2023 Ford Ranger Wildtrak vs Toyota HiLux Rogue comparison review

Does an unsealed trail challenge hand another victory to the new Ranger or does the updated, upgraded HiLux Rogue have the chops to come out on top?

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Things we like

  • RANGER: Smooth and powerful V6, tons of tech, modern interior
  • HILUX: Tough looks, beefy brakes, uprated chassis

Not so much

  • RANGER: Relatively pricey, needs more unique Wildtrak bits
  • HILUX: Fussy ride, dated interior, questionable ergonomics

Not everyone who owns a dual-cab ute hits the hardcore off-road trails or embarks on long adventures across the outback, and 4x4 utes are increasingly being chosen as the family car to take care of the school run and shopping trips.

However, more than 60 per cent of Australia’s roads are unsealed – so even though a dual-cab may not be frequently subjected to mud, sand or rock crawls, there’s a fair chance that at some point it will leave the asphalt behind and hit the dirt roads.

During our recent dual-cab megatest, we focused on a ute’s suitability for day-to-day on-road driving but this time we’ve reunited Australia’s two favourites for an (unsealed) road trip into Victoria’s High Country.

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How much are they and what do you get?

All eyes will be on the Ford Ranger that has virtually aced every test thrown at it since its T6.2 generation was launched in June 2022 and has proven its superiority on- and off-road. But how will it go all day on corrugations and potholes?

It’s up against the venerable Toyota HiLux which, despite a steady flow of updates, some compelling features and a fearsomely loyal customer base, is slipping down the pecking order as many challengers catch up. Perhaps a new high-spec variant will turn the tables?

Much attention has been focused on Ford’s hero Raptor version of the Ranger, which has stolen some of the limelight from the former range-topping Wildtrak. And while it doesn’t get the defining twin-turbo V6 petrol and Fox suspension of the halo variant, it does now get an excellent turbo-diesel V6.

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Toyota doesn’t have anything that could possibly compete with the Baja-battering Raptor, but its Rogue version of the HiLux has the Wildtrak firmly in its sights.

Pricing completes the picture with the Rogue on offer from $70,200 while Ford asks $70,190 for its Wildtrak (both before on-road costs).

Which is why this pair arrives on a very cold and damp morning in Warburton ready to do battle.

In response to a growing number of factory-modified-style utes such as the Nissan Navara Warrior, Toyota introduced a pair of toughened HiLuxes including the current range-topping Rugged X and this, the Rogue.

Based on the popular SR5, the Rogue adds to the list of standard equipment with a significantly modified chassis to boost off-road ability, says Toyota, and features a 20mm lifted ride height plus a 140mm widening of the track.

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Its maker says it also inclined the dampers to further improve efficiency although we suspect the mod was a symptom of widening the track by such a significant degree. The rear of the Rogue is also modified, with the axle length extended, dampers moved closer to the wheels, and a rear stabiliser bar installed to ‘enhance cornering stability and ride comfort’.

Rounding out the suspension revisions are extended front and rear arms, and front anti-roll bar. Braking was also identified as an area of enhancement with larger front discs now measuring 17 inches, while rear discs and calipers replace the drums and cylinders of the SR5.

A new bodykit was also developed for the Rogue to accommodate the wider track, lending a noticeably different look and presence that distances it from the rest of the HiLux range along with its unique alloy wheel design, sports bar and Rogue branding throughout.

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A JBL sound system, black roof lining and leatherish upholstery complete the list of equipment highlights included in the $9500 step up from an SR5.

The Ranger, by comparison, has gained very little to differentiate it from the lesser Sport V6 on which it’s based. For the $3500 it costs to upgrade, the signature moulded sports bar, different grille mesh design, Boulder Grey 18-inch wheels, roof rails and badging are the only features to distinguish the Wildtrak.

A few other goodies thrown include a trailer brake controller, power roller shutter for the load bay, ambient interior lighting, and electric adjustment and heaters for the front seats.

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Interior comfort and space

From the 12-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen full of up-to-the-minute tech, through the superior driving position and ergonomics, to the Bang and Olufsen sound system that is beautifully integrated, the Ford’s cabin instantly stands out as the most premium, contemporary and, after a few kilometres at the wheel, the most comfortable.

