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Want to Drive a Ford Ranger or Toyota Hilux? Better Talk to Uncle Sam

Want to Drive a Ford Ranger or Toyota Hilux? Better Talk to Uncle Sam

U.S. Military wants pickups and SUVs that blend into wartime locations

The global Ford Ranger, along with the Toyota Hilux and Land Cruiser 76 and 79 models aren’t available in the U.S. thanks to safety and emissions regulations. However, the U.S. Military has secured a contract with an Ohio-based company to upfit 396 of the trucks and SUVs with armor and communication equipment for duty in regions where the vehicles are commonly found.

It’s the perfect form of camouflage, actually. The enemy is far less likely to spot a Land Cruiser than a Humvee or MRAP.

The contract is between the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida and the Battelle Memorial Institute of Columbus, Ohio. The five-year contract is worth $170 million for as many as 556 vehicles. According to Military Aerospace, 396 of the vehicles will be armored with the remaining 160 vehicles retaining their OEM looks.

Battelle will add various levels of crew protection like armor, along with stronger suspension and braking systems, frame and body reinforcements, and run-flat tires on special wheels that can withstand small arms fire. Infrared lighting for blackout mode will be included, along with C4ISR equipment, otherwise known as command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance equipment. These upfitted vehicles will mostly consist of the Land Cruiser.

It will be a while before these vehicles see combat, however. Battelle will need time for developing the specialized add-ons for these specific vehicles. The prototypes then have to pass the military’s grueling evaluation process and qualification testing. At that time, the government may issue delivery orders for production. Yep, none of this is set in concrete. Battelle expects to have the contract finished by 2023.

Continue reading for more information.

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Toyota Land Cruiser

Toyota Land Cruiser

The Land Cruiser has always been an icon of off-road prowess and effective people-moving since its introduction in 1957. Over the years, the Land Cruiser has morphed into a leather-lined luxury flagship that resides at the top of Toyota’s U.S. vehicle lineup. Now for 2016, the Land Cruiser sports updated front and rear ends, along with an updated cabin with plenty of features.

The Land Cruiser takes after Toyota’s youth brand, Scion, in the fact it only comes in one trim level. Unlike most every car and truck on the road, every Land Cruiser comes equipped with all the bells and whistles without having to pay extra for options. That leaves customers to choose interior and exterior colors.

The Land Cruiser also gets updates in the mechanical department. A new eight-speed automatic transmission replaces the old six-speed unit, while the venerable 5.7-liter V-8 carries over unchanged. Toyota’s Crawl Control has been added, while its Torsen center differential, Multi-terrain Select, A-Trac system, and KDSS hydraulically adjustable sway bars remain.

Inside there is room for eight passengers, with seating for three in both the second- and third-row seats. The third row seats still split in half and fold against the cabin walls to provide extra cargo room and the second row still folds flat. All told, the Land Cruiser can carry 81.7 cubic feet of cargo. If that isn’t enough space, the SUV can tow 8,500 pounds on its standard receiver hitch. That’s 300 pounds more than last year.

Continue reading for my full review of the refreshed Land Cruiser.

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1992 - 2008 Toyota T100

1992 - 2008 Toyota T100

The Toyota T100 pickup was launched on the US market in 1992. It was the first full-sized pickup introduced in the United States and featured a full-size 8 feet bed.

The truck was slightly bigger than the Dodge Dakota, but was also smaller than other large pickups found on the market. Thanks to this fact, the T100 occupied its own position in the trucks hierarchy.

The Toyota T100 wasn’t offered with an Xtracab configuration and there was also no V8 option available in a time when every respectable full sized pickup truck was offered with such a strong unit under its hood. At the launch the only engine available was a 3.0 liter V6, but along the way there were added more units.

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2004 Toyota HiAce H200

2004 Toyota HiAce H200

The Toyota Hiace was launched for the first time in 1967 and since then has been available in a wide range of body styles, being perfectly suited for various commercial applications.

The fifth generation was launched in 2004 and is offered as a wide long-wheelbase wagon, wide super-long-wheelbase high-roof "Grand Cabin", long-wheelbase van, long-wheelbase high-roof van and a wide super-long-wheelbase high-roof van.

One of the most significant interior upgrades made to the new model was the dash mounted gear knob.

Power comes from a range of four cylinder DOHC engines combined with manual or automatic transmissions. The Australian and Asian versions of the Hiace come with a different exterior design and unique technical specifications than the European models.

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1994 - 2004 Toyota Tacoma

1994 - 2004 Toyota Tacoma

The first Toyota Tacoma was introduced in the US market in 1995 and came as a replacement for the Hilux. Unlike the old Hilux (also known as the Toyota Pickup) the Tacoma was more refined and came with better ride quality, superior handling abilities and also a bigger payload capacity.

The Tacoma was considered for a long time one of the best pickups form the market, mostly due to its high reliability and versatility.

Unlike the American pickups, the Tacoma wasn’t only a basic, utilitarian workhorse as thanks to its comfortable cab and the decent ride quality it also coped great with non commercial applications and many used it as a lifestyle vehicle.

