Top gear

Mo­tor­ing re­view, Ford Ranger XLT

Paradise - - Contents -

You don’t need to spend much time be­hind the wheel of the lat­est Ford Ranger to ap­pre­ci­ate its ap­peal. In its lat­est T6 it­er­a­tion the mid­sized Ford pick-up achieves a ter­rific blend of style and sub­stance across a broad model range that caters to ev­ery­thing from a ba­sic work­horse all the way up to the off-road­racer-in­spired Raptor.

On the out­side, a strong stance and pow­er­ful pro­por­tions form the ba­sis for a mus­cu­lar de­sign. It’s clean but with an ap­pro­pri­ate mix of brawn.

It’s topped off in the XLT trim (priced from about PGK180,000) we’ve tested here, which brings some ad­di­tional chrome highlights and a rear sports bar for that rugged look.

Those want­ing more can step up to the Wild­trak or Raptor, the lat­ter plumped with flared wheel arches, unique styling touches and tougher sus­pen­sion to al­low for higher speeds on rough roads.

Whichever model you choose, though, the Ranger quickly as­serts it­self as a tough truck.

Rugged sus­pen­sion copes beau­ti­fully with big hits and it’s quick to re­gain its com­po­sure af­ter­wards. Even with­out a load on board there’s an im­pres­sive level of con­trol, some­thing that not only en­sures re­spectable com­fort lev­els but also adds to the com­pe­tency and sense of con­trol.

That it also copes well with hun­dreds of kilo­grams in its tray is a tes­ta­ment to the ef­forts of en­gi­neers.

It helps that the Ranger is rid­ing on sen­si­ble tyres, with 17-inch units wrap­ping al­loy wheels. While the stan­dard tyres are fairly road bi­ased, it’s easy enough to find chunkier rub­ber that will cope with more.

While a new 2.0-litre twin-turbo en­gine is fit­ted to the top-of-the-range Raptor, the fa­mil­iar 3.2-litre five-cylin­der sol­diers on in the XLT.

The stout en­gine pro­duces 147kW and 470Nm. It’s the torque that de­fines it, a solid spread of pull avail­able from low in the rev range. And the op­tional six- speed au­to­matic is nicely tuned to keep the en­gine bur­bling along in its sweet spot.

More im­pres­sive is the tun­ing of throt­tle re­sponse. It doesn’t take much in­put from your right foot to get things mov­ing sharply, which makes it eas­ier to re­spond to chang­ing road and traf­fic con­di­tions.

The main down­side is a gur­gling noise that is a con­stant ac­com­pa­ni­ment on long cruises, which is a mi­nor an­noy­ance rather than a deal breaker.

Whereas some dual-cab trucks treat back seat pas­sen­gers as sec­ond-class cit­i­zens, the Ranger en­sures all are well catered for. Even adults will ap­pre­ci­ate the gen­er­ous leg and head­room in the back seats.

In many ways that’s the beauty of the Ranger. Un­like most ri­vals, it’s not let down in any area, in­stead per­form­ing strongly across a broad spread of dis­ci­plines. That it does so with keen pric­ing and a rep­u­ta­tion for re­li­a­bil­ity makes it all the more

ap­peal­ing.

The Ranger was de­signed and en­gi­neered in Aus­tralia across some of the harsh­est roads in the coun­try. It was de­signed from the out­set to be sold in more than 100 coun­tries, in­clud­ing Pa­pua New Guinea.

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