Ford Ranger - The most powerful pick-up truck money can buy
In the case of the Ford Ranger Wildtrak, its 2.0-litre bi-turbo diesel engine churns out 213 PS and 500 Nm, making it the most powerful truck in this comparison.
Apart from having the most ponies, its transmission also offers the most forward ratios here, as its 10-speed automatic is also unrivalled.
The Ford Ranger Wildtrak tips the scale at 2,156 kg, which translate into a power-to-weight ratio of 98.8 PS per tonne.
In its Wildtrak guise, the Ranger's interior is also a nice place to be in, as it gets orange stitching and soft touch materials, in addition to the excellent Sync 3 infotainment system.
While power figures of the Ford Ranger may lead the segment, its warranty is the shortest, as Ford Malaysia only offers a 3-year/100,000 km warranty.
The Ranger's short warranty also says something - if Ford themselves are not confident to give the Ranger a longer warranty, what does it say about its reliability, despite the headline-grabbing power output.
Almost all other Japanese rivals offer 5-year, 150,000 km warranty.
Furthermore, compared to its Japanese rivals, the number of Ford service centres in town also pale in comparison.
Isuzu D-Max - Robust mechanicals for mission-critical jobs
The range-topping Isuzu D-Max is fitted with a 3.0-litre turbodiesel that does 177 PS and 380 Nm, mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission.
Couple that with a kerb weight of 1,970 kg, the Isuzu D-Max 3.0’s power-to-weight ratio comes in at 89.8 PS per tonne.
What about the recently-introduced D-Max 1.9 you ask?
Well, the new RZ4E-TC fitted in the D-Max 1.9 is capable of delivering 150 PS and 350 Nm, 27 PS and 30 Nm less than its 3.0-litre sibling.
With a kerb weight of 1,910 kg, the D-Max 1.9’s power-to-weight ratio is 78.5 PS per tonne.
Despite not topping the charts with its power output figures, the D-Max’s mechanical simplicity means that it is the most robust truck here.
The D-Max 1.9 also offers the cheapest road tax for any pick-up truck - RM 399.20 to be precise.
It is also worth noting that Isuzu intentionally detunes their engine for maximum reliability to cope with poor fuel quality or maintenance habits. This is especially true in East Malaysia, where most of the Isuzu D-Maxes are sold, as they are used in rural areas where conditions are tough.
But that does not mean that the D-Max cannot output more power, as it is quite the opposite – the drag racing scene in Thailand is proof that the D-Max 1.9 has lots of tuning potential, as their drag racing D-Max can push well over 300 PS with minimal engine mods.
That said, due to its utilitarian-biased nature, its not easy trying to locate an Isuzu dealer within the city, and when it comes to servicing, you’ll need to drive into a lorry service centre as Isuzu Malaysia’s core business is selling heavy-duty lorries.
Mitsubishi Triton - Middle of the pack, but supremely comfortable
The Mitsubishi Triton received its midlife update in early 2019, whereby the model received an extensive list of updates.
Although the engine was carried over, it is still quite a gem – the 2.4-litre 4N15 turbodiesel runs quieter than other pick-up trucks, and is the only turbodiesel to be fitted with variable valve timing.
The Triton’s turbodiesel unit is capable of delivering 181 PS and 430 Nm, mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission.
With a kerb weight of 1,930 kg, the Triton’s power-to-weight ratio is 93.8 PS per tonne.
Average power-to-weight ratio aside, the Triton’s redeeming point is its ride comfort – Mitsubishi has done a swell job fine tuning the Triton’s ride and handling, as it is the most comfortable truck in the segment.
Surprising as it may sound, the Triton’s cabin is also very practical, thanks to features like USB charging ports and storage tray for the rear passengers. It also gets roof-mounted air-conditioning vents for those at the back.
The Triton is also backed by a 5-year/200,000 km warranty, the longest for any pick-up truck in the segment.
Despite getting a new 6-speed automatic, we noticed that the Triton does not feel as eager to accelerate as the predecessor model. On top of that, whilst climbing up steep hills, we also noticed that the gear ratios are rather poorly-matched, as the transmission kept hunting between second and third gear too frequently as neither ratios were suitable.
Toyota Hilux – Solid reputation, due for update
The Toyota Hilux may be the bread-and-butter model for a lot of business owners, as has a solid reputation for being durable and reliable – one that it built over the years it was sold.
The range-topping Hilux 2.8 features a 2.8-litre turbodiesel that does 177 PS and 450 Nm, which is hooked up to a 6-speed automatic transmission.
While power figures are higher than the Isuzu D-Max, the Hilux’s 2,100 kg kerb weight penalizes the truck, bringing its power-to-weight ratio to just 84.3 PS per tonne.
As such, when driving the Hilux, it does not feel as powerful as the numbers suggest.
Cabin refinement of the Toyota Hilux could have been better, as engine noise is rather noticeable at speeds.
Shortcomings aside, Toyota is currently working on the facelifted Hilux, which could see the 2.8-litre turbodiesel getting a much-needed bump in power output figures. For comparison, the Thai-market Isuzu D-Max 3.0 does 190 PS.
Conclusion – Pick that pick-up truck that suits your requirements
At the end of the day, power figures don’t paint the full picture, as illustrated by this comparison.
Although the Toyota Hilux does a respectable 177 PS and 450 Nm, its 2.1 tonne kerb weight works against its favour, thus hurting its power-to-weight ratio.
Granted, the Ford Ranger and its 2,156 kg kerb weight is the heaviest of the lot, but it makes up by offering 213 PS and 500 Nm, enough to make it the most powerful here.
But pick-up trucks aren’t just about performance; they need to be dependable, reliable, and durable.
As such, we reckon that the Isuzu D-Max, Mitsubishi Triton, and Toyota Hilux to be the better choices out of the lot, as both these models have proven to be dependable in places like East Malaysia – where people’s livelihood and lives depend on their trucks not breaking down.