Just like one of the family
Mums and dads are helping to make the hi-tech Ranger the top-selling Ford in Australia, JOSH DOWLING says.
MEET the new Aussie car. It’s a four-door, four-wheel-drive ute that can be used as a workhorse during the week and as family transport on weekends and holidays.
The new Ford Ranger was designed and engineered from the ground up in Australia — and we can’t buy enough of them.
The Ranger is the top-selling Ford in Australia (and has been for the past 2½ years), selling at five times the rate of the locally made Falcon sedan and triple the rate of the Territory SUV.
Marketing experts reckon part of the reason behind the success of these newgeneration utes is that mums and dads got tired of kids’ bikes, boogie boards and the like ruining the interior and the roof lining of their SUVs.
The new focus on families is one of the reasons the new Ford Ranger is the most technically advanced ute among its peers.
Technology that was recently only accessible on luxury cars is now available on the updated Ford Ranger, such as lane departure warning, lane-keeping assistance (it will correct the steering to stop you drifting from the lane) and radar cruise control that maintains a gap with the car ahead.
There is just one catch: the technology pack that gives the new Ford Ranger bragging rights is optional. Even on the two most expensive models, which range from $55,000 to $60,000, it costs between $600 and $1100. And a rear camera is still only standard on one of the 37 variants of the new Ford Ranger.
The new Ranger is not exactly cheap as it stands. Prices have risen across the board, by between $700 and $3700 depending on the model.
But it will be interesting to see how long Ford can maintain its price premium amid a horde of newer models.
New Ford Ranger is only new from the windscreen forward.
It also gets a new dashboard, steering wheel, infotainment system and a few other mod cons, including automatic emergency 000 dialling if the airbags are deployed in a crash.
Though this generation of Ranger was released in October 2011 and the vehicle is now at or just past the halfway mark in its life cycle, there are some noteworthy changes under the skin.
The first thing you’ll notice if you’re updating from the current Ranger is the steering is much lighter.
Ford has joined the growing number of carmakers moving to electric power steering (rather than hydraulic).
The cabin of the dearer models looks great but the basic models are a step backwards.
At least all models are functional, with two 12V sockets, one USB port and a 230V household socket across the double-cab and super-cab variants.
The 3.2-litre diesel fivecylinder engine has new, quieter injectors. The 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel doesn’t get the quieter injectors, unfortunately, but it’s still relatively perky — until you add a decent load.
On the road, the Ranger feels the same as before (no changes were made to the suspension).
It is still one of the most surefooted to drive, second only to the Volkswagen Amarok.
The suspension can feel a little firm on some surfaces, but that’s because the heavy-duty springs in the rear won’t sag when you’re towing or carrying a heavy load.
The Ford Ranger is still one of the best utes on the market, but has blotted its copybook with most models lacking a rear-view camera.