Popular Mechanics (South Africa) - - Driving - –LIND­SEY SCHUT­TERS

This is South Africa, where the bakkie is king. Our reign­ing monarch is cur­rently the Ranger, which un­seated the Hilux af­ter years of trial and er­ror. Ac­tu­ally, Ford did such a great job with the Ranger T6 that its com­peti­tors are only now catch­ing up with of­fer­ings that bring the same level of car-like re­fine­ment. Just as the chas­ing pack closed in, the Blue Oval brought in a facelift, up­dated some soft­ware and ex­panded the range with a cou­ple of new op­tions cat­e­gories. One of those cat­e­gories is the XLT trim level for the more fru­gal four- cylin­der tur­bod­iesel.

Whereas the up-spec 2,2 does gain a lot of crea­ture com­forts (leather up­hol­stery, re­v­erse cam­era with park as­sist), our test unit was dis­ap­point­ingly fit­ted with the Carplay- and An­droid Auto-lack­ing SYNC 2 in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem. There's also no non-slip lin­ing in the load bay and the driv­e­train tops out at 4x2. That's hon­estly the only crit­i­cisms I have against this car and it's fair to say that Ford SA pur­posely omitted some of those fea­tures to not can­ni­balise its 3,2 line-up.

Who is this bakkie for? Peo­ple who only oc­ca­sion­ally leave the ur­ban jun­gle. If you've al­ways fan­cied a dou­ble cab and have zero in­ten­tion of ven­tur­ing into the bush or climb­ing a moun­tain, smart money would buy this car. Why? That 2,2-litre Du­ra­torq mo­tor's 110 kw and 375 N.m are more than enough for ef­fort­less high­way cruis­ing and won't bank­rupt you idling away in the peak hour mael­strom.

In our test­ing we re­turned fuel con­sump­tion of 9,2 litres/100 km. The load bay and rear sus­pen­sion were also more than ca­pa­ble of ac­com­mo­dat­ing 200 thick pieces of damp bluegum fire­wood, al­though the fit­ted soft ton­neau cover was very dif­fi­cult to peel back.

As a fam­ily hauler, the new Ranger had al­ready proven its chops with other model deriva­tives I'd taken home. My brood does, how­ever, sway to­wards the loftier bakkie and mid-size SUV seg­ments. Our com­bi­na­tion of Cape winelands gravel and rut­ted B-roads will show up overly hard sus­pen­sion set-ups, but this car got full marks for com­fort and ease of ac­cess for a preschooler and a tod­dler.

Though R492 900 seems a bit steep for a non-4x4 dou­ble cab, that's what these things cost now. This is one of the best you'll get as a life­style ve­hi­cle.

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