After knocking off the Hilux last year, the Ranger has been pipped at the post at the halfway point in 2018
Some 19,216 Ranger 4WDs have been sold in the first six months of 2018, a 3.5 per cent increase over the same period in 2017. Unfortunately for Ford, that number puts Ranger just 21 units short of Hilux and for the time being has silenced Ranger’s claim of being Australia’s top-selling 4WD ute.
But that could soon change with the imminent arrival of a new engine in the Ranger. It’s a more powerful (157kW/500Nm) but very much smaller two-litre four-cylinder option to the current 147kW/470Nm 3.2-litre five-cylinder diesel in best-selling XLT and Wildtrak models.
The new Ranger will also bring a host of other suspension, NVH and equipment upgrades. The new bi-turbo engine, which brings a surprisingly modest premium of just $1,200 over the 3.2, will only be available with a 10-speed automatic.
There’s also a new ‘hero’ model to help bolster the line-up in the form of the Ranger Raptor, which will also be powered by the new engine and comes with a bespoke high-performance suspension.
How this relatively small-capacity engine will be accepted in a ute whose popularity has been in some part based on its biggest-in-class engine is yet to be seen and is no doubt the reason why Ford will keep the 3.2 in the range to cover its bets. The two-litre won’t be offered with a manual, which is another reason why the 3.2 will be kept as cover, at least for the time being.
The Ranger has built its success on a big and spacious cabin, excellent on-road driving dynamics and class-leading towing and load-carrying ability.
Interestingly, the Ranger’s 3,500kg maximum tow capacity is undiminished with the two-litre engine, except with the Raptor where it drops to 2,500kg.
Hopefully the new engine won’t affect the Ranger’s off-road ability, which is currently as good as it gets in its class. One promise the new two-litre engine brings is, however, better fuel economy, always a notable negative with the 3.2.