A Comparison of Top Forklift Models

Rider Forklift

The benefits of having the right forklift for the right job can save you time and money. They include the ability to have heavy materials moved quickly and safely to locations to store, ship or be utilized using minimal resources. Pallets can be placed on high shelves to maximize storage space. With easy maneuverability and high load capacities, forklifts are indispensable in construction, warehouse and industrial settings.

In this article, we'll compare top brands such as Toyota, Hyster and Caterpillar for the following forklift types:

Pallet Jack


Order Picker

Metrics to consider

When selecting a forklift, there are several key factors that you should keep in mind when selecting a type and brand of forklift. Each manufacturer and model has unique strengths that may make one the best fit for your organization.

  • Load capacity. This is the maximum weight a forklift can lift, carry and transport. The load should be centered on the forks or attachment. Evaluate what you normally move and how heavy it is to help determine the load capacity of your ideal forklift.
  • Lift height capacity. This is the highest point at which the forklift can safely lift its load capacity. Higher may cause the forklift to tip or fall over and put the operator at risk. Typically, the higher up the forklift goes, the less it can lift.
  • Engine type. There are two types: electric and internal combustion. Electric forklifts are powered by lead-acid batteries and need to be recharged periodically. Internal combustion forklifts run on tanks of propane or gas. They produce emissions that need to be accounted for if used inside a warehouse or other facility.
  • Terrain and temperature considerations. There are forklifts designed for use in specific locations and conditions. If you know you are working outside, there are rough terrain models whereas models designed for indoor warehouse use may have different tires and suspension that make them unusable in those circumstances.
  • Uses. Forklifts load cargo, move materials on job sites and place goods in storage but not one type of forklift is ideal to do all three things in every environment.
  • Pricing. The cost of a forklift ranges from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands, depending on its specific intended use.
  • Training. It is imperative to provide proper training for your employees that operate your forklifts. You can get machine-specific training from the dealer or use resources like OSHA to develop and implement training materials and classes.

With careful consideration of all of these factors, you can choose a forklift that meets your needs and is within your budget.

Model comparisons

Each forklift manufacturer has unique strengths in their models and brands. First, determine what type of forklift you need and then evaluate their characteristics. Looking more closely at each may give you an advantage in either optimal use or cost.

Rider Forklifts

The term “rider forklift” refers to machines in which the operator rides on the forklift in a seat while operating. With a wide variety in load capacities, these pieces of equipment normally have a lift height of no more than ten feet and are used more to move things from place to place than to lift and stack at high heights.

Rider ForkliftsToyotaHysterCaterpillarDoosanJCBKomatsuCrown
Model Number8FBCU30 H80-120FT2C5000D60/70S-5930BBX50SC 5300
Load Capacity6000 lbs.8000 - 12000 lbs.5000 lbs.13500/15500 lbs.6613 lbs.4000 - 6500 lbs.4000 lbs.
Lift Height Capacity213 in. 217 in. 212 in.212 in. 18 ft.214 in.150 in.
Engine TypeElectricICICDieselDieselElectricElectric
Terrain/Temp Inside/40-90°Inside/40-90°Inside/40-90°Inside/40-90°Inside/40-90°Inside/40-90°Inside/40-90°
UsesStoring, Stacking, Moving, LoadingStoring, Stacking, Moving, LoadingStoring, Stacking, Moving, LoadingStoring, Stacking, Moving, LoadingStoring, Stacking, Moving, LoadingStoring, Stacking, Moving, LoadingStoring, Stacking, Moving, Loading
Pricing$8,000 - $12,000$10,000 - $13,000$12,000 - $16,000$37,000 - $45,000$25,000 - $30,000$15,000 - $20,000$22,000 - $26,000
Training OperatorOperatorOperator, Train the TrainerOperatorOperatorOperatorOperator

Pallet Jacks

Pallet jacks are operated by hand and do not have seats for the operators. Pallet jacks are pushed and maneuvered by employees to move pallets and stacked cargo from place to place, usually short distances within a warehouse environment. They feature hydraulic controls to aid in lift and steering.