The Toyota’s equally good JBL stereo looks very much like an afterthought.

Like the Ford, the Toyota also gets electric front seat adjustment and heaters although the latter feel a bit weak – perhaps it was just the unseasonal alpine weather. Both also feature a power roller shutter for the tray and although the Ford has a tough plastic liner with adjustable tie-down points, we particularly liked the Toyota’s full carpet lining that not only protects the paint but also the items being carried.

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The Ford’s interior is spacious and modern with excellent technology – not just compared with the Toyota but all dual-cabs. Highlights include a large digital instrument cluster and practicality in the form of numerous clever storage options, and overall quality and finish.

It also offers one of the most spacious cabins for front occupants and contemporary touches such as an electric park brake, which frees up even more space, and the Ranger is one of the only one-tonners to offer USB-C charging sockets.

Step into the HiLux’s cabin and it feels a bit like going back in time with a dated design, and strange ergonomics – telescopic steering column adjustment is now included but it doesn’t extend far enough – while the gear selector looks like something Mercedes stopped using in the 1990s.

Finally, the Toyota’s interior feels cramped, especially in the rear seats where a church pew-like bolt-upright backrest and short knee room will get old for occupants very quickly.

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What are they like to drive?

Even before you turn a single wheel in this pairing, the HiLux and Ranger are stacking up to be wildly different beasts, and the void gets even bigger on the trail.

The Hilux’s 2.8-litre four-cylinder diesel was updated with the most recent mid-life refresh and its power and torque bump to 150kW and 500Nm was very welcome, but the dependable donk has a decidedly agricultural clatter that permeates the cabin a little too much. Performance is respectable and ushers the Rogue along with enough pace, at least when unladen.

Its six-speed automatic transmission feels similarly old-school and really stands out in a car park of other utes which offer seven, eight and 10-speed autos with smoother operation and better fuel economy.

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The Ford is one such model that features the market-leading 10-speed automatics, which is not particularly new to the Ford family but a recent revision of its calibration has bred out the irritating tendency to constantly hunt around the ratios. An occasional reluctance to kick down was the only gripe we could find.

Bolted to it is Ford’s 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 diesel, which is certainly not the newest or most sophisticated diesel on the market, but after switching from the HiLux the Ford engine feels like a jet engine in both smoothness and performance.

With 184kW and a beefy 600Nm under your toe, the Wildtrak deserves its name. Torque is abundant and, unless deliberately told to switch to rear-wheel drive, the Ranger’s permanent variable four-wheel-drive system distributes grunt and grip superbly on loose surfaces.

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It also has a very finely calibrated stability control system that’ll allow enough slip while keeping the power flowing, whereas the Toyota is too keen to shut the taps when things get slippery.

The Ford’s cabin is also wonderfully quiet and even its no-cost-optional Goodyear Wrangler Territory AT/S rubber doesn’t infiltrate the interior with grumbling on any surface.

Winding through snow-dusted and damp trails, the Ford demonstrated the same composure and confidence we’re becoming accustomed to on sealed roads and its steering has a connected feel without too much kick from surface damage and no rack rattle to speak of.

Easily the biggest difference between the pair, however, is in the ride quality and resulting roadholding. While the Toyota’s uprated suspension crashes and bangs through potholes, the Ford’s unmodified chassis is sublime by comparison, filtering out even the biggest impacts with eerie precision.

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While the Toyota’s uprated suspension crashes and bangs through potholes, the Ford’s unmodified chassis is sublime by comparison, filtering out even the biggest impacts with eerie precision.

Its line is also unphased and unaltered by changing surfaces, but the Toyota is easily flustered and requires steering correction to maintain a line through damaged sections of trail with too much front-end bump-steer. A slower steering rack ratio than the Ranger exacerbates the problem.

Despite the firmer suspension tune unique to the Rogue, it’s the Wildtrak that is most resistant to body roll.

While the Ranger feels like it’s working hard to look after occupant’s comfort and make life easier for the driver, the HiLux feels like it’s demanding you to do the hard work. The result, after a full day into the snow and back, is a noticeable difference in fatigue.

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How are they on fuel consumption?

