One of the best off-road challenges we’ve seen in recent times

The folks at Carwow decided to bring three pickup trucks of German, American, and Japanese descents together and put them in a series of off-road challenges. Automakers these days have realized that there is a big market for this niche and are offering special packages and trims that make these day-to-day work haulers into weekend fun trucks.

The trucks in question are the Volkswagen Amarok, the Ford Ranger, and the Toyota Hilux. All these trucks come with their own strengths and weaknesses, but which pickup do you think will emerge as the winner at the end?

What Do The Trucks Pack Under Their Hoods?

Watch The Volkswagen Amarok, Ford Ranger, and Toyota Hilux Fight It Out In A Series Of Off-Road Challenges
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Let’s list out the specs first: the Volkswagen Amarok packs a 3.0-liter, V-6 turbodiesel engine that churns out 204 horses and 369 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The Amarok weighs around 4,982 pounds. The Ford Ranger comes with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbodiesel mill under the hood that packs 213 ponies and 369 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox. The Ranger weighs around 4,950 pounds. As for the Toyota Hilux, it is powered by a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder, turbocharged diesel engine that makes 148 horses and 253 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the wheels via a five-speed manual transmission. This truck weighs around 4,750 pounds and is the lightest of the lot.

Challenge One – Hill Climb

Watch The Volkswagen Amarok, Ford Ranger, and Toyota Hilux Fight It Out In A Series Of Off-Road Challenges
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The first test was a simple incline climb on muddy terrain. Instead of doing it side-by-side and see which truck wins, the folks decided to take each one to the top of the incline and time to see which one reaches the earliest. First went the Ranger, then the Hilux, and finally, the Amarok. Here’s how each of them performed:

The winner – Volkswagen Amarok

Challenge Two - Ground Clearance And Chassis Articulation

Watch The Volkswagen Amarok, Ford Ranger, and Toyota Hilux Fight It Out In A Series Of Off-Road Challenges
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The next ‘battle’ was to test each truck’s ground clearance, chassis articulation, and grip on slush.

The Volkswagen Amarok has a ground clearance of 9.05 inches, the Ranger’s GC is rated at 8.9 inches, whereas the Hilux sits just 8.3 inches above the ground.

However, the Ranger and the Hilux have rear locking differentials and both of these have a low range mode in the gearbox as well. The Amarok has the best ground clearance, but it neither has the rear diff lock, nor the low range mode in the gearbox. However, it does have an off-road button. When the test began, the Ranger crossed the path with no hesitation whatsoever, the Hilux struggled a bit despite having the diff lock, and surprisingly, the Amarok crossed without any hiccups, too. Not bad for a truck that offers no manual settings or adjustments except for the off-road switch. This is how they rated these trucks:

Volkswagen Amarok Second place
Ford Ranger First place
Toyota Hilux Third place

The winner – Ford Ranger

Challenge Three – Suspension And Grip

Watch The Volkswagen Amarok, Ford Ranger, and Toyota Hilux Fight It Out In A Series Of Off-Road Challenges
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The third challenge was about suspension travel and grip where all the trucks would drive up a bank and approach it sideways on. Once at the top, they would break over and shift the momentum on the other side.

This would mean that two wheels would be in the air at one point and it’ll be interesting to see how the trucks handles it. The Ranger approached first and maintained a steady stance throughout and finished without any hesitation. The Volkswagen Amarok approached well but bounced a bit when two tires were in the air. As for the Japanese, it completed the challenge flawlessly. Here’s how they were ranked:

Volkswagen Amarok Third place
Ford Ranger Second place
Toyota Hilux First place

The winner – Toyota Hilux

Challenge Four – Maneuverability

Watch The Volkswagen Amarok, Ford Ranger, and Toyota Hilux Fight It Out In A Series Of Off-Road Challenges
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The fourth challenge was to test the maneuverability of each truck. The course comprised of a short, slushy path with a tight hairpin and some obstacles at the end. The quickest to reach the finishing line wins the challenge. The Volkswagen went up first.

Despite having the longest turning radius of the three, the Amarok went about its business smoothly and didn’t have to reverse at the hairpin bend either. That was some really good driving, to be honest.

The Ranger sprinted through the course and even maneuvered well at the bend. The low range gearbox perhaps helps it here and it managed to cover the path much faster than the Amarok. The Hilux went last and it absolutely glided over the course despite the low ground clearance. Here’s how they timed in this round:

The winner – Toyota Hilux

Challenge Five – Hill Descent Control

Watch The Volkswagen Amarok, Ford Ranger, and Toyota Hilux Fight It Out In A Series Of Off-Road Challenges
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The fifth challenge was to test the Hill Descent Control system of each of the trucks. All of them were slotted into the high range, because Amarok doesn’t have a low range, and with the systems on. Whichever truck reached the bottom of the hill last would be declared the winner. The Hilux performed the worst and just raced down the hill in no time. The Ranger and Amarok were in contention till the last minute, but the latter held its ground well (pun intended) and beat the Ranger.

Volkswagen Amarok First place
Ford Ranger Second place
Toyota Hilux Third place

The winner – Volkswagen Amarok

Challenge Six – Water Splash

Watch The Volkswagen Amarok, Ford Ranger, and Toyota Hilux Fight It Out In A Series Of Off-Road Challenges
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The sixth and final round was to wade the trucks through the water and see which one splashes the best. A weird round, but a fun one nevertheless. The Amarok went first, then the Ranger, and finally, the Hilux. For this round, the viewers were asked to vote on a poll and they would decide the winner. Until now, all the trucks had the same cumulative score after five rounds. So, this is the tie-breaker. I personally loved the Hilux’s splash and voted for it. This is how they were placed at the time of writing:

Volkswagen Amarok Second place
Ford Ranger Third place
Toyota Hilux First place

Leading (at the time of writing) – Toyota Hilux

Final Thoughts

Watch The Volkswagen Amarok, Ford Ranger, and Toyota Hilux Fight It Out In A Series Of Off-Road Challenges
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This was one of the best off-road battles we’ve seen lately and it covered almost all the bases; right from suspension travel to hill descent system. Which round did you like the most and which truck did you vote for in the final round? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Sidd Dhimaan
Associate Editor and Truck Expert - sidd@topspeed.com
Sidd joined the Topspeed.com team in 2017 as an intern and in less than a year he earned a full-time position as an associate editor and junior automotive expert. He is currently our pickup truck expert and focuses his attention on heavy-duty and off-road vehicles.  Read More
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