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