Pallet JacksToyotaHysterCaterpillarDoosanCrown
Model NumberHPT28UB60ZACA400002748HPT28WP 3020
Load Capacity4000 lbs.6000 lbs.5500 lbs.5500 lbs.4400 lbs.
Lift Height Capacity2-7 in.2-7 in.2-7 in.2-7 in.2-7 in.
Engine TypeElectricElectricElectricElectricElectric
Terrain/TempInside/40-90°Inside/40-90°Inside/40-90°Inside/40-90°Inside/40-90°
UsesStoring, Moving, LoadingStoring, Moving, LoadingStoring, Moving, LoadingStoring, Moving, LoadingStoring, Moving, Loading
Pricing$1,500 - $5,000 $2,000 - $5,000 $2,000 - $5,000$3,000 - $6,000$1,000 - $3,000
Training OperatorOperatorOperator, Train the TrainerOperatorOperator


Order Picker

An order picker is a forklift that can lift pallets to great heights for storing. Operators ride and stand in a compartment with the controls to maneuver loads up, down and side to side.

Order PickersToyotaHysterDoosanKomatsuCrown
Model Number7BPUE15R30XMS3LEKF 20FR50RC 5500
Load Capacity3000 lbs.3000 lbs.2000 lbs.3500 lbs.3000 lbs.
Lift Height Capacity240 in.242 in.245 in.244 in.245 in.
Engine TypeElectricElectricElectricElectricElectric
Terrain/TempInside/40-90°Inside/40-90°Inside/40-90°Inside/40-90°Inside/40-90°
UsesStoring, Stacking, MovingStoring, Stacking, MovingStoring, Stacking, MovingStoring, Stacking, MovingStoring, Stacking, Moving
Pricing$5,000 - $9,000$4,000 - $10,000$20,000 - $25,000$3,500 - $6,000$6,000 - $15,000
Training OperatorOperatorOperatorOperatorOperator

Choosing a brand

You may find more than one model, manufacturer or brand meets your requirements. All things being equal, including your comfort level with the price, there are some other factors that you can assess to make your final determination.

Reviews. Nothing says “good” like a review from a similar consumer. Look for what other users have to say about the equipment. Pay particular attention to those comments that seem to be in your same industry or intended use.

Awards and recognition. Look for accredited awards by magazines, vendors, and government organizations, not just basic “we are the best” claims.

Help and support centers. If you run a 24/7 operation, you are going to want 24/7 support so you can troubleshoot and resolve issues at any time. Many dealers and manufacturers have call centers or online live chat options around the clock.

Training and maintenance agreements. Ask each dealer or manufacturer what they offer for training and maintenance agreements. Direct training on new equipment is a huge plus for your employees. Maintenance agreements help ensure long life for your investment.

Here's a look at some of the top brand ratings:

BrandToyotaHysterCaterpillarDoosanJCBKomatsuCrown
BBB RatingA+AA+A+AA+A
Most Recent Award2013 Safest in Material Handling, Peerless Research Group2013 Gold Aurora Award for Best In Class Operator Training2010 Plant Engineering Product of The Year2012 Korean International Trade Association Award2013 Highly Commended Environmental Innovation, Plantworx2013 Japan Machinery Federation Chairman Award2013 IFOY Award for focus on customer benefits
Help & SupportNo cost warranties up to 4,000 hoursThree year, 6000 hours powertrain warrantyOne year, 2000 hours full money back guarantee2 year, 4000 hour warrantyGlobal network of dealers, 24/7/365 supportCARE program features complimentary maintenance for 3 years, 2000 hoursService training programs

Ready to purchase your forklift? Start here. Still want more purchasing advice? Read our Forklifts Purchasing Guide.

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