African Utility – A look at the most the continent’s best selling trucks

Everywhere you look, people and goods have got to get from place to place, sometimes at the same time. If you only need to move goods, a standard pickup or cargo truck might do the job. On the other hand, if you need to move people, a sedan or SUV is just as well. In the middle is the pickup truck, as versatile as it is useful, and a pickup truck has actually been the best-selling vehicle for a long time.

Mention pickup truck, and people will probably think Toyota HiLux, indeed, it has become the benchmark by which all other pickup trucks have been compared. Of course, Toyota HiLux might be the best-selling pickup truck in some African countries, but the global best-selling pickup truck happens to be the Ford Ranger. If you are in the market for a pickup truck, you have a lot to choose from. Here are the best-selling pickup trucks on the market, today.

used off road truck pick up truck

Toyota HiLux

Toyota HiLux, since it was first introduced in 1969, has consistently been the best-selling pickup truck in Africa. In fact, only four years, including 1969, 1978, 1997, and 1998, was the Toyota HiLux outsold by another pickup truck. At first, the HiLux was simply seen as a more economical alternative to the traditional work trucks of the day, but HiLux quickly established itself as a capable performer, not only in cargo capacity, but interior comfort.

Today’s Toyota HiLux is truly a multipurpose vehicle, including multiple engine and transmission options, four-wheel drive option, as well as creature comforts more akin to those in even high-end sedans and SUVs. Toyota’s attention to detail, specifically the changing needs of the African driver, has kept the HiLux on the edge.

Ford Ranger

The Ford Ranger comes in a number of variants, from utilitarian to plush, which explains its broadening appeal to city and country consumers alike. Ford Motor Company has built onto the utility capability the Ranger always been known for, adding creature comforts that you’d most likely find only in sedans or SUVs (Sport Utility Vehicle). Indeed, the high-end Ford Ranger won the International Pickup Award in 2013 for its blend of performance, styling, and comfort.

The Ford Ranger can be found in various configurations, including single- and double-cab, gasoline and diesel engines, four-wheel- and rear-wheel-drive, and is, according to some, “great for work and great for leisure,” which explains why so many different types of people drive the Ranger. In spite of its cargo capacity and size, the Ranger is exceptionally maneuverable and comfortable, as well as fairly economical to own.

Ford Ranger

Chevrolet Utility

There are practically no half ton pickup trucks on the market, which leaves just two models, the first being the Chevy Utility.  Two small gasoline-powered engines, a 1.4 and 1.8, either being connected to a five-speed manual transmission.  For lightweight and capable pickup, these engines are surprisingly powerful, but not as efficient as one might expect.  Perhaps the addition of a six-speed manual transmission would make it even more efficient and quiet on the highway.  Inside, the Chevy Utility really lives up to its name, with basic controls, basic audio system, and materials that are made to stand up to daily abuse.  After all, this is a pickup-truck.

The Chevy Utility is a practical half ton pickup, replacing the previous Chevy Corsa, but has made some changes, differentiating it from its Chevy predecessors.  It is not as shapely as the Corsa, but retains the distinctive Chevrolet grille.  It is slightly larger, but payload remains the same, to a maximum of 763 kg.  Visibility is improved out the back by lowering the tailgate height, which makes up for its increased ride height.

Chevy Utility

Nissan NP200

The only other pickup in the half ton category is the Nissan NP 200, which comes with the choice of three different engines including a 1.5 turbodiesel, making it one of the most-efficient pickups on the market.  A five-speed manual transmission is common to the three engines, although a sixth gear would probably have been a better choice, especially for highway use.  For the half ton segment, the Nissan NT 200 claims the highest payload at 800 kg, in a standard rubberized bed.  The interior and exterior design is a few years old, simple and utilitarian, but it gets the job done, which is the most important aspect of this little pickup.

Nissan NP200

Mazda BT-50

The Mazda BT-50 shares its Powertrain with the Ford Ranger but, they manage to look completely different.  The Ford Ranger could be more masculine, while the Mazda BT-50 is more fluid and aerodynamic. The Mazda BT-50 is a larger pickup truck than its capacity might suggest, which does raise concerns for those trying to park in small parking spaces, that is to say, it is oversized. That being said, however, the interior is more sedan than pickup, far more comfortable than the typical pickup, specially the double cab variant.  The large exterior dimensions mean that even tall back seat passengers can sit comfortably and enjoy the quiet ride of this somewhat oversized pickup truck.

Under the hood and under the chassis, the Mazda BT-50 is all business, that is, it has the power and torque to handle even its maximum capacity without a hiccup.  The available four-wheel drive is just as capable as any.  Interestingly, the Mazda BT-50 still trails the Ford Ranger in sales numbers, in spite of the fact that they are mechanically identical.  We’re guessing that the BT-50’s unique looks might be putting people off.

Mazda BT-50