Interestingly, despite the difference of 200cc and two cylinders, the manufacturers claim identical fuel economy for both their respective models – 8.4 litres per 100km on the combined cycle.

Given our trip into the hills involved lots of climbing and some spirited driving, we certainly weren’t expecting optimum efficiency but the tour did throw a surprising result when the numbers were crunched.

The Toyota consumed an average of 11.9L/100km while the more powerful and torquier Ford got closer to its claimed figure with a very respectable 9.7L/100km.

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How safe are they?

According to the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP), the Ford ranger achieved the maximum five-star safety rating when it was tested earlier this year and scored well in all areas.

“Dual frontal, side chest-protecting and side head-protecting (curtain) airbags, and driver and passenger knee airbags are standard,” it reports. “A centre airbag which provides added protection to front seat occupants in side impact crashes is also standard.

“Autonomous emergency braking (Car-to-Car, Vulnerable Road User and Junction Assist) as well as a lane support system with lane keep assist (LKA), lane departure warning (LDW) and emergency lane keeping (ELK), and an advanced speed assistance system (SAS) are standard equipment.

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"AEB Backover and ELK-overtaking functions are not available on cab-chassis vehicles, but are standard on all other variants.”

The same top rating was also awarded to the HiLux following its testing in 2019. The safety assessor highlighted the model's standard driver assistance systems and active safety tech for praise including “dual frontal, side chest-protecting and side head-protecting airbags (curtains) and a driver knee airbag are standard".

“Autonomous emergency braking (City, Interurban and Vulnerable Road User), as well as lane-keep assist (LKA) with lane departure warning (LDW) and an advanced speed assistance system (SAS) are fitted as standard equipment on all variants.”

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The HiLux still has a handful of virtues that keep Toyota fans coming back for more and the Rogue introduces a version that will appeal to ute buyers who like the look and ability of modified machines without the trips to ARB and afternoons getting greasy in the garage.

No matter how much tough kit you dress it up in, however, the HiLux can’t hide its age as its many ergonomic and technological qualms become ever more obvious as its competitors evolve.

And there’s no more effective way of highlighting its shortcomings than driving it back-to-back with the Wildtrak.

Ford’s one-down-from-the-top variant (two if you count the recently announced Platinum) is a reasonably pricey proposition but when compared with an identically priced alternative, it’s very easy to see exactly how much kit you’re actually getting for your cash.

Its manners seem utterly unflappable regardless of the surface and its lovely V6 diesel brings effortless torque, admirable smoothness and surprising fuel economy, while the thoroughly modern cabin is filled with technology and comfort-boosting features.

The lone Ranger was always going to prevail over a Rogue tradie.

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Ford Ranger Wildtrak: 9.0

What we liked

  • Smooth and powerful V6
  • Tons of tech
  • Modern interior

Not so much

  • Relatively pricey
  • Needs more unique Wildtrak bits

Toyota Hilux Rogue: 7.5

What we liked

  • Tough looks
  • Beefy brakes
  • Uprated chassis

Not so much

  • Fussy ride and handling
  • Dated interior
  • Questionable ergonomics

Scoring breakdown

Ford Ranger WildtrakToyota HiLux Rogue
Safety, value and features88.5
Comfort and space97
Engine and gearbox97.5
Ride and handling97.5

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Toyota HiLux RogueFord Ranger Wildtrak
Engine2755cc 4cyl, dohc, 16v turbo-diesel2993cc V6 turbo-diesel
Power150kW @ 3000 – 3400rpm184kW @ 3250rpm
Torque500Nm 1600-2800rpm600Nm @ 1750-2250rpm
Transmission6-speed automatic10-speed automatic
Fuel consumption11.9L/100km (tested)9.7L/100km (tested)
0-100km/h9.5s (estimated)8.2s (estimated)
Price$70,200 + on-road costs$70,190 + on-road costs
On saleNowNow

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Related video

Things we like

  • RANGER: Smooth and powerful V6, tons of tech, modern interior
  • HILUX: Tough looks, beefy brakes, uprated chassis

Not so much

  • RANGER: Relatively pricey, needs more unique Wildtrak bits
  • HILUX: Fussy ride, dated interior, questionable ergonomics


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