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Matt Campbell
Reviewed & driven by
CarsGuide

30 May 2019

The ute segment is hot property – even as new vehicle sales dip in 2019, the dual cab four-wheel drive part of the market is as strong as a Brickie on a Monday morning.

And these three particular dual cab pick-up trucks continue to go from strength to strength, with the Toyota HiLux maintaining top spot, with the Ford Ranger and Mitsubishi Triton close behind.

These three particular dual cab utes continue to go from strength to strength. (Image credit: Brendan Batty) These three particular dual cab utes continue to go from strength to strength. (Image credit: Brendan Batty)

For this test we got the top-spec version of the facelifted Triton – the GLS Premium – which still undercuts the second-from-top HiLux Rogue and third-from-top Ranger XLT by a healthy amount of money.

But can the value equation push the Triton across the line? Or will it be a case of 'you get what you pay for'?

Read on to find out.

Value

Everyone wants a bargain, but that doesn't always equate to good value. So here's a price list to give you an idea how much each of these models will cost, and the price range varies greatly because we have a bit of a mix of trim levels on test here.

The most affordable model – by a huge margin – is the Mitsubishi Triton GLS Premium, which is the top-of-the-range version. The list price (RRP) for this version is $51,990 plus on-road costs, but the brand is already doing drive-away prices, so shop around – hey, why not let CarsGuide be your guide? Whether you're after new or second-hand!

That positions it as a comparative bargain in this test, because the next most affordable model we have is the Ranger XLT Bi-turbo, which lists at $59,790. The 2019 version of the Ranger has seen increased safety and the addition of the new downsized engine –we'll discuss both of those elements in more detail as we move through the test.

The most expensive vehicle in this test is the Toyota HiLux Rogue, which lists at $61,690 plus on-road costs. And while it could be considered a sport edition, can it stack up on features?

To make things simple for us all, we've put the most important information in tables so you can compare how these three models compare to one another – XLT vs GLS Premium vs Rogue.

 Ford Ranger XLT Bi-TurboMitsubishi Triton GLS PremiumToyota HiLux Rogue
LED HeadlightsYesYesYes
LED daytime running lightsYesYesYes
Auto headlightsYesYesYes
Auto wipersYesYesYes
Air conditioningDual-zone climate controlDual-zone climate controlSingle-zone climate control
Heated seatsNoYes - two-stageYes - single-stage
Electric seat adjustmentNoDriver's sideDriver's side
Leather seatsOptionalStandardStandard
Push button startYesYesYes
Keyless entry/smart keyYesYesYes
Central lockingYesYesYes
Leather steering wheelYesYesYes
Cruise controlYes - adaptiveYesYes
Media screen8.0-inch7.0-inch7.0-inch
Sat navYesNo, but has GPS locationYes
Apple CarPlay and Android AutoYesYesNo
Sound system speakers666
Power windowsYesYesYes
Power mirrorsYesYesYes
Heated side mirrorsNoNoNo
Tow barYesNoYes
Alloy wheels17-inch18-inch18-inch
Tyre pressure monitoring systemYesNoNo
Spare tyreFull sizeFull sizeFull size
Front brakesDiscDiscDisc
Rear brakesDrumDrumDrum

There's a bit more to it, too, because the HiLux Rogue adds a hard lid with marine carpet lining in the tub – a few grand's worth of value, there. And it arguably looks like it has a sports pack fitted (where its stablemate, the Rugged X, has an off-road pack fitted). And the Toyota and Ford both come with a tow bar kit fitted (with harness, but not with an electric brake controller); to get your Mitsubishi with the same will cost you a little more.

And it's good to see all three utes here have LED headlights – that means there's no HID, xenon or projector lights. Depending on your circumstances, you might want to consider a light bar, driving lights or spot-lights – but we had no serious issues with the lighting on offer.

In the touch-screen battle the Ford rocks an 8.0-inch display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus it has a navigation system built in (but you can't use that in-built system if your phone is hooked up). The Toyota has sat nav, too, but no smartphone mirroring for its smaller 7.0-inch screen. The Mitsubishi has the same size screen as the HiLux but no nav, but it does have GPS location data, and also smartphone mirroring.

  • The Ford has an 8.0-inch display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. (Image credit: Brendan Batty) The Ford has an 8.0-inch display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. (Image credit: Brendan Batty)
  • The Toyota has sat nav but no smartphone mirroring for its smaller 7.0-inch screen. (Image credit: Brendan Batty) The Toyota has sat nav but no smartphone mirroring for its smaller 7.0-inch screen. (Image credit: Brendan Batty)
  • The Mitsubishi has the same size screen as the HiLux but no nav. (Image credit: Brendan Batty) The Mitsubishi has the same size screen as the HiLux but no nav. (Image credit: Brendan Batty)

While the multimedia stakes are high, none of these models have a DVD player or wifi hotspot, but all have Bluetooth phone and audio streaming with USB connectivity for MP3 playback from your device. The sound system in each of these models consists of six speakers and no subwoofer, and all three had DAB digital radio. If you still look for a radio CD player, the Ford and Toyota will please you more than the Mitsubishi – it doesn't have a CD player, and none have a CD changer.