The Toyota Tacoma was available in both 4x2 and 4x4 configurations and came with a choice of 2.4, 2.7 and 3.4 liter engines which developed between 142 – 190 hp.

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2007 Toyota Tundra

2007 Toyota Tundra

The heavy duty pickup trucks represent a very special niche of vehicles. These trucks are usually bigger than you’ll need, stronger than you’ll need and they surely drive worse than expected, as their gargantuan dimensions aren’t exactly suited for speedy driving. Not to mention about the high center of gravity and the bone breaking suspensions.

Yet models like the Toyota Tundra had always managed to attract a lot of attention and most of them are equipped with monstrous engines which are capable of towing massive loads without breaking a sweat.

The Toyota Tundra made its big entrance in 2007, but it was met by a pretty unenthusiastic response from the market. Despite the fact that it was the biggest pickup ever build by Toyota, the Tundra never managed to attract the same interest as its American counterparts.

The Toyota Tundra is priced quite competitively with the regular cab model starting at $25,155 and it’s offered in both 2WD and 4WD configurations.

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2012 Toyota Tacoma

2012 Toyota Tacoma

The Toyota Tacoma is basically the US version of the Hilux pickup. However, between these two models there are significant differences which make them perfectly suited for their unique markets.

The Tacoma is the smaller brother of the Tundra and was designed for those who need the rugged character of a pickup, but without the heavy duty hauling and towing abilities.

The vehicle is available in a wide range of body styles including three cab configurations - regular, extended and crew, all three with short or long cargo beds.

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2005 - 2009 Toyota Hilux

2005 - 2009 Toyota Hilux

In the latest years the pickup trucks have started to migrate from the muddy working sites directly on the sunny beaches or in the middle of extravagant exotic resorts. However, leaving apart that special category of people who started to consider pickups and SUVs only another piece of their stylish wardrobe, the true purpose of these vehicle wasn’t forgotten and some of them continue to be capable work horses ready to go head to head with whatever you’ll thrown at them.

In the world of pickups, there was one model that was able to always stand out from the crowd. This model is called the Hilux and even since its inception has managed to occupy a top position being considered one of the most reliable vehicle in its class.

The seventh generation Hilux was sold between 2005 and 2009 and was available in single, extended and crew cab configurations. The vehicle had a starting price of $22700 and was offered with 120 hp and 171 hp diesel engines.

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2012 Toyota Hilux Chassis Cab

2012 Toyota Hilux Chassis Cab

The Toyota Hilux is one of the most rugged vehicles built by Toyota and it features a very versatile character. Thanks to its strong built quality, the Hilux has anything it needs to tackle the heaviest works without whining. The Hilux has a long history behind and it was especially appreciated for its bullet proof build quality and the famous Japanese reliability.

While the pickup truck’s segment is highly competitive, the Hilux has some aces hidden in its sleeve which help it to deal pretty well with its rivals. The vehicle is available with a choice of 2, 5 litre or 3.0 litre diesel engines witch develop 144 hp or 171 hp, respectively. The engines are married to manual or automatic transmissions depending on the model.

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2008 Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Series chassis cab

2008 Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Series chassis cab

Toyota has already proven its value when it comes to capable SUVs and off road vehicles. One of the off road icons of all times is the Land Cruiser which even since its inception had proved to be suited for a very wide range of arduous applications.

The Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Series chassis cab is around for some time now, but despite its old age the vehicle still keeps up with the times and remains one of the most capable and reliable all road vehicles in its class.

The truck is sold mostly on the Australian market and is powered by Toyota’s intercooled V8 turbo diesel which is combined with a strong all wheel drive system.

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2007 Toyota Hiace

2007 Toyota Hiace

Competing against rivals like the Mercedes Benz Sprinter or Ford Transit has never been easy for Toyota Hiace, and its sales charts never went on fire.

But where it may lack in style or technology, the Hiace compensates with a pretty affordable price being a cheaper alternative to its more upscale rivals.

The Hiace is also pretty versatile too, and is available with various wheelbases, engines and body styles. The vehicle is priced at $15.000 and has received its last major revisions in 2007 when Toyota made some upgrades to the engines and the exterior design.

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2006 Toyota Dyna

2006 Toyota Dyna

The first generation of the Toyota Dyna was launched in 1970 and since then the Japanese LCV was continuously improved and has received both style and technical upgrades.

Toyota gave to the latest generation Dyna a breath of fresh air by sharpening up its boxy styling, throwing in a host of new features and, most tantalizingly, dropping a bigger, more powerful engine into the mix. Thanks to the new 3.0 D-4D diesel engine the Dyna was put back in the race against its main competitors, which are the Renault Maxity and Isuzu NKR.

The Toyota Dyna has a gross vehicle weight of up to 3.5-tonnes with a maximum payload of 1.5-tonnes and is available in both single cab and two cab configurations. Moreover, the Japanese LCV is also available as a dropside truck or in tipper form being suited to carry all sorts of loads. The Toyota Dyna has a starting price of 20.447 euro with service intervals set at 20,000 miles and a three-year/60,000-mile warranty.

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