Pick-up trucks. Once viewed as merely workhorses, they have gradually evolved to become lifestyle vehicles with plenty of creature comforts like on a regular car. Of course, the added benefits of owning a pick-up is the level of utility that comes along with it, like lugging around items that won’t fit in a conventional boot, and going on trails without tarmac, whenever that may be.

As such, many find the “best of both worlds” pitch to be quite appealing, and several brands have made their offerings a lot more attractive in terms of styling and features available. If you don’t mind their size, there are plenty of options on the market, so we thought it’d be a good idea to compare the specifications of the big names to help you come to a decision.

To make sure every brand places its best foot forward, we’re only listing out the top-spec variants of each model, because those are the ones that get all the goodies. From Toyota, we have the well-known Hilux in its range-topping 2.8 Rogue guise, while Isuzu is represented by the D-Max 3.0 X-Terrain.

Other models from Japanese brands include the Mitsubishi Triton 2.4 Athlete and the Nissan Navara 2.5 Pro-4X, with the latter being the most recent to join the market. The only non-Japanese model of the five-model comparison is the Ford Ranger 2.0 Wildtrak, which is the more sensible range-topper seeing how the Raptor and Raptor X are considerably more expensive at over RM200,000.

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On that mention, the Ranger Wildtrak is the priciest of the bunch, followed by the Hilux Rogue, Navara Pro-4X, D-Max X-Terrain and Triton Athlete. All pick-ups don’t benefit from the ongoing sales tax exemption that ends in June, so don’t let that affect your purchase decision. Additionally, of the five models, only the Hilux is locally assembled (CKD), with the rest being fully imported (CBU) from Thailand.

In terms of engines, it’s four-cylinder turbodiesels across the board, although none of them have the same specifications. The Hilux Rogue uses a 2.8 litre unit that makes 204 PS (201 hp) and 500 Nm of torque, putting it in second place in terms of output behind the Ranger Wildtrak’s 2.0 litre engine – the lowest displacement of the bunch – that has an additional turbocharger to deliver 213 PS (210 hp) and 500 Nm.

Below the 200 PS (197 hp) mark, the D-Max X-Terrain’s 3.0 litre and Navara Pro-4X’s 2.5 litre units both make 190 PS (187 hp) and 450 Nm, although the latter arrives a little later on the Nissan model. The Triton’s smaller-displacement 2.4 litre, single-turbo mill serves up a respectable 181 PS (178 hp) and 430 Nm, making it the least powerful one here, although it is the lightest at 1,930 kg, while the rest are over two tonnes.

For drivetrains, it’s a six-speed automatic for the Toyota, Isuzu and Mitsubishi pick-ups, with the Navara gaining an additional gear for a seven-speed unit, and the Ranger gets a 10-speed gearbox. Selectable four-wheel drive with rear differential lock is standard for all, but the Hilux Rogue has a limited-slip differential added to the rear to control power delivery when slip is detected from the rear wheels.

The Navara Pro-4X also displays its own level of sophistication by using a multi-link setup for its rear suspension compared to the usual leaf springs, while the Ranger gets an electrically assisted power steering system instead of a hydraulic system.

If you do plan on actually loading things into the flatbed, all but the Triton Athlete are offered with tailgate assist (optional with the Hilux Rogue) to make it easier for you lift and lower the tailgate. This isn’t the only convenience feature available, as a 360-degree camera is standard on the Triton Athlete and Navara Pro-4X, and optional with the Hilux Rogue – handy for tight situations and an overhead view.

An area where pick-ups have improved significantly is in terms of safety, and all the pick-ups in their upper configuration here come with six airbags minimum, with the Hilux Rogue, D-Max X-Terrain and Triton Athlete gaining an additional driver’s knee airbag for a total of seven.

You’ll also find stability control, lane departure warning and autonomous emergency braking as standard fitments too, the last two being particularly useful when coping with city driving. Other features such as blind spot assist is found on all but the Ranger Wildtrak, while adaptive cruise control can only be had with the Hilux Rogue, Ranger Wildtrak and D-Max X-Terrain.

While there are differences, there’s no denying that the pick-ups of today have immensely better safety and driver assistance systems than before. The fundamentals are present on all of them, particularly AEB, and anything else added on is a bonus.

Life on the inside is pretty cushy too, with some form of leather upholstery standard for all models, along with dual- or single-zone automatic air-conditioning. Only the Ranger Wildtrak comes without rear vents, but this is found on the remaining four pick-ups. You also get support for wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with the D-Max X-Terrain having the upper hand of wireless connectivity.

Styling is a subjective thing, but all five pick-ups are certainly bold and imposing things to look at, each distinctive in their own way. While 17-inch wheels are used for the Navara Pro-4X, it’s 18-inch sets for the rest. For those that need additional anchors or an added dash of style, a sports bar can also be specified as an option on three of the five models (standard with the Triton Athlete and Ranger Wildtrak).

With this rundown of the top variants of pick-up models available here in Malaysia, which one would you prefer if you had to lay down the money on one and why? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.