Weirdly, you have to look at the screen in the Ford for the climate-control settings on the air conditioning – there are manual buttons below, and while it might look more technical, we prefer the standalone air conditioner temp displays in the Mitsubishi and Toyota.

Beyond the stereos, the gadgets and technology on offer is a battle fought in the safety section below, with one of these players falling well short. Look, there's still ESP/VSC/stability control and hill start assist with hill descent control, but it's like two of these models have a tech pack compared to the one that misses out. Don't skip ahead, though – there's a lot more of this model comparison to come before we get there.

Of course you might want to add some accessories, and each of these brands offers extensive lists of goodies including a bull bar, rims, a snorkel, nudge bar (fitted as standard on this spec of Triton), ladder rack, sports bar (another standard-fit item on the Triton, not to mention the HiLux). You might want to shop the aftermarket for an awning, winch, hard-core bash plates and rated recovery points, but none of these utes have a power window in the rear glass, and none come with a sunroof.

Try to get the salesperson to throw in some floor mats (the Ranger has a driver's mat as standard, but none of the others have any included), and you won't need to bargain for window tint in any of them, either – well, unless you want privacy glass front and rear.

No model comes with two tone paint, and the list of colours is pretty limited. You've got black, white, blue, red, grey and silver on all three. The HiLux adds an orange hue, but none have brown, yellow or green available from the factory. Premium paint costs $600 for the HiLux, $650 for the Ford and $690 for the Triton.

How many seats in each of these utes? Five a piece – but see how they compare in terms of interior comfort below.

ModelScore
Ford Ranger XLT Bi-turbo6
Mitsubishi Triton GLS Premium9
Toyota HiLux Rogue7

Design

When it comes to the exterior design of utes, it's often the case that opinions are polarised.

  • All three have side-steps for easy access to the cabin. (Image credit: Brendan Batty) All three have side-steps for easy access to the cabin. (Image credit: Brendan Batty)
  • The Triton's look is divisive. (Image credit: Brendan Batty) The Triton's look is divisive. (Image credit: Brendan Batty)
  • The Ford looks the most work-truckish. (Image credit: Brendan Batty) The Ford looks the most work-truckish. (Image credit: Brendan Batty)
  • For me (and the majority of the team), the HiLux looks amazing. (Image credit: Brendan Batty) For me (and the majority of the team), the HiLux looks amazing. (Image credit: Brendan Batty)

For me (and the majority of the CarsGuide team), the Toyota HiLux Rogue looks amazing. With the white lettering around the black alloys, it looks part-NASCAR racer, part Cars character. And the sports bar looks better integrated than its rivals, too.

The Triton? Well, based on the comments on our video launch review of that model, the look isn't to all tastes. In fact, it appears that 25 per cent of people like it, and the rest don't. On test, it was split about that way, too.

The Ford looks the most, well, work-truckish. It's still a good looking thing, but the front-end design isn't as modern or edgy as its rivals, and the rear is a little sedate, too. Maybe it's the red paint, but it wasn't as fetching to your humble test crew.

All three have side-steps for easy access to the cabin and a rear step bumper to jump into the utility body... though that hard-top tonneau in the Toyota does make for a difficult entry and exit. A soft-top tonneau is available for all three models, but it'll cost you extra.

The Triton's underbody protection is more obvious thanks to its nudge bar, but there is metal to protect from scuffs and bumps under each of these trucks.

None of these utes have bonnet stripes, none come with a luxury pack or a body kit with a front spoiler and side skirts, but all of these can be optioned if you search for those bits.

Below you'll find the size differences in our dimensions table, and our interior images should give you an idea of which is the most likeable cabin... and which misses out on a leather gear knob!

ModelScore
Ford Ranger XLT Bi-turbo7
Mitsubishi Triton GLS Premium8
Toyota HiLux Rogue9

Interior and dimensions

The interiors of these three utes are surprisingly different in terms of space efficiency, considering that they are pretty close for exterior dimensions.

 Ford Ranger XLT Bi-turboMitsubishi Triton GLS PremiumToyota HiLux Rogue
Length5426mm5409mm5345mm
Wheelbase3220mm3000mm3085mm
Width1860mm1815mm1855mm
Height1821mm1795mm1815mm

How does that to translate to interior comfort? Well, somewhat unsurprisingly, the Ford's rear seat is more roomy – a longer wheelbase typically does that.

The amount of leg room, head room and shoulder room is best in the Ford – that's for me, a six-foot (182cm) male with the driver's seat set for myself. So the space is good, but it's the only one of this trio to miss out on rear seat air vents.

The Mitsubishi has extremely effective roof-height vents and a set of USB ports, too, but the comfort levels are a little lower than in the Ford. It's just a touch more cramped.

