UTEs. Double cabs. Pick-up trucks. Whatever name you want to call it, you can’t deny this segment is hot. Ford’s Ranger grew 104% y-o-y and it is no surprise that given the versatility of double cabins and more car-like characteristics, many are ditching the traditional sedans for this. The facelifted Ranger was just launched this morning, but we scooped out seven other double cabins that are competing in the same pool.
The Hilux made its name as the most reliable truck and even the destructive Top Gear team couldn’t put it down. The current Hilux has been in the market for almost a decade, seeing through several facelifts but complacency from Toyota saw other makes such as Chevrolet, Ford and Isuzu capturing the double cabin pie with the Colorado, Ranger and D-Max respectively. But, the Japanese car maker will probably steal some limelight from Ford during BIMS 2015 with its all-new Hilux. Toyota has kept tightlipped about its engine, but we predict it would retain the current 2.5L and 3.0L VNT turbo diesel.
The BT-50 has more polarising looks — splitting fans like it was a Manchester United and Liverpool derby. Both the Ranger and the BT-50 share the same drivetrain — however, Ford and Mazda worked on the suspension and design separately. Love it or hate it, the BT-50 represents value for money. It gets similar equipment levels as the Ranger with the price going for about RM5k (USD1.5K) cheaper. That is if you can get over that smiley face.
When it was first launched at roughly the same time as the Hilux, we thought that the Mitsubishi Triton was inspired by a Stormtrooper’s helmet (it might as well have been). Especially in white. It was one of the very first double cabins which sported more curves, which makes it rather pleasing to the eyes. Due to what was termed as J-Line at the rear passenger cabin, it allowed more car-like seats, something other double cabins at that time did not possess.
The time is also ripe for Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia to bring in the new Triton.
“Mother trucker” was the name coined during the launch of the Frontier replacement. Back then, it boasted the highest specific output amongst the trucks, specifically 400Nm of torque from its 2.5 turbo diesel engine. Nissan launched a Navara replacement in Thailand, which has yet to set foot in Malaysia. The front grille treatment, as you can see from the picture below, is less imposing than the Mitsubishi’s.
From the other Detroit player, General Motors is Chevrolet and Isuzu pairings. We start off with the Colorado. Launched in 2012, the latecomer to the party recognised the blurring lines between double cabs with the lifestyle car. It featured creature comforts such as a Data Information Centre, an automatic air conditioning system and 2-DIN audio system which, not only has USB connectivity and MP3 capability, but also a Bluetooth system, standard across all variants.
The Japanese cousin takes the image of a rugged, dependable workhorse. In the second iteration, the entire package including comfort, safety and performance was elevated to new heights. Developed in a wind tunnel, it has one of the lowest coefficient of drag (Cd) among trucks. A special variant, called the Diablo (pictured above) was launched just last week, with a limited run of 300 units only .
Due to the tax and duty structure, it is not economically viable to be sold here alongside Thai competitors. From our research, the VW Amarok has the most car-like interior and most able engine, despite having the smallest engine displacement of 2.0 litres, either petrol or diesel. It is rather good looking too, but alas we have to be contended with just admiring its looks.
So, there you go. In the increasingly competitive landscape, it is no surprise that double cabins will get more and more refined, without losing its versatility as a capable workhorse and ability to traverse harsh conditions when required. However, if money is no object (which is between RM50k to RM80k more), you can still get yourself a brand new Land Rover Defender, which is now assembled in Malaysia. Be quick to get yourself a piece of this legend, because Land Rover has announced that they are replacing the Defender.