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Ford Ranger closing in on Toyota Hilux's top spot

Family buyers are driving growth for the 4WD Ranger as it gains ground on the popular HiLux.

For years Toyota's HiLux has ruled the worksite and the camping ground but things are changing. The Ford Ranger is threatening the "unbreakable" Toyota's stranglehold on the one-tonne ute market, especially in 4WD sales.

Last month, with new models of both vehicles filling dealer forecourts, the gap between 4WD Ranger and HiLux was just 94 sales. The close call was the continuation of a trend that has gained momentum since the launch of the Australian designed and engineered Ranger in 2011.

This year Ranger 4WD sales are up almost 11 per cent, with a record 21,119 to the end of November.

HiLux sales in comparison continue to fall, down 5.1 per cent to 23,611, from 26,821 in the same period in 2013.

Family buyers are driving the growth

The Ranger holds 17.2 per cent share of the 4WD ute business so far this year, a record for the model, while HiLux leads with 19.3 per cent.

Ford says the Ranger is picking up fleet business with a special mining industry pack and other heavy-duty applications. But family buyers are driving the growth.

"What is surprising is that high-series Ranger (XLT and Wildtrak) are enormously popular with private buyers," says Ford spokesman Neil McDonald. "However, given the high level of standard features and safety, Wildtrak in particular has a strong order bank. It's clear that Ranger has become the work vehicle during the week but in many cases, a family vehicle or recreation vehicle at weekends," he said.

Falcon buyers have fragmented, with many deserting the brand. Ford says many Falcon ute owners are making the switch to Ranger.

Which would you pick, the 4WD Ranger or the HiLux? Tell us in the comments below.