The Toyota is the least comfortable for backseat occupants, with less room and some poorly thought-out items such as hard grab handles that are located at forehead height for taller occupants – it could be a recipe for stitches during bouncy off-roading. But the Toyota has rear (knee height) vents, but there's a 230-volt powerpoint between the front seats if you need to run a charger.

  • The Ford has manual seat adjustment. (Image credit: Brendan Batty) The Ford has manual seat adjustment. (Image credit: Brendan Batty)
  • The amount of leg room, head room and shoulder room is best in the Ford. (Image credit: Brendan Batty) The amount of leg room, head room and shoulder room is best in the Ford. (Image credit: Brendan Batty)
  • The Mitsubishi has reach-and-rake adjustment for the steering wheel. (Image credit: Brendan Batty) The Mitsubishi has reach-and-rake adjustment for the steering wheel. (Image credit: Brendan Batty)
  • The Mitsubishi is just a touch more cramped than the Ford. (Image credit: Brendan Batty) The Mitsubishi is just a touch more cramped than the Ford. (Image credit: Brendan Batty)
  • Toyota has electric driver's-seat adjustment. (Image credit: Brendan Batty) Toyota has electric driver's-seat adjustment. (Image credit: Brendan Batty)
  • The Toyota is the least comfortable for backseat occupants. (Image credit: Brendan Batty) The Toyota is the least comfortable for backseat occupants. (Image credit: Brendan Batty)

Under or behind the back seat of each of these utes you'll find a jack and tool kit, and because they're dual-cab models, you can also use the back-seat space for secure storage.

The cup holder count is lead by the Toyota, which has a pair of cup holsters in the outer edges of the dashboard. The rest have a pair between the front seats, and there are dual rear cup holders in a flip-down armrest in each of these utes. All models have bottle holders in their doors, and map pockets in the back.

Up front, all models have driver's seat-height adjustment, but there is no seat-belt extender for shorties. The Ford has manual seat adjustment, where the Mitsubishi and Toyota both have electric driver's-seat adjustment. But only the Mitsubishi has reach-and-rake adjustment for the steering wheel, meaning it's the easiest to find your perfect driving position.

As for cabin design, though, the Ford stands tallest, with better storage locations and a nicer cabin treatment. The Mitsubishi is simple but effective, though it lacks some loose-item storage compared to the other utes here. The Toyota's screen juts out and its plastics impinge more on passenger space, but the digital clock on the top of the Toyota's dashboard will be easier to find when you call to explain why you're running late – the others have digital clocks, too, but built into their media screens.

If you wanted more tray practicality than what a dual-cab can offer you, then you really ought to consider a space-cab / extra-cab (don't consider it a "sleepr cab"), or even a single-cab or cab-chassis – you'd be surprised how much more space you get with a steel tray / aluminium tray / flat tray over what you get with dual-cab tub dimensions.

One thing is for sure – the hard tonneau cover is a space killer, with tray capacity seriously cut down – see below for more. We'd thoroughly recommend a ute canopy instead, if you want to keep things secure. Maybe even invest in a set of drawers!

If you need even more space you can get a roof-rack system to fit the roof rails of each of these utes, but cargo capacity (or boot space, in the case of the HiLux) shouldn't be a barrier to a family weekend away.

ModelScore
Ford Ranger XLT Bi-turbo9
Mitsubishi Triton GLS Premium8
Toyota HiLux Rogue6

Tray dimensions and payload

There's more than just the tale of the tape when it comes to tub dimensions. There are usability elements you have to think about, too.

  • The Ford Ranger XLT Bi-turbo's payload is 1003kg. (Image credit: Brendan Batty) The Ford Ranger XLT Bi-turbo's payload is 1003kg. (Image credit: Brendan Batty)
  • The Mitsubishi Triton GLS Premium's payload is 858kg. (Image credit: Brendan Batty) The Mitsubishi Triton GLS Premium's payload is 858kg. (Image credit: Brendan Batty)
  • The Toyota HiLux Rogue's payload is 826kg. (Image credit: Brendan Batty) The Toyota HiLux Rogue's payload is 826kg. (Image credit: Brendan Batty)

For instance – the hard tonneau lid on the HiLux made its load space considerably less useful. That hard top is standard on the Rogue, and it's a pain if you want to use the ute for work, because not only is your tray depth limited, but there's also a very intrusive, but load-rated, sports bar that runs down into the sides of the tray area.

Those two elements combined made it hard to secure the load to the foremost attachment hooks, and we had to strap down the lid over the load, risking paint damage (and resulting in an unpleasant beeping with a warning that one of the doors was open).

The good things about the Toyota's tray space include that marine-grade carpet lining, and the fact the hard cover has an integrated light and locking system, so you'll be sure that your stuff is secure.

None of these models are capable of fitting a standard Aussie-sized pallet between the wheel arches (1165mm), but our mates at Agriwest Rural CRT Bomaderry loaded us up with a smaller pallet stacked with 550kg of lime to work as our weight. That was about the perfect amount for us to use, as we had three adults on board and a full tank of fuel to contend with, too.

