FORD RANGER XLT

Mercury (Hobart) - Motoring - - HEAD TO HEAD -

VALUE

The Ranger isn’t cheap ei­ther, priced be­tween $5000 and $8000 above equiv­a­lent utes from other brands. But it’s cheaper than an Ever­est, even once op­tions such as a rear cam­era, radar cruise con­trol, lane keep­ing and crash alert (an $1100 pack) are added. Auto adds $2310, which brings our “as tested” price to $62,838 drive-away.

DE­SIGN/TECH

The midlife up­date “PXII” Ranger ar­rived last Au­gust, about four years into the life of the new gen­er­a­tion model. The next model isn’t due un­til 2018 or 2019. The tough truck-like looks and re­freshed in­te­rior have played a role in the Ranger’s re­cent sales climb; it’s now sec­ond only to the Toy­ota HiLux.

EN­GINE

The 3.2-litre is the big­gest and best in the ute busi­ness. It uses slightly more fuel than the oth­ers but it’s still re­mark­ably eco­nom­i­cal for such a big truck. Ear­lier Rangers sounded like a trac­tor but wel­come re­fine­ments were in­tro­duced with this model.

SAFETY

Six airbags and five-star rat­ing, but … Ford needs to go to the naughty cor­ner for mak­ing a rear view cam­era op­tional in 2016 on a $60,000-plus ve­hi­cle. (It’s stan­dard on a $14,990 Honda Jazz, so what’s Ford’s ex­cuse?) The fac­tory-fit­ted Ranger cam­era is part of an $1100 op­tion pack but it in­cludes tech­nol­ogy not avail­able on other utes (radar cruise con­trol, lane keep­ing and crash alert).

DRIV­ING

The Ranger XLT might be a work­horse (it can tow 3500kg ver­sus 3000kg for the Ever­est) but it feels more stable and se­cure on the road than the SUV. If I had to choose one to drive on a get­away, or all day ev­ery day, it would be the Ranger. Room for im­prove­ment? It needs bet­ter brakes.

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