For as long as can be remembered, the double cab market in South Africa has had only one real champion and several pretenders. The Toyota Hilux has dominated this segment and is by far the most popular vehicle in its class. More recently though, several manufacturers have come to the party, producing some notable contenders: the Isuzu KB, the Nissan Navara, the VW Amarok and the Mazda BT-50, which have all very successfully laid a claim to the throne, but none have really threatened the king. We decided to take a look at the reigning king, and see if the latest contender, the new Ford Ranger, is as worthy an opponent to the crown as we think it could be.
The Toyota Hilux
The Hilux is everything it is advertised to be. It is a capable workhorse that doubles as the car for every man. Its rugged, yet stylish good looks sit as well in the office car park, as they do in the bush. And the best part about owning a Hilux is no one looks at it as a pretender of anything, unlike the popular ”city 4x4” market which is flooded with beautiful off-road vehicles that have never even seen a dirt road, let alone some rough and tough terrain.
For as long as can be remembered, the double cab market in South Africa has had only one real champion and several pretenders.
The Hilux is very much a car for the adventurous businessman and there is a model to suit every taste and requirement. The Hilux comes with a list of accessories a page long and has more engine options than we could fit in this article, so whether you are looking for a beast or a run-around, Toyota has a model for you.
The model we tested was the 4.0 V6 Raised Body Auto DC Dakar. This Hilux was one part monster and one part city stunner. The Dakar trims Toyota added to this model was like having a sticker of authenticity splashed all over our double cab for everyone to see we knew what car to drive. The Hilux drove with real authority and the automatic gearbox shifted smoothly. Unlike other double cabs we have tested with an equally powerful engine, the 4.0 litre V6 in the Toyota had some restraint when you were using it as a day to day vehicle.
The price tag on the Hilux is rather high, a shade over R472,000 and it is also extremely popular with hijackers and car thieves, so you need to be vigilant while driving a Hilux, but neither of those factors have deterred any of the thousands of Hilux owners over the years, nor will it.
The New Ford Ranger
Not that there was much wrong with the previous model of the Ranger, but Ford has taken a big step forward with the latest version. It is quite possibly the sexiest double cab on the market at the moment. It could be argued that sexiness may detract from the brutish appeal most double cabs go for, but this is also part of the Ford evolution with its new Ranger, which is pretty enough on the outside to turn a few heads, but rough enough for you to want to cover it in mud.
The exterior style is carried through to the interior and all the finishings inside the new Ranger are of the highest quality. Everything is a click or push away. The Ranger engine variety is much smaller than that of the Hilux, but in its selection of engines, there are plenty of choices. We tested the 3.2L TDCi which had a slick automatic gearbox. More than 3.2 litres seems quite pointless after you’ve tested the Ranger, as this version is both economical and powerful enough. The 147kW gave us plenty of power and the 470Nm of torque made towing just about anything a real breeze. The model we tested sold for R499900, which also isn’t cheap, but if you are in the market for a double cab, price shouldn’t be your first criteria. Value should.
The Hilux and the new Ranger offer more than you would expect; we believe the new Ranger really does stand a chance at reigning supreme. But no king easily gives up his throne and only time will tell, in this battle.