 Ford Ranger XLT Bi-turboMitsubishi Triton GLS PremiumToyota HiLux Rogue
Payload1003kg858kg826kg
Tub length1549mm1520mm1569mm
Tub width1560mm1470mm1645mm
Tub width between arches1139mm1085mm1109mm
Tub depth511mm475mm470mm
Tub liner/tailgate linerHard plasticHard plasticCarpet
Hard top coverNoNoYes
Tie down points464 - and hard to get to

We also measured the amount of rear-end sag and front-end lift that occurred when the load was in the tray, and it was the Triton that was worst, the HiLux second and the Ranger – incredibly – didn't lift at all at the front.

You can make up your own mind as to what will work best for you, but our preferences in terms of load spaces are below.

ModelScore
Ford Ranger XLT Bi-turbo9
Mitsubishi Triton GLS Premium8
Toyota HiLux Rogue6

Engine

Let's talk engine specs.

There's a fair difference in terms of horsepower here, with the Ford clearly hitting highs thanks to its bi-turbo (twin-turbo) diesel four-cylinder engine. It has more power and more torque than the five-cylinder Ranger, and easily accounts for the other two utes here, too.

There's very little splitting the other two: the Triton has good outputs for its smaller-capacity diesel engine size with a single turbocharger, while the HiLux is a bit conservative in its grunt numbers based on its turbo-diesel engine displacement. Some competitors with a 2.8L motor have up to 50Nm more.

 Ford Ranger XLT Bi-turboMitsubishi Triton GLS PRemiumToyota HiLux Rogue
Engine size2.0-litre bi-turbo-diesel2.4-litre turbo-diesel2.8-litre turbo-diesel
CylindersFourFourFour
Power output157kW at 3750rpm133kW at 3500rpm130kW at 3400rpm
Torque output500Nm at 1750-2000rpm430Nm at 2500rpm450Nm at 1600-2400rpm
Transmission10-speed automatic6-speed automatic6-speed automatic

So you can see from the table above that the Ranger bi-turbo is fitted with a 10-speed auto gearbox – there is no manual available with that powerplant. All three have a diesel particulate filter.

You can't get a manual version of the Triton GLS Premium or the HiLux Rogue, either. But if manual vs automatic really matters, you can get a Triton with a manual gearbox there's the GLS, and the HiLux SR5 or Rugged X are available in stick shift, too.

All of them are 4WD or 4x4 as tested. You can get rear-wheel drive (4x2) dual-cab versions of each of these utes, but not specced like you see here. There is no front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive option of any of these trucks, and nor are there petrol, EV or LPG options. Wondering if all three of these utes have a timing belt or chain? Here's your answer: all three have a chain.

  • The Ford Ranger XLT Bi-turbo gets a 2.0-litre bi-turbo-diesel engine. (Image credit: Brendan Batty) The Ford Ranger XLT Bi-turbo gets a 2.0-litre bi-turbo-diesel engine. (Image credit: Brendan Batty)
  • The Mitsubishi Triton GLS PRemium had a 2.4-litre turbo-diesel engine. (Image credit: Brendan Batty) The Mitsubishi Triton GLS PRemium had a 2.4-litre turbo-diesel engine. (Image credit: Brendan Batty)
  • The Toyota HiLux Rogue has a 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine. (Image credit: Brendan Batty) The Toyota HiLux Rogue has a 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine. (Image credit: Brendan Batty)

Now, diesel engine problems or automatic transmission problems are likely the most expensive thing to repair if you encounter them. You could have issues with the turbo, intercooler or an injector. There could be driveshaft vibration. You might have auto gearbox problems, clutch concerns (in a manual), or even transmission failure. It could be blowing black smoke. You might have a faulty oil pump. There are plenty of potential problems you could encounter – so maybe before you attempt to diagnose your suspension or transmission issues, or lift the bonnet to do an oil change, make sure you check out our problems page.

Based on the power statistics and torque specifications, do you think our rating of these engines is correct? Tell us in the comments section.

ModelScore
Ford Ranger XLT Bi-turbo9
Mitsubishi Triton GLS Premium7
Toyota HiLux Rogue7

Fuel use

Fuel consumption is an important thing to consider when choosing a new ute. Whether its for business, pleasure, or both, good diesel fuel economy matters.

We tested each of these utes to see the actual fuel economy L/100km (you can do the km/L calculations yourself!), and the figures are listed below. We didn't engage eco mode, and you can see that some offer better potential mileage than others.

 Ford Ranger XLT Bi-turboMitsubishi Triton GLS PremiumToyota HiLux Rogue
Official combined fuel consumption7.4L/100km8.6L/km8.4L/km
Actual fuel use - highway and off road7.4L/100km7.7L/100km8.0L/100km
Actual fuel use - Loaded loop11.7L/100km12.2L/100km16.5L/100km
Actual fuel use - towing loop17.5L/100km13.8L/100km19.4L/100km
Total combined average fuel use on test12.2L/100km11.2L/100km14.6L/100km
Fuel tank size80L75L80L

Thinking about diesel vs petrol consumption? You're out of luck – there are no petrol 4x4 versions of any of these utes.

