Man­u­fac­tured to be Wild

Ford’s new suite of durable, fea­ture-savvy Rangers shows it can keep up with the mighty Hilux, CHRIS RI­LEY writes

Geelong Advertiser - Motoring - - CARSGUIDE -

FORD has been giv­ing king of the utes Hilux some stick with its good-look­ing Ranger lineup.

Priced from $24,390, Ranger comes in a va­ri­ety of forms, from the bare­bones cab-chas­sis that re­quires a tray, to the topof-the-range 4x4 Wild­trak dou­ble cab.

Our test XLT Dou­ble Cab Pick-Up sits one rung down from the top, with a six-speed auto as stan­dard and priced from $53,890.

With a to­tal of 26 mod­els to chose from, it’s dif­fi­cult to work out which model comes with what, but the XLT doesn’t miss out on much. It re­tains cloth trim but au­to­matic lights and wipers are stan­dard along with Blue­tooth, dual zone cli­mate air, with a chrome sports bar, side steps and tow bar. Satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion was re­cently added.

Wild­trak for $3500 more adds a rear view cam­era (in the rear view mir­ror), eight-way power ad­just driver’s seat, heated front seats, pud­dle lights, roof rails, and a lock­able roller-style tub lid.

DE­SIGN

Those in the know will be aware the Ranger is a Mazda BT un­der the skin. That is a good thing and few peo­ple are likely to dis­agree when we sug­gest Ranger is the bet­ter look­ing.

The lat­est model is a quan­tum leap for­ward in ev­ery de­part­ment and recog­nises the fact many peo­ple now use these ve­hi­cles for work and play – even in some cases as the fam­ily wagon, which is re­flected in the lev­els of equip­ment. Safety has been beefed up too.

The tub, for those in­ter­ested, mea­sures 1549mm long, by 1560mm wide and 840mm deep, with 1139mm wheel­base. It can carry a pay­load of up to 1041kg.

TECH­NOL­OGY

Ranger comes with a choice of a four or five-cylin­der turbo diesel, with man­ual or au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

The 2.5-litre four-cylin­der petrol en­gine that used to power the en­try model has been dropped.

Our XLT is avail­able only with the 3.2-litre five-cylin­der turbo diesel, with 147kW of power and 470Nm of torque, the lat­ter from a low 1500 revs. It’s paired with a six-speed auto and with an 80-litre tank fuel con­sump­tion is rated at 9.2 litres/100km (we were get­ting 9.0 af­ter 650km).

SAFETY

Re­cent changes have seen the en­tire Ranger line-up earn a max­i­mum five stars for safety. It comes with six airbags, elec­tronic trac­tion and sta­bil­ity con­trol, with ABS anti-lock brak­ing and elec­tronic brake force dis­tri­bu­tion.

Rear park­ing sen­sors are stan­dard but not a re­verse cam­era.

DRIV­ING

It is re­mark­ably smooth and easy to drive for a big 4x4 ute.

The auto takes all of the hard work out of driv­ing the beast and is our first choice, even if you in­tend to take the ute of­froad.

While most au­tos never quite de­liver the same lowrange first gear re­duc­tion of a man­ual, there is no real down­side. The Ranger gets hill de­scent con­trol and the over­all off- road ex­pe­ri­ence is a lot eas­ier and less nerve-rack­ing in an auto.

The dash lay­out takes some get­ting used to be­cause you need to match what the screen is telling you with the row of four con­trol but­tons.

The Blue­tooth sys­tem seems to ac­cept only one phone con­nec­tion at a time.

VER­DICT

Looks good, goes well. Man­ages to re­flect Ford’s tough truck image. Easy to see why it is sell­ing so well – watch out, Hilux!

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