Run Away

IT SEEMS EV­ERY­BODY WANTS TO BUY A RANGER THESE DAYS, AND THE WILDTRAK IS THE ONE WITH THE LOT.

4 x 4 Australia - - Driven -

THE RANGER is Ford’s run­away suc­cess story. It’s cur­rently Aus­tralia’s most pop­u­lar 4x4, end­ing Hilux’s 12-year reign as the 4x4 sales cham­pion. For Ford, the Ranger’s suc­cess is even bet­ter il­lus­trated by how it sells against other Ford mod­els. To the end of June 2017 Ford sold 21,638 Rangers, in­clud­ing 3075 4x2 mod­els. Ford’s next-best seller was the Mus­tang with 5048 sales, fol­lowed by the Fo­cus with 3243 sales, and it’s all down­hill af­ter that.

What makes the Ranger so pop­u­lar? Well, a few things, start­ing with its en­gine.

POW­ER­TRAIN AND PER­FOR­MANCE

LIKE most Rangers, the Wildtrak is pow­ered by a 3.2-litre five­cylin­der diesel; al­though, there is a 2.2-litre four-cylin­der diesel avail­able in base-grade mod­els. This five-cylin­der en­gine does much to de­fine the character of the Ranger and is cer­tainly the key be­hind most of the things it does well.

This is a big, low-revving en­gine; the big­gest here de­spite hav­ing less cylin­ders than the Amarok, and the one least will­ing to rev. Not that it needs to rev to get the job done, as it’s so strong from idle and in the mid-range. It also has a unique feel and sound, com­pletely dif­fer­ent from the two fours (which are also dif­fer­ent from each other) and the Amarok’s V6. With an un­even num­ber of cylin­ders you may think it wouldn’t be a smooth-run­ning en­gine, but that’s far from the case. Aside from an ini­tial lumpi­ness at idle it feels as smooth, if not smoother, than the two fours, which can be a bit buzzy in com­par­i­son at higher en­gine speeds.

The Ranger’s en­gine is backed by an agree­able six-speed ZF gear­box that gen­er­ally does all you want and noth­ing you don’t want. The en­gine’s solid low-rpm torque and not overly tall fi­nal-drive gear­ing also means it holds sixth at tour­ing speeds with­out ques­tion on un­du­lat­ing roads, and it even hangs on to the taller gears well in the hilly stuff.

If there’s one thing not to like about the Ranger’s pow­er­train it’s that it con­sis­tently uses around 10 per cent more fuel than most com­peti­tor utes; al­though, that may be more due to the fact the Ranger, along with the BT-50, is big­ger and heav­ier than most of the op­po­si­tion.

ON-ROAD RIDE AND HAN­DLING

THE RANGER’S elec­tric power steer­ing (EPS) makes light work of ma­noeu­vring what is the long­est and one of the heav­i­est ve­hi­cles here, and it’s es­pe­cially wel­come in tight park­ing sit­u­a­tions. Once un­der way, how­ever, the Ranger’s steer­ing firms up nicely to pro­vide plenty of feel and feed­back at open-road speeds.

Nicely sorted sus­pen­sion, too, which helps give the Wildtrak an agree­able ride – even un­laden – and re­as­sur­ing sta­bil­ity on bumpy roads, some­thing no doubt helped by the ex­tra-long wheel­base. Where the Wildtrak is more than 3.2 me­tres, all the oth­ers are less than 3.1 me­tres.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.