And there is no long range fuel tank option.

ModelScore
Ford Ranger XLT Bi-turbo7
Mitsubishi Triton GLS Premium8
Toyota HiLux Rogue6

Towing specs

There's a lot of hubbub in the ute segment around towing capacity. Pulling a work trailer, hauling a caravan – the load capacity varies depending on which pick-up you choose, and the benchmark is 3.5 tonnes for a braked trailer. That's a lot of load-carrying capability.

Here's how our utes stack up, along with some other important figures you might want to consider.

 Ford Ranger XLT Bi-turboMitsubishi Triton GLS PremiumToyota HiLux Rogue
Towing capacity - un-braked750kg750kg750kg
Towing capacity - braked3500kg3100kg3200kg
Kerb weight2197kg2042kg2174kg
Gross vehicle mass (GVM) / gross vehicle weight (GVW)3200kg2900kg3000kg
Gross combined mass (GCM)6000kg5885kg5650kg

You can see what we attached to our tow bar in the towing review test below.

ModelScore
Ford Ranger XLT Bi-turbo9
Mitsubishi Triton GLS Premium7
Toyota HiLux Rogue7

Towing review

For this comparison, our mates at Jayco Nowra allowed us to borrow a 2019 Jayco Journey Outback caravan (model designation 21.66-3). It has a travel length of 8315mm, a tare (empty) weight of 2600kg, and imposes 190kg on the towball.

The price for one of these leisure-friendly caravans is generally $67,490 but our Journey Outback was equipped with a few extras and, as tested, costs $72,015. "Like all Journey caravans, this model comes standard with air conditioning and a rollout awning, a full ensuite with a separate shower and toilet, and a fully equipped kitchen," according to Jayco.

  • The Ford has the maximum 3.5 tonne capacity for a braked trailer. (Image credit: Brendan Batty) The Ford has the maximum 3.5 tonne capacity for a braked trailer. (Image credit: Brendan Batty)
  • The Toyota has a lower 3.2 tonne capacity. (Image credit: Brendan Batty) The Toyota has a lower 3.2 tonne capacity. (Image credit: Brendan Batty)
  • The Mitsubishi's towing capacity is 3.1 tonnes. (Image credit: Brendan Batty) The Mitsubishi's towing capacity is 3.1 tonnes. (Image credit: Brendan Batty)

Clearly this is a big van, so we reckoned it would offer real insight into how these utes cope with towing duties.

Our three utes all have a factory towbar fitted and two have a hard-wired electric brake controller, but we had to use a portable system for electric brakes in the Triton. We even threw on a set of towing mirrors to help us see what's behind, too.

Only the Ford has the maximum 3.5 tonne capacity for a braked trailer, which is the segment standard.

The Toyota has a lower 3.2 tonne capacity, meaning we're close to the GVM threshold with this caravan in tow, and the Mitsubishi's towing capacity is 3.1 tonnes. Keep that in mind if you want to haul a big van.

The 40km towing loop took each ute-and-van combination through a mix of suburban, back-road and highway driving.

So, how did each deal with the load?

From the start, the Triton revealed some flaws. Its rear-view camera afforded poor clarity of vision in reversing from bright sunlight into a shaded pick-up point at Jayco Nowra. Its short on-screen guideline for the towball also made it difficult to reverse with pinpoint accuracy on the first go. We had no such problems with HiLux or the Ranger.

The Triton was the least settled of the three when towing. It never really felt at all comfortable with the caravan behind – it was a case of the van almost dictating the Triton's movements rather than the other way around.

There was a disconcerting amount of jarring fore-aft movement while towing and that was reflected in driver and passenger comfort levels, which were on the wrong side of ordinary during the loop.

It was also judged the hardest working with its engine and gearbox seeming to constantly struggle under the more-than-2.5-tonne burden at the back.

The HiLux was a definite improvement over the Triton, but it still never seemed fully at home with the load. It was jostled by the van's weight but remained more composed than the Triton ever was, although steering moved around a bit and was never as sharp as it should be.

Ride is a real jiggling experience – it's on the too-firm side of things, in keeping with HiLux tradition – and it picked up every bump and even small sections of irregular road surfaces felt horrible in the HiLux.

It also tended to hold gear for too long on minor inclines – requiring a fair bit more pedal on the inclines to keep it moving along at a clip – and engine noise was a bit gruff under pressure.

It's not nearly as smooth as the Ranger in all aspects but it's marginally better than the Triton.

Confidence is a huge factor when towing and in the Ranger you have plenty of that. From the Ford's buttery smooth delivery of power through to its smart auto, cleverly shifting through the transmission to suit, and its rock-solid settled ride and handling, the Ranger is just an all-round next-level tow vehicle on all counts.

The 2.0-litre bi-turbo engine's consistent performance swiftly dispelled any doubts any one of our crew may have had about it not being up to the job.

Towing in the Ranger and the Triton is like chalk and cheese.

