AUSTRALIANS are spoilt with two locally made utes that feel more like cars than workhorses. The Ford and Holden haulers are so much more comfortable than imported haulers that they sit in their own class.
The Holden is a good thing and looks great, but the FG upgrades give the Falcon a clear edge. One of the best bits is the engine, which has always delivered the type of low-down torque needed for a worker, but is now smoother and happier to rev.
Fuel consumption is also eye-opening. A run from Broadmeadows to Geelong used 6.9 litres/100km. This is remarkable.
City driving, including some pretty lively acceleration, meant the average at the end of the week was 9.8 litres/100km.
The five-speed auto worked well and shifted cleanly and quickly. It would be nice to have the option of the brilliant six-speed ZF, but the standard auto is still pretty good.
All of the suspension and steering revisions have paid off and the R6 is quite a sharp tool, especially given it has a leaf-spring rear end.
The R6 Falcon ute’s ride is nice. Its 16-inch wheels, with their relatively high-profile rubber, give a compliant ride and these tyres are also quieter than those on the XR models.
It isn’t perfect. You can pick up some light jiggling through the body, possibly because it’s made up of two pieces (the body and the tub) rather than being a single body like the Holden’s. But this feature is what allows the Ford to be offered as a cab-chassis.
In terms of practicality, the Ford is similar to the Holden. The new snap-lock tonneau looks so much better than the previous elastic loop and stud set-up, and the additional clip- down points are useful. The moveable tiedown hooks that slot into the rim of the tub are great but could easily be stolen.
A standard plastic tray liner is also welcome, protecting the tray from inevitable gouges.
The Ford’s interior looks great and you have to remind yourself you are in a ute.
An iPod connector and Bluetooth connectivity were added to the test car (a $450 option).
Being able to control your iPod on the centre screen in a $30,000 workhorse ute is quite something and is especially appreciated on long trips.
There is ample space in the cabin and Ford has kept the considerable space behind the rear seats.
A silly tray that sits off the back of the centre console bin might have seemed like a good idea at the time, but gets in the way if you try to store things behind the seats. Luckily it can easily be removed.
The Falcon ute also benefits from all the features that go with a locally designed car, including strong radio reception, excellent highbeam spread and powerful airconditioning.
THE BOTTOM LINE
FG upgrades make this a class-leading all-rounder. Has the traditional strengths of a ute but raises the bar in terms of comfort and cabin refinement.