yes a lot of US Pickups are used as "SUV's with beds". Why have a vehicle with a 1 tonne plus payload.

@MrKnowitall The Asian sourced Pickups tow a Lightweight 5th Wheeler better than a 6.2 F150. How you can objectively compare the two will be impossible, as vehicles /models not registered in the US cannot be tested on US Roads.
You could do something in Australia, but unfortunately the US Pickups have not been included in this test

and the winner is.............."How did the results shake out? The Toyota Hilux, which hasn't seen a significant update since 2005, is clearly starting to show its age. The truck consistently found itself at the back of the pack, which resulted in a fourth-place finish overall with 29 points. By comparison, the third-place Volkswagen Amarok performed well in the overall value and design segments, but fell behind elsewhere. The German pickup took home 34 points in the evaluation.

The real story here is just how close the first, second and third-place finishers were in the shootout. The Holden Colorado went home with just two more points than the Amarok, thanks largely to its first-place off-road performance, but fell to the Ford Ranger by just one point. That means that the Ranger, Colorado and Amarok were split by just three points in total. "

@Russ - agreed.

@robert Ryan- how do they rate pickup trucks for towing in Australia? Is there arny time of standard that must be followed, or is it just based off of what the Mfr says?

@Mr Knowitall & Phillyguy
I think the imported 1/2 ton pickups from the US have their tow capacities reduced.

On the performance of diesels, just type in "2012 Diesel Grand Cherokee Review Australia". The Cherokee has a V6 diesel in it, from the reviews I have read it is equal to or better than the 5.7 Hemi version for towing. The Pentastar is not in the equation. This will hopefully give you an unbiased view. I won't resort to the Ram fans tactics.

As for the chassis, I do think your chassis are not as rugged.

When the new Chev Colorado come out it's weight and crash testing will tell you how much the vehicle differs from the one in this test.

phillyguy - when you get into double/crew cabs the payload can become academic as you may run into the rear axle load limit first, due to the difficulty of carrying weight ahead of the rear axle.

Mrknowitall - what makes you think that behavior is limited to 'Murica?

On the subject of comparing load ratings, looking at the Nissan Frontier/Navara, the most easily-compared current pickup, the load capacity is 1390/1825lb for the equivalent model to those tested here, and towing of 6100/6614lb. This is for 4x4 crew cab autos, 4.0V6 in the Frontier and 2.5 4cyl TD in the Navara.

Great blog post. It’s useful information.

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