There was a touch of nose-to-tail movement, but it's nowhere near as shaky an experience as it is in the Triton or HiLux.

Ranger was judged the quietest and best for performance, comfort and smoothness. It was the preferred tow vehicle in this trio by a comfortable margin.

ModelScore
Ford Ranger XLT Bi-turbo9
Mitsubishi Triton GLS Premium6
Toyota HiLux Rogue8

On-road review – unladen

If you've read any of our previous ute reviews, you'll know there are some common complaints when it comes to the drive experience of these models. And our back-to-back testing showed the same findings, but also highlighted some surprises.

The Toyota was once again the least impressive in terms of ride comfort, both for those in the front seats and passengers in the back. It is too firm at city speeds over typical city streets, bumping and thumping and crunching into potholes where its rivals both have more supple suspension to isolate the road surface below from the backseats of occupants.

Indeed the Ford was the benchmark, with the most pleasant suspension both in terms of comfort and control, at all speeds. The Mitsubishi ran close behind, with a nice amount of composure to it, but just a touch less plushness across the board.

The Ford also stood out for its steering – the electronic system employed by the blue oval brand is excellent, and despite it having the biggest turning circle of these three utes, it has the lightest, easiest steering at low speeds. It really makes a difference after a hard day's work to get into a ute and not be straining your biceps to park the thing.

Not that the other two have bad steering, though. The Triton's tiller offers good response at high and low speeds, but can be a little slow when it comes to changing direction. The Toyota's steering was our second favourite, with a more direct action and good feel to the driver's hands in all road conditions.

None of these utes are 0-100km acceleration speed-record breakers. (Image credit: Brendan Batty) None of these utes are 0-100km acceleration speed-record breakers. (Image credit: Brendan Batty)

None of these utes are 0-100km acceleration speed-record breakers, but the Ford was easily the best in terms of aggression from a standing start. It's performance figures suggest it has the advantage, and it certainly felt more sprightly in our testing.

The Ford's downsized, twin-turbocharged diesel engine is a corker, with immense pulling power and a really smart automatic transmission that makes the most of the torque, shuffling between gears almost imperceptibly, with a hint of exhaust brake on steep descents, too. It is easily the best powertrain in the segment for refinement and usability.

The Toyota's engine is gruff, by comparison, with some notable lag down low in the rev range and more aggressive shifts from the six-speed auto.

The Mitsubishi's middle-ground status remains for its engine – it doesn't have as much noise, vibration or harshness as the Toyota, and offers marginally more 'seat of the pants' grunt in daily driving situations. That could be to do with it weighing a fair bit less, especially considering it has a lower peak torque output.

ModelScore
Ford Ranger XLT Bi-turbo9
Mitsubishi Triton GLS Premium7
Toyota HiLux Rogue6

On-road review – loaded up

With a load in the tray, there was again a clear victor in terms of comfort and control. Yep, you guessed it, it was the Ranger.

Once we'd loaded in 550kg of lime from our mates at Agriwest Rural CRT Bomaderry and headed out on a road loop, the Ford simply felt the least bothered by the weight in the tray.

It was smooth in terms of its ride and handling. It was smart in the way the drivetrain behaved. And it was superb overall, with strong braking performance, little impact on acceleration and an almost identical stance when we put the weight in: there was very little lift at the nose and marginal sag at the rear.

The Mitsubishi's powertrain was again strong in the load test, with good response and less noise to contend with than the Toyota. It was second best for braking confidence and stopping performance, though the ride was a bit firm and the steering felt even slower with weight in the rear than it did unladen. We noticed a bit of rack rattle over bumpy sections in corners, which neither of the other utes had.

Third here was, again, the HiLux, which was let down foremost by its braking feel and performance. With just 550kg in the tray it felt as though it had more than double that, with an unprecedented longness to the brake pedal. Its ride settled to a reasonable degree while still having a touch of brittleness to it. The engine, transmission and steering were all good. It just feels like – aside from the braking – the HiLux needs this much weight in it all the time to settle the back end down.

ModelScore
Ford Ranger XLT Bi-turbo9
Mitsubishi Triton GLS Premium8
Toyota HiLux Rogue7

Off-road specs

Anyone who is into off-roading knows that the figures and specifications are a big talking point. Beyond wheel arch extensions and all terrain tyres – whether fitted to 15 inch alloy, 16 inch alloy, or 17 inch alloy wheels (or maybe even chrome rims – we'll forgive you) – the ability built in to each of these trucks varies.

All three utes have similar suspension set-ups – independent front suspension with coil springs, and a heavy duty leaf rear suspension. None have the option of a sport set-up for better performance, and nor is there the choice of air suspension.

 Ford Ranger XLT Bi-turboMitsubishi Triton GLS PremiumToyota HiLux Rogue
Approach angle (degrees)2927.530
Departure angle (degrees)21 (to towbar)2320
Ramp-over angle (degrees)252525
Ground clearance (mm)237220216
Wading depth (mm)800500700
Four wheel drive systemSelectable four-wheel driveSelectable four-wheel driveSelectable four-wheel drive
Rear diff lockElectronic differential lockYesYes
Limited slip differentialNoNoNo
Power steeringElectricHydraulicHydraulic
Turning circle (m)12.711.811.8
Off road drive modesGrass/gravel/snow, mud and ruts, sandSnow/mud, gravel, sand, rockNo

How does all that translate to off-road ability and capability? Read the off-road review section below to find out.

ModelScore
Ford Ranger XLT Bi-turbo8
Mitsubishi Triton GLS Premium8
Toyota HiLux Rogue8

Off-road review

All of the utes in this comparison are four-wheel-drive, and off-road reputations were at stake so we'd mapped out a 4WD loop which would show us how these utes perform in the rough stuff.

  • The Triton GLS Premium was a more than capable off-roader at low and high speeds. (Image credit: Brendan Batty) The Triton GLS Premium was a more than capable off-roader at low and high speeds. (Image credit: Brendan Batty)
  • The Ranger is more comfortable and capable off-road than the Triton. (Image credit: Brendan Batty) The Ranger is more comfortable and capable off-road than the Triton. (Image credit: Brendan Batty)
  • Some sections of shallow-but-sharp corrugations rattled the Hilux. (Image credit: Brendan Batty) Some sections of shallow-but-sharp corrugations rattled the Hilux. (Image credit: Brendan Batty)

Our off-road course was a mix of different terrain: gravel tracks, deep ruts, bush sand and more. The section of bush we were in was pretty dry at the time of our test so, unfortunately, there were no water crossings or mud holes in which to frolic.

All three utes have switch-on-the-fly 4WD systems, and each has hill descent control and a rear diff lock. On paper you'd be safe in assuming that these three would perform pretty close to one another in terms of off-road efficacy.

The Triton GLS Premium was a more than capable off-roader at low and high speeds. The GLS Premium has Mitsubishi's Super Select II system which offers four modes: 2H (two-wheel drive, rear), 4H (4X4 but in an all-wheel drive mode, safe to use at high speed on bitumen), 4H LC (4X4/all-wheel drive with locked centre diff; off-road driving at 30km/h or so) and 4L LC (4X4/all-wheel drive with locked centre diff and crawling gears engaged), only for low-speed off-roading (below 30km/h).

This system is very effective and always impressed with the supremely controlled way it worked in different conditions.

The Triton's often-criticised departure angle – due to so much of its tray hanging behind the rear axle – is not an issue because now, at 23 degrees, it's not a hindrance as some claim, especially if the ute is driven to suit the vehicle's dimensions and the terrain on which it's on. Ground clearance has been increased by 15mm to 220mm over previous models and wading depth is now 500mm, even though, as mentioned, we didn't get to drive through any water.

Its approach and ramp-over angles are 27.5 and 25 degrees respectively, and the side steps have been raised 20mm higher than before.

Those diff locks, low-range gearing and a robust all-round 4WD set-up make the Triton a real goer in the bush, but, by increments only, it's not the best off-roader of this bunch.

The Ranger is more comfortable and capable off-road than the Triton but it simply never seems as ruthlessly effective as it should be – especially in this three-way test.

Its part-time 4WD system with low-range gearing is switchable between 2H (two-wheel drive high range), 4H (four-wheel drive high range) and 4L (four-wheel drive low range) via a dial. It also has an e-locking rear diff and tyre-pressure monitoring system.

It gets you through, no worries – that dual-range part-time 4WD system is very good, as is the Ranger's wheel travel, and the ute itself is highly manoeuvrable in the bush – but over-bonnet visibility is not ideal and this Ford ute just falls short of being as composed and as spot-on as our bush-driving champ.

  • The Triton's system supremely controlled way it worked in different conditions.(Image credit: Brendan Batty) The Triton's system supremely controlled way it worked in different conditions.(Image credit: Brendan Batty)
  • The Ranger's dual-range part-time 4WD system is very good. (Image credit: Brendan Batty) The Ranger's dual-range part-time 4WD system is very good. (Image credit: Brendan Batty)
  • The Rogue has the line-up's proven bush-ready dual-range 4WD system. (Image credit: Brendan Batty) The Rogue has the line-up's proven bush-ready dual-range 4WD system. (Image credit: Brendan Batty)

Some sections of shallow-but-sharp corrugations rattled the Hilux, the winner of the off-road section of our comparison, a fair bit but little else out in the bush ever troubled this Toyota.

While the Rogue is by no means the pick of the Hilux mob – it's really just an ultra-accessoried Hilux – it has the line-up's proven bush-ready dual-range 4WD system, a tractable turbo-diesel engine and its off-road-friendly measures in ground clearance, approach, ramp-over and departure angles (see table) were big pluses in its favour.

This blinged-up workhorse does, however, retain an old-school approach in terms of engine and drive train as well as an undeniable off-road tradition that is evident as soon as you get off the bitumen. Sure, its too-firm ride was exposed on fast gravel tracks but, in this bunch, it was definitely king of the rough stuff.

ModelScore
Ford Ranger XLT Bi-turbo8
Mitsubishi Triton GLS Premium7
Toyota HiLux Rogue9

Safety

We all know that there's more to safety than just an ANCAP safety rating. All three of these utes, coincidentally, were awarded the maximum five-star crash rating in 2015, but since then the list of safety features has changed dramatically for two of these three utes.

The HiLux remains behind the pace, and, at the time of writing, it is easily beaten by its rivals in this section of the test. We hope Toyota rectifies this issue soon, and the company has confirmed is looking to implement improved safety tech "in the next update".

 Ford Ranger XLT Bi-turboMitsubishi Triton GLS PremiumToyota HiLux Rogue
ANCAP crash test rating5 star - tested 20155 star - tested 20155 star - tested 2015
Airbag count676
AEB (auto emergency braking)YesYesN/A
Anti lock brakes (ABS)YesYesYes
Stability control / ESC / VSCYesYesYes
Adaptive cruise controlOptionalN/AN/A
Lane departure warningYesYesN/A
Lane keep assist / lane assistYesN/AN/A
Blind spot monitoringNoYesN/A
Rear cross traffic alertNoYesN/A
Reverse cameraYesYesYes
Parking sensorsFront and rearFront and rearN/A
Parking assist (semi-automated parking)OptionalN/AN/A
Digital speedometerYesNoNo

All three utes have dual outboard rear seat ISOFIX child seats anchor points, and if your baby car seat is a top tether set-up, there are three of those child restraints per ute, too. Just be sure to do a test fitment if you have young children, as it can be a pain if you need to get your bub's seat in and out regularly.

If you're still of the mindset that it matters where your vehicle is produced, then we've got some news for you: they are all built in Thailand.

ModelScore
Ford Ranger XLT Bi-turbo9
Mitsubishi Triton GLS Premium9
Toyota HiLux Rogue6

Ownership

You're spending a decent amount of money on a multi-purpose vehicle, so you'll want it to be affordable to maintain, right?

Below you'll see a rundown of the average service cost over a three-year period, and you'll notice the capped price servicing plan for each of these utes is different. For some buyers, a longer maintenance plan could be more important than an extended warranty.

Speaking of which, you'll see that one of these utes has more than the market-standard five-year warranty plan. Would that sway your choice?

 Ford Ranger XLT Bi-turboMitsubishi Triton GLS PremiumToyota HiLux Rogue
WarrantyFive year / unlimited kilometreSeven year / 150,000 kilometresFive year / unlimited kilometre
Capped price servicing planLife of carThree yearsFive years
Service intervals12 months / 15,000km12 months / 15,000km6 months / 10,000km
Average cost per service (three years)$477$299$360
Roadside assist coverUp to seven yearsUp to four yearsNot included

The costs of the Ford work against it to a degree, but it has the longest capped price plan. The capped price plan of the Mitsubishi is short, but it has the longest warranty. Toyota's service intervals are annoying, but it's a solid offer across the board now... so its close in terms of scores for this section.

Reliability issues have plagued some utes over the past few years, and it's understandable that you want the best durability possible. Our ratings don't reflect the common complaints you might read about, because we're only testing these cars for a short period of time – it's not like we put 30,000km in them.

So, for all the issues beyond what you'll be able to remedy by taking a glance at the owners manual, defects, common faults, repair and parts waiting times, problems complaints and more, you might be best to look up our Ford Ranger problems page, our Toyota HiLux problems page and our Mitsubishi Triton problems page.

Resale value is something you'll need to do your research on – check out autotrader.com.au for an idea of how these three utes compare.

ModelScore
Ford Ranger XLT Bi-turbo8
Mitsubishi Triton GLS Premium8
Toyota HiLux Rogue8

Verdict

After several days and hundreds of kays under the tyres of these three utes – on road, off road, loaded, towing and more – we came to a decision.

In top spot in this test was the Ford Ranger XLT Bi-turbo, which simply felt a class above in most aspects of this test. It isn't cheap, and we understand why you might want to choose a cheaper alternative. But if you can afford it, it's a terrific ute across a broad spectrum of applications.

Second overall was the Mitsubishi Triton GLS Premium, which has value on its side. It's staggering how well it stacks up against its rivals, considering it's the high-spec variant. There's an argument to be made that if the niceties are less important to you, you may find even better value lower in the Triton range, because in top-grade spec it falls just a bit short of class-leadership in most aspects.

And rounding out the pack was the Toyota HiLux Rogue. We reckon the Rogue looks great, but there are limitations to this pack. We tried to get a regular SR5, but we couldn't, and we think. It would have stood a better chance overall – even though we know it doesn't have the on-road comfort, nor the safety equipment, that it really should.

ModelScore
Ford Ranger XLT Bi-turbo8.3
Mitsubishi Triton GLS Premium7.7
Toyota HiLux Rogue7.1

 

Do you agree with our findings? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.

Thanks to our mates at Jayco Nowra for the loan caravan, and also the crew at Agriwest Rural CRT Bomaderry. We couldn't have done